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Грэхем Линн

Brides For Billionaires

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Chapter Ten

MIKHAIL LISTENED TO the lawyer’s advice only because he paid generously for all advice that offered him greater financial protection. But he was immoveable when it came to the issue of presenting Kat with another legal agreement, on this occasion one relating to her status as his live-in lover. No way was he making that mistake again! He had still to hear the last from her lips regarding the previous agreement, and in any case he was convinced that Kat didn’t have a mercenary bone in her body. Time and time again she had spurned the chance to enrich herself at his expense. Even though she had been desperate for money to settle her debts when they first met, her bill for that one night of accommodation in her former home had been ridiculously modest.

‘My girlfriend is not a gold-digger,’ Mikhail murmured levelly. ‘I am not that much of a fool. I can scent a gold-digger at a hundred yards.’

‘Situations change, people change,’ the smooth-talking legal eagle pointed out speciously. ‘It is of crucial importance that you consider the future and protect yourself.’

Mikhail reckoned that he had been protecting himself all his life in one way or another, so there was nothing new in that idea. Protecting himself was second nature. He was well aware that he was still feeling punch drunk at the roaring success of letting Kat into his life on a less temporary basis. That had proved to be an excellent move and he was certainly reaping the benefits on the home front. If it was possible to bottle the essence of Kat, he would be constantly drunk. An abstracted smile curled his handsome mouth as he thought of Kat in his hot tub, Kat in his bed, Kat at his dining table, Kat … whenever and wherever he wanted her. After a mere six weeks he was happy to judge his new living arrangements as the essence of perfection. Even better, he had worked out exactly where his father had gone wrong in his relationships with women. The true secret was moderation. He didn’t allow himself the pleasure of Kat every night; he carefully rationed himself to ensure that she did not become too necessary to his comfort. Sometimes he stayed over quite deliberately in the city and pleaded the pressure of work. Sometimes he didn’t phone her, although she was getting remarkably good at phoning him to ask why he hadn’t phoned, which rather put paid to the point of that attempt to set out his boundaries. As long as he stayed in control, however, he foresaw no problems.

‘Are you considering marriage?’ the lawyer asked in a bald enquiry.

Mikhail frowned and compressed his lips at the question.

‘Do you think your Russian is considering marrying you?’ Emmie was asking her sister at that exact same moment as she zipped up the frock Kat was trying on in the spacious cubicle. ‘You know … is the living with him a trial for the ultimate commitment in his eyes?’

‘No. Mikhail seems quite happy with where we are now,’ Kat pronounced thoughtfully. ‘He’s very cautious … What do you think of this dress?’

‘The silver metallic one has the most impact. I already told you that,’ Emmie repeated, smoothing an abstracted hand over the obvious swell of her own pregnant stomach as she too looked in the mirror at their combined reflection. ‘I just don’t want you to be hurt, Kat … and goodness knows, you’re not getting any younger—’

‘Like I need that reminder!’ Kat quipped with a wry laugh.

‘Yes, but it is something you need to seriously consider. If you do want children some day you haven’t got much time left to play with.’

‘Emmie, only a few months ago there was no man in my life,’ Kat reminded her ruefully. ‘I certainly can’t expect the first one who comes along in years to want to start a family with me. That would be a big ask for a guy who shies away from serious commitment.’

‘Have you discussed the subject with him?’ Emmie asked.

Kat stiffened, her thoughts hurtling back several weeks to the evening she had received the proof that their contraceptive oversight on the yacht had not resulted in conception. Mikhail had absorbed the news without comment, revealing neither relief nor regret, but Kat had been shocked by the stark wave of disappointment that had consumed her. As she had spent so many years raising her siblings she had always assumed that she would never crave the added responsibility of having a child of her own. Unfortunately for her, somehow even being with Mikhail had given her a powerful yearning for a baby, but she was utterly convinced that nothing would ever come of it.

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