Mistresses: In His Bed: The Billionaire's Trophy / Strictly Temporary / Whose Bed Is It Anyway?. Robyn Grady
curled in her sensitive tummy. Who else knew? How many people? Inwardly she cringed in embarrassment. Who else was now convinced that she worked as an escort outside office hours? My goodness, was everyone she worked with talking about this behind her back? Humiliation clawed at her and she cursed the day she had moved in with her mother. What on earth was her picture doing on the website when she didn’t work as an escort? But who on earth would ever believe that now?
‘It is you, isn’t it?’ Bastian Christou pressed.
In silence, Emmie gritted her teeth and nodded agreement, unable to see how she could lie on that score. ‘But it’s not what you think—’
‘Allow me to know what to think,’ Bastian Christou murmured, smooth as glass.
‘It’s none of your business!’ Emmie told him, her mortification yielding to a sudden rush of resentment.
‘I’m afraid it is my business,’ Bastian countered levelly. ‘Your employment contract with this company states that you’re not allowed to do anything which might bring the company into disrepute and I’m afraid that advertising yourself on the Internet as an escort would fall within that category.’
Emmie lost colour. She could not believe that a foolish action of her mother’s might have put her job at risk, but she could also understand that it was an association that any employer might consider distasteful and suspect. ‘I’ll deal with it,’ she said flatly, her full lips compressing with determination.
‘How will you deal with it?’ Bastian asked, glittering dark eyes pinned to her with growing curiosity, his attention lingering on that soft full mouth. He wanted to rip off the spectacles and tug her hair out of that ugly ponytail and see her beauty as nature had intended it to be seen: that mane of golden hair, clear, flawless skin and glorious eyes. When most women went to great lengths to look the best they could, why the hell did she hide her beauty as though it were something to be ashamed of? And then unveil that beauty to be an escort? Had she been afraid from the start that someone in the office might recognise that photo and realise she was leading a double life? It was the only explanation he could see that made sense of such a disguise.
‘I’ll have the photo taken down from the website. It shouldn’t be there,’ she declared defensively. ‘I don’t actually work as an escort—’
‘But clearly you have a connection to the agency,’ Bastian pointed out, amused by her vehemence, her eagerness to persuade him that he had somehow misunderstood. She had little hope of getting far with that objective when he had so recently booked and paid for her services, he conceded grimly.
Emmie squirmed, determined not to admit the degrading truth that her connection to the escort agency was through her mother. ‘I promise you that I’ll deal with it and that photo will be taken down as soon as I can get it organised.’
‘If you’re tied into an employment contract with the agency it won’t be that simple a matter,’ Bastian warned her and he pushed a business card across the desk towards her. ‘Feel free to contact this lawyer if you need advice or assistance on that score.’
‘There is no contract. I told you…I don’t work as an escort,’ Emmie repeated doggedly, her colour high because she knew he didn’t believe her and she didn’t really blame him for that when her photo was on the website for all to see. She was mortified by the entire conversation but surprised that he was offering her a legal contact who could help her cut ties that didn’t actually exist. Fortunately, the only tie Emmie had to Exclusive Companions was her blood tie to her manipulative mother.
‘Tell me, why isn’t the HR department dealing with this?’ she queried.
‘I felt the issue needed to be dealt with immediately and without spreading the news round the office.’
Exerting self-control, Emmie clenched her teeth together. ‘Thanks. I appreciate that,’ she felt forced to say with very real gratitude.
‘Take the rest of the day off to handle this business,’ Bastian advised, further surprising her with his consideration. ‘I’ll clear it with Marie.’
Thoroughly disconcerted by that generous suggestion, Emmie stiffened, but she was very grateful for the chance to go straight home and confront her mother about what she had done as it was scarcely something she could ignore.
‘A stitch in time saves nine,’ Emmie muttered shakily, taut with rage and embarrassment and frustration that she could not clear her own name but, on another level, very grateful to have discovered that her face was on that website, so that she could demand it be removed forthwith.
Bastian elevated a satiric brow. ‘Another one of your funny little homilies?’
‘I was talking to myself,’ Emmie breathed curtly, flushing slightly because she had picked up the habit of uttering proverbs when she was a child and tended to blurt them out mindlessly when she was nervous or apprehensive.
So far, so good, Bastian reflected cynically when she had left his office, having reacted exactly as he had expected her to and engaged in a frantic cover-up. Even so, she would get that photo down from the site and cut her ties to the agency, which would perfectly suit his requirements. He had no desire for anyone to discover that he was keeping company with an escort and once she was removed from the site there would be less risk of that happening.
ODETTE WAS USING her laptop in her elegant lounge when Emmie entered the apartment. Her mother was a tall woman in her fifties with the same classic blonde looks that had raised Saffy, Emmie’s twin sister, to supermodel status and universal acclaim.
‘My word, you’re home early…did the old office sweatshop burn down?’ the older woman commented flippantly.
Emmie’s face was already flushed by the speed with which she had walked from the bus but now her slender hands clenched as anger rose inside her. ‘You put my photo on your website without my permission,’ she accused.
Impervious to her daughter’s tension, Odette lifted and dropped a slim shoulder, her unconcern patent. ‘Photos of very beautiful girls improve business. Lots of my clients have phoned asking specially for you and I simply say you’re already booked—but if you weren’t so stubborn, you could be making a fortune.’
‘You must have taken that photo from my camera.’ Emmie was disconcerted by her mother’s lack of reaction to her accusation.
Odette’s blue eyes, so like her daughter’s, were cold as a winter sky. ‘Yes. I can’t see why that should be a problem—’
‘You…can’t? But you know that I don’t want any involvement in your business—’
‘Although you’re quite happy to live off my earnings from running an escort agency!’ Odette sliced back with stinging effect.
Emmie reddened. ‘That’s not true. I’m not living off you. I give you everything I earn from waitressing—’
Odette lifted a scornful brow. ‘Which amounts to peanuts!’ she exclaimed. ‘If I rented out that room, I could be making three times as much for it. Instead I decided to be generous and help you out with your career. Is this all the thanks I get for it?’
Emmie hovered uncomfortably. ‘You know I’m grateful, but I still want that photo taken down from the site. I’m not an escort and I don’t want people thinking that I am—’
Odette settled resentful blue eyes on her. ‘My girls aren’t prostitutes. I’ve told you that before. They are companions, professional companions, guaranteed to be presentable and pleasant. Sex isn’t included in the package.’
‘As far as you know,’ Emmie added jerkily. ‘You don’t know how your escorts behave if a man asks for something more and is willing to pay for it—’