Pawn of the Billionaire

By: Kristin Frasier & Abigail Moore



“Well.” I thought. “It’s not going to be easy. I mean, finding her. Once I’ve found her, I just have to find a good finishing school. I suppose they’re still around. Switzerland, they all were, weren’t they?”

“Oh, yes.” Father sounded enthusiastic. “Your mother went to one. She said it was very freeing for most of them. I suppose they’d been very much under their family’s control until then.”

“I bet.” I tried to picture my mother as an eighteen year old, but failed dismally.

“All right, Father. I’ll commission a genealogy firm to do the research and see if we can come up with anyone who’d fit the bill and might be persuadable.” I flung myself back in my chair. “And don’t forget, get the contractors to contact me with their quotes for the roof.”

When I hung up, I turned and looked at Lawrence. He was utterly professional and discreet, but I could see that even he was trying not to smile.

I grinned. “What have we let ourselves in for?”

He relaxed and let his smile show. “An interesting diversion for you, sir.” He came towards my chair with his notebook. “There are several genealogy firms in the UK who would be able to find someone for you. I think they’ll be better placed to at least begin the research. I suppose they’ll want to start with the female lines several generations back, and see where they lead.”

He’d obviously started online while I was still having the conversation with my father.

“Yes. Good idea. I wonder if …” I frowned. “Maybe ask them to start with titles that have gone extinct. If there’s no one holding the title now, the girl may be more inclined to think she’s as much right as anyone to get one, even if it’s not the same as she might have inherited if girls counted then.”

“Yes, sir.” Lawrence glanced at the clock. “It’s still very early in London. Your father must have been worried to have been up at this time.” He moved back to his desk. “Anyway, I’ll contact them first thing in the morning. Would you want me to research finishing schools then too?”

I nodded. “Yes. Thanks, Lawrence. You get off now. I’ll go down for dinner in a moment.”





Toni





I screwed my hair back into an untidy bun and made a face at myself in the small mirror that was just too low to see my face in unless I stooped. God! I hated my life at the moment. Long hours, crap job, too tired in the evenings to study my way out and onto better things.

But I had to keep this job, keep this roof over my head, and my bills paid. It was lucky that I only lived a few minutes walk from the diner. Most rooms this close to the hospital were too expensive, but nurses wouldn’t stand for crap places like this. I looked around with disgust at where I had to live. It was hard to keep it clean, all the surfaces were so grimy from years of neglect. And there was no storage for my belongings, even though I didn’t have much.

I gritted my jaw. I would get out of this somehow. I really would. I’d got a great idea. I just had to make it work. I shrugged my shoulders into my coat and held it tightly around myself as I strode along the sidewalk, head down against the usual rain. Even when it wasn’t raining here in San Francisco, it was so humid, I usually wished it was raining.

Turning into the diner, I was hit by the warmth from the kitchen and the stale, greasy smell from the back storage area. I didn’t have long before some of the families would be in for breakfast. They had such bad luck with their sick kids, and most of them had little money left for their own food. The hospital cafeteria cost too much, so they’d come in here. Some of them came back month after month, a long downward spiral of losing hope. Then they’d stop coming, and I’d know that they’d lost their child. I shivered as I hung my coat up. It was depressing. I had to stop getting too involved in people’s lives.

I swung through to the kitchen. “Morning, Pete.” The junior chef’s life was probably worse than mine, and I tried to keep his spirits up and the atmosphere sweet.

He glanced up. “Hello, Toni. Nearly ready.” He was so nice. A bacon sandwich each morning meant I didn’t have to have breakfast before I came to work.

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