A Pawn in the Playboy's Game(10)

By: Cathy Williams



Alessandro swiftly dispelled the glaring contradictions between them. He was here on behalf of his father, to take him down to London even though he might protest the move. It was for his own good! For a start, there was just so much choice when it came to various medical treatments, and having had both a stroke and a fall, who knew what medical treatment the future held for him? In London, he would receive the best!

‘Big of you,’ Alessandro murmured. ‘I can only think that it must have been a wrench leaving the bright city lights and returning to all this peace and tranquillity. What was your job in London?’

He wasn’t interested. Not really. He was simply establishing her credentials, working out whether she was a threat to his father’s fortune or not. She knew that.

She wondered what had possessed her to come cycling here today and, having seen that SUV skewed in the courtyard, what had further possessed her to ring the doorbell, knowing that Roberto’s son would be on the premises.

Fate had really decided to have a laugh at her expense.

‘I worked as a PA.’ She lowered her eyes, a little flicker of movement that Alessandro’s keen antennae picked up.

‘What company?’

‘I don’t know what that has to do with anything!’ she snapped, bright spots of colour on her cheeks.

‘You’re right. It hasn’t. And I wouldn’t have asked if I’d known that I was getting too close to state secrets.’

‘It’s no big deal.’ And yet, for some reason, she was reluctant to say the name of the firm out loud. Was it because she would be reminded of Colin? And the mortification of finding out that he had been lying to her? The horror of realising just how naive she had been to have handed over her trust to a smooth-talker? The shame when she thought that he had seen how green round the gills she’d been and had known that she would have lacked the experience to figure out what a bastard he really was?

She surfaced to find Alessandro’s dark eyes pinned thoughtfully to her face and she tilted her chin stubbornly and told him the name of the company.

‘Not,’ she repeated, ‘that it’s any of your business.’

‘I know the company,’ he murmured, still looking at her in a way that made her feel as though he could see right down deep into the very core of her. ‘And naturally I’m interested in finding out about one of my father’s friends... Why wouldn’t I be?’

‘I didn’t think you were ever interested before,’ Laura pointed out. ‘I mean, you could have come to visit when there have been things going on...joined in...’

‘Things? What sort of things?’

‘Oh, you know...we yokels try to have a barn dance at least once a month and let’s not forget the annual hog roast while we all stand outside and admire the peaceful countryside...’

He burst out laughing. Suddenly those thoughtful eyes were dark with lazy appreciation.

Sexy, sharp-tongued, lippy...funny.

‘I prefer the barn dances in London,’ he told her with mock seriousness. ‘And the hog roasts are good, too, although, of course, we all tend to stand outside and admire the pollution. Happy times...’

Laura didn’t want to laugh but she had to fight the urge. ‘It’s good of you to visit him,’ she admitted grudgingly. ‘I suppose you’ve been worried but, like I said, there’s no need. I try to check on him every day after work.’

‘Oh? You managed to find yourself another PA job here?’ He wasn’t even sure what companies existed in the small town. He definitely wouldn’t have put it down as somewhere with a flourishing employment sector.

‘I realised that working as someone’s personal assistant wasn’t what I wanted to do.’

‘No?’

‘When I came back here, I landed a teaching job and it’s very fulfilling. I teach at the local primary school. It’s small and there are only a handful of kids in each class, but it’s extremely rewarding.’

‘Teacher.’

‘The hours are convenient and, of course, there are the holidays and half-terms, and because it’s a small village school I know all the mums on a one-to-one basis.’ It was a terrific job, nothing to be ashamed of, and yet Laura couldn’t stop the feeling of being just a little drab, just a tiny bit of a country bumpkin.

‘Cosy.’

‘I expect you must find it all very boring, but not everyone is consumed with wanting to live in a city and make pots of money.’

‘I can’t recall saying anything about finding what you do boring, although I question how much personal satisfaction you must get in a place as small as this, especially after living in London.’

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