Unfinished Business: Bought: One Night, One Marriage / Always the Bridesmaid / Confessions of a Millionaire's Mistress. Robyn Grady
Unfinished Business: Bought: One Night, One Marriage / Always the Bridesmaid / Confessions of a Millionaire's Mistress
NATALIE ANDERSON NINA HARRINGTON ROBYN GRADY
Bought: One Night,
About the Author
Possibly the only librarian who got told off herself for talking too much, Natalie Anderson decided writing books might be more fun than shelving them—and, boy, is it that. Especially writing romance—it’s the realisation of a lifetime dream kick-started by many an afternoon spent devouring Grandma’s Mills & Boon® novels … She lives in New Zealand, with her husband and four gorgeous-but-exhausting children. Swing by her website any time—she’d love to hear from you: www.natalie-anderson.com.
I could try to write all the ‘whys’
but there isn’t enough room for all the words,
so I’ll keep it simple:
For Mum—for everything.
‘I CAN’T believe I agreed to come here.’ Cally looked around her, slowly taking in the decadent atmosphere in the hip Sydney bar. It was like Bacchanalia—riotous revelry. There were well over one hundred women filling the place with laughter, leer and enough bling to blind the nation. Canapés were being consumed with glee and being washed down with terrifyingly neon concoctions. High-pitched chatter drowned the relentless deep thud, thud, thud of the music. Anticipation hung in the air. You could taste the excitement, the expectation of one hell of a good show.
Cally screwed up her nose.
‘Oh, come on.’ Mel looked at her with a ‘get a grip’ expression. ‘It’s for charity.’
‘There are better ways of raising money for charity.’
‘What’s better than watching a line-up of the most eligible bachelors in town?’
‘If they were that eligible they wouldn’t be here.’
‘They must be the most conceited meat-heads to agree to participate.’ The snark was enough to earn her another ‘get over it’ look.
‘Don’t be so uptight.’ Mel shook her head disparagingly. ‘You’ve been working way too hard. They’re doing it to support a good cause. It’s a laugh. A laugh.’ Another pointed look. ‘Remember how to do that? Open your mouth, go “ha ha”?’
‘You know I’m damn good at laughing.’ Cally sighed. ‘I’m just not in the mood for this kind of funny tonight.’
‘Well, down your Sex in the Surf or whatever that drink is called, and get yourself in the mood. Sit back, enjoy the show. Nobody says you have to bid. Buy a few raffle tickets and be done with it.’
Mel was right. But the scene didn’t sit well with Cally. It was so far removed from the cause it was supposed to be supporting. Here they were, draped with all this money—conspicuous consumption to the max. Half these people probably wouldn’t give a second thought to those who this event was supposed to be helping. They were paying lip service—just wanting to get together with a gang of girlfriends and ogle some talent. Bitch over someone else’s dress. Out to outdo and be seen doing it.
It was the kind of thing her mother would love. She’d be here, out-glamorising even the most glamorous and providing sound bites in the style of a Miss Universe save-the-world speech. Fortunately she was away sunning herself on a beach in the Mediterranean somewhere.
Cally grimaced as she glanced round again. Nope. So not her scene. She preferred to stay out of the limelight her mother had always sought. Yes, she had money. Yes, she felt a responsibility to do charitable work. But her father had taught her how much more fun it was to do something behind the scenes, or to donate anonymously. When he died she’d made a vow to continue his work and so had maintained strong connections with his favourite charity—the homeless shelter only a few blocks from the opulent home in which she’d spent her happiest childhood years. She loved the time she put into it—feeling as if it was a way of retaining links with him, wanting to do something that she knew would have made him proud.
Mel cleared her throat and glared again. ‘Must you be so earnest, Cally? For heaven’s sake, have another drink. Or one of those chocolate truffles.’
Cally grinned at that. Actually the chocolate truffles were pretty divine. She pulled the plate nearer. Half the women here wouldn’t touch them anyway, so Cally could have their share. Then she gave herself a rebuke over her pathetic holier-than-thou moment. Many of these women gave time as well as money to charity. One of the wealthiest women in the room spent a night a week answering calls on a youth helpline. And, while she might come across as if nothing mattered more than the colour of the dressing rooms in her new guest wing, the way she could listen to and calm distressed teens was incredible.
The music got even louder, and the MC appeared on stage. Applause filled the air. The show was about to start. Biting into another truffle, Cally sat back and acknowledged that maybe Mel was right. Man candy. So what if people were buying some hunky company? She wasn’t shopping. She’d just watch, be amused by the craziness, try not to feel cheapened, buy a few raffle tickets and donate a chunk on the quiet later. She sipped from her wide-rimmed glass and as she relaxed the first man for sale appeared.
‘I can’t believe I agreed to come here.’ Blake looked around him thunderstruck. ‘I know I didn’t agree to this.’
‘I thought you meant some kind of working bee. You said a spot of gardening, cleaning up.’
‘And that’s exactly what you’ll be doing.’
Blake gave Judith, his PA, a look of withering disbelief. Not if the sound of those braying women was anything to go by. ‘I really don’t think so.’
She’d insisted they come straight from the office, he’d been working late. So here he was after a long day, in his suit, needing a shave. He ran his fingers through his hair to stop him exiting the scene. For a second he wished he smoked so he could do something to relieve the stress. Honestly, meeting with a roomful of sceptical investors had nothing on this. This sounded worse than a bear pit. Now he knew how those gladiators had felt back in the Roman days. The first poor guy had gone on and the howls from the divas in the audience were deafening. Then he heard the bidding begin and the feeling of panic, mixed with distaste, rose.
‘Give the organisers my apologies. I’ll make a donation. Large as you like. But I’m not sticking around for this.’
Judith blocked his exit from the room. Not hard given that she was wider than a small van at the moment. She rubbed at the swell of her belly and looked at him with the beseeching eyes of a homeless puppy. Only hers were blue not brown and there was an irrepressible twinkle in them. ‘You’re not really going to leave, are you?’
‘You can’t. I said you’d be here.’ She switched to rubbing the small of her back. The action pushed her belly out even further. ‘Blake, please. You promised.’
She wasn’t laying it on with a trowel but by the wheelbarrow. Dump truck even.
His eyes narrowed. ‘The sooner you go on maternity leave, the better.’
She smiled sweetly. ‘I knew you wouldn’t let me down.’
Like most men, Blake found it pretty difficult to say no to the pleas of a pregnant woman. But while Judith knew she could play on it, she didn’t know the real reason why. There wasn’t much