Defiant Mistress, Ruthless Millionaire

By: Yvonne Lindsay

“We don’t even know that he’s going to offer me a job,” she blurted. “He only asked me to meet him for lunch.”

A small crease formed between Irene’s brows. “Don’t be naive, Callie. I taught you better than that. Of course he’s going to offer you a position. It’s how he works. Each one of the key staff he’s poached from us has been invited to lunch with him first. It’s not as if he hides his intentions.”

“Does he really believe all he has to do is snap his fingers and everyone will drop everything to do his bidding?” Callie responded in impotent frustration.

“Generally, my dear, people do,” Irene Palmer observed dryly as she leaned back in her leather executive chair, the serenity on her face giving no clue as to her thoughts.

“Well, not people like me.”

“Which is why this will be all the more convincing. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about how difficult things are in the marketplace right now. Jobs are increasingly hard to come by. And with your position on the verge of disestablishment… Suffice to say that no one would blame you for jumping ship, as it were. Besides, you can’t deny that Tremont has a certain magnetism about him.”

Callie threw herself back into one of the button-back leather armchairs in front of Irene’s desk and sighed. Magnetism. From what she’d heard, Josh Tremont had it in spades. But that didn’t mean she wanted to work for him.

“What if, after meeting me, he doesn’t want me?”

Irene laughed, the sound like wind rustling through dry leaves in autumn. “Oh, Callie, you underestimate yourself. The man wants you all right.”

Something in Irene’s voice made Callie stiffen. Just how far did they expect her to go in this spying mission?

More to the point, how far was she prepared to go for the Palmers and for her future?

Two days later, Callie gripped the steering wheel of her late-model hatchback and groaned in frustration. A sleek black Maserati coupe slid neatly into the last parking space in the restaurant car park. Now she’d have to find a parking lot blocks away, and she’d be late.

She hated being late even more than she hated the reason for this meeting.

Her stomach pitched as she recalled what she’d agreed to do. Irene had advised her not to appear too eager initially, in case it might put him off. Well, Callie had no problem with that. She had no respect for the man. None whatsoever. She only hoped that when the offer came she could verbalise the word yes when every instinct in her body screamed the opposite.

She reminded herself again of Irene’s expectations and why she’d agreed to do this, but it did little to assuage the slow-burning anger that began to seethe deep inside.

She fed the flames by recapping Josh Tremont’s insidious methods to undermine the corporate structure at Palmer Enterprises. In the past five years he’d poached several key staff, even going so far as to attempt to buy out their employment contract restraint clauses. When that hadn’t worked for the last two executives he’d lured away, he’d simply paid them for the year’s standdown period while they languished, ostensibly on holiday, while he’d waited patiently for the months to roll by, secure in the knowledge that Palmers was hurting for their loss.

Now he had his sights set on her.

By the time Callie found a metered car park about three blocks from the restaurant, she’d built up a head of steam to match the rich auburn tint of her hair. She walked with sharp, clipped steps to her destination, oblivious to the catcalls and whistles directed her way from a nearby building site.

She’d deliberately dressed down for the meeting today, in pencil-slim, chocolate-brown trousers and an apricot, chocolate-and-white-striped, long-sleeved blouse. Never mind that the clothes had cost more than she had ever dreamed she would earn in a week, let alone spend on clothing. To her they screamed blasé, certainly not what one would wear to try to impress a prospective employer of Tremont’s calibre. They would set the tone nicely, she thought, with a private smile.

Up until this morning she hadn’t been too sure how to play this interview, but on choosing her clothes she’d reached a personal compromise. She didn’t want to look too keen, and that certainly wouldn’t be difficult, but she didn’t want to be too reluctant, either. A balance between the two suited nicely, and if she came off a little brash, well, it wasn’t as if he’d withdraw his job offer once he’d made it. He wasn’t that kind of man.

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