The MillionaireBy: Victoria Purman
Ellie crossed her arms over her chest. “So that’s it.”
Malone shook his head, reached inside the pocket of his shorts and pulled out his car keys. “That’s it.” He shot her a sharp look. “I guess I’m not getting that coffee today.” He turned and strode towards the door.
“I guess it’s true what they say,” Ellie called after him. A couple of people in the queue turned in her direction with polite interest.
He stopped, looked back over his shoulder. “And what’s that?”
Ellie eyed him up and down. His hard body had lost its attraction, seeing as she now knew there was a hard heart inside it.
“You should never meet your idols. You’ll only be hugely disappointed.”
Malone glanced down at his bare feet and then back at her. Ellie felt her heart beat faster again. She wasn’t sure what he was going to do. He looked at her for a long moment, the muscles in his jaw clenching and tightening. He didn’t seem to know, either. Then, he flipped the keys into his palm with a jangle and left.
Ellie spun on her heel and walked back to Bron at the table. She sat down and shook her head ruefully. “He said no.”
“I know,” Bron said with an open mouth. “I heard every word.”
“I thought he’d be nicer than that. Given the things he’s seen around the world. You’d think someone like that would understand about charity and compassion. And you know, once he heard my compelling argument, I thought he’d hand over his whole back catalogue.”
Bron reached over, covered Ellie’s hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. “You know what those guys are like, Ellie. Photojournalists like him are the lone wolves of the news business.”
“Oh, I know, Bron. Those guys are tough and single-minded and slightly obsessed about what they do. They’re ruthless. They’ll do whatever they can to get the shot, no matter how dangerous.”
Bron sighed. “That sounds so hot.”
Ellie laughed at her friend. “You’re married. You’re not supposed to think anyone is hot, except for Peter.”
“C’mon. I may be married but I’m still a woman. Don’t you think he’s hot? I mean those shoulders. That hair.”
“All cancelled out by him being so rude, I’m afraid.”
“You’re right.” Bron’s phone beeped and she swiped the screen. “And you’re not the only one who thinks so.”
“Huh?” Ellie felt like she’d lost track of their conversation. “What are you talking about?”
“I may be a new mum, and slightly sleep-deprived, but I’ve still got the newshound in me. I snapped a photo and posted it. It’s already had 105 likes.”
Ellie froze. Sat bolt upright. “You’ve what?”
“Check this out.” Bron scrolled on her screen and turned her phone around so Ellie could read it.
Bron had taken a paparazzi style photo of Chris, snarling at Ellie, with the caption: “Turns out World famous Aussie snapper, Chris Malone, is really a Mr. Scrooge. My bestie, Ellie, just asked him to donate to a charity fundraiser. And guess what? He said no!”
Ellie could see it had already been shared twenty times.
And then her phone rang. She reached inside her handbag and found it, checked the name on the display.
“Is he still there? Malone?” Her editor, Kerry Mills, would find one of her reporters at the bottom of the ocean if there was a story that needed chasing.
Ellie chuckled in shock. “How’d you find out about that so quickly?”
“I follow you on Facebook, remember? Bron tagged you. Say hello to her, by the way, and kiss the kid. Now, here’s what I need from you. Another photo and an interview. Ask Malone why he turned down the charity thing, and if it’s true he’s engaged to that European princess.”
“What European princess?” Ellie had followed his career religiously for years but that particular rumour was new to her.
A pang of something that felt like jealously jarred her. She wasn’t jealous for herself, mind, simply for all Australian women who’d clearly been relegated to the scrapheap, because he’d found someone better in Europe. Probably rich. With a tiara. One who could afford to keep him in hair care products.
Not that Chris Malone needed a European princess to keep him in anything. Ellie knew all about his background. He was the eldest of three sons from one of Sydney’s wealthiest families and had attended the most expensive school in the country, the one with harbour views from each classroom and enough cricket pitches so that every son of Sydney’s finest families could have his own team if they wanted it. He’d grown up in one of the city’s most historic harbour side homes, the kinds that were known by their names, not their addresses. The Meadows hadn’t changed hands in seventy years.