Millionaire Under the MistletoeBy: Tessa Radley
His eyes told her yes.
It was too much. Miranda’s stomach started to churn again. The sick feeling that had unsettled her earlier swept over her like a tidal wave.
She turned her head away and stared out the sheet-glass window over the cloud-shrouded city where the light was rapidly waning. Miranda shivered. How much had Callum paid? How much did her family owe the man responsible for her father’s death? And how was she ever going to pay it back?
Just trying to figure how much money was involved made her feel all weak inside. Jerkily, she staggered to her feet and yanked her coat on, hugging its warmth around her. Slinging her bag over her shoulder, she faced him, her head held high. “I don’t want this job—I don’t want anything from you. And you can stop the allowance to my mother from today—she doesn’t want your money, either.”
She stumbled across his office. The expanse of carpet stretched forever and the door seemed a long way away.
As she grasped the doorknob, he spoke from behind her. “If I were you, I’d check that your mother feels the same way you do—you may be in for a surprise.”
Outside the towering glass world of Ironstone Insurance darkness had fallen. Huddled in her coat, Miranda hurried toward the bus stop. Not even the festivity of the Christmas lights twinkling through the winter gloom could lift her spirits.
A chill wind swirled around her legs as Callum’s words reverberated though her head. If I were you, I’d check that your mother feels the same way you do—you may be in for a surprise.
Her mother couldn’t have possibly known…wouldn’t have hidden this from her.
Homeward-bound traffic rushed past, and Miranda fumbled in her bag for her cell phone before punching the call button with an icy, shaking finger. “Mum?”
“Hello, darling.” Flo sounded cheerfully vague. “I’m home from my tea with Sorrel. What are we having for dinner?”
The mundane thought disoriented Miranda for an instant. Dinner? Who cared? She gathered her scattered thoughts together.
“I just saw Callum Ironstone. He says Dad’s insurance never paid out and that Callum paid for my studies and Adrian’s schooling himself.” Reaching the deserted bus stop, Miranda halted and held her breath as she waited for her mother’s denial.
Instead, an ominous silence. Her mother had known.
“Flo—” Miranda resorted to her mother’s name as she’d been doing more and more recently “—please tell me it’s a lie.” Unable to stand still, she took a few unsettled steps out of the shelter and paced restlessly along the sidewalk. Miranda closed her eyes, willing her mother to deny it.
As her mother’s breathy voice trailed away, Miranda knew Callum had told her the truth. There had never been a life insurance payout. Her gloved hands tightened round the phone and despair set in. The same evil little wind whirled around her ears, and she shivered. Opening her eyes, she glimpsed her bus trundling past the stop.
“Wait,” she called, running after it.
“What did you say, darling?” Flo sounded alarmed over the open line.
“I just missed my bus.” Miranda slowed to a standstill. Her next bus wasn’t due for half an hour and she would be freezing by the time she got home. She wanted to howl to the dark sky. Or burst into tears. But what would that help? The phone pressed against her ear, Miranda backed up and sagged tiredly against the bus shelter, staring bleakly into the shadows.
“Darling, the Ironstones owed it to us.”
“I don’t want money from them.” Especially not from him. “I want them to take responsibility for what they did to Dad.” To us.
“This is their way of taking responsibility, by paying us money.”
But it was Callum who had paid.
The chilling thought that had occurred to her in Callum’s office resurfaced. Sucking the cold, damp air into her lungs, she plunged on. “Mum, was it supposed to be a payoff from the company so that we—and Dad’s estate—wouldn’t sue?”
The tension that had tightened her stomach into knots eased a little. “So you didn’t sign any settlement agreement?”