Millionaire Under the Mistletoe

By: Tessa Radley

She shrugged and stared through the windshield at traffic that had slowed to a crawl as the drizzle turned to rain. No point defending The Golden Goose. Not when what he said was true and she couldn’t wait to escape.

Although any chance of that had gone up in smoke the moment he’d told her about her father’s life insurance being nonexistent.

“It was the closest job I could find to home.” That meant less spent on transport, less time commuting, which gave more hours to work overtime. “It’s only a short bus ride away,” she said tiredly. “It pays the bills.”

And that was what mattered. Making sure Adrian’s future education was taken care of, repaying Callum and saving enough money to look after Flo. Until she’d repaid Callum she couldn’t even think of opening her own catering business.

He must have heard her sigh because he said gently, “I know your family is short of cash. You should’ve accepted my proposition—who knows, you might have impressed people and gotten a few more catering jobs to ease the hardship.”

Did he have any idea what kind of temptation he’d dangled in front of her? How hard it had been to refuse?

She eyed him warily as he accelerated into the stream of traffic. Yes, he probably did. “Now I believe everything I’ve heard about you.”

“Everything? You shouldn’t believe everything.” She caught a lightning flash of wicked blue eyes before he turned his attention back to the road. “Some rumors are nothing more than wild speculation.”

Ignoring the innuendo underlying the humor, Miranda said hastily, “That you have the ability to home in on what people want and then use it against them?” And now he was doing that to her.

Studying his profile, she took in the straight nose jutting out with masculine arrogance, quickly bypassing his generous mouth. Miranda had no idea how he’d gotten a glimpse into her soul, her deepest desire, but somehow the sneaky bastard had.

If the offer had come from anyone else…

“I’m only asking you to cater a dinner party for me. How can I use that against you?”

“I’m sure you’ll find a way,” she said darkly, thinking of how he’d pressured her poor mother into signing an agreement that Flo wouldn’t have had a hope of understanding. No doubt it cleared the Ironstone family of all liability. Helplessness filled Miranda. How could she fight such a man?

“So why don’t you prove to me that I didn’t waste money putting you through cooking school?”

“Culinary school,” she corrected.

“If you say so.” He slowed as a light turned red. He swiveled his head, and his gaze met hers. “If it makes it easier, think of it this way. You owe it to me.”

“I owe it to you?” The gall of the man. “I owe you nothing.” He owed her. For taking her father away, for ruining her family.

Her anger and confusion trapped her. She wanted him to hurt as much as she hurt, wanted to force him to take responsibility for what he’d done. But not by making her family his pet charity. And the only thing she truly desired he could never give back.

Her father.

In the meantime, all the money Callum had given Flo had to be paid back. And once that had been accomplished, Miranda hoped the guilt of knowing what he’d done killed him.

“If you could, you’d gather what cash you could and hurl it at me right now, wouldn’t you?” That rogue eyebrow quirked up again.

“Maybe,” she said grudgingly, resenting the fact that he could read her so well.

He shook his head. “What a wasted effort.”

“Easy for you to say.”

“It will take you forever.” As the lights changed, he put the car back into gear and pulled away. “You should put away your bitterness and grab this opportunity with both hands. Who knows where it could lead?”

And make a deal with this devil?

But she turned his words over in her mind. She’d already accepted it would take years to save what she owed him. And even if she did, it didn’t look like his conscience would keep him awake every night of his life. Callum Ironstone probably didn’t have a conscience.

So why was she tying herself into knots to pay back money he and his family wouldn’t even miss? Why not take the bloody job?

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