In the Rich Man's World(6)

By: Carol Marinelli


‘There isn’t time for all that.’ Paul shook his head firmly. ‘Vaughan Mason won’t be kept waiting—you’ll just have to go as you are.’ His reassuring smile rapidly disappeared as for the first time he took in her dishevelled appearance, giving a rather noticeable frown as he eyed her jeans and sandals. ‘Frankly, Amelia, I expected better from you. Maria would never have—’

‘I had no idea I’d be doing an interview this afternoon,’ Amelia attempted. ‘I only came by to drop off my article.’

‘You’re supposed to expect the unexpected,’ Paul countered, sounding like her wretched horoscope. ‘That’s what journalism is all about.’

And he was right, Amelia conceded through gritted teeth. If it had been any other hour of any other day she’d have been ready—more than ready for the challenge. If only she had listened to her horoscope! If she had she wouldn’t be standing here totally unprepared for the biggest break in her career.

‘I want you to come back to the office after the interview and let me know how it went. I’ve pulled this from Carter’s desk.’ He held out another very thin folder.

‘I thought you said he had something on him?’ Amelia rolled her eyes. ‘Don’t tell me—that’s for Carter’s eyes only. What’s in here?’

‘Facts and figures,’ Paul admitted. ‘Have a quick read on the way—but, Amelia, try not to focus too much on the business side. Work your magic on him, see if you can get him to open up a bit about his family, his personal life…’

‘His women?’ Amelia rolled her eyes again.

Vaughan Mason’s reputation was legendary. Pages and pages of the glossies had been filled over the years with tear-streaked gorgeous faces, broken promises and shattered hearts—seemingly the price for a night in this man’s company. But through all the scandals, through all the revelations, Vaughan had remained tight-lipped, repeatedly refusing to comment. And his lack of excuses, his utter refusal to be drawn or, heaven forbid, to apologise, had only served to make women want him more.

‘I’m hardly likely to get him to open up in a fifteen-minute time slot…’ Amelia started, but a warning look from Paul had her voice trailing off. There was no room for negativity in the cut-throat world of journalism. ‘It will be great, Paul—just great. You’re not going to regret this.’

‘I hope not.’ Paul’s eyes narrowed a fraction. ‘Maria’s going to be devastated that she missed this opportunity.’

Maria.

The one name that said it all. The one word that reminded her of the very temporary nature of her position

She had to get it right.

Had to do as her horoscope said and embrace the opportunity. Had to somehow get noticed. So that next time the sniff of an election was in the air she’d be heading to Canberra, not standing in a humid, muggy Sydney street, attempting to hail a taxi in the middle of Friday-night rush hour and trying to call around and find out Vaughan Mason’s latest value on the stock market.

Meticulous research was Amelia’s forte.

That was how she got celebrities to open up.

Flattery heaped on flattery—it worked every time.

Watching appalling films, reading even worse biographies, seducing stars with her insight! But how was she supposed to woo Vaughan when all her research was being done in the back of taxi hurtling through the city at breakneck speed towards a subject she knew nothing about other than the undeniable ruthlessness of his business dealings that had been reported in the newspapers, coupled with regular romance scandals that found their way into the glossies?

Gulping in the stuffy air, Amelia skimmed the facts and figures neatly typed in the folder in her lap, silently appalled that one man could hold so much wealth and power.

From what she could ascertain not a single cent of his millions strayed from his path. Normally a list of charities appeared in bios, in an attempt to soften the figures and show that there was a warmer side to a ruthless personality. Normally a few family shots appeared, or a snippet of personal information—a small sideline on hobbies or interests—but, thanks to Carter, all the file on Vaughan Mason contained were cold, hard business facts. How he’d built his massive wealth from the ground upwards, how he’d saved flailing businesses over and over, forging a reputation on gut feeling and confidence alone!

She could hardly quote the glossies to him! How was she supposed to get a different angle when there wasn’t one?

Paying the taxi driver, she stared upwards at the impressive tower before her, scarcely able to believe she was really here. Catching sight of her reflection in a glass window, Amelia let out a low moan—the humid Sydney air had done nothing to accelerate her hair-drying and, glancing down at her watch, she wished for the umpteenth time that she could dart into a boutique and buy something—anything other than what she was wearing. That she could greet this demigod if not on his level at least in smart clothes.