A Bride at His Bidding(7)

By: Michelle Smart

Taking guardianship of an orphaned teenage girl had never been easy but that weekend had been the hardest of his life, harder even than the night he’d received the call telling him his sister and brother-in-law had been found dead or the day he’d learned his parents faced financial ruin.

Where was the manual that gave step-by-step guidance on how to handle the discovery that your niece, your responsibility, was creeping towards drug addiction, or how to handle waking to find your niece’s sixteen-year-old best friend naked in your bedroom intent on seducing you? Where had Violet learned that kind of behaviour? From her older sister? Was the seemingly prim and proper woman sitting just feet away from him as wanton and reckless as her sister had been?

Despite his best attempts, he’d been unable to discover anything significant about Carrie. Her page on the Daily Times website listed her awards and achievements but nothing of a personal nature. He only knew her age because of their old personal links. Twenty-six. An incredibly young age to have achieved so much in her career. That took real commitment and dedication, something he would have admired had those traits not now been aimed at him. But unlike the men—and they had all been men—she’d brought down before him, Andreas had nothing to hide. His business was clean. So why had she set her sights on him? Why was the award-winning investigative journalist Carrie Rivers after him? Was this personal?

Whatever the reasons, he would learn them and nip whatever trouble was brewing in the bud. The old maxim of keep your friends close but your enemies closer stood the test of time.

Until he learned the truth, he would keep Carrie very close to him and then…

And then, unless he could think of a better plan than the one formulating in his head, Carrie would be kept close by his side for the foreseeable future.

* * *

It was dark when they landed. The early spring storms London had been dealing with were but a distant memory as Carrie disembarked Andreas’s jet and found herself engulfed in a heat the like of which she had only ever read about. She removed her jacket and looked up to find a cloudless black sky glittering with stars.

‘Where are we?’ She’d diligently read the folder Andreas had given her, pored over the location of all his homes and, as time had extended on their flight, convinced herself they were going to Tokyo.

‘The Seychelles.’ Andreas stood beside her. ‘Welcome to Mahe, the largest island of the Seychelles Granitic Archipelago.’

Her mind turned frantically. How could she have missed a home in the Seychelles? She’d read his property folder from cover to cover three times, and there had been nothing about a home there in any of her prior investigations into him.

‘It’s the most private of my properties,’ he said in a low voice close to her ear. The tangy freshness of his expensive cologne swirled around her.

Carrie casually sidestepped away from him and swallowed the sudden rush of moisture filling her mouth. ‘What time is it?’

‘One in the morning. We have a short flight on my helicopter before we reach my home.’

They were whisked through security and within twenty minutes of landing were climbing into a sparkling helicopter.

‘Have you been in a helicopter before?’ Andreas asked as he strapped himself in beside her.

There were six seats to choose from and he had to sit right next to her?

Carrie shook her head and determinedly did not look at the thigh resting so close to her own she could feel its warmth on her skin.

‘It’s an enjoyable experience and the quickest way to my island.’

‘Your island?’

He pulled a thoughtful face. ‘It’s more of a peninsular off another island but the peninsular belongs in its entirety to me.’

Carrie silently swore as, under the heavy noise of the rotors twirling, the helicopter lifted off the ground.

She hadn’t had an inkling about any of this. What else had she missed in her research on him?

Whose name had this property and accompanying land been bought in? Was it a secret shell company? She would get digging into it as soon as she had some privacy and a decent Internet signal. She needed to check in with her editor and let him know where she was too. But after she’d had a shower and, hopefully, some sleep. She’d been in the same clothes for almost a whole day, not having dreamt when she dressed that morning that she would end the day in the famed wedding and honeymoon spot of the Seychelles.

By contrast, Andreas had showered an hour before landing and changed from his suit into a fresh, crisp white shirt and light grey tailored trousers.

She dragged her attention away from the powerful body brushing so close against her own and the tangy scent playing under her nose by envisaging the shower she would have when they reached his home. She wouldn’t have the temperature scalding as she usually did. To rid herself of the stickiness clinging to her pores she would lather herself under refreshingly cool water.