Millionaire Under the Mistletoe

By: Tessa Radley

The money was amazing. It would almost cover the amount Adrian wanted from her. Almost. If she cut corners on the household budget for the next month, she wouldn’t even need to take anything from her savings.

Temptation beckoned. He’d be paying the money to a caterer anyway. This wasn’t charity. It looked perfectly straightforward.

Too perfectly straightforward.

“Why did you offer me the contract?”

“The caterer I usually use is too busy. Christmas.” He gestured to the fairy lights sparkling through the rain. “And I’ve been too busy to hire someone else. Seeing Adrian at work this morning reminded me of you—I knew you’d have the skills. But if you don’t want it, I’ll find someone else.”

She ought to refuse. No good would come out of this association. She even rounded her mouth to say “No.”

Then she thought about Adrian, his frustration as he’d said, “Forget it.” She thought about delving into her hard-earned cash to help his friend out. She needed the cash Callum offered.

Miranda took a deep breath and said, “Okay, I’ll do it.”

And when he smiled, a slow satisfied curve on his lips, Miranda hoped she hadn’t made a terrible mistake.

Callum gazed across the refectory-style table at the woman he’d been fighting to ignore all evening.

Without success. Not only had Miranda cooked a meal that had made his mouth water, she’d carefully supervised the staff she’d hired, popping in and out of the dining room to check on the wine and that everything was running smoothly.

She’d even distracted him from Petra Harris, Gordon’s daughter, something he’d never foreseen. Especially not tonight, of all nights.

Callum told himself it couldn’t be Miranda’s appearance that had him tied up in knots. Instead of a traditional white chef’s jacket and herringbone trousers, she wore a plain black dress, her hair up in a knot and no glitter in sight. By rights she should’ve been eclipsed by every other woman in the room, and she should’ve looked plain and drab.

Yet she didn’t.

The black only served to highlight the creamy perfection of her skin. No jewelry adorned the deliciously smooth line of her throat. And the only gold that glinted in the glow of the discreet uplighters adorning his dining room were the bits of hair that had escaped and framed her face, making her eyes look wider and more mysterious than ever.

Desire leaped within him, quickly followed by disbelief. This couldn’t be happening to him.

He narrowed his eyes. This was the same girl who had once screamed at him like a banshee, accusing him of murdering her father…so why the hell couldn’t he stop looking at her? He had his life—his future—all mapped out. And it didn’t include Miranda Owen.

Forcing his attention back to Gordon Harris’s daughter seated beside him, Callum vowed not to let himself be distracted. Hell, he’d planned to propose to Petra after dinner. In his study. Just the two of them. A quick ten-minute tête-à-tête, before announcing it in spectacular fashion to the world—he’d even invited a journalist tonight who covered the society pages. The ring box was in his pocket. Ready. Waiting. It wasn’t only the merger with Gordon’s company he’d planned to reveal tonight….

He gazed at the woman he’d decided would make him a perfect wife.

“The food tonight is out of this world.” Petra smiled at him, revealing sparkling white teeth, and her fingers brushed his.

“I couldn’t agree more.” Callum tried to convince himself that powder-blue eyes were every bit as appealing as the color of melted caramel, and failed dismally. To his consternation, there was no spark of electrical charge from the brush of her fingers, either.

“Would you like crème caramel or strawberry cheesecake?” Miranda asked.

Adrenaline surged through him. He could’ve sworn he’d sensed Miranda’s approach even before she spoke beside him, and every nerve went on red alert as he picked up the subtle scent of vanilla. Her innocent offer of dessert made him instantly desire far more carnal pleasures. Damn, what the hell was happening?

“Strawberry cheesecake for me,” said Petra, giving Miranda an easy smile. “I was just complimenting Callum on the fabulous spread tonight.”

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