Secrets of a Billionaire's Mistress

By: Sharon Kendrick

She finished her tea and put the cup down, the subtle taste of peppermint and rose petals still lingering on her lips. It was time for the affair to fade out, like the credits at the end of the film. And even though she was going to miss him like crazy, she was the one who needed to start it rolling.

She made her voice sound cool and non-committal. ‘I’m thinking I won’t be able to see you for a while.’

That had his attention. He turned away from the screen and, putting his glasses down on the desk, he frowned. ‘What are you talking about?’

‘I have a week’s holiday from work and I’m planning to use it to go to Norfolk.’

She could see he was slightly torn now because he wasn’t usually interested in what she did when she wasn’t with him, even if he sometimes trotted out a polite question because he obviously felt it was expected of him. But he was interested now.

‘What are you doing in Norfolk?’

She shrugged her bare shoulders. ‘Looking for a place to rent. I’m thinking of moving there.’

‘You mean you’re leaving London?’

‘You sound surprised, Renzo. People leave London all the time.’

‘I know. But it’s...’ He frowned, as if such an option was outside his realm of understanding. ‘What’s in Norfolk?’

She’d been prepared to let him think that she just wanted a change—which was true—and to leave her real reasons unspoken. But his complete lack of comprehension angered her and when she spoke her voice was low and trembling with an anger which was directed as much at herself as at him.

‘Because there I’ve got the chance of renting somewhere that might have a view of something which isn’t a brick wall. As well as a job that doesn’t just feature commuters who are so rushed they can barely give me the time of day, let alone a please or a thank you. The chance of fresh air and a lower cost of living, plus a pace of life which doesn’t wear me out just thinking about it.’

He frowned. ‘You mean you don’t like where you’re living?’

‘It’s perfectly adequate for my needs,’ she said carefully. ‘Or at least, it has been until now.’

‘That’s a pretty lukewarm endorsement.’ He paused and his frown deepened. ‘Is that why you’ve never invited me round?’

‘I guess.’ She’d actually done it to save his embarrassment—and possibly hers. She’d tried to imagine him in her humble bedsit eating his dinner off a tray or having to squeeze his towering frame into her tiny bathroom or—even worse—lying on her narrow single bed. It was a laughable concept which would have made them both feel awkward and would have emphasised the vast social gulf between them even more. And that was why she never had. ‘Would you really have wanted me to?’

Renzo considered her question. Of course he wouldn’t, but he was surprised not to have got an invite. You wouldn’t need to be a genius to work out that her life was very different from his and perhaps if he’d been confronted by it then his conscience would have forced him to write a cheque, and this time be more forceful in getting her to accept it. He might have told her to buy some new cushions, or a rug or even a new kitchen, if that was what she wanted. That was how these things usually worked. But Darcy was the proudest woman he’d ever encountered and, apart from the sexy lingerie he’d insisted she wear, had stubbornly refused all his offers of gifts. Why, even his heiress lovers hadn’t been averse to accepting diamond necklaces or bracelets or those shoes with the bright red soles. He liked buying women expensive presents—it made him feel he wasn’t in any way beholden to them. It reduced relationships down to what they really were...transactions. And yet his hard-up little waitress hadn’t wanted to know.

‘No, I wasn’t holding out for an invite,’ he said slowly. ‘But I thought you might have discussed your holiday plans with me before you went ahead and booked them.’

‘But you never discuss your plans with me, Renzo. You just do as you please.’

‘You’re saying you want me to run my schedule past you first?’ he questioned incredulously.

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