Millionaire Under the MistletoeBy: Tessa Radley
“I can’t just keep giving you handouts, Adrian. You still owe me the money I lent you last ni—”
“I know, I know. You’re the best sister in the world.”
Miranda hesitated. “So what’s this money for?”
“Oh, don’t nag, sis. It’s to help someone in trouble,” he said cagily.
What had happened to being the best sister in the world? “Hardly nagging, given the amount you want. Can’t this person find someone else to help them?”
“I’ve promised.” Adrian sounded impatient. “It’s going to be hard to back out now.”
“You should’ve thought of that before you pledged my money.”
Then wished she’d bitten her tongue when he said, “Just forget it, okay. I’ll find someone else to help me—maybe I can get an advance against my pay.”
And place her further in Callum’s debt? Over her dead body! Miranda contemplated the amount in her savings account. Every cent she’d squirreled away for the past fourteen months. The extra jobs. The overtime. All painfully accumulated to allow her a few months of breathing space when she finally handed in her notice at The Golden Goose and started her own catering business.
It was a pittance compared to the overwhelming amount she needed to repay Callum. Her dream was already history.
She suppressed a sigh.
But at least Adrian wasn’t gambling. He wasn’t in trouble. Despite her fears, she hadn’t been called in to Ironstone’s because he’d done anything stupid. And now he’d promised to help a friend. Weren’t those precisely the kind of values she’d tried to instill in him?
The time had come to start trusting his judgment; otherwise he’d never grow up.
But, oh, boy, it was hard.
“Let me see what I can do.”
A pause. Then, “Thanks, sis.”
“But it will be a loan, Adrian,” she cautioned. This wasn’t going the way of all the other sums she’d “lent” her brother. “Your friend needs to understand that. When will I get it back?”
“Soon,” he replied, with a worrying vagueness that reminded her uncomfortably of Flo. “He’ll get paid—probably at the end of the next fortnight.”
“I’ll hold you to that.” Hitting the end-call button with unaccustomed ferocity, Miranda noticed that it had started to drizzle. She shivered in the gloom. Her dream had just received a death knell, so why bother about a bit of rain?
Headlights cut through the drizzle, tires hissing as a sleek car veered toward the curb. Miranda turned away, not in the mood for unwelcome harassment.
A window lowered. “Jump in.”
Miranda hunched her shoulders and ignored him.
A door slammed, and a moment later an arm landed across her shoulders, surrounding her with warmth and comfort. Miranda was tempted to lean into his broad chest and draw the strength she could. She squared her shoulders. This was Callum Ironstone. Her enemy.
“I’m parked illegally. Let’s go before I get ticketed.”
She shrugged him off. “I’ll wait for my bus, thanks.”
He glanced up at the electronic information board above the bus shelter. “Looks like a long wait. Or would you rather freeze on principle?”
She hated that he managed to make her sound like a petulant child. Reluctantly Miranda allowed him to take her elbow—ignoring the sudden prickles of sensation—and steer her to his car, a ghost-gray Daimler. Opening the door for her, he stood back while she clambered in.
A delicious frisson rippled down her spine as the warm interior embraced her. Turning her head away as if in rejection of the seductive comfort Callum’s wealth offered, Miranda stared blindly out the side window as he settled in the driver’s seat beside her.
The weight of Callum’s gaze settled on Miranda.
“Not The Golden Goose?”
“I’ve finished for the day.” No point revealing what a tussle she’d had getting time off.
Instead of starting the car, he said, “I’d have thought you’d have used your qualifications to land something better than a job at a place like that.”