The Multi-Millionaire's Virgin Mistress

By: Cathy Williams

‘Here’s how it was supposed to go. In an ideal world I would have made a dramatic entrance…or at least the cake would have made a dramatic entrance…and I would have leapt out of it, like the Marilyn Monroe equivalent of a Jack in the Box, stunning you with my wonderful outfit. Then I would have sung you ‘Happy Birthday’, even though I’ll be the first to admit that my voice is pretty average…’

‘Unfortunately…’ He edged away and looked at her with a shuttered expression. ‘Unfortunately you couldn’t have chosen a worse moment for your little surprise.’

‘No, well…’ Always so comfortable in his presence, Megan could feel stirrings of unease nibbling away inside her, even though really he no longer looked angry. ‘You never told me that you were expecting guests. You said that you would be working, and I just thought that it would be kind of nice to be surprised. You work too hard.’

‘I do what I have to do, Megan. How many times have I told you that?’

‘Yes, I know. You hate this place, and you work hard so that you can get out of it and do something with your life.’

‘I intend to do more than just something with my life.’

His father had done just something with his life. He had left poverty in Italy, hoping to find that the streets of London would be paved with gold. In the event they had been paved with tarmac and cement, just like everywhere else, and his father’s talents, his tremendous mathematical brain which had so enchanted Alessandro as a young boy, had become lost in the mindless boredom of manual work—because he had not been qualified to do anything else, and provincial little England had not been kind to a man whose grasp of English was broken. Never mind that his wife was English. An English rose with as few qualifications as her Italian husband. An English rose whose hands had been prematurely old from the cleaning jobs she had held down so that they could afford a small holiday once a year by the cold British seaside.

Alessandro didn’t like to think of the mother he had only known for the first ten years of his life. He liked even less to think of his father, loyally working for a haulage firm for twenty-five years, only to be made redundant at a time when he had been too old to get another job.

To his dying breath he had continued to tell his son what a wonderful life he had led.

To Alessandro’s way of thinking his father’s talents had been wasted, by lack of opportunity and the cruelty of a world that judged a man’s worth by bits of paper. He would, he had determined from an early age, get those bits of paper, and he would control the world so that it could never control him the way it had his father.

‘Those three men,’ he said, keeping that unaccustomed drift of memory to himself, ‘who were treated to your impromptu performance, are instrumental in my plan for the future.’

‘You mean, the pinstriped crew?’

He paused. ‘You need to grow up, Megan.’

That one statement, delivered with a coldness she had never heard before, was shocking. Yes, they were total opposites. They had laughed about that a million times. But he had always indulged her. She’d drag him away from his books with homemade picnics in the park and he would laugh at the sausage rolls and packets of biscuits and cheap wine. She would make a fool of herself singing karaoke, and he would shake his head in good-natured wonder and tell her never to consider a career in singing. He had never told her to grow up—and certainly never in that tone of voice.

‘It was just meant to be a bit of fun, Alessandro. How was I to know that the instruments of your plan would be here? And why do you have a plan, anyway? Really? Life’s not a chessboard, you know.’

‘That’s exactly what it is, Megan. A chessboard. The life we end up getting depends entirely on the moves we make.’

‘I know you want to do stuff with your life, Alessandro, but…’ Megan shot him a look of bemusement. This wasn’t quite the sort of talk she had been expecting, but it was certainly revealing. ‘You can’t plan everything. I mean, I really hope that I end up being a good teacher…’

‘In a small country school somewhere…’

‘What’s wrong with that?’

‘There’s nothing wrong with it,’ Alessandro told her patiently.

He looked at her expressive, open face and felt like a monster, but this was a conversation that had to be undertaken. His future had unexpectedly come rushing towards him like a freight train, leaving him no choice.

‘Did you ever think about qualifying and going to teach somewhere else?’

‘Somewhere else? Why should I? You know that St Nicks have offered me a post for after I qualify.’

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