Mistress:Hired for the Billionaire's Pleasure(10)

By: India Grey

And then, as she watched, a soft light spilled out across the gravel as the door opened and a figure appeared. Scrabbling at the door handle with shaking, bloodless fingers, she threw herself out and had to lean against the car for a moment as relief cascaded through her.

A second later relief had turned to anguished recognition.

There in the doorway, like a dark negative image of the angel in the churchyard, stood Orlando Winterton.

Orlando flung open the door and frowned into the gathering darkness. He had heard the sound of tyres skidding on gravel but it took a few seconds for him to bring into focus the very expensive, very damaged silver sports car which looked as if it had been abandoned in front of the house.

Arabella.She’d phoned last night and announced in that cold, efficient way of hers that she wanted to see him. He couldn’t imagine why: everything in Arabella’s life was glamorous and high-functioning. She had no room for weakness—a fact which she had made perfectly plain at the time of Orlando’s diagnosis. Maybe she’d developed a conscience? he’d thought cynically as he’d slammed the phone down, having told her exactly what she could do.

But she always had liked to have the last word. Orlando’s face was like stone as he stood in the doorway, waiting for her to get out of the car. He wondered what tack she would take this time—mockery or seductiveness? Either way, he was immune. That was one thing he could be grateful for: when you lived in hell already, no one could make it any worse.

The car door opened and a slender figure sprang out, ghostly white in the winter gloom. Orlando felt his head jerk upwards slightly as he desperately sought to bring her into his field of vision.

Not Arabella.

She stood against the car, and even with his failing sight, even in the gathering February dusk, he could see that she was trembling. She was wearing a thin white dress that blew against her long legs, and her bright hair was like a beacon in the blurred centre of his vision. It lit up the darkness. Red for danger.

Red for passion.

The girl from the graveyard.

Slowly he walked down the steps towards her. Frozen by the icy wind that stung her bare arms and whipped her hair across her numb cheeks, Rachel watched him helplessly, suddenly finding that her brain was as frozen as the rest of her, but that something, somewhere deep inside of her just wanted to fling herself into this man’s arms.

In the distance she could still hear the discordant peal of the church bells, and she gave her head a little shake, trying to regain a rational hold on the situation. The trouble was, she wasn’t sure there was one.

‘I’m sorry,’ she said, in a voice that was little more than a hoarse croak. ‘I didn’t mean to come here. I didn’t know…The road—I didn’t know where it went—I was just…driving…’

He looked down on her from his great height. His massive shoulders were rigid with tension, but his face gave nothing away. ‘Driving away from your wedding, I take it?’

‘Yes. I couldn’t…do it.’ She spoke very carefully, breathing slowly and deliberately to keep herself together. ‘I waited until the last possible minute to see if something would happen to stop it, but it didn’t…and then…I knew I couldn’t do it. I ran away…because you were right, I…’

She took another steadying breath, but at that moment the church bells stopped abruptly. Silence seemed to fold around them like fog. Rachel felt her hands fly to her mouth, her eyes widening in horror as the implications of that silence sank in.

They knew. They’d found she was missing. And Carlos…Carlos would be…

Frantically she pushed her fingers through her hair, looking wildly about her as terror gripped her once again. Without knowing what she was doing, she wrenched open the car door.

Orlando was beside her in a flash, his arms closing around her waist, pinning her own arms to her sides and stopping her escape. She struggled against him, twisting her shoulders frantically, but his strength was enormous. Effortlessly he held her against him.

‘Let me go! I have to go now! They’ll come after me and—’

‘No!’ His voice was like sandpaper. He swung her round to face him, his hands holding her upper arms again, as they had this morning in the churchyard. ‘You’re not going anywhere in this state. You’re staying here.’

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