A Bride at His Bidding(3)

By: Michelle Smart

If they could print only a fraction of what was suspected about some of the world’s most powerful people the public would need vodka spiked into the water system to help them get over the shock. The rich and powerful threw money into silencing the press and making problems disappear. They forced their staff to sign cast-iron non-disclosure agreements and were ruthless about enforcing them. Super-injunctions were de rigueur.

If Carrie got the job with Andreas she would be thrown directly into his personal world. She would be closer to her target than on any of her prior investigations. Who knew what she would find? When she’d first gone undercover with James in his accounts department she’d known he was a drug-abuser with a predilection for teenage girls but had had no idea of his involvement with people trafficking or arms. Andreas was that criminal’s friend. Who knew what he was involved with?

She’d known the odds of getting the job with Andreas were slim, even with her rigged CV and falsified references. On paper, they’d made her the perfect candidate for the role but it had been a rushed job, hurried to meet the application deadline. She couldn’t help worrying that there was a giant hole or two in it.

She hadn’t thought the preliminary interview with his PA had gone well and had left the building certain she’d messed up. When she’d received the call inviting her to a second interview, she was so shocked a mere breeze would have knocked her over.

And now, as that ticking clock echoed louder in her ears, all she could see when she closed her eyes was the burning hatred Andreas had thrown her way the one time their eyes had met.

* * *

‘Miss Dunwoody?’

Carrie blinked and looked up to find the superior young receptionist staring at her quizzically.

She’d gone under the name of Rivers for so long it had become a part of herself. Hearing her real name sounded foreign. She’d been known by the surname of Rivers since her mother had remarried when she’d been four and had thought it wise to continue using it when she embarked on her career in investigative journalism. There were a lot of sickos out there. In this instance, that decision had been fortuitous. She’d never legally changed her name. People in her world knew her as Carrie Rivers. Her birth certificate, driving licence and passport had her as Caroline Dunwoody. The advert for the job had explicitly stated it involved lots of travelling.

Falsifying references was one thing. Trying to fake a passport was a whole different ballpark.

‘Mr Samaras is ready to see you now.’

He’d kept her waiting for an hour.

Swallowing back a sudden violent burst of nausea, Carrie tightly clutched the strap of her handbag and followed the receptionist down a wide corridor lined with modern artwork.

It had taken her ages to find the perfect outfit for this interview. She’d wanted to look professional but not as if she were applying for a job within Samaras Fund Management itself. She’d settled on a cream high-necked cashmere top with a dozen small buttons running the length, a pair of smart grey trousers and simple black heels that gave her a little extra height for confidence but which she could comfortably walk in. Now she felt as if she’d dressed in a smothering straightjacket, the heels a hindrance to her unsteady feet.

A door opened and Carrie was admitted into an office twice the size of the one she shared with the rest of the crime team and a hundred times plusher.

There, behind an enormous oak desk, working on one of three computers, sat Andreas Samaras.

Her heart slammed against her chest then thudded painfully and for one frightening moment Carrie thought she really was going to vomit.

He didn’t look up from what he was doing.

‘One minute please,’ he said in the deep, quick, sharply staccato voice she remembered from their one telephone conversation instigated by Andreas five years ago.

Carrie’s sister and Andreas’s niece had been weekly boarders and roommates at school together. Their friendship had deepened and soon they had wanted to spend weekends and holidays together too. Andreas had phoned Carrie to agree on some ground rules. They had found much to agree on. It helped that they had both been in the same position, both of them the sole carers of their vulnerable teenage charges. After that one conversation, they would text message each other to confirm if Natalia was due at Carrie’s for the weekend or if Violet was due at Andreas’s. It had become a rhythm in Carrie’s life, right until Andreas had engineered Violet’s expulsion.

Finally, he looked up from his computer, pushed his chair back and got to his feet. The sheer size and power of the man was as starkly apparent as it had been when he had swept past her three years ago.