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WIFE BY APPROVALBillionaire Richard Anders needed Valentina to claim the Castle Anders. But playing the part of husband was proving a little too pleasurable. He had Valentina’s innocence and her word at the altar, but Richard knew some secrets needed to stay hidden…DATING THE REBEL TYCOONRosie knew she didn’t stand a chance with heart-throb and childhood crush Cameron Kelly, until years later they met again – on a date! There’s something different about the gorgeous billionaire – he’s darker, more intense, dangerous…and he wants her!THE PLAYBOY TAKES A WIFEPlayboy Lucas Chandler stunned New York society when he announced his sudden marriage to mysterious child-care worker Alicia. Then came the news that they’d adopted a little boy – is this Cinderella really as perfect as everyone thinks?
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Taming the Rebel Tycoon Wife by Approval Lee Wilkinson Dating the Rebel Tycoon Ally Blake The Playboy Takes a Wife Crystal Green

Taming the Rebel Tycoon

Wife by Approval

Lee Wilkinson

Dating the Rebel Tycoon

Ally Blake

The Playboy Takes a Wife

Crystal Green


Wife by Approval

LEE WILKINSON lives with her husband in a three-hundred-year-old stone cottage in a Derbyshire village, which most winters gets cut off by snow. They both enjoy travelling, and recently, joining forces with their daughter and son-in-law, spent a year going round the world ‘on a shoestring’ while their son looked after Kelly, their much loved German shepherd dog. Her hobbies are reading and gardening, and holding impromptu barbecues for her long-suffering family and friends.


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten


SEATED at her desk in her first-floor office, Valentina Dunbar was gazing absently through the rain-spattered window which overlooked Cartel Wines’s long, narrow car park and, beyond the high wall, the River Thames.

Dusk had begun to creep stealthily out of hiding and lights were coming on, gleaming on the dark water and glowing orange against the cloudy purple sky.

Most of the day staff tried to get away early on a Friday night and a steady stream of vehicles were already leaving the car park to join the London evening rush hour.

Responsible for organising the social gatherings and the informative literature that invariably accompanied Cartel Wines’s latest sales push, Tina was endeavouring to put the finishing touches to the pre-Christmas campaign. But for once she wasn’t giving the job her full attention.

It was Friday the thirteenth. A day that, for her at least, had lived up to its unlucky reputation.

First thing that morning she had slipped and hurt her ankle getting out of the shower. Gritting her teeth, she had been forced to stand on one leg while she had dried and dressed and taken her thick, silky hair, naturally blonde on top but with darker undertones, into a neat chignon.

By the time she’d finished, the pain had eased quite a bit and she was able to hobble into the living-room to get her toast and coffee.

Ruth, her friend and temporary flatmate, who was breakfasting in her dressing gown, looked up to ask, ‘Why are you limping?’

As Tina finished telling her, the phone rang.

‘I hope this is Jules,’ Ruth exclaimed eagerly, grabbing the receiver.

It was.

Her fiancé’s firm had transferred him to Paris for six months and she was missing him badly.

‘He’s coming to London for the weekend,’ she said after a minute or so, her elfin face full of excitement, her black hair standing up in spikes. ‘He’ll be arriving this afternoon and going back Monday morning.’

Then, apologetically, ‘By the way, he’s expecting to stay at the flat with me…’

The ‘flat’ was nothing more than a large bedsitter, which meant that Tina would have to make other arrangements for the three nights.

Her own flat was in a run-down Victorian house that the new owner had decided to have refurbished and modernized, and Ruth had offered her a put-you-up for the ten weeks or so that would elapse before she could move back in again.

‘Perhaps you could ask Lexi or Jo to give you a bed for the weekend?’ Ruth suggested.

‘I’ll think about it,’ Tina said non-committally. Then, seeing Ruth’s concerned expression and knowing she owed it to her friend, she added cheerfully, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll get something fixed up. You just make sure you have a great time.’

‘I will,’ Ruth assured her as she went to shower and dress.

Both Lexi and Jo had resident boyfriends and, with no intention of playing gooseberry, Tina had already made up her mind to book into a hotel.

As soon as she had pushed a handful of underwear, a few changes of clothing and some necessities into a small case, she collected her shoulder bag and mac and, calling, ‘Have a good weekend…see you Monday,’ let herself out.

When she had descended the stairs with care, she crossed the foyer to check for mail. In Ruth’s pigeon-hole was a single redirected letter addressed to her, which she thrust unopened into her bag.

Until now the autumn weather had proved to be glorious, an Indian Summer of warm golden days and balmy nights. But today it was grey and chilly, a thin curtain of drizzle being blown along by a strong blustery wind.

She turned up the collar of her mac and, her ankle still a little painful, made her way to where her car was parked in the residents only space that belonged to the building.

Her offside front tyre was flat.

By the time the local garage had checked the tyre, repaired the damage and re-inflated it, she was late for work.

The morning had passed in something of a whirl and it had been practically twelve o’clock before she’d realised that, owing to the earlier upheaval, she had forgotten to pack her usual sandwiches or her small flask of coffee.

But there was a delicatessen just around the corner that made up rolls and sandwiches to order. If she could get there before the rush…

As she reached in her bag for her purse she came across the forgotten letter. Glancing at it, she noticed that in red, on the left-hand side of the envelope, was stamped what appeared to be the name of some firm.

Dropping it on her desk to read when she got back, she pulled on her mac and made her way out of the rear entrance.

In a few minutes she returned, carrying a ham and salad roll and a fruit yogurt in a paper bag. She was crossing the deserted car park, her head down against the now driving rain when, glancing up, she saw a man watching her.

Tall, dark-haired and arresting, he was standing quite still beneath the roofed loading bay, his eyes fixed on her.

Since Kevin’s defection, shattered and wholly disillusioned, she had steered well clear of all men.

Especially handsome ones.

Though this man couldn’t be called handsome in the film star sense. He was very good-looking but in a tough, wholly masculine way.

Her pulse rate quickening, she found herself wondering who he could be.

As she drew nearer, their eyes met.

Some glances were like collisions. The impact of those dark eyes stopped her in her tracks and made her heart start to throw itself against her ribs.

She was still standing rooted to the spot, staring at him as though mesmerized, when the bottom of the wet paper bag gave way, allowing her lunch to fall through.

The roll, though soggy, was fairly easy to pick up, but the plastic yogurt carton had split and its contents were oozing out.

Making use of one of the paper napkins that had been included, she managed to scoop up the mess and deposit the remains of her lunch in the nearest litter bin.

As she wiped her hands on the remaining napkin, her gaze was drawn once more to where the dark-haired stranger had been standing.

With a strange sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, as though she had dropped too fast in an express lift, she found herself staring at the now empty space.

He had vanished.

She was certain he hadn’t passed her and she had neither seen nor heard a car start, which meant he must have gone inside.

So who was he?

She knew all the admin and general office staff by sight and this man didn’t belong to either. Nor, she was quite sure, was he one of the warehouse staff. Apart from an unmistakable air of assurance and authority, he had been far too well-dressed to be doing manual work.

However, to have been here at all, he must have some connection with Cartel Wines.

Perhaps he was a visitor.

But visitors always used the visitors’ car park and the main entrance. They didn’t come in the back way and go through the warehouse, as he must have done…

A trickle of icy-cold water ran down the back of her neck, making her shiver. Belatedly aware that she was standing like a fool getting saturated, she hurried into the building.

As she walked through the warehouse she glanced about her. But there was no sign of him amongst the men at work and she knew she couldn’t mistake him.

When she reached the top of the stairs she found that her office door was a little ajar and realised that in her haste to beat the rush she couldn’t have latched it properly.

While she fetched a towel from the small adjoining cloakroom to pat dry her hair and face, her thoughts winged their way back to the dark-haired stranger like homing pigeons.

In spite of the fact that she had seen him only briefly, his height and the width of his shoulders, the image of his lean, attractive face was clear in her mind. And, though she had tried her hardest to dismiss it, it had haunted her for the rest of the afternoon, displacing any thoughts of hunger.

Now, gazing through the window, her blue-violet eyes abstracted, she was still wondering about him…Who was he? Why had he been here? If he had been a visitor, would she see him again…?

But she must stop this fruitless speculation, she told herself sternly, and concentrate on practicalities. At almost five o’clock on a wet Friday afternoon, with darkness hovering in the wings, she still hadn’t decided where to stay.

But after urging Didi, her stepsister, to accept the place at the prestigious Ramon Bonaventure School of Drama that she had been offered, and promising to pay her fees, it would have to be somewhere not too expensive.

Still, she would manage somehow. It might mean stringent economies for a couple of years, but to have Didi—who had been christened Valerie, but had always been Val to her friends and acquaintances and Didi to her family—on course again it would be well worth it…

The bleep of the internal phone cut through her thoughts. Pushing aside the lists of dates and tasting notes that littered her desk, Tina picked up the receiver.

‘Miss Dunbar,’ Sandra Langton’s somewhat nasal voice said, ‘Mr De Vere would like to see you before you leave.’

‘I’ll be straight down.’

Wondering at the unexpected summons, she left her office, a slim figure in a smart grey suit, and, still limping slightly, descended the flight of bare stone steps that led down to a wide corridor.

On the right, the heavy double doors into the warehouse—where the wines for the domestic customers were stored before being put into stout cartons to be despatched nationwide—were closed.

To the left were the main offices. In the outer office, Sandra Langton, the boss’s middle-aged PA, gave her an odd look before saying, ‘If you’d like to go straight through?’

Frowning a little, Tina tapped at the door of the inner sanctum and waited for the curt, ‘Come in.’

She thought, not for the first time, that if Frenchmen were noted for their charm, Maurice De Vere had to be the exception to the rule.

A short, dry man with grey hair, thin features and an irascible manner, he was due to retire at the end of the month.

He hadn’t really been a bad boss, she reflected, but, a diehard who disliked modern technology, he had refused to install computers or any equipment that would have made office life easier.

Added to that, he had always believed in the stick rather than the carrot, so whoever took his place would almost certainly be an improvement.

Ensconced behind a large, imposing desk, with a motion of one claw-like hand he waved her to a chair.

She was barely seated when, looking down at a sheaf of papers, he began, ‘I’m afraid I have some bad news for you, Miss Dunbar…’

He hesitated, then, looking at her over his rimless glasses, went on abruptly, ‘When I decided to retire and I sold out to the Matterhorn group, they promised very few changes. On the whole they’ve kept their word. But this afternoon I learnt that John Marsden, the man who’ll be coming in on Monday to start running Cartel Wines, has his own very definite ideas about how the sales campaigns should be staged.’

‘I don’t see that as a problem,’ Tina said quietly. ‘The suggestions I’ve already made can easily be changed or adapted to suit—’

The words died on her lips as De Vere began to shake his head.

‘I’m afraid Marsden’s insisting on bringing in his own team of organisers, which means you’re redundant.’

As she stared at him in stunned silence, he added, ‘I’m more sorry than I can say. Your work has always been excellent…’

Coming from a man who had never been known to compliment his staff, that was praise indeed. But what use was it when she was now out of a job?

‘Bearing that in mind, I’ll make sure you have very good references.’

‘When…?’ Her voice wobbled dangerously and she stopped speaking.

Looking uncomfortable, he said, ‘As Marsden will need your office for his own team, it would be best if you left immediately. I’ve authorized six months’ salary in lieu of notice, which will be paid directly into your bank…’

That was very generous. Her contract had only specified one month.

‘A reference and any other appropriate papers will be sent to your temporary address in due course.’

Rising to his feet, he held out his hand. ‘May I wish you well.’

Her voice under control now, she said, ‘Thank you,’ then shook the cold, papery hand and walked out of the room with her head held high.

In the outer office, Sandra Langton, who was just putting on her coat, said with obvious sympathy, ‘Tough luck.’

Then, dropping her voice, ‘I must admit I was surprised by how hard old Sourpuss took it…When will you be leaving?’

‘Now…As soon as I’ve cleared my desk.’

‘Well, all the best.’

‘Thank you.’

Shock setting in, Tina climbed the stairs on legs that felt as wadded and useless as a rag doll’s and, sinking down at her desk, gazed blindly into space.

She had been with Cartel Wines since she left college two years ago. It was a job she had loved and been good at. Even old Sourpuss—as the staff called De Vere behind his back—had admitted it.

But that made no difference whatsoever. Due to circumstances, she was now unemployed.

A kind of futile panic gripped her. Six months’ salary was a buffer, but when the alterations to the house had been completed and she moved back into her flat, her rent would be considerably higher. That, added to Didi’s expenses, meant losing her job couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Over the past year, life had been a series of downs with scarcely any ups. Now, with this final blow, she seemed to have hit rock-bottom.

Well, if that was the case, the only way was up.

Allowing herself no more time for regrets, she rose, squared her shoulders and started to tidy her desk top.

Only when it was clear, did she suddenly recall the letter she had been going to read. Seeing the handsome dark-haired stranger had put it right out of her mind.

But where was the letter?

A quick search through the papers she was taking failed to bring it to light.

Oh, well, it must be there somewhere. She would look more thoroughly later.

Finding an almost empty box in the cupboard, she transferred the few remaining items in it to one of the shelves, then, taking her personal belongings from the desk drawers, stacked them in the box.

The plants she had brought to brighten the somewhat spartan office, she would leave.

She pulled on her coat, put the strap of her bag over her shoulder, tucked the box under one arm and, switching off the light, closed and locked the door behind her for the last time. There was nothing of value in the office, so she left the key in the lock.

Just the night security lights were burning, which meant that the rest of the staff had already gone and she was probably the only person still left in this part of the building.

The main entrance doors at the front would have been locked and bolted some time ago. But her car was in the rear car park, so it was just as quick to go through the warehouse.

As, without looking back, she began to descend the stairs to the dimly lit passage, a movement she heard rather than saw made her realise that she had been wrong. There was someone else still here.

At the bottom of the stairs she turned right and in the gloom saw that the double doors at the end of the passageway were swinging slightly.

Whoever was still here was obviously only a little way in front of her and heading for the car park, as she was.

When she went through the doors, however, the long warehouse appeared to be deserted.

More than a little puzzled, she frowned and, her footsteps echoing in the vast space, began to walk past the various bays, with their rows of pallets stacked with crates and boxes of château bottled imported wine.

Last autumn and winter, on the nights she had worked late, she had walked through the warehouse without a qualm. But tonight, for no good reason, she felt on edge, uneasy.

The night security lighting was high up in the roof of the building and left areas of deep shadow that suddenly seemed sinister, providing as they did an opportunity for someone to lie in wait…

She was doing her utmost to ignore the far from comfortable thought, when some sixth sense insisted that she wasn’t alone, that someone was watching her from the shadows.

The fine hairs on the back of her neck rose and her skin goose-fleshed. Instinctively, she paused and glanced behind her.

Not a soul was in sight.

Gritting her teeth, she was about to walk on when in the silence she heard a faint noise like the brush of a furtive footfall.

The echoing vastness of the warehouse made it impossible to tell where the whisper of sound had come from.

She was standing rooted to the spot when she realised that it would be George Tomlinson, the night security man.

Feeling foolish, she took a deep breath and called out, ‘George, is that you?’

Only the echo of her own voice answered.

She tried again, louder.

Still no answer, apart from the mocking echoes.

It occurred to her that he was probably doing his early evening rounds of the offices, checking that all the lights were out and the doors locked.

But if it wasn’t George she’d heard, who was it?

Perhaps someone had slipped in through the small door the employees used and had been heading for the wages office when they had heard her coming and decided to hide?

Reason soon put paid to that theory. It was Friday night and, as any would-be thief would undoubtedly know, Friday was pay day and the safe would be empty.

After a moment she recalled that there were a couple of cats who lived on the premises.

But cats moved silently and they didn’t go through heavy doors and leave them swinging.

A shiver ran down her spine at the memory.

Don’t be a fool, she chided herself sharply; it was time she used her common sense rather than letting her imagination run away with her.

Instead of someone going out ahead of her, it must have been George, coming the opposite way to check the offices, who had left the doors swinging.

It was a perfectly logical explanation.

Yet, illogically, she didn’t believe it.

Well, whether she believed it or not, it was high time she made a move.

If George had already locked up and completed all his checks—he wouldn’t have worried about a light in her office; he was used to her working late—he could well be ensconced in his little cabin on the far side of the annex, having his tea.

Which meant that he might not emerge until it was time to do his rounds again and she couldn’t stand here much longer. Her ankle hurt and the box under her arm was getting heavy.

Glancing round her, she could see no sign of life or movement. Still the feeling of being watched persisted, as though the watcher was patiently waiting to see which way she would jump.

She pushed the thought away and, summoning all her willpower, decided that as she had already walked more than half the length of the warehouse it made sense to go on, rather than turn back.

Fighting down a panicky impulse to run, she forced herself to walk steadily towards the huge sliding doors at the end of the hangar-like building.

Her legs felt curiously stiff and alien, her breathing was rapid and shallow and every muscle in her body had grown tense. Try as she might, she was unable to stop herself from glancing repeatedly over her shoulder.

When she reached the small staff door to the left of the big main doors and found it securely closed, she breathed a sigh of relief. It boasted a Yale lock so, unless someone had a key, it could only be opened from the inside.

So much for some thief slipping in and hiding! With an over-active imagination like that, she should be writing stories…

Her tension relaxing, she let herself out into the dark, wet night and closed the door carefully behind her. Everywhere appeared to be deserted, though a dozen or so cars remained and, outside despatch, a couple of Cartel’s vans were waiting to be loaded.

The pre-harvest sales push had been phenomenally successful and extra orders for hotels and restaurants were being dealt with by a special evening shift working over in the annex.

Beyond the range of the annex’s lights, however, the car park, poorly lit apart from the entrance, had areas that looked pitch-black.

Having come in almost an hour late that morning, she had been forced to park in one of the old, narrow, brick-walled bays that sloped steeply down towards the river. None of the employees used the bays if they could help it because of the difficult manoeuvring that was entailed, and the fact that they were at the far end of the car park.

There wasn’t a soul in sight as she began to limp to where she’d left her car, but once again she felt that uncomfortable awareness, that disturbing sensation of unseen eyes watching her, and a tingle of fear ran down her spine.

She felt a cowardly urge to head for the annex where there were lights and people…

But then what would she do? Admit that she was scared to walk through the car park alone? They would think she was mad.

And they wouldn’t be far wrong, she thought crossly as, resolutely ignoring her fear, she carried on. Perhaps all the stress of the last year had caught up with her and was making her paranoid? If so, the sooner she got a grip the better.

Unable to see more than a few yards ahead, it took her a moment or two to locate her small navy-blue Ford. When she did, it was a relief to put her carton on the back seat alongside her case and slide behind the wheel.

There! Safe! So much for these stupid fancies.

As she started the engine and began to back out, it occurred to her that she still had no idea where she was heading.

For someone who was…had been…paid to organise things, she wasn’t doing too well on her own account, she told herself wryly. But, for once in her life, she hadn’t been thinking straight, otherwise she would have looked for somewhere inexpensive and booked before she’d left the office.

Her left ankle had stiffened up and she was finding it painful to use the clutch, so it would be as well if she could find somewhere comparatively close.

As she started to turn, it occurred to her that there used to be a smallish hotel a couple of streets away. Now, what was it called…? Fairfax? Fairhaven? Fairbourn? Yes, that was it. She couldn’t remember noticing it lately, which might mean that it had closed down, but—’

From behind there was a sudden dazzling blaze of headlights and a glancing rear impact sent the front of her car swerving into the wall with a grinding of metal and a tinkling of broken glass.

Momentarily paralysed by shock, she was sitting motionless when the driver’s door was jerked open and a male voice demanded urgently, ‘Are you all right?’

‘Yes…Yes. Quite all right…’ Her own voice seemed to come from a long way away.

The car had stalled when her foot slipped off the clutch but, even so, he reached inside and felt for the ignition key to turn everything off.

‘Then I suggest you stay where you are for a minute while I assess the damage.’ He closed the door against the rain.

Though she felt dazed, part of her mind registered that his voice was low-pitched and pleasant, a cultured voice and not one she recognised.

But that attractive voice had said, ‘while I assess the damage’…She groaned inwardly. From what little she could see, his car appeared to be a big expensive one. And, though he had hit her, she was to blame. If she had been concentrating, instead of thinking about where she was to stay, it might not have happened.

She had just managed to gather herself and was about to unfasten her safety belt and climb out, when the door opened and he was back.

‘How bad is it?’ she asked fearfully.

‘The original impact was only a glancing blow, so there’s hardly a mark on my car…’

She could only be thankful for that.

‘But I’m very much afraid that the damage caused when your nearside front wing hit the wall will make your car undriveable.’

After the kind of day she’d had, it was the last straw and she gave way to a crazy impulse to laugh.

His face was in deep shadow and she couldn’t see his expression but, sounding concerned and obviously wondering if she was about to become hysterical, he asked, ‘Sure you’re all right?’

‘Quite sure…’

A shade apologetically, she explained, ‘I was just seeing the funny side. It’s been an awful day and I’m afraid I’d reached the stage where I either had to laugh or cry.’

‘Then you made the right decision.’

As he held the door against the wind, a scattering of rain blew in.

Suddenly realising that he was standing getting wet when, but for her, he would no doubt be on his way home to his wife, she made to clamber out, favouring her bad ankle.

He stepped back and put a steadying hand beneath her elbow.

Startled by his touch, she said jerkily, ‘I’m really very sorry about all this…’

‘As my car hit yours, I’m the one who should be apologizing,’ he told her.

Honesty made her insist, ‘No, it was my fault. My mind was on other things and when I started to back out I hadn’t realised there was anyone else about.’

‘Rather than stand in the rain arguing,’ he said dryly, ‘I suggest that, for the moment at least, you allow me to accept the blame. Later, if necessary, we can always agree on six of one and half a dozen of the other.’

Opening the door of what, at close quarters, she could see was a top-of-the-range Porsche, he added briskly, ‘Now, before you get wet through, suppose you jump in and I’ll take you home.’

‘That’s very good of you, but I…’ Her words tailed off as, in the glow of his headlights, she recognised the dark, powerful face she had thought never to see again.

When, her wits scattered, her heart starting to race, she stood rooted to the spot, he said, ‘Is there a problem?’

When she didn’t immediately answer, he suggested, ‘Perhaps you don’t trust me?’

‘No…No, it’s not that.’

‘Then what is it?’

She blurted out the first thing that came into her head. ‘I—I was just wondering if I should try and move my car.’

‘Leave it where it is,’ he told her decidedly. ‘It shouldn’t be in anyone’s way and first thing tomorrow morning I’ll get my garage to tow it in and do the necessary repairs.

‘Now, is there anything you need out of it?’

‘A small case on the back seat.’

‘Jump in and I’ll get it.’

He had left the engine running and in a moment she was installed in the warmth and comfort of the most luxurious car she had ever been in.

Not even Maurice De Vere had a car in that class.

She found herself wondering what a visitor—and, as she had never seen either him or his car before, the dark-haired stranger must be a visitor—was doing in Cartel’s car park so late in the evening…

Her case deposited in the boot, he slid in beside her and reached to fasten both their seat belts. That done, he turned to her and, in the light from the dashboard, studied her face.

Embarrassed by his close scrutiny and only too aware that with wet, bedraggled hair and a shiny nose she must look an absolute fright, she felt her cheeks grow warm.

As though sensing her discomfort, he moved away a little and asked, ‘Where to?’

‘I—I don’t know,’ she stammered.

He raised a dark brow. ‘Amnesia?’

Knowing he was making fun of her and vexed with herself for losing her usual calm composure and acting like a fool, she took a deep breath and said crisply, ‘Certainly not.’

Pulling a mournful face, he observed, ‘Oh, dear…now you’re mad with me.’

For an instant she wavered between annoyance and amusement. Amusement won and she smiled.

Smiling back, he observed, ‘That’s better.’

His smile increased his charm a thousandfold and she found herself thinking that a lot of women would find him irresistible…

Suddenly becoming aware that he’d asked a question she hadn’t caught, she pulled herself together and said, ‘I’m sorry?’

‘I asked why don’t you know?’

Trying to be brief and succinct, she explained, ‘Well, the house I live in is being refurbished, which means my flat is un-inhabitable, and I’m staying with a friend…’

He listened, his dark eyes fixed on her face.

Thrown by the intentness of his gaze, she momentarily lost the thread.

Then, realising he was waiting, she carried on a shade distractedly, ‘Her boyfriend is in London and expecting to stay with her. But her flat is really only a bedsit, so you see I have to find a hotel.’

It seemed like a heaven-sent opportunity and, his thoughts racing, he said, ‘That shouldn’t be a problem. There are plenty of hotels in London. You don’t have any particular preference?’

‘No, anywhere will do…So long as it’s not too expensive,’ she added hurriedly.

But, judging by his clothes and his car, he wouldn’t have to consider expense, so he was hardly likely to know any of the cheaper places. And she couldn’t expect him to go touring London on her behalf when he’d already been held up and inconvenienced.

Recalling her earlier thought, she said, ‘I’m not sure if it’s still there, but there used to be a small hotel quite close to here, on Mather Street…I think it was called the Fairbourn…’

His well-marked brows drew together over a straight nose. ‘If it’s the place I’m thinking of, I wouldn’t say it was particularly prepossessing.’

So long as it was clean and respectable, she wasn’t in a position to be over-fussy. ‘As it’s only for three nights, I can manage.’

Three nights suited his purpose even better, he thought jubilantly.

Things had been going smoothly, but the business trip he’d been forced to take had cost him precious time and they had managed to trace her much faster than he’d anticipated.

Hence the sudden need for drastic action.

Which had worked so far, he reminded himself. But with so much at stake, he simply couldn’t afford to mess things up.

‘As the Fairbourn may well have closed down,’ he said smoothly, ‘and it’s hardly the sort of night to be touring the town in search of accommodation, I suggest you come home with me.’


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