In the Rich Man's World

By: Carol Marinelli

PROLOGUE





BED.

Alone.

Just the thought of how tempting those two words sounded brought a wry smile to Vaughan’s lips.

Bed alone was almost a contradiction in terms for Vaughan Mason, at least according to the journalists who tagged his every move, sensationalising every aspect of his professional dealings while attempting an angle on his private life—much to Vaughan’s slightly jaundiced amusement.

Taking a belt of impossibly strong black coffee, Vaughan screwed up his nose.

He’d barely slept in thirty-six hours, had crossed several time zones and ingested enough caffeine to raise the shares of coffee beans by several per cent. All he wanted was to close his eyes on this impossibly long day, yet instead he had to face them—the journalists, the one true love-hate relationship in his life.

A sharp rap on his door dragged him out of his introspection. He leaned back in his chair and yawned as Katy Vale, his personal assistant, waltzed in, smiling her pussycat smile and revealing just a touch too much cleavage and thigh for a Friday afternoon as she leant over his desk and handed him a list.

‘It’s your lucky day.’

‘I wish you’d told me that thirty-six hours ago,’ Vaughan retorted. His day had started at some ungodly hour in Japan and been followed by a meeting in Singapore, then several draining hours at Singapore Airport. Now, finally winding up in his office in Sydney, he felt like the sun creeping across the globe in reverse, his body clock completely kaput as jet lag finally caught up with him. The very last thing he felt like doing was being put on parade for some long-overdue interviews, but now, peering at the list, seeing the red pen slashed through the reporters’ names, he almost managed a smile.

‘There’s an election in the air—at least that’s the buzz going around,’ Katy explained. ‘All the big-gun reporters have cancelled their interviews with you and flown to Canberra, trying to get their scoop…’

‘Which means I can finally go to bed.’

That he had been cancelled at such short notice didn’t offend Vaughan in the least—in fact it came as an unexpected pleasurable moment of relief. The Prime Minister was one of the few people who could knock him out of the headlines of the business pages, and Vaughan was only too happy to step down. The pleasure was entirely his.

Snapping the lid on his pen, he stood up and stretched. But he changed it midway into a long drawn-out sigh as Katy shook her head. ‘Not just yet, I’m afraid. The Tribute has sent a replacement journalist.’

Peering at the list, Vaughan frowned. ‘Why on earth would Amelia Jacobs want to interview me?’

‘You’ve heard of her?’ Katy asked, the surprise evident in her voice. ‘Somehow I can’t quite picture you reading the women’s pages.’

‘She’s good.’ Vaughan shrugged, but Katy screwed up her nose.

‘She’s overrated, if you ask me.’

I didn’t, Vaughan almost responded, but he held his tongue. Frankly, he was too tired to be drawn into a long conversation with Katy.

Long conversations with Katy were becoming rather too frequent of late. Given any excuse, she’d sit her neat little bottom on the chair opposite and cross her perfectly toned legs, only too happy to flash her glossy smile and talk.

And could that woman talk!

What had happened to the quietly efficient woman he had hired as his PA? Where had the diligent worker who managed his impossibly tight schedule with barely a murmur gone? The woman who had glowed with pride when he’d commented on her new engagement ring, blushed with pleasure when her fiancé had arrived to pick her up?

‘I mean,’ Katy droned on, not remotely perturbed by his pointed silence, ‘despite all the hype that surrounds her, there’s not a single thing that could be described as deep about her articles; it’s not as if this Amelia ever digs up the dirt on all these celebrities she interviews—there’s nothing that can’t be picked up in the rags…’

Vaughan suppressed a tired smile, and this time it was easier to hold back. She simply didn’t get it. If Katy couldn’t read between the lines that Amelia Jacobs so skilfully crafted, then it wasn’t up to him to point it out.

Amelia Jacobs was a master.

Or mistress.

Or whatever the politically correct term was these days.

Amelia Jacobs had, in the few months she’d been writing for the paper, developed something of a cult following—a group of loyal readers who read her articles with their tongues placed firmly in cheek, perhaps sharing a wry smile with a fellow devotee as they glimpsed over the top of their newspaper in some café or airport lounge.