Millionaire Under the MistletoeBy: Tessa Radley
“There was a document,” her mother admitted, “but it wasn’t anything important.”
“Are you sure?” Miranda prompted urgently.
“Only that I’d use the money for your and Adrian’s education…and for housekeeping.”
“And there was a little something for me each month, too,” Flo added reluctantly.
“Perhaps I should look at that agreement,” said Miranda darkly.
“Oh, darling, I don’t even know where it is anymore. It’s nothing important. Let it go. The Ironstones took responsibility for what happened.”
“Not the Ironstones. Callum Ironstone.”
It had become important to make that distinction. And Miranda wished she had seen that missing agreement. She strongly suspected that Callum had rushed to the grieving widow with a contract that precluded legal action—against him, his family and their company.
And no doubt the cash had been the price of his guilty conscience. Money had freed him from what he’d done.
It made her see red.
But how could she make Flo understand she wanted Callum Ironstone to sweat blood? And his brothers, too. And his father, who’d been chairman at the time Miranda’s father had been framed.
But more than anything it was Callum she wanted to see suffer—because he’d been her father’s boss. It had been Callum who’d made the decision that had ruined her father’s life. He had summarily dismissed Thomas Owen, an employee with twenty years’ service to Ironstone Insurance, had him arrested, charged with a crime he hadn’t committed, and then had publicly humiliated a humble, gentle man.
“Darling, Adrian says he needs a word with you.”
Her mother’s voice brought her back to the dark London street. Miranda shivered again. A second later her brother’s voice came over the line.
He sounded so young. He was the reason she’d set foot in Callum Ironstone’s moneyed world today. It seemed an age since her only worry had been about what Adrian might have done. In less than an hour, Callum had turned her world upside down.
How was she ever going to find the money to pay back Callum?
“What is it?” she asked dully. The long day on her feet in The Golden Goose topped by the meeting with Callum had sapped her strength. All she craved was a warm home and a hot meal that she hadn’t had to cook. And someone to hold her, to tell her that everything would be okay.
None of that would happen. She’d been cutting the heating to a minimum to save money, so the terrace house would be barely warm, and there would be no hot meal unless she cooked it herself.
Adrian interrupted her musing. “Listen, sis, I need you to lend me some money. Can you draw it out on your way home?”
“More money?” Only last night she’d given him fifty pounds for a night out with his friends. At least he was due to be paid on Friday. It galled her that she was actually grateful for the job he had with Ironstone Insurance, but she needed that money back. Desperately. “How much do you need this time?”
A sharp edge of unease knifed her at his hesitation. Her voice rising, she asked, “How much?”
The amount made her breath catch. “Good grief, Adrian, I don’t have that kind of money.” Even the monthly housekeeping fund was almost empty. “What have you done?”
“Nothing, I promise you. Nothing major. I’m just helping—”
“You haven’t been gambling again?”
A couple of months back Adrian had developed an addiction to blackjack, and had started frequenting casinos. His talk of developing a system that couldn’t lose had struck terror into Miranda. Now images of bull-necked debt collectors threatening to break her baby brother’s fingers crowded her mind. “You promised not to go back there.” A promise he’d resented, but she’d insisted on it before she’d agreed to pay off his debts. “Are you in danger?”
“No!” He gave a half laugh. “I haven’t been gambling. Honestly, you should hear yourself, sis—you’re worse than Mum.”
Flo was too soft on him. That was part of the reason he’d gotten so close to trouble. Miranda knew it was time he grew up.