Santiago's Love-Child

By: Kim Lawrence

CHAPTER ONE

AFTER trying to sell an idea for ten minutes straight most people would have given up. Dan Taylor wasn’t one of them. Some people said that what he lacked in flair he made up for in determination. They were essentially correct.

Santiago Morais, who was considered to have more than his fair share of flair, listened to the younger man explain again why it wasn’t just necessary for Santiago to make up the numbers this weekend, it was his duty.

‘No.’

The ‘No’ wasn’t the sort of no that could be confused with maybe, and it wasn’t encouraging that the enigmatic expression on Santiago’s lean features had given way to mild irritation.

Actually Dan was a little taken aback by Santiago’s lack of co-operation. He was showing the sort of stony indifference that Dan had expected five years earlier when he had turned up at the London offices of Morais International. The only thing he’d had going for him then had been a tenuous—very tenuous—family link with the Morais family.

He had expected to be thrown out on his ear. Getting to see the man himself had been just as hard as he had expected. When they had come face to face, his resolve had almost deserted him. Santiago was younger than he had expected and much, much tougher.

Faced with a dark, cynical and very chilly stare Dan had instinctively dumped his carefully prepared speech and said instead, ‘Look, there’s absolutely no reason you should give me a job just because some great-aunt of mine married some distant uncle of your mother’s. I’m not qualified—in fact I’ve never finished anything I started in my life—but if you gave me a chance you wouldn’t regret it. I’d give it all I had and then some. I have something to prove.’

‘You have something to prove?’ The voice, deep and barely accented, made Dan jump.

‘I’m not a loser.’

The figure behind the desk got to his feet and became correspondingly more intimidating; this man was seriously tall and was built like an Olympic rower. For a long uncomfortable moment Santiago just looked at Dan in silence, those spookily penetrating eyes not giving a clue to what he was thinking.

‘Right, sorry to have bothered you…’

‘Eight-thirty Monday.’

Dan’s jaw dropped as he swung back. ‘What did you say?’

One of Santiago’s dark brows lifted. ‘If you want a job, be here Monday morning at eight-thirty.’

Dan sank into the nearest chair. ‘You won’t regret this,’ he vowed.

Dan had come good on his promise. He had quickly proved his worth and, perhaps more surprisingly, a friendship had developed between the two men. A friendship that had survived Dan leaving the company and setting up on his own two years earlier.

Dan adopted an injured expression as he looked across at his Spanish distant cousin, who had put down a file he’d been reading to say something in his native tongue into a Dictaphone. Actually it could have been one of several languages; Santiago was fluent in five.

‘I must say I think you’re being pretty callous about this.’

‘If by callous you mean I will not spend a weekend amusing a fat, boring and mentally unstable woman—I’m quoting you here—so that you can have your Rebecca to yourself…I am indeed callous.’

‘Rachel, and the friend isn’t mentally unstable exactly. I think she’s just having a breakdown or something.’

‘You’re really tempting me now, but the answer is still no, Daniel.’

‘If you’d met Rachel you wouldn’t be so heartless.’
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‘And is your Rachel beautiful?’

‘Very, and don’t look at me like that. This isn’t some casual affair. She’s the one; I just know she is.’ His expression grew indignant when Santiago responded to his emotional admission with a cynical smile that was only slightly less corrosive than neat nitric acid. ‘I’d have thought you’d have been more sympathetic considering…’ Dan continued falteringly.

Santiago abandoned his attempt to carry on working and pushed his thick sable hair back from his brow. ‘Considering what?’