Mistresses: In His Bed: The Billionaire's Trophy / Strictly Temporary / Whose Bed Is It Anyway?. Robyn Grady
conscious of his thick dark eyelashes. ‘I was trying so hard to impress my mother, and make her proud of me because I didn’t see her very often, but evidently I overdid it.’
Or his mother was an unfeeling shrew, Emmie reflected in pained silence, in much the same way as Emmie had been to judge Bastian on appearances and assume that his wealth and status explained his seeming lack of manners.
‘I suppose I was sort of prejudiced about you,’ Emmie admitted ruefully.
‘Ditto,’ Bastian added.
‘I’ll try very hard not to hold your money against you,’ Emmie muttered.
Bastian almost laughed out loud, for it was the very first time it had been suggested to him that his fortune could act as a source of prejudice. ‘And I will try equally hard not to cherish misconceptions about your…er, profession outside the office.’
Emmie winced. ‘Don’t use that word, “profession”,’ she advised. ‘It’s misleading when you think of that reference to “the oldest profession of all”.’
‘You’re right. That wasn’t tactful.’
Feeling almost in charity with him, Emmie was taken aback when he reached down and closed his hand round hers and her bright blue eyes dropped to their linked fingers in silent question.
‘We’re in view of the house. We now have those witnesses you said we needed before I could touch you,’ he extended in calm justification.
Emmie was tense, intent on the sheer novelty value of Bastian smiling at her, even if it was fake and for public show. Good grief, it was an incredible smile that utterly transformed his face, chasing the detachment she had so often glimpsed there. Reddening, she looked ahead of her and only just managed not to gasp like an overexcited child at the sight of the huge white rambling modern house sprawling along the edge of the beach. ‘That’s your home?’
‘I demolished my father’s old house and had this one built about six years back. Before that I stayed with my grandfather, who lives on the other side of the island…’
It was a massive house. Nervous butterflies leapt in her tummy at the thought of the family occasion she was about to crash in her false identity of girlfriend, not to mention the ex-fiancée, who she assumed would be present the night before the wedding in her role as bridesmaid.
‘You know we haven’t discussed any sort of cover story,’ she pointed out belatedly. ‘Where will I say we met?’
‘The office. Keep it simple but I doubt if you’ll be asked nosy questions. As a rule my relations are afraid of offending me and should be civil and reserved,’ Bastian reassured her.
That didn’t exactly suggest a warm and friendly welcome to Emmie and she felt more than ever like an intruder on private territory. It wasn’t possible to get more personal than seeing someone’s home and family. The warmth of his hand on hers was strangely comforting in spite of the fact that it was only part of the masquerade. He had such big hands that her hand felt lost in his. She sucked in a sustaining breath.
‘Stop stressing,’ Bastian urged. ‘You’re only here to smooth over any potential unpleasantness on my sister’s big day.’
That was not a comment designed to give Emmie a swollen head, she conceded with reluctant amusement. ‘Won’t your ex resent me being there?’ she asked abruptly.
‘She doesn’t care enough to resent you,’ Bastian drawled without expression.
‘And this is the woman you were planning to marry?’ Emmie prompted in a voice of disbelief.
‘Some of us don’t pin much faith on hearts and flowers.’
And then a private conversation became impossible as they climbed the steps to the front door where the housekeeper, a widely smiling older woman, was already shooting a flood of welcoming Greek to Bastian and he was replying in kind.
‘They’re all out by the pool,’ he explained, releasing her hand to lead the way through a vast echoing hall ornamented with a sweeping staircase.
Emmie breathed in deeply, smoothing damp palms down over her trousered legs and straightening her slender back when she heard the noise of voices, splashing and the shouts of excited children. Bastian strode ahead of her out into the sunshine again and a young blonde woman leapt up with a delighted grin to call, ‘Bastian! I thought you were never going to get here!’
As Bastian had momentarily forgotten her presence, Emmie hovered uncertainly by the poolside, infuriatingly conscious that she was the focus of all eyes but his. And then someone cannoned into her, knocking her off balance in her high heels and she went flying with a cry of fright into the pool. It happened so fast that she had no way of trying to stabilise herself and her head struck the edge of something hard and blackness claimed her.
Emmie recovered consciousness to find herself lying flat on a gigantic bed in soaking wet clothes. Pain was pulsing at the back of her head and she moaned, lifting her hand to gently trace the source of the sizeable bump beneath her hair.
‘Do you feel sick?’ a familiar voice asked and she lifted her swimming head and began to sit up only to find a large hand planted to her midriff to press her down flat again. ‘Lie still. You gave your head a hell of a thump,’ Bastian told her harshly.
‘Yes…’ Eyes opening, she focused dizzily on Bastian standing over her, clad only in a towel, a startling enough vision to make her stiffen. ‘You’re not dressed—’
‘Yes, and you’re dripping all over my bed,’ Bastian informed her.
A sudden shiver took hold of Emmie and she registered the wet cling of her sodden garments and groaned out loud. She was still staring at the most perfect set of masculine abs she had ever seen outside a movie screen. Stripped, Bastian had the musculature of a Greek god—not a very original thought, she conceded abstractedly, considering who and what he was.
‘Emmie…the doctor’s coming.’ Bastian bent down and scooped her up into his arms without warning. A muffled squeak of surprise escaped her. ‘What are you doing?’
‘I’m putting you in the bathroom so that you can get out of your wet clothes,’ Bastian told her with immense practicality. ‘Do you think you can stand up?’
‘I’ll have to,’ she muttered as he very carefully settled her down on her bare feet. ‘What happened?’
‘One of the teenagers rammed you and you fell in the pool. You were knocked out—’
‘My word, I might have drowned,’ Emmie framed shakily, her knees buckling under her. ‘I’m sorry, I’m feeling dizzy—’
Bastian hauled her up against him and sat down on the side of a raised bath.
‘Don’t you dare try to help me take my clothes off!’ Emmie warned him.
Face taut with frustration, Bastian lowered her limp body down onto the tiled floor. ‘Do you really think I’m likely to touch you inappropriately in the condition you’re in?’ he enquired angrily.
Shivering violently with the chill of her damp clothing, Emmie rested her brow down on her raised knees. ‘Just leave me…I’ll be OK—’
‘You really do have a very low opinion of me, don’t you?’ Bastian growled like an angry bear.
‘Sorry,’ Emmie whispered, on the edge of tears because she felt so weak while she was now also being tormented by the disastrous start she had made to her weekend with Bastian. So much for the girlfriend he wanted to use as cover! One minute inside the door she had taken a header into the pool and rendered herself unconscious and a liability.
In answer, Bastian trailed her sweater off over her head and tossed it aside. He draped a towelling robe round her pale slight shoulders, gazing down at her while wondering why she looked so absurdly vulnerable, fluffy lashes drooping, full lower lip trembling. He didn’t