Confessions of a Millionaire's Mistress. Robyn Grady
then slowly turned. His grin was lopsided and shamelessly sexy. ‘That’s never been my problem.’
Inventing an easy shrug, she moved towards the wet bar. ‘There’s always a first time.’
He leant against the door, one long leg bent, his fingers gripping the rim near his head. ‘You look like a nice lady—’
‘I noticed you doing some looking earlier.’
While her heart pogo-jumped in her chest—where had she found the nerve?—his hand fell from the jamb and he straightened. ‘I didn’t know you were Rodney’s daughter.’
‘That would’ve made a difference?’
A muscle in the sharp angle of his jaw began to tic. ‘Perhaps.’
Her hand barely shook as she refilled her glass from an opened bottle set in a shiny silver bucket. She crunched the Bollinger back into its ice. ‘Aside from being someone’s daughter, I also have a double business degree. I run a successful concern of my own—Celestial Bags and Accessories,’ she finished with a note of pride.
With what looked like a straight Scotch in his hand, he sauntered closer, a naturally languid and predatory gait. ‘I’m suitably impressed.’
‘Because I’m a woman?’
His eyes narrowed—amused or assessing? ‘Because of your age.’
Good grief! She was tired of hearing about that too. Twenty-five was hardly a baby.
‘I’m a determined person.’ Gaining courage, she leant back against the polished oak bar. ‘When I want something, I don’t give in easily.’
He cocked a brow and Celeste relaxed a smidgeon more. Her bluff appeared to be working.
‘And what is it that you want, Miss Prince?’
She took a breath. Here goes. ‘I want to keep the family business in the family.’
After a considering moment, he squared his shoulders. ‘We’re being frank?’
‘Even if your father had thought to consider it, he wouldn’t give you control.’
After the initial shock, she suppressed a growl. How dared he presume to know her family and their situation so well?
She placed her crystal flute on the bar ledge. ‘It’s not over till it’s over, Mr Scott.’
His blue gaze turned steely. ‘Your father’s company is in financial straits.’
Her thoughts froze. That wasn’t possible. They were one of the leading franchise businesses in the country. Had been for a long time. Her father hadn’t had any financial problems since before her mother had died.
Benton Scott’s voice penetrated the fog. ‘Your father didn’t want to worry you with it.’
I just bet he didn’t.
She absently moved towards the open concertina doors as a wave of dread fell through her. But even if the company were in trouble, that wouldn’t change her mind. A dip in profitability only meant that her innovative ideas were needed now more than ever.
But what did it mean to her hit man?
She rotated back. ‘You’re a successful investor. What do you want with a failing business?’ Her stomach gripped as an answer dawned. ‘Unless it’s to sell off the assets.’
‘I’m not a corporate raider. I see this company as a perfect opportunity to mix business with pleasure. Gambling on the stock market has been lucrative. But I want a business I can get involved with—pardon the pun—from the ground up.’
She studied him, from the top of his coal-black hair to the tips of his polished-Italian-leather shoes. Was she getting this right? ‘You want to mow lawns and drive trucks?’
‘As a matter of fact, when time permits, yes, I do. This company needs tender loving care for it to survive.’
She sent a dry look. ‘And you’re an expert on TLC?’
‘In the right circumstances—’ his gaze licked her lips ‘—absolutely.’
The tips of her breasts tightened as if he’d brushed each bead with the pad of his thumb. What could he do with a graze of his mouth, or the tickling tip of his tongue?
She swallowed against another hot rush of arousal.
Rewind, Celeste. Not in the plan, remember.
She crossed out onto the cool patio. Gazing at the fairy-tale spread of city lights and majestic arch of Sydney’s Harbour Bridge twinkling in the distance, she considered her next move. When he joined her, the scent of earlier rain and damp eucalyptus leaves faded beneath the proximity of another influence… spicy, expensive and achingly male.
Out the corner of her eye, she saw Benton lift the Scotch to his lips. ‘We’re not going to agree,’ he said.
He chuckled and turned to her. ‘You’re one stubborn woman.’
‘I prefer the word persistent.’
She flicked a glance at his left hand. Of course no gold ring. Did he have a girlfriend? More likely he had several, which was fine with her.
Fine, fine, fine.
His eyes, reflecting light from the low slung moon, trailed her jaw. ‘I wish we’d met under different circumstances. It could’ve been—’
He swirled his drink. ‘That’s one way to put it.’
‘How about memorable? Meaningful?’
A corner of his mouth curved up as his brows nudged together. ‘Why, Miss Prince, are you hitting on me?’
When his eyes twinkled again, her nipples tightened more and an alarmingly vivid image of his white teeth tugging one tip, then the other, bloomed in her mind.
Battling the sparks firing low in her belly, she cleared the huskiness from her throat and explained. ‘Actually I’m suggesting you do the honourable thing and step away from this buyout.’
Disappointment dragged down his smile and he faced the view. ‘Whatever you might believe, your father is being cruel to be kind. So am I. If this business takes one more wrong turn, you could lose everything.’
Sorry? Did she have ‘walking business disaster’ hanging from a sign on her back?
She crossed her arms. ‘Thanks for the confidence boost. When I’m as successful as you are now, I only hope I’m as modest.’
His jaw tensed. ‘Sarcasm is so predictable. I prefer it when you flirt.’
She huffed and mumbled, ‘Well, you are a man.’
‘And you’re a woman,’ he drawled. ‘A beautiful woman, who obviously likes to wear pretty clothes and keep her nails buffed.’ While her brain registered ‘beautiful’, the strong planes of his face softened. ‘Why don’t you take your share of the cash and buy a couple of boutiques to go with your handbag store?’
Her mouth dropped open. ‘I’m not sure whether it’s the sexist nature of your suggestion that rankles most, or the fact you sincerely mean that to be sage advice?’
Maybe he was bigger, wealthier…hell, maybe he was smarter than her. That didn’t mean she couldn’t fight for what was hers. Anita Prince would be cheering her daughter on all the way.
He considered her for a long moment. Then the mask cracked. He groaned and tugged an ear lobe. ‘What are you proposing?’
She faced him full on. ‘Compassion. You can buy any business you like but PLM is personal to me. My parents