Not necessarily to marry him—although most would, if they could. But because billionaires could show a girl a very good time. It was a case of la dolce vita to the max: the best cars, the best restaurants, the best holidays.
Men like Hugh could give a woman everything she wanted.
He’d be very good in bed, though, came the provocative thought.
Not that she’d ever find out. Hugh wasn’t the slightest bit interested in her in that way. You didn’t need to have a master’s degree to work out what sort of women he took to bed, and she wasn’t one of them.
The man himself wrenched open the passenger door at that precise moment and reached his hand down towards her. Kathryn really had no option but to take it.
This time, however, she was ready for her traitorous body’s reaction to him. This time, there wouldn’t be any silly gasping. She would keep her cool and her head
When she put her hand in his, and his fingers closed around hers, Hugh had to use every ounce of his willpower not to show his feelings on his face. He’d been in an acute state of arousal from the moment he’d looked at her glorious thighs earlier on and envisaged how they’d feel wrapped around him. Then, when his arm had brushed against her breasts, he’d come within a hair’s breadth of throwing caution to the winds and making a total fool of himself.
When she’d stiffened her back against the seat and made that strangled sound, he’d been saved from attempting what would have been no doubt a disastrous move. In the short drive since that decidedly dangerous moment, he’d managed to regain some common sense—and some control.
But his arousal remained, as did the perverse pleasure that just touching her again was giving him. Slowly he drew her up out of the car, revelling in the warmth of her hand, though not the flash of discomfort he glimpsed in her eyes.
Too bad, he thought, and held her hand even more tightly.
The sound of his cellphone ringing annoyed the hell out of him.
Not so his PA, who immediately withdrew her hand from his and turned to close the passenger door.
‘Don’t forget to lock your car,’ she said coolly whilst he pulled his phone from his trouser pocket and flipped it open.
‘Hugh Parkinson,’ he said with a touch of weariness. But truthfully, what kind of masochistic maniac was he to invite Kathryn to dinner? Self-flagellation had never been his bag.
‘Hugh, darling,’ said a female voice. ‘Have I caught you at a bad time?’
‘Not at all, Mum. What’s up?’ he asked whilst pressing the car’s automatic lock then slipping the key into his trouser pocket.
‘I can’t make lunch tomorrow. Sorry.’
‘That’s all right. We’ll make it for the following Friday.’ A while back, his mother had complained that they hardly ever saw each other these days, except at Christmas and his father’s weddings, so they’d instituted a standard date to have lunch together every second Friday. Oddly enough, he’d got to know his mother better during those lunches than he could ever have imagined. They weren’t just mother and son these days, they were good friends.
‘I’ll have to check my diary and get back to you on that,’ she said. ‘We might have to make it another day.’
‘You shouldn’t be such a gadabout.’
‘You wouldn’t want me to sit at home pining for your father, would you?’
‘Did you ever do that?’
‘Only for the first ten years. So where are you off to tonight, darling? No, don’t tell me. Let me guess. You’ve found yourself a new girlfriend at last, and you’re going to impress her with dinner at Neptune’s.’
Hugh’s eyebrows lifted. It seemed his mother knew him very well indeed.
‘Not quite,’ he replied. ‘I’m taking Kathryn out to dinner as a reward for all her hard work today.’
‘To Neptune’s?’ his mother persisted.
‘And she agreed?’
‘Why not? It’s all perfectly harmless.’
His mother laughed. ‘You’re anything but perfectly harmless, darling. Not when it comes to the women you fancy.’
Hugh was struck speechless.
‘You thought I didn’t know?’
Again, he remained silent.
‘I never tell you what to do these days, darling. But I’m going to now. Men who sleep with their secretaries bring a lot of misery, mostly to the secretaries. Especially engaged ones. So take your mother’s advice and keep it zipped up whilst you’re around that lovely girl.’
‘I’ll do that,’ he bit out.
‘Good. I really like Kathryn. If you ever did anything to hurt her, I would be very cross.’
‘Mum, I must go. We have an early booking.’ So saying, he snapped his phone shut and looked at Kathryn.
‘Mum can’t make it to lunch tomorrow,’ he said by way of explanation.
‘What a shame. We always have a nice little chat when she comes to the office.’
‘So I gathered. Look, why don’t we both turn off our mobile phones for the next couple of hours? There’s nothing worse than people ringing you during dinner.’
He watched her hesitate, but only for a moment, before she opened her handbag and switched off her phone. Hugh smiled his satisfaction. Such a small victory, but it pleased him.
‘Good,’ he said and, masochistically taking her elbow once more, began shepherding her across the car park towards the restaurant.
NEPTUNE’S was everything Kathryn had thought it would be: very classily decorated, with a magnificent view of Sydney Harbour and a mouth-watering menu that made her uncharacteristically indecisive.
But how did one choose between so many incredible dishes?
Incredibly expensive as well. She wondered what price the wine would be.
‘Stop looking at the prices,’ Hugh said after she’d been staring at the menu for a full five minutes. ‘I don’t give a damn what you order. Just hurry up. I’m starving.’
Still, she dilly-dallied.
‘Why don’t you let me order for you?’ he said somewhat impatiently.
‘Perhaps that would be best,’ she agreed when a waiter materialised at the side of their table.
Hugh told him they were skipping the entrée and going straight to the main course, selecting baby Barramundi, accompanied by an exotic concoction of pasta and vegetables, which she didn’t dare ask the waiter to explain for fear she would sound ignorant. Hugh also ordered some herb bread—to be delivered quickly—and a bottle of red wine which she suspected cost a lot more than the fifteen-to-twenty-dollar specials she always bought from her local wine shop.
The waiter returned with the wine like a shot, Hugh taking his time over the taste-testing before giving his nod for the waiter to pour.
‘I haven’t tried this particular wine before,’ he told her after the waiter departed. ‘A friend recommended it to me. Tell me what you think.’
When Kathryn took her first sip, she literally sighed with appreciation. ‘Oh, it’s lovely.’
‘I’ve had better,’ Hugh said. ‘But it’s not bad. Aah, here comes our bread. And just in time. I’ll need something to soak up the alcohol, if I’m going to drive you home afterwards.’