A Bride at His Bidding(2)

By: Michelle Smart

With the feeling of a ball bearing pressing down on his guts, Andreas did an Internet search on his phone for her. There were no photographs of Carrie online. He supposed this wasn’t surprising given the nature of her work.

But it was her. He was certain of it.

He’d only met Carrie once, three years ago. It had been such a fleeting moment that it was no surprise he’d struggled to remember. Three years ago, she had been blonde with rounded cheeks.

Her eyes were the only thing about her that hadn’t changed. Their gazes had met as he’d left the headmistress’s office of his niece’s boarding school. Carrie and her sister Violet had been sat in the corridor waiting for their turn to be admitted. Violet had hung her head in shame when she’d seen him. Carrie should have hung her head too.

Neither had known it would be the last time they would be admitted into the headmistress’s office. Violet was to be expelled with immediate effect.

Three years on and Carrie was applying for a domestic job with him under a different name and supplying fake references in the process. This did not bode well and his brain groped for reasons as to why she might now be targeting him. Andreas ran a clean business. He paid all his taxes, both personal and corporation, in all the relevant jurisdictions. He followed and exceeded local employment law. His romantic affairs over the years had been consensual and discreet, guilt and responsibility for his family overriding the urge to bed as many beautiful women as possible, something he intended to rectify now all the burdens had been lifted from his shoulders.

One thing Andreas had learned over his thirty-seven years was that when problems cropped up, the only thing to do was keep a clear head and deal with them immediately, stopping the problems escalating into catastrophe.

A plan quickly formed in his mind. He inhaled deeply then smiled. ‘Debbie, I want you to call Miss Dunwoody and invite her back for a second interview.’

Debbie looked at him as if he’d sprouted blossom from his head.

‘Back it up with a letter. This is what I want you to say…’

* * *

Carrie sat in the spacious reception room of Samaras Fund Management’s London headquarters and tried to get air into lungs that seemed to have forgotten how to breathe. Her heart was beating erratically, the thuds loud in her ears, and she had to keep wiping her clammy palms on her thighs.

She’d woken from fractured sleep with her stomach churning so hard she’d had to force her coffee down. Food had been unthinkable.

She had never known nerves like it, although calling this sensation nerves was like calling a river a small trickle of water. Soon she would be taken through to Andreas Samaras’s office and she had to contain these mixed and virulent emotions that threatened to crush her.

She hadn’t suffered any nerves while going undercover and investigating James Thomas. She’d been ice-cool and focussed as she’d systematically gathered the evidence needed to prove his heinous crimes and expose him, using the same mind-set she used on her regular investigations, her focus never swaying. The day James had been sentenced had been the brightest spot of the last three nightmarish years.

Andreas might not have fed her sister the drugs that had destroyed her young fragile body but his contribution to Violet’s descent into hell had been every bit as lethal as James’s and far more personal, and now it was his turn for justice. Carrie could not allow her nerves or conscience to blow it for her…but this time it was different.

It had been common knowledge that James Thomas was a shady figure deserving of proper investigation. Getting permission and backing to go undercover in his workforce had been easy—the whole of the Daily Times had wanted that scumbag brought down.

Andreas Samaras, Greek billionaire investor and owner of Samaras Fund Management, was a different kettle of fish. There was nothing in his past or on the rumour mill to suggest he was anything other than clean. Only Carrie knew differently, and when she’d seen the advertisement for a Domestic PA mere days after James had been sentenced, she had known Andreas’s time had come. She knew infiltrating his personal life carried a much greater risk than investigating him as an employee in his business life but it was a risk she was willing to take.

Three years ago she had written two names on a piece of paper. She had since struck James’s name off. Now it was time to strike Andreas’s off too.

To get her newspaper’s backing to go undercover though, she’d had to tell a little white lie… A few surprised eyebrows had been raised but the go-ahead had been given. No one had disbelieved her.

As the clock ticked down to the moment she would be taken to see Andreas, the ramifications of her lie rang loudly in her head. If the truth that Carrie was undertaking a personal vendetta was revealed her career would be over. The Daily Times was no shady tabloid. It was a highbrow publication that had made it through the trials and tribulations all the British press had been through over the past decade with its reputation largely intact. It was a good employer too.