The Ruthless Magnate's Virgin Mistress(5)

By: Lynne Graham

Caroline joined her sister-in-law while the younger woman’s make-up was being touched up. ‘Nikolai Arlov has asked for your phone number!’ she announced.

‘He can’t have it,’ Abbey replied without hesitation as her arms were guided into a shirt and her legs into wide-legged trousers. A fashionable tan raincoat was fed into place over both garments and the belt cinched to accentuate her narrow waist. What did she have to say to a Russian billionaire with a notorious reputation with her sex? Absolutely nothing.

‘But you will at least speak to him?’ Caroline pressed anxiously. ‘We can’t afford to offend the guy. Think of Futures’ funds, Abbey.’

Abbey could not help resenting that piece of advice, for she could see no reason why she should be forced to speak to a man she didn’t want to speak to. And then all of a sudden she remembered how she had looked at him minutes earlier and felt guiltily that her behaviour might well have prompted him to make an approach.

‘Okay. Drew here yet?’

‘Not yet,’ the blond woman responded ruefully.

‘He’s obsessed with work right now,’ Abbey proffered as an excuse.

‘As long as that’s all that’s keeping him out late so many nights,’ Caroline quipped, startling Abbey.

‘For goodness’ sake, Drew adores you!’ Abbey countered.

‘He’s been rather evasive and quiet on the adoration front recently. But, no, I don’t think there’s another woman,’ Caroline confirmed, meeting Abbey’s anxious gaze in the mirror. ‘I don’t think he’s got the time or the energy to neglect two of us!’

Abbey relaxed again, but she hadn’t missed the thread of annoyance and worry in her sister-in-law’s voice and she resolved to have a word with her brother for his thoughtlessness. What on earth was Drew playing at? Did he really work this late often? Didn’t he appreciate that Caroline needed his support and company at home? Abbey refused to work after eight in the evening unless there was a crisis; she usually went into the office very early in the morning and it was impossible to burn the candle at both ends and stay healthy. At night she liked to go home via the gym where she exercised, and then cook a light supper and chill out before bedtime.

‘A billionaire wants to ask you out and you’re not even shaking!’ Sally censured. ‘Aren’t you excited?’

‘Why would I be? He’s extremely handsome, but what would we have in common?’ Abbey asked.

‘I want you to go out with him just so that you can tell me what it was like,’ the beautician confided. ‘Are you going to speak to him after the show?’

‘Seems like I don’t have much choice.’ But when Abbey thought about Nikolai Arlov’s wonderfully dark deep-set eyes her stomach contracted. She questioned her susceptibility, disturbed by the nervous tension licking through her like a forest fire. She felt as though she didn’t know herself any more. And when she sashayed down the catwalk again, his intense gaze didn’t stray from her for a single second. She avoided looking in his direction to the best of her ability but, in an odd way that she didn’t want to think about, she liked his unwavering attention.

‘You should borrow something to wear for the supper afterwards. After all the glam outfits you’ve paraded in front of him it won’t do to appear in the jeans and T-shirt you arrived in,’ Caroline opined.

‘My own clothes will do fine.’

Her sister-in-law caught her narrow wrist between her fingers before she turned away. ‘Don’t blow Arlov away. You can’t mourn my brother for ever.’

Why not? Abbey almost demanded. Jeffrey was dead and that would last for ever. In the same way she knew she would miss her husband for ever and never forget him. She didn’t think she would ever get over losing the love of her life and she wasn’t ashamed of that fact. Love like that was precious, a great deal more precious than anything she had been offered since her husband’s death had left her a widow. She was not stupid. She was all too well aware that most men only thought of one thing when they looked at her large breasts and long legs. Ironically that one thing had been the very last thing on Jeffrey’s mind, she conceded wryly.

Nikolai was not surprised to find Abbey Carmichael waiting for him at the buffet held after the show. But he was taken aback by her make-up-bare face and casual apparel, since women usually went to a great deal more effort in the glamour stakes when he was around. In actuality she could get away with the scrubbed natural look because her creamy freckled skin had the sun-warmed glow of a peach and she simply looked younger and more fragile with her glorious fiery hair tumbling casually round her narrow shoulders.

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