His Temporary Mistress(8)

By: Cathy Williams

‘Stomach cancer. She’s in London at the moment for tests. As you may know, with cancer, its outcome can never be predicted.’

‘No. But...may I ask what that has to do with me?’

‘I have a proposal for you. One that may be beneficial to both of us.’

‘A proposal? What kind of proposal?’

Damien looked steadily at the woman in front of him. On almost every level, he knew this was, at best, questionable. On the other hand, looking at the bigger picture, didn’t the value of the ends more than make up for the means? Sometimes you had to travel down an unexpected road to get to the desired destination.

And now a virtual stranger, a woman he would not have looked at twice under normal circumstances, was about to be ushered into his rarefied world to do him a favour and he was well aware that she would be unable to refuse because her own protective instincts for her sister had penned her into a place in which she was helpless.

‘For some time, my mother has had certain...misgivings about my lifestyle...’ He realised that he had never actually verbalised any of this to anyone before. He wasn’t into the touchy-feely business of sharing confidences. It was reassuring to know that Violet Drew didn’t actually count as someone with whom the sharing of confidences was of any significance. He wasn’t involved with her. It wasn’t as though she would attach herself to anything he said and use it as a way of insinuating herself into a relationship. And yet...he still had to fight a certain hesitancy.

He impatiently swept aside his natural instinct for complete privacy. Hell, it wasn’t as though he was in a confessional about to admit to an unforgivable mortal sin!

‘Has she?’

‘If you’re wondering where this is going, then you’ll have to hear me out. One thing I’m going to say, though, is that nothing I tell you leaves this room. Got it?’

‘What are you going to say?’

‘My mother is old-fashioned...traditional. I’m thirty-two years old and, as far as she is concerned, should be in a committed, serious relationship. With a...ah...let’s just say a certain type of woman. Frankly, the sort of woman I wouldn’t normally look at twice.’

‘What sort of women do you look at?’ Violet asked, because his remark seemed to beg further elaboration. Looking at him, the answer was self-explanatory.

‘Let’s just say that I tend to spend my time in the company of beautiful women. They’re not the sort of women my mother has ever found suitable.’

‘I still don’t know what this has to do with me, Mr Carver.’

‘Then I’ll spell it out. My mother might not have long to live. She wants to see me with someone she thinks is the right sort of woman. Currently, I know no one who fits the bill...’

Enlightenment came in a blinding rush. ‘And you think that I might be suitable for the role?’ Violet shook her head disbelievingly. How on earth would anyone ever buy that she and this man were in any way involved? Romantically? He was aggressively, sinfully beautiful while she...

But of course, she thought, that was the point, wasn’t it? Whilst his type would be models with legs up to their armpits and big, long hair, his mother obviously had a different sort of girl in mind for him. Someone more normal. Probably not even someone like her but maybe he figured that he didn’t have time on his side to hunt down someone more suited to play the part and so he had settled for her. Because he could.

Damien calmly watched as she absorbed what he was saying. ‘You’re nothing like anyone I’ve ever dated in my life before, ergo you’ll do.’

‘I’m sorry, Mr Carver.’ Violet wondered how such physical beauty could conceal such cold detachment. She looked at him and couldn’t tear her eyes away and yet he chilled her to the bone. ‘For starters, I would never lie to anyone. And secondly, if your mother knows you at all, then she’ll see right through any charade you have in mind to...to...pull the wool over her eyes.’

‘Here’s the thing, though, Miss Drew...your sister is facing a prison sentence. Is that what you really want? Do you honestly want to condemn her to the full horrors of a stint courtesy of Her Majesty?’

‘That’s awful! You can’t blackmail me...’

‘Whoever said anything about blackmail? I’m giving you an option and it’s an extremely generous one. In return for a few days of minor inconvenience, you have my word that I’ll call the dogs off. Your sister will be able to have her learning curve without having to suffer the full force of the law, which you and I both know is what she richly deserves.’ He stood up and strolled towards the impressive window, looking out for a few seconds before returning to face her. ‘I wouldn’t want you to think for a minute that I won’t do my utmost to make sure your sister is punished should you decide to play the moral card. I will.’