In the Rich Man's World(5)

By: Carol Marinelli


‘Amelia!’ Mumbling into the phone receiver she was holding, Clara blew her fringe skywards and gave a grateful smile. ‘Thank goodness you’re here.’

Never had Clara seemed so pleased to see her. More to the point, never had Clara even grunted a greeting—her efficient smile was reserved for real journalists, the ones whose stories actually mattered, not some two-bit freelancer who appeared in the Saturday colour supplement.

‘I’m only ten minutes late,’ Amelia mumbled, pushing the shiny silver disk across the desk and glancing at the clock above Clara’s head, praying it was going faster than her watch. ‘I’m normally on time—I’m usually early…’

‘Don’t worry about that,’ Clara said, screwing up her nose as she picked up the disk and, to Amelia’s horror, tossed it into a drawer. ‘Didn’t you hear the news?’

‘News?’ Amelia gave a bewildered blink, cursing herself that the one time in the week she turned off the radio, the one time she let the world disappear to concentrate on a piece, something had really happened.

‘There might be an election! Friday afternoon’s a lousy time to call for a press conference if you ask me, but that’s what’s happened.’

Another bewildered blink from Amelia before excitement started to mount. Images of serious pieces with her name on them drifted into her mind, but before they had even formed Clara easily doused them.

‘Which means all the big names are tied up.’

‘Amelia!’ Paul, her editor, appeared at the lift doors. He handed her a file as he juggled a call on his mobile and his pager bleeped loudly. ‘Carter has had to fly to Canberra…’

‘I heard,’ Amelia replied as Paul decided the call on his mobile was more important. She flicked open the folder he had pressed in her hand for something to do, then caught her breath—not for the first time today, but for an entirely different reason.

Vaughan Mason.

That inscrutable face was actually smiling at her from a black and white photo, but even with the healing balm of a soft-focus lens the slightly cruel twist to his full mouth was still evident. The black eyes stared back unnervingly, a dark jet fringe flopping over one superbly carved eyebrow. His unshaven, heavily shadowed jaw would have been more in place in a sports calendar than on a business shoot, but apart from that his utter supremacy screamed from every pore. Even the glimpse of his suit in the head-and-shoulders shot reeked of abhorrent wealth, and suddenly her horoscope made sense. Suddenly Venus was aligning with Pluto—or was it Uranus?—and the heavenly changes Louis had faithfully promised, no, warned her to be prepared for were really happening.

‘Carter had a fifteen-minute spot with him,’ Paul mouthed as he covered the mouthpiece on his mobile.

‘When?’

‘In twenty minutes’ time. You’re the fill-in.’

‘Me?’

Paul nodded and, possibly realising the urgency of the situation, put his caller on hold. ‘You’ll be great, Amelia, you always are. I don’t know how you do it, but somehow you manage to reel them in, get them to show their true colours, just like you did with Taylor Dean….’ Seeing her paling face, Paul changed tack. ‘As good as Carter is, he’d never have even attempted your angle.’

‘What sort of angle are you looking for?’ Amelia asked, Paul’s insensitive words having hit a very raw nerve.

‘The man behind the millions—what makes his cold heart tick…’

‘Nothing?’ Amelia ventured, but Paul shook his head.

‘We’ve got a big story about to break on him. You could be the perfect lead-in. I’ll suggest that we hold next Saturday’s middle pages for it.’

‘Middle pages…’ Amelia repeated, her face paling. ‘Of the paper, not the…?’

‘The paper,’ Paul confirmed. ‘If you’re sure you’re up to it.’

‘Oh, I’m up to it,’ Amelia responded quickly, with way more confidence than she felt. ‘What sort of story’s about to break? Do you think he’s going to pull off the motor deal?’

‘Oh, it’s bigger than the motor deal,’ Paul responded, unable to stop a small boast, but changing his mind at the last moment. ‘Trust me, Amelia. The less you know, the better—he’s sharp enough to know if you’re fishing for information. Just dazzle him the way you did Taylor…’

‘I’ll have to get changed,’ Amelia broke in, determined not to go there. Glancing down at her jean-clad legs and bare arms, she knew she couldn’t face Vaughan Mason dressed like this. But Paul was already frog-marching her through Reception