Mail-Order Millionaire

By: Carol Grace



“Oh, but I have to leave tonight. Right now, before it gets dark.”

“Is someone expecting you, your husband?”

“No.”

“No, you don’t have a husband, or no, he isn’t expecting you?”

“I don’t have a husband, but there are people who will worry if I don’t get back.”

He poured two glasses of an old mellow sherry he’d been saving for some special occasion. “Who?”

“My sister.”

He handed her the glass of amber liquid. “You can call her. Tell her there’s zero visibility and that you’re safe.” He watched her eyes narrow as she looked him over. “You are safe,” he assured her, taking the swivel chair and straddling it. “I’m not a sex maniac or a serial killer.”

A nervous smile played at the corner of her mouth. “How do I know that?”

“I’ve got letters of recommendation from respectable scientists and even one from the president of the American Chess Association.”

She pulled the zipper of her jacket up to her chin. “Some of the most devious people in the world are chess players.”

“Are you?”

“What, devious?”

“No, a chess player.”

“Yes, but I’m not very good at it.”

He felt the sherry slide down the back of his throat. “We’ll see after dinner.”

“Dinner?”

“You didn’t think I’d let you starve, did you?” He stood up and handed her the phone. “Call your sister and I’ll go get the stuff.”

“You have a service all the way up here?”

“If not, we’ve got a shortwave radio for emergencies. All the comforts of home.”

Miranda held the telephone in her hands. Out of the corner of her eye she could see Max’s dark blond head bending over to snap his boots on, his old worn rubber boots. She wanted to wait until he left to call, but she had nothing else to do, no reason to put it off except she didn’t want him listening in on her conversation.

She punched in the numbers slowly. “Listen, Ariel, I’m stuck in some bad weather so I won’t be back till later.”

“Morning,” Max said from across the room. “At least until morning.”

“Where are you? Who’s that with you?”

“I’m at the weather station and that’s the weatherman.”

“If he’s the weatherman, how come he didn’t know about this bad weather?”

“I’ll ask him that. And I’ll be back tomorrow.” Whatever happened she didn’t want Ariel to worry. She’d gotten herself into this mess and she’d get herself out.

“You’re spending the night with the weatherman?” Ariel’s voice went up a notch. “You don’t even know him.”

“That’s right, but I have no choice. I’m fogged in on top of Mount Henry.”

“Well, is he really extra large?”

Miranda’s gaze wandered to the tall man with the very broad shoulders who was putting his jacket on at the door. He was large all right. But she couldn’t tell her sister that. And if she ever found out he had money too she’d never quit. “Uh...I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Bye now.” She handed the phone back to Max. “Can I help bring in the boxes?”

He shook his head. “Take off your jacket and boots. Turn up the heat and make yourself at home. When I get the food in here, we’ll talk about dinner.” A rush of cold wind blew in before he slammed the door after him.

Miranda stood in the middle of the room, staring at the heavy storm door. She was stuck overnight in a forty-foot square room with huge windows on four sides, storage cabinets and a desk, but with no visible kitchen or bathroom. The man seemed harmless, but how could she tell? She had no instincts for judging men, that was Ariel’s specialty. What would they do here until dark, and more important, what would they do after dark? She gave a little shiver as the wind and fog swirled around the building. And braced herself for a long winter’s evening.





Chapter Two




“You’ve got some questions to answer.”

Miranda whirled around at the sound of his voice. She’d taken off her jacket and her boots, turned up the heat and taken herself on a tour of Maxwell Carter’s weather station, from the tiny kitchen hidden behind a wall of shelves to the bathroom that looked like a storage closet. She’d just taken a sip of her sherry when he suddenly appeared at the door. Setting her glass on a table, she hurried to take the top two boxes from the stack he was carrying. She followed him through the narrow doorway to the kitchen, set the boxes down and looked up inquisitively. “Questions?”

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