His Millionaire Maid

By: Coleen Kwan

“You work hard; you don’t trade on your name. You shouldn’t listen to idle gossip.”

Nina shook her head. “This was Ryan and Fiona talking. We’ve worked late nights together, gone out for Friday night drinks, talked about ourselves. I thought we were friends.” Her heart panged. That was the worst part, finding out they had never really been friends and could never be friends because of who she was—a Beaumont heiress.

She should be used to it by now. Lindsey was her only true friend. They’d met in college when Nina was going through her rebellious stage, rejecting her family and trying to embarrass them. Lindsey had always supported her, even at her brattiest worst. But even she couldn’t fully understand the unique torments Nina suffered.

“If they say things like that behind your back, then you’re better off without them,” Lindsey said.

The problem wasn’t just with Ryan and Fiona, though. She had never fit in with the other rich kids at the exclusive school her father had insisted she attend. She’d gone out of her way to mix with ordinary people, but there’d always been a change in their attitude—subtle or otherwise—when they learned who she was. She’d become sensitized to that, hyperaware that being rich—and obscenely rich at that—affected people’s perception of her. Affected how they treated her. She was never sure what people really thought of her.

Like Oliver, her ex. After many dating disasters, she’d thought she’d finally found a man who loved her for herself, only to discover he was more in love with her trust fund. The memory caused the fist around her heart to clench even tighter. Six months after their breakup, his betrayal still hurt.

“Damn it,” she blurted. “For once in my life I’d like to live somewhere where no one knows who I am, without my money or my last name to screw things up.”

There was a pause on the other end of the call before Lindsey said, “Oh, honey, that’s a nice idea, but you wouldn’t last more than two months.”

“Is that what you think?” Nina took the next curve in the road a tad too fast, causing her to tap on the brakes as she negotiated this twisty section of the highway. “You’re supposed to be on my side.”

“I am, and I love you, but let’s be serious. You might have been a rebel a few years ago, but you’re past that stage. You’re wiser now, and since you went to work for your dad you’ve—dare I say it—gotten used to a cushier lifestyle. I bet you’re cruising in your swanky BMW right now, wearing designer jeans and sunglasses. Am I right or am I right?”

Nina shifted guiltily in her leather seat. “Okay, yeah. But the BMW was a gift from my dad. I’d never have bought a car like this. And as for these jeans, you talked me into them, and—” She let out a groan. “Oh, Lindsey. How did I end up like this? Where did I go wrong? Remember college? We used to shop at thrift stores and hitchhike and survive on ramen noodles.”

“You were trying to stick it to your father, but I had no choice,” Lindsey pointed out. “And, frankly, I don’t miss those days. I’m doing great now, and I enjoy spending the money I’ve earned.”

Unlike Nina, Lindsey had graduated from college with honors, was a rising star at her publishing company, and had a nice, steady boyfriend. Lindsey’s life was on the up and up, whereas Nina’s seemed to hit one dead end after another.

“I’m not trying to stick it to my dad anymore.”

A year and a half ago, she’d become mixed up with a group of hard-core radicals, but when their protest at an economic forum had turned violent, she’d realized she didn’t share their nihilist views. But by then she’d already been arrested, caught up with the other glass-smashing thugs. Her father and his high-powered attorney had gotten her out of serious trouble, and she knew that she owed him. That was why she’d finally agreed to come on board at Beaumont, Inc.—to mend things between her and her dad. At the time it had seemed like a good, sensible decision for once in her life, but now she wasn’t sure about anything.

“The thing is, I’m sick of how my life is panning out. I’m sick of being Nina Beaumont. I can never get away from her. In fact, I should just stop in the nearest town”—she peered at a signpost indicating the next town was a place called Hartley—“and go incognito for a month or so.”

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