A Bride at His Bidding(9)

By: Michelle Smart

She hadn’t had a holiday in some time either. At least a decade, two or three years before her mother had died.

But this wasn’t a holiday for her. She was here to work. Her job was to ensure the smooth running of this beautiful mansion and take care of the whims of its owner while secretly undertaking her own work of discovering its owner’s darkest secrets. What kind of secrets she would find in Andreas’s holiday home was anyone’s guess. Chances were she would have to wait until they moved on to one of his other homes where he actually conducted business before she discovered anything useful.

Expecting a member of his staff to greet them—all his homes had at least three permanent live-in employees—Carrie was a little disconcerted to step inside and find the house shrouded in silence. Yes, it was the middle of the night, but surely the staff wouldn’t retire for the night before their boss’s arrival?

‘I’ll give you a quick tour before I show you to our bedrooms,’ Andreas said, leading the way. He headed through an arched doorway without a door and said, ‘Here’s the living area.’

Her misgivings were put to one side as she slowly took in the beauty of Andreas’s house, a home that managed to be both luxurious and yet welcoming. High ceilings and white walls were given colour by an intricate tiled mosaic that covered the floor wherever they stepped, including the large, airy dining room dominated by a large, highly polished mahogany table.

The kitchen was the size of an entire floor of her home.

‘This is Brendan’s domain,’ he informed her.

‘Brendan’s your chef?’

‘Yes. If you’re hungry I can call him and he’ll make something for you.’

‘I’m fine, thank you.’ Regular meals, which she’d had to force down into her cramped stomach, had been provided throughout the flight by Andreas’s cabin crew.

He shrugged. ‘If you need anything before morning I’m sure you won’t have any trouble finding it. I assume the kitchen functions as a normal kitchen.’

‘You assume?’

He pulled a face. ‘I employ staff so I don’t have to do these chores for myself.’

‘When was the last time you used a kitchen?’ she asked before she could stop herself. Somehow, she doubted Andreas welcomed his domestic employees questioning him.

Her doubt proved wrong.

‘In my university days in America—I studied at MIT—I discovered I was a terrible cook so I got a job working as a waiter in an Italian restaurant where they were always happy to feed me. I’ve not cooked for myself since.’

‘An Italian restaurant?’

‘There were no decent Greek restaurants where I lived then. There was a tapas bar but they didn’t do breakfast so I opted for the Italian one.’

His long legs powered on gracefully up the cantilevered stairs to the first floor. Carrie hurried behind him, smothering a yawn. All the travelling on top of minimal sleep had exhausted her.

‘My room.’ Andreas pushed open a door to reveal a bedroom equal in size to the kitchen, containing everything a spoiled billionaire could need. Carrie hung back, reluctant to enter until he beckoned her inside with the crook of his finger and the hint of a gleam in his piercing light brown eyes. ‘Don’t be shy, Caroline. You need to become familiar with my room.’

Familiar with it? All she could see was the enormous carved bed heaped with pillows, and her imagination immediately stripped Andreas bare and pictured him sliding with that masculine grace she’d never seen on another man between the navy satin sheets.

She clenched her teeth together, trying to blink the image away and pretend the rush of blood she could feel pumping around her was not connected to it.

She’d never imagined a man naked before and it disturbed her that she should have such unwelcome thoughts about this particular man.

There was such a sensuous potency about him. It was there in his every move, his every breath, his every word, and all it did was add to her growing sense of danger.

Sheesh, she really, really needed some sleep.

‘What other staff work here?’ she asked. Once she knew where everyone was she would stop feeling as if she’d been trapped in a gilded cage that only Andreas had the key to.

Everything had happened so quickly and smoothly that day that there hadn’t been time for her misgivings to do more than squeak at her but now, here, standing in Andreas’s bedroom in his secret home in the middle of the night, those misgivings were shouting loudly.

‘I inherited most of the staff from the previous owners. The grounds are managed by Enrique and his eldest son. Enrique’s wife Sheryl and a couple of her friends take care of all the cleaning. Between them they know everything there is to know about the house and the peninsular and the Seychelles itself.’