Only Lover - Кэрол Мортимер - Only Lover Carole Mortimer Читать онлайн любовный роман

В женской библиотеке Мир Женщины кроме возможности читать онлайн также можно скачать любовный роман - Only Lover - Кэрол Мортимер бесплатно.

Правообладателям | Топ-100 любовных романов

Only Lover - Кэрол Мортимер - Читать любовный роман онлайн в женской библиотеке LadyLib.Net
Only Lover - Кэрол Мортимер - Скачать любовный роман в женской библиотеке LadyLib.Net

Мортимер Кэрол

Only Lover

Читать онлайн

Аннотация к роману
«Only Lover» - Кэрол Мортимер

Carole Mortimer is one of Mills & Boon’s best loved Modern Romance authors. With nearly 200 books published and a career spanning 35 years, Mills & Boon are thrilled to present her complete works available to download for the very first time! Rediscover old favourites – and find new ones! – in this fabulous collection…A deal for a mistress…Farrah knows her father's career will be ruined unless she intervenes—and quickly! One simple, human error shouldn't be held against him and she’s sure his employer, darkly handsome and dynamic Joel Falcone, will understand…But Joel's hard-headed response shocks her—as does the powerful attraction between them!—and she’s uneasy at the cold calculation behind his offer. Yet with no other choice, Farrah must take his deal… Joel will help Farrah, on one condition: she must pretend to be his mistress!
Следующая страница

Only Lover Carole Mortimer

Table of Contents

Title Page














JOEL looked up with a scowl as the intercom buzzed on his desk. ‘Yes?’ he asked curtly, his soft American drawl only faintly discernible.

‘Your eleven o'clock appointment has arrived,’ came Cathy's smooth reply.

Again Joel scowled. He wasn't in the mood for being pleasant this morning; last night's scene with Laura was still too vivid in his mind for him to be feeling polite. He clicked on the intercom again. ‘Show them in, Cathy,’ he said with a sigh.

His dark mood didn't lift as Cathy opened the connecting door between their offices to usher in the person waiting to see him. Cathy smiled at him before leaving the room, closing the door softly behind her. Joel transferred his attention to the girl who had entered the room at Cathy's bidding.

He needed no more than his normal male instincts to tell him that here was a beautiful girl. Her hair was a beautiful golden cap, wavy tendrils at her forehead and nape giving her the look of a cherub. But the tall curvaceous body certainly didn't belong to a child, far from it. The clear green eyes surrounded by thick dark lashes and the creamy matt complexion perhaps had too much of a look of forced innocence for Joel's liking, but if she could carry it off with any degree of conviction, who could blame her for trying? And the innocence did look natural, it was only Joel's cynical disbelief of all women that told him otherwise.

Joel sat forward in his deep leather armchair. ‘What can I do for you—–’ he consulted his appointment book. ‘Miss Halliday?'

Farrah licked her lips nervously, moving forward over the scatter rugs to stand in front of the huge mahogany desk. The desk seemed to be the only concession made to this room being an office. Huge leather-bound books lined the walls, deep leather armchairs in a rich brown colour stood either side of a huge drinks cabinet that looked, and probably was, a genuine antique, and half a dozen scatter rugs littered the highly polished floor. To Farrah it was like stepping back into the early nineteen-hundreds, and she felt even more unnerved than she had sitting outside in the reception area.

Joel Falcone was perhaps the only modern thing about this room and yet he wasn't in the least reassuring, with his dark over-long hair tinged with grey at the temples and shaped into the nape of his tanned neck, a hawk-like nose and firm sensuous lips that were now set in a straight forbidding line. But it was the eyes that affected her the most, narrowed icy blue eyes that appeared to miss nothing, and she was sure they didn't. His charcoal grey suit fitted perfectly across his powerful shoulders and the silk shirt gleamed whitely against the darkness of his skin.

‘Well, Miss Halliday?’ he said tersely, his voice deep and husky.

‘Don't you—–Don't you know me, Mr Falcone?’ she asked tremulously.

He raised an arrogant eyebrow. ‘Should I?'

‘Perhaps not me, but perhaps P-Paul Halliday.’ The last came out breathlessly.

Joel's dark brow creased in thought. ‘Paul Halliday,’ he repeated slowly. ‘You're his daughter? Or perhaps his wife?'

‘His daughter,’ she admitted. Still she saw no dawning comprehension in his dark arrogant face. ‘Don't you know who my father is?'

Joel began to feel impatient. He couldn't be bothered with this guessing game. ‘As far as I am aware your father works in the accounts department,’ his eyes sharpened with interest. ‘Ah, I begin to understand. Your father stole from this firm, did he not? Are you here to plead on his behalf?’ he mocked cruelly.

‘Not plead, no,’ her eyes sparkled angrily. ‘And my father did not steal from you. He borrowed a small amount of money and—–'

A deep mirthless laugh interrupted her tirade. ‘Your father did not borrow anything. And it was hardly a small sum.

Twenty-five thousand pounds taken systematically over eleven months could hardly be classed in that light.'

Farrah's hands wrung together and Joel was forced to notice what beautiful hands they were, long and tapered with perfectly lacquered nails. ‘But my father needed that money. Oh, I know that doesn't excuse him, but you wouldn't miss twenty-five thousand pounds among your millions.'

‘Maybe not, in fact, I'm sure not,’ Joel said blandly. ‘But the excuse that he needed the money is hardly my affair. For whatever reason he stole that money, gambling debts, drink—although if he used all that money on drink he would be in his grave by now, or even if it was to buy you out of trouble, I do not see why my company should bail him—or you—out.'

She bit her lips hard to stop them from trembling. Her father had warned her that Joel Falcone was a hard man, but she hadn't realised just how hard. She had come here today with the intention of begging if necessary, but she couldn't do such a thing before this hard unyielding man. He would merely look down his nose at her and not give an inch.

‘He didn't need the money for himself—or me for that matter. I have no need of money.'

Joel looked at her elegant summer dress, her sheer tights and the well fitting leather shoes. His eyes moved slowly back to her face, and once again he was struck by her beauty. ‘I can see that. Do you have yourself a rich middle-aged protector who tries to live through your youth?’ he said this with a sneer, and Farrah flinched at his contempt.

Two angry spots of colour appeared on her creamy cheeks and suddenly she looked very youthful, her eyes wide and distressed. ‘I don't have a rich protector, Mr Falcone,’ she told him stiffly. ‘You just happen to pay well.'

I do?’ For once his bland expression deserted him. ‘Do you work for me?'

‘In Angie Preston's department,’ she supplied unwillingly, the last thing she or her father needed was for her to lose her job too. At the moment she was supporting both of them, although how long she could continue to do so she wasn't sure. The Falcone newspaper and magazine organisation did pay well as she had said, but certainly not enough to support two people.

‘The problem page!’ he said with disgust. ‘And how long have you been with the firm?'

‘Three years now, ever since I left school.'

‘School?’ Joel echoed sharply. ‘How old are you?’ he asked.

Farrah hesitated. She had deliberately dressed to look older for this appointment today, although with these baby waves that was quite difficult. And now she had ruined it all with a slip of the tongue. ‘Nineteen,’ she supplied miserably.

Joel's eyes narrowed even more. ‘And what does a child like you hope to achieve by coming here to see me? Your father is an embezzler and must pay the penalty for such a crime.'

‘Oh, but I'll—I'll do anything to save him from going to prison,’ her eyes pleaded with him. ‘Anything!'

‘Don't you think that's rather a rash statement to make, Miss Halliday?’ he said coldly. ‘You don't know what manner of man I am. I could ask anything whatsoever of you and you would be compelled to comply.'

‘Oh, but I—you wouldn't—–’ She blushed fiery red.

‘You're right, I wouldn't.’ His lips curled with distaste. ‘At thirty-seven I'm nearly as old as your own father. I haven't taken to seducing babes, no matter how charmingly they offer themselves to me. Does your father know what you're doing?'

‘He knows I've come to see you, yes.'

‘Why couldn't he come himself?'

‘He isn't well,’ Farrah replied resentfully. ‘He couldn't go to prison, Mr Falcone, it would kill him. Please don't prosecute him!'

Joel began to look bored. ‘The prosecution of your father is not my concern. I have security people to deal with things like that.'

‘Please don't be so cruel, Mr Falcone.

My father is a sick man, and this worry isn't helping him. He stole that money for a good reason, I promise you that. I'll pay it all back, really I will.'

He gave a harsh laugh. ‘Twenty-five thousand pounds! My dear girl, you may only be nineteen, but it would take you nearly a lifetime to pay me back on the salary you earn.'

‘I don't intend to be working on the problem page the rest of my working life. I want to be a proper journalist.'

‘It would still take you years.’ He became thoughtful, his dark face almost satanic in its intensity. He might be thirty-seven years of age, but he was certainly the most excitingly handsome man Farrah had ever seen. He was like a sleepy feline, sleek and beautiful, and just as dangerous. She watched him as the silence continued, wondering what he was thinking behind that enigmatic expression.

‘You could just be the answer to my problem,’ he spoke softly, so softly she could hardly hear him. Joel looked at her critically. ‘A little young perhaps, but that can't be helped. At least you're beautiful.'

‘What are you talking about, Mr Falcone?'

He smiled slightly, but it was a smile without humour. ‘Just an idea I have. You said you would do anything—I hope you meant that. Go now, I have to think this over.'

‘But I—I—–When will I know?'

‘When I damn well choose to tell you,’ he snapped. ‘I'll call you in the department tomorrow. I take it you will be in to work tomorrow?'

‘Yes, but I—–’ She could just imagine the girls’ astonishment and curiosity if she were summoned up to the fifteenth floor to see the owner, Joel Falcone. She was only a very junior member of staff while this man was the owner of newspapers and magazines both in England and abroad, and was never seen by his minions. None of the girls in her office knew anything of her father's embezzling—she cringed at the word, but in truth there was no other description more fitting—they all assumed he was ill. How could she explain the reason for Joel Falcone's summons without involving her father?

Blue eyes narrowed to icy slits. ‘I care nothing for your embarrassment,’ he guessed the reason for her silence correctly. ‘Just make sure you come when you're called.'

Farrah could do nothing else but accept his words as a dismissal, he was obviously a man of forceful character who didn't expect his words to be questioned. Miserably she made her way home. She had thought she would be able to give her father some good news when she returned, but she was to be disappointed, and so, unfortunately, was he. The interview hadn't yet been concluded.

Her father looked up expectantly as she quietly entered their flat, his green eyes so like her own looking at her avidly, almost eagerly, and what he read in her face made his shoulders droop unhappily. Farrah could cheerfully have hit Joel Falcone's arrogant face at that moment for causing her father this extra pain.

‘No luck, I see,’ said her father wearily.

She sat down beside him on the sofa, taking his painfully thin hand into her own, trying to give him some of the warmth she had felt from the blazing sun outside. She smiled at him reassuringly. ‘It will be all right, Daddy, really it will.'

‘I bet the arrogant devil wouldn't even let you through the door when he realised who you were.'

Farrah couldn't bear the look of defeat on her father's face, a man who had once been a tall proud man, now but a shrivelled shell of himself. ‘You're wrong, Daddy, I did see him. We talked for about ten minutes or so.'

‘But you didn't get him to stop prosecution did you?'

‘Well no, but I—–'

‘Typical Italian is Joel Falcone,’ mumbled her father. ‘Not an ounce of forgiveness in their body. Just pure revenge.'

Farrah attempted a light laugh, but her father's words had sent an icy shiver down her back. ‘He isn't pure Italian, Daddy—well, not really. He's an Italian-American, he's probably never even been to Italy.'

‘Of course he has, Farrah, he has a branch of Falcone's over there. So he wouldn't agree to drop the charges,’ he repeated.

‘I didn't say that, Daddy,’ she licked her lips nervously. ‘He hasn't made up his mind yet.'

Her father looked at her sharply. ‘What does that mean?’ he asked slowly.

Farrah stood up to pace the room, a large sun-filled room that seemed to reflect her mother's own sunny personality. God, she missed her mother! What would she have done in this situation? What a stupid question that was; if it weren't for their love of her mother this situation wouldn't have arisen. But neither of them had realised her father was stealing that money. She forced a cheerful smile. ‘I'm to go back and see him tomorrow.'

Paul Halliday looked at her suspiciously. ‘What for?'

‘I don't know, Daddy. Just to give me his answer, I suppose.'

‘He could have done that today. He didn't make a pass at you, did he? I've heard of his reputation with women and it isn't very flattering. He had a string of women before finally settling for Laura Bennett a few years ago. Not that he's changed much. There seem to have been just as many women, and she isn't much better.'

‘No, Daddy, he didn't make a pass at me. Far from it. He told me he was old enough to be my father.'

‘And so he is. Must be forty if he's a day.'

‘He's thirty-seven, actually. And he's rather handsome in a dangerous sort of way. He's not the ordinary type of man you see about. There's something sort of—well, sort of special about him. You know—he's the sort you could never ignore in the street,’ she bubbled over with laughter. ‘He looks as if he should be the head of the Mafia or something, with all that black, grey-sprinkled hair, that dark harshly handsome face and the expensive handmade suits.'

‘Don't even say things like that in fun, Farrah. You never know.'

‘Don't be silly, Daddy. He doesn't look the violent type—powerful, yes, and seemingly completely in control of his own destiny, but not physically violent, at least, not needlessly so.'

‘He made quite an impression on you, didn't he, child?'

‘Oh yes. He was—well, he was quite something. Frightening, but so very much alive. He seemed to emit suppressed power, as if it only needed some little thing and he would explode into life. But he's cold—so cold, as if love has never touched him, or he has never allowed it to. It's strange really, I only saw him for a few minutes and yet I can remember him vividly.'

‘Now then, Farrah,’ her father said briskly, ‘don't become fanciful about the man. Remember, my future depends on him.'

All the light died out of her face as she sat down again beside her father. ‘Don't worry so, Daddy,’ she hugged him. ‘Everything will work out, you'll see.'

She told herself the same thing many times over the next day, looking up nervously every time the telephone rang. She had wanted to wear something rather smarter than the fitted denims and checked shirt that she usually wore, but that would have only drawn attention to herself. And that she could quite well do without. Especially after this morning's conversation with Fiona.

Fiona had sat on the side of Farrah's desk, a tall leggy brunette who was aware of her own beauty without being conceited. She was very popular with both sexes and Farrah returned her smile companionably. ‘Something wrong?'

She referred to the letters she had just passed on for reply to the older girl. Fiona shook her head. ‘No, these are fine. It's just that—well, you were off sick yesterday, right? Well, I could have sworn I saw you in the building,’ she looked puzzled. ‘In fact I thought you were going up in the private lift to the fifteenth floor.'

‘Who, me?’ Farrah did her best to give a teasing smile, she only hoped Fiona was convinced by the shaky result. ‘Going up to Joel Falcone's office? You must be joking!'

Fiona stood up, smiling self-derisively. ‘I thought I must have been wrong. None of us ever see the great man. I've never set eyes on him, and I've been here nearly four years.'

‘Rather elusive, is he?'

‘Elusive! The man's positively unattainable.'

‘But he's very friendly with Laura Bennett,’ Farrah pointed out, ‘so he can't be that unattainable.'

‘His sleeping partner, in more ways than one,’ scoffed Fiona. ‘I've always said business and pleasure shouldn't be mixed, and they're a good example.'

Farrah looked up now as Tracy beckoned her to the internal telephone. ‘Joel Falcone's office,’ she said in awed tones.

Farrah quickly took the receiver, turning away from the several pairs of eyes that had turned to look at her at Tracy's outburst. ‘Yes?’ she said breathlessly.

‘I want to see you now,’ came the cool clipped tones of her employer.

‘Now?’ she repeated stupidly.

He gave an impatient sigh. ‘Now, Miss Halliday, don't keep me waiting.’ The telephone clicked down firmly at the other end.

Farrah looked about her awkwardly, quietly making her excuses to leave the office before the girls’ curiosity got the better of them and they actually started to ask questions. She almost ran out of the office, getting into the lift and pressing the button for the fifteenth floor. Her heart began to beat erratically, sounding like a bass drum to her ears. The procedure of yesterday was repeated, except this time she wasn't kept waiting but was shown straight into Joel Falcone's spacious office.

Again as yesterday, he was seated behind the huge imposing desk, but dressed less formally, the dark grey business suit of yesterday discarded in favour of a black silk shirt opened casually at the neck and black trousers that fitted closely to his long muscular legs.

His eyes narrowed appraisingly as he took in her own appearance and Farrah put up a nervous hand to ruffle her short cherubic hair. It was an endearing gesture, and made those icy blue eyes narrow even more.

‘Miss Halliday,’ he said deeply.

‘Mr Falcone,’ she replied huskily. ‘I—er—– You asked me to come.'

‘Of course I did, Miss Halliday, I'm not so ancient that my memory fails me,’ his mouth twisted mockingly. ‘We have a conversation to finish.'

Farrah blinked nervously. ‘Yes, Mr Falcone. You—um—you said you had something to think over.'

Joel Falcone stood up, his tall lean frame even more intimidating as he came round the desk to stand in front of her. ‘Won't you sit down. Miss Halliday?'

She looked round at the leather armchair just behind her, dropping down thankfully into its luxurious depth and then wishing she hadn't as she realised how much smaller it made her feel as she looked up at him.

He began to pace up and down the office, emanating a completely masculine aura as he occasionally looked at her before turning frowningly away again. Suddenly he stopped in front of her. ‘Tell me, Miss Halliday—what do you think of me?'

Farrah looked at him open-mouthed. Whatever it was she had been expecting it certainly hadn't been a question like this. ‘Wh-What do I think of—of you?’ she asked hesitantly.

Icy blue eyes pinpointed her to the chair and Farrah moved back involuntarily. ‘Yes, me Miss Halliday, not Joel Falcone your employer, but Joel Falcone the man.'

What on earth was he talking about? Farrah felt completely bemused. She didn't quite see what this conversation had to do with her father and the taking of this man's money. ‘I don't quite see …’ She shook her head.

‘No one is asking you to. Answer the question, Miss Halliday.'

Farrah looked at him closely to see if he was mocking her, but his expression was unreadable. What could she say about such a man, especially to his face? Her cheeks blushed a fiery red and she sat forward uncomfortably. ‘Well, I—I don't know what to say!'

‘The truth would perhaps be preferable,’ he drawled dryly. ‘Speak up, girl. I don't bite—well, not babies like you anyway, and certainly not in these circumstances.'

She blushed again, looking away from his taunting face. ‘What am I supposed to say? You know what you look like, so why ask me?'

Joel Falcone sighed in exasperation. ‘I don't mean my physical looks—well, perhaps I do, but I don't mean the fact that I have dark hair, am tall, of Italian descent from my skin colouring, and look my age. I want to know how you feel about me, how my looks affect you?”

‘Well, for a start you don't look your age, experienced and—cynical and—–'

‘Yes? Well, don't stop now. This conversation could be the deciding point of your father's immediate future.'

‘Oh! Oh well, in that case,’ she looked at him critically. ‘You're cynical most of all—and rather condescending. And arrogant. But you're attractive too.'

‘Oh, I'm glad about that,’ he interrupted mockingly. ‘Let's concentrate on that, shall we?'

‘All right. Well, you have a sort of magnetism, animal magnetism I think they call it. And your features are ruggedly attractive, not handsome, you understand, but very attractive.'

Joel Falcone walked back around his desk and sat down again, smiling slightly at her embarrassment. ‘So we have established that you don't find me repulsive. That's good—in the circumstances. And I—I don't find you repulsive either. Too young for my taste, but then only I know that.’ He was talking quietly to himself again. He looked up at her. ‘Sorry, honey, I was far away.'

Farrah shrugged her shoulders. ‘What's all this about, Mr Falcone? I don't understand you.'

‘No, I don't suppose you do. But you will—oh, believe me, you will. Do you know anything about my personal life?'

She hadn't, but during the last twenty-four hours she had learnt that he had more than just a business relationship with the other owner of this firm, the actress Laura Bennett, but they both had other relationships. She paled. Surely he wasn't interested in her that way? Hadn't he said she was too young for him? But he had also said she wasn't repulsive to him. When she said anything yesterday she hadn't meant anything!

‘Relax, Miss Halliday. And as you don't seem to have an answer I will assume that you have heard a little about me but don't feel able to reveal it,’ he laughed harshly. ‘Why you should feel so reticent I have no idea. You've already called my cynical, condescending, and arrogant, so why draw the line at my private life?'

Her green eyes sparkled at his intended mockery. ‘I said those things because I know them to be true. The things I've heard about your private life are exactly that, hearsay. I don't feel able to judge you on that.'

Joel Falcone's mouth tightened visibly and Farrah flinched from his icy gaze. ‘I'm not asking you to judge me on anything,’ he snapped coldly. ‘You are hardly in a position to judge anyone.'

Farrah sprang agilely to her feet, sparks of anger shooting from her eyes. ‘You're cruel, Mr Falcone!’ she choked.

He smiled, a slow leisurely smile that taunted and mocked. ‘Yes, I'm that too. Sit down, Miss Halliday,’ he said harshly, all humour leaving his face to be replaced by a cold mask. ‘You asked for my help when I would be quite happy to let the law deal with your father. I thought I had found a way to help him and myself at the same time. It seems I was wrong.’ He stood up in conclusion of the interview. ‘You wouldn't be co-operative, and a sulky angry companion I can do without.'

All anger left Farrah at his dismissive words and her shoulders slumped dejectedly. She dropped back into the chair. ‘Please, Mr Falcone, I—I didn't mean to lose my temper. If you have some way of helping my father then I'll gladly help—co-operate, whatever,’ she said anxiously.

‘You really are desperate, aren't you? Very well, we'll get back to my private life. You have no doubt heard of my long-standing friendship with Laura Bennett.’ His mouth curled back sneeringly as she blushed. ‘I thought so, it seems to be public knowledge, wouldn't you say?'

‘Yes,’ she agreed softly.

‘Yes. Well, up until now it has been a very—intimate relationship, shall we say? Yes, very intimate.’ Joel Falcone obviously felt no embarrassment at his conversation, but Farrah blushed fiery red. ‘I see you understand my meaning,’ he taunted. ‘And while Laura may be satisfied with that sort of close business and personal arrangement, I find that it no longer suits me at all.'

Farrah felt tempted to ask what this had to do with her, but she resisted. She daren't anger this man any further. ‘Yes?’ she prompted.

He sighed deeply. ‘So, I'm completely bored by the whole tedious affair.'

‘Then why carry—–? Sorry,’ she bowed her head, ‘I didn't mean to pry.'

‘Why carry on,’ he finished for her, feeling none of her embarrassment. ‘I've asked myself the same thing many times. I don't have an answer—except perhaps that Laura seems to deliberately ignore any hints I may give about breaking up our relationship. At the begining I needed a hostess, I entertain a great deal, and I suppose you could say I used her. But whereas the affair seems to have cooled on my side, Laura seems determined to make something more permanent out of it. Needless to say, I don't want that. I want her out of my life once and for all.'

‘Mr Falcone, I don't see why I need to know all this. It isn't any of my business, is it?'

‘I'm not in the habit of telling my private affairs to complete strangers, in fact I don't discuss them with anyone,’ his voice was bitingly precise. ‘Unless of course I have a reason for it, and in your case I do.'

‘And what is that?’ Her curiosity was fully aroused now.

‘It's quite simple really, Miss Halliday. As I've said, my affair with Laura is over as far as I'm concerned, at least in the physical sense, but she seems to want to carry on with it. It's come to the point where I don't even want to see her.'

Farrah was still puzzled. ‘If you feel that strongly about it why don't you just tell her how you feel?'

‘I've tried, but unfortunately Laura feels that her shares in this company give her some sort of special privilege where I'm concerned. They don't. I want to buy her out, but she seems to feel that if I did that she wouldn't see me again. She's right. I don't appreciate her using our business tie to force our personal relationship. I intend showing her that I don't need her—in any way. We have an agreement in our contracts that if either of us decides to sell, shares must be offered to the other partner before being put on the open market. I want to make Laura so mad she has to sell. Now this is where you come in. If Laura genuinely believes me to be in love with, and possibly contemplating marriage with, another woman, then she'll realise I mean what I say about severing our friendship. Her pride won't stand for too much of that sort of treatment. I wanted things to end differently, but she's made that impossible. So,’ he sighed, ‘in return for dropping the charges against your father you are going to become my much-loved girl-friend.'


Получить полную версию книги можно по ссылке - Здесь

Следующая страница

Ваши комментарии
к роману Only Lover - Кэрол Мортимер

Комментарии к роману "Only Lover - Кэрол Мортимер" отсутствуют

Ваше имя


Введите сумму чисел с картинки