Millionaire Under the Mistletoe

By: Tessa Radley

One


Callum halted at the threshold, his attention riveted on the woman pacing in front of the reception desk. The slanting rays from a lofty skylight caught her hair and turned it into a nimbus of glowing gold.

He took a step forward.

“Callum Ironstone demanded my presence here at three o’clock.” She cocked her wrist and glanced at a serviceable watch. “It’s already ten past. How much longer does he intend to keep me cooling my heels?” Her husky voice held an edge of impatience.

Callum stilled as her words penetrated. This was Miranda Owen?

Not possible.

His gaze tracked up from slender ankles encased in sheer black hose along the sleek lines of the narrow black, hip-hugging skirt. A black polo-neck sweater emphasized the indent of her waist and a saffron-colored coat hung over her arm.

Callum stared.

Digging deep into his memories produced an image of a plump teenager, more at home in a baggy sweatshirt, jeans and muddied yellow Wellingtons. The sunlit locks held no resemblance to the long, untidy ponytail. No doubt the braces were gone, too.

He cleared his throat.

She spun around. Wide caramel-brown eyes met his. His stomach tightened as he took in the lambent hostility.

One thing hadn’t changed. Miranda Owen still blamed him for her father’s death.

Callum didn’t let the knowledge show as he crossed the marble tiles, toasty from the state-of-the-art underfloor heating system. “Miranda, thank you for coming in.”

“Callum.”

That one snapped-out word hinted at long-held resentments.

He stretched out a hand. For a moment he thought she was going to refuse to take it. Then with a small sigh she relented.

Her fingers were strong, her grip firm, yet her skin was soft against his. Before he could come to terms with the interesting dichotomy of her touch, she pulled away.

“Why did you want to see me?”

A woman who got straight to the point—he liked that. Callum shook himself free of the bemusement that this grown-up Miranda evoked. “Let’s talk in my office. Would you like a cup of coffee?”

A picture flickered across his mind of a three-year-younger Miranda spooning several teaspoons of sugar into a cup of hot chocolate at her father’s funeral.

“No, thanks.” Her reply was clipped.

He glanced across to the receptionist. “Bring Ms. Owen a hot chocolate and I’ll have coffee. Bring some extra sugar,” he tacked on before placing his hand under Miranda’s elbow and steering her along the corridor and into his spacious office.

“I’m not a child.” She slanted him a look from beneath ridiculously long lashes, and a frisson of awareness startled Callum. “And I no longer drink chocolate.”

“I can see you’re not a child,” Callum drawled, giving her a slow, sweeping perusal. “You’ve changed.”

“You haven’t.” Miranda broke free of his hold and stepped away.

Still truculent. The heat of desire receded. “Maybe I’m mistaken,” he mused. “I’d gotten the notion you’d grown up.”

Chagrin filled her face. “I’m sorry.”

Callum doubted she regretted her lack of courtesy. Yet when her gaze met his again, he read apprehension in the wide eyes. What was she frightened about? Even as he watched, she straightened her spine and the moment of vulnerability vanished.

He waved to the two boxy leather sofas facing each other under an immense wooden bookshelf packed with books. A tall Christmas tree covered with red bows and silver balls reminded Callum that it was the season of reconciliation. But Miranda’s frozen face warned him that reconciliation was the last thing on her mind. And how could he blame her? Feeling carefully for words, he said, “Look, let’s start over.”



Ignoring him, Miranda passed the cozy seating arrangement heading for a round walnut conference table beside a wall of glass, where she slung her coat and black bag over the closest of the four chairs in a militant fashion.

Okay, so she was going to play this tough, all business. Callum gave a mental shrug and seated himself opposite her. “I asked you to come in because I have a proposition for you.”

“A proposition?” Confusion clouded her features. “For me?”

Top Books