His Temporary Mistress(7)

By: Cathy Williams

‘You must be hot in your coat. Why don’t you remove it?’

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘The central heating here is in perfect working condition. You must be sweltering.’

‘Why would I take my coat off, Mr Carver? When I’m going to be leaving in a short while? I mean, I’ve said everything there is to say and I’ve tried to appeal to your better nature, but you haven’t got a better nature. So there’s no point in my being here, is there? It doesn’t really matter what I say, you’re just going to tell me that Phillipa needs to be punished, that she’s going to go to prison and that she’ll come out a reformed person.’

‘Maybe there’s another discussion to be had on the subject...’

Violet hardly dared get her hopes up. She looked at him in disbelief. ‘What other discussion, Mr Carver? You’ve just spent the past forty-five minutes telling me that she’s to be held up as an example to your other employees and punished accordingly...’

‘Take the coat off.’

Violet hesitated. Eventually she stood up, awkwardly aware of his eyes on her. She harked back to what he had said about her sister trying to seduce him. She had heard the contempt in his voice when he had said that. She wondered what his thoughts would be when he saw her without the protective covering of her capacious coat, and then she sternly reminded herself that what she looked like was irrelevant. She had come to plead her sister’s case and she would take whatever sliver of compassion he might find in his heart to distribute.

Damien watched the unflattering coat reveal a baggy long-sleeved dress that was equally unflattering. Over it was a loose-fitting cardigan that reached down to below her waist.

‘So the question is this...with your sister facing a prison sentence, what would you be prepared to do for her?’

He let that question hang in the air between them. Her eyes, he absently thought as she stared at him in bewilderment, weren’t quite the same shade of blue as her sister’s. They were more of a violet hue, which seemed appropriate given her name.

‘I would do anything,’ Violet told him simply. ‘Phillipa may have her faults but she’s learnt from this. Not just in the matter of trying to do something she shouldn’t, but she’s had her eyes opened about the sort of men she can trust and the ones she can’t. In fact, I’ve never seen her so devastated. She’s practically locked herself away...’

Damien thought that a few days of self-imposed seclusion before rejoining the party scene was a laughable price to pay for a criminal offence. If that was Violet Drew’s definition of her sister’s devastation then her powers of judgement were certainly open to debate.

‘So you would do anything...’ he drawled, standing to move to the window, briefly looking out at the miserable grey, muted colours of a winter still reluctant to release its grip. He turned around, strolled to his desk where he once again perched on the side. ‘That’s good to hear because, if that’s really the case, then I would say that there’s definitely room to negotiate...’


‘NEGOTIATE? How?’ VIOLET was at a loss. Would he ask her for some sort of financial compensation for the time his people had spent tracking Phillipa down? If no money had actually been lost, then she could hardly be held accountable for any debt incurred and, even if money had actually been lost, then there was no way that she could ever begin to repay it. Just thinking of all the money his company nearly did lose was enough to make her feel giddy.

This was not a situation that Damien liked. As solutions went, it left a lot to be desired, but where were his choices? He needed to prove to his mother that she could have faith in him, that he could be relied upon, whatever the circumstances. He needed to reassure her. If his mother wasn’t stressing, then the chances of her responding well to treatment would be much greater. Who didn’t know that stress could prove the tipping point between recovery and collapse in a case such as this? Eleanor Carver wanted him settled or she would fret over the consequences and that was a worst case scenario waiting to happen. He loved his mother and, after years of ships-in-the-night relationships, it was imperative that he now stepped up to the plate and presented her with a picture of stability.

The grim reality, however, was that he had no female friends. The women in his life were the women he dated and the women he dated were unsuitable for the task at hand.

‘My mother has recently been diagnosed with cancer...’

‘I’m so sorry to hear that...’