The Real Romero

By: Cathy Williams

    
CHAPTER ONE

 ‘AMELIA? IS THAT Amelia Mayfield?’

 Milly pressed the mobile phone against her ear, already regretting that she had been stupid enough to pick up the call. How many more instructions could Sandra King give about this job?

 She was going to be a chalet girl! Two weeks of cooking and looking after a family of four! Anyone would think that she was being primed to run the country. It wasn’t even as though she hadn’t done this before. She had, two years ago, for three months before she’d started the hotel job in London.

 ‘Yes.’ She sighed, allowing her eyes to drift over the pure, dazzling canvas of white snow all around her. It had been a fantastic trip, just the thing to clear her head and get her mind off her miserable situation. She had travelled in style and she had enjoyed every second of it. It was almost a shame that she was now in the back seat of the chauffeur-driven SUV with her destination only half an hour away.

 ‘You haven’t been picking up your phone!’ The voice down the other end was sharp and accusatory. Milly could picture the other woman clearly, sitting at her desk in Mayfair, her shiny blond hair scraped back with an Alice band, her long perfectly manicured nails tapping impatiently on her desk.

 Sandra King had interviewed her not once but three times for this job. It was almost as though she had resented having to give the job to someone small and round with red hair when there were so many other, more suitable candidates in the mix: girls with cut-glass accents, braying laughs and shiny blond hair scraped back with Alice bands.

 But, as she had made clear with unnecessarily cruel satisfaction, this particular family wanted someone plain and down to earth, because the last thing the señora wanted was a floozy who might decide to start flirting with her rich husband.

 Milly, who had looked up the family she would be working for on Google after her first interview, had only just managed not to snort with disbelief because the husband in question was definitely not the sort of man any girl in her right mind would choose to flirt with. He was portly, semi-balding and the wrong side of fifty, but he was filthy rich, and she supposed that that was as compelling an attraction as being a rock star. Not that she was in the market for flirting with anyone, anyway.

 ‘Sorry, Sandra...’ She grinned because she knew that Sandra didn’t like being called by her first name. It was ‘Ms King’, or ‘Skipper’ to the chosen few. The other girls in the exclusive agency that dealt specifically with part-time positions to the rich and famous called her Skipper, one of those silly nicknames that Milly guessed had been concocted in whatever posh boarding school they had all attended.

 ‘The service has been a bit iffy ever since I left London...and I can’t talk for long because my phone’s almost out of charge.’ Not strictly true but she didn’t need yet another check list of the various things the special family ate and didn’t eat; or the favourite things the special little kids, aged four and six, insisted on doing before they went to bed. She didn’t need to be reminded of what she could and couldn’t wear, or say or couldn’t say.

 Milly had never known people to be as fussy with just about everything. The family for whom she had worked two years previously had been jolly, outdoorsy and amenable.

 But she wasn’t complaining. They might be fussy but the pay was fabulous and, more importantly, the job removed her from the vicinity of Robbie, Emily and heartbreak.

 She had managed to push her ex-fiancé, her best friend and her broken engagement out of her head, but she could feel them staging another takeover, and she blinked rapidly, fighting back tears of self-pity. Time healed, she had been told repeatedly by her friends, who had never liked Robbie from the start and, now that she was no longer engaged, had felt free to let loose every single pejorative thing they had thought about him from day one.

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