The Billionaire Boss's Innocent Bride

By: Lindsay Armstrong

CHAPTER ONE


ALEXANDRA HILL arrived home in Brisbane on a particularly chilly May morning. She’d been on a skiing holiday in the Southern Alps with a group of friends. And while it had been freezing in Canberra when she’d boarded the flight muffled up in a scarf and ski jacket, she hadn’t expected to be grateful for these items of clothing in sub-tropical Brisbane even in winter.

But as it went on to be the coldest May day on record, she was still wearing her coat when she stepped out of the taxi she’d taken from the airport—to find her boss waiting for her on the doorstep of her small terrace house in Spring Hill. Simon Wellford, ginger-haired and chubby and whose brainchild Wellford Interpreting Services was, threw his arms around her. ‘Thank heavens! Your neighbour wasn’t sure if you were due home today or tomorrow. I need you, Alex. I really need you,’ he said passionately.

Alex, who happened to know Simon was happily married, removed herself from his clutches and said prosaically, ‘I’m still on holiday, Simon, so—’

‘I know,’ he interrupted, ‘but I’ll make it up, I promise!’

Alex sighed. She worked for Simon as an interpreter and had come to know him as somewhat impulsive. ‘What emergency this time?’ she enquired.

‘I wouldn’t call it an emergency, definitely not,’ he denied. ‘Would you call Goodwin Minerals anything but an absolute coup?’

‘I don’t know anything about Goodwin Minerals and I don’t know what you’re talking about, Simon!’

He clicked his tongue. ‘It’s huge, it’s a blue-chip mining company and it’s going into China. Well—’ he waved a hand ‘—they’re about to embark on negotiations here in Brisbane with a Chinese consortium, but one of their Mandarin interpreters has fallen sick and they need a replacement. Almost immediately,’ he added. Alex dropped her tote bag onto her roller suitcase. ‘On-site interpreting?’ she queried.

Simon hesitated. ‘Look, I know you’ve only done document and telephone work for me, Alex, but you’re damn good at it!’

Alex put her hands on her hips. ‘If we’re talking mining here, are we also talking technical terms?’

Simon glanced at her keenly as he thought, I wish we were—then said, ‘No. It’s for the social events they need you. They…’ he hesitated ‘…wanted to be assured you’d be comfortable in formal social circumstances.’

‘So you told them I don’t eat my peas with my knife,’ Alex remarked, then started to laugh at his injured expression.

‘I told them you came from a diplomatic background. That seemed to reassure them,’ he said a little stiffly because, if the truth be told, he did have one reservation about Alex and this job and it was neither her manners nor her fluency in Mandarin…it was the way she dressed.

He’d never seen her in anything but jeans, although she did have a variety of long scarves she liked to wind round her neck—and her hair was obviously a bit of a trial to her. She also wore glasses.

A classic bluestocking, one could be forgiven for thinking. Not that it had ever mattered how she dressed, because telephone interpreting and document translation were all behind-the-scenes stuff. In fact she did a lot of it from home. You would expect no less than a high social scene from the prominent Goodwin Minerals, though.

He broke his thoughts off with a jerk of his chin. He could sort that out later; getting the job was the important thing and he was running out of time.

‘Hop in the car, Alex,’ he instructed. ‘We’ve got an interview with Goodwins in about twenty minutes.’

She gazed at him. ‘Simon—you’re joking! I’ve just arrived home. I need to shower and change at least and I’m not even sure I want to do this!’

‘Alex…’ he strode across the pavement and opened the passenger door of his car

‘…please.’

‘No, hang on, Simon. Do you mean to tell me you committed me to an interview and you committed Wellford’s to this job with Goodwin Minerals when you weren’t even sure I was coming home today?’

‘I know it sounds a bit, well…’ He shrugged.

‘It sounds exactly like you, Simon Wellford,’ she told him wearily.

‘Great men seize the moment,’ he responded. ‘This could lead to an awful lot of work coming our way from Goodwins, Alex. It could be the making of Wellfords—and,’ he paused suddenly before saying, ‘Rosanna’s pregnant.’

Alex blinked at her boss. Rosanna was Simon’s wife and this would be their first child so the future of the interpreting service would be especially important now.

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