Summer with the Millionaire

By: Jessica Gilmore

Minty was silent for a long moment; he could see the wheels turning in her mind as she considered his question, considered how much to reveal. Finally she seemed to come to a decision. ‘I need a job,’ she said.

* * *

For a moment Minty thought Luca was going to laugh at her but the laughter quickly faded from his eyes, his mouth twisting sceptically as he took in her words.

The silence dragged on a second too long. Minty forced herself to stay relaxed, leaning back in her chair, her face calm, impassive.

After all, how many times could this man reject her?

Finally, just as her nerves wound tighter than her mother’s last facelift, he spoke. ‘Do you have a CV?’

‘With me, or at all? Not that it matters; I don’t have one.’

Luca had looked relaxed, in control, ever since she had walked into his office, leaning back in that ridiculously big chair. Now he sat up and leaned forward, eyes fixed on her face. ‘You are asking me for a job but you don’t have a CV?’ he repeated slowly.

Minty toyed with the idea of pointing out that, with a sixth share of the business, asking Luca was merely a formality, but one look at the stony expression on his face told her winding him up further was probably a bad idea. Shame; it would have been fun. He had always been so easy to rile.

And he was easier to handle when he was cross with her. Less dangerous.

‘I’ve never needed one before; I never had to formally apply for anything,’ she said. ‘But I do have a lot of varied experience. I’ve crewed a boat halfway around the world, run a Greek taverna, taught English in Bangkok and was a cow girl in Texas for a while.’ She smiled at him. ‘I’m aware none of these are particularly relevant but—’

‘Relevant to what?’ Luca interrupted. ‘Sales, finance, reception, milk maid?’ To Minty’s indignation the amusement was back in his voice. Damn; she had tried so hard not to be alone with him before the meeting because she knew he would be like this: superior; condescending. He wouldn’t hear her out.

It was all too familiar. She carried on as if he hadn’t spoken. ‘But they do show that I am adaptable, versatile and not afraid of hard work. I know you think it’s time for Di Tore Dolce to expand beyond the continent, into the English-speaking countries. I’m half-American and half-English—I can help you see the real differences in the two markets beyond the superficial accent and spelling differences. Also, don’t forget I founded a small cupcake chain in West London. I know all about stock management, sales and marketing. Oh, and budgeting too.’

She sat back, ankles crossed, hands folded in her lap. Excitement fizzed in her veins; she had said her piece, made her pitch. Had shown that she was abreast of current plans and developments. And in stark contrast to a minute ago Luca was looking engaged, interested.

He remained silent for a moment, a thoughtful expression on his face. She tried not to stare at him hopefully, to appear nonchalant, relaxed.

As if this didn’t really matter at all.

And then he leant back again. ‘If you have a business back in England why do you need a job here?’

And just like that her mood went flat. ‘England and I need a break from each other,’ Minty said.

‘Come on, Minty. You need to do better than that.’

Only four years older. And yet he had always acted as if he were an adult and she an annoying child. She suppressed a scowl. It looked like nothing had changed. ‘Three cupcake shops in South London is fun but Di Tore Dolce is in a different league altogether. You’re already international; if the board goes ahead with the expansion, you’ll be close to global. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?’

Luca raised an eyebrow. ‘Such enthusiasm from somebody who has been absent for so long the receptionists didn’t even recognise her. Are you sure you wouldn’t rather be expanding your cupcake empire?’

‘Quite sure,’ Minty said. ‘Besides, the shops were funded through my trust fund. I am trying to rely on it less.’

That was one way of putting it.

His brows drew together, puzzled. ‘You are?’ He looked pointedly again at her expensive bag, his eyes travelling to her equally expensive shoes. ‘How novel for you. Inspiring, even. Unless...’ There was a speculative gleam in the amber eyes. ‘Unless you can’t rely on it. Just how upset was your father?’

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