The Millionaire

By: Victoria Purman



There were a hundred new jobs lined up back in the world’s trouble spots, ready to be documented as soon as he bought a ticket and got back on a plane.

But right now, all he wanted was solitude and all he wanted to think about was the surf and the sun.

*

“Are you really sure it was Chris Malone?” Bron looked doubtful.

They were walking to a local café with Sophie to have lunch before Ellie drove back to Sydney later that afternoon. When Bron and her husband Peter had their little girl six months before, they’d left the crazy whirl of their city newsroom behind. Ellie tried to visit her goddaughter as often as she could, even if it was just for the day. When Sophie had gone down for a nap earlier, Ellie had taken the opportunity to head down to the beach for a walk. She loved the solitude up here and, compared with the crowds of people at Bondi, which looked like Grand Central Station most of the time, the unspoilt beach here was bliss.

“Oh, it was him all right. He was perfectly nice when he figured I didn’t know who he was. I believe he even checked out the girls.”

“Your breasts?”

“You’ve been nursing too long. Yes, my breasts. My rack. My norks. But once I let the cat out of the bag, he looked away pretty damn quick. He became downright rude, actually.” Ellie sighed. “Maybe it’s true what they say about never meeting your idols.”

“Well, he is super famous, right? Do people like him get groupies?”

Ellie laughed. “You calling me a groupie? I’m just a huge fan of his work, Bron. Nothing else.” She tried not to think about his body, those rock hard pecs or the rest of his sculpted torso. Or the way she felt when he looked at her. As if she was melting. “And anyway, I really wanted to ask for his help, not for his phone number.”

Ellie pushed open the door of the café and Bron pushed the stroller inside. Once they’d ordered some sandwiches and coffee, they chose a table near the front, by the wide-open windows, wanting to capture the sea breezes that blew up from the beach.

“What did you want his help with? And please, tell me it was to rescue you from your pitiful love life.” Bron smiled warmly at her friend. She was the only person alive who knew how true that was. Ellie had been without a man for two years. Her dry spell was turning into El Nino. And it wasn’t for lack of trying or options. It was just that the options often turned out to be lying bastards. She was so tired of finding a half-bad man and trying to make him half-good.

“I think the love life’s a lost cause, don’t you?” Ellie sipped her coffee and glanced down at the sleeping Sophie, so peaceful and sweet. Her chubby little legs hung over the end of the stroller and Ellie wanted to kiss each and every one of her cute toes. She loved being a godmother and had been so honoured and thrilled when Bron and Peter had asked her. “The way I’m going, I reckon Sophie will snag a boyfriend before I do.”

“Ellie,” Bron whispered fiercely.

Ellie looked up at her friend. “No need to be snappy. I meant when she’s at least twenty-five-years old with two university degrees behind her, of course.”

“No, it’s not that.” Bron leaned in and her eyes widened. “Look who’s just walked in. That’s him, isn’t it?”

Ellie put her coffee down on the table, took a deep breath, and spun in her chair, aiming for a nonchalant glance to the doorway.

Her pulse tripped into overdrive at the mere sight of him. It was indeed Chris Malone. His hair was still damp and pushed back off his head in a way that looked so sexy Ellie ached in places she couldn’t even remember having. He’d changed into faded denims and a white T-shirt. He’d hooked one of the arms of his sunglasses inside it, so the front pulled down, revealing a hint of the curved pecs she’d admired back on the beach. He was staring intently at the menu board on the wall behind the counter. There was no indication he’d seen her. He didn’t turn and scowl or anything.

Ellie swivelled back to face Bron and gulped the rest of her coffee down. She’d screwed up the first time she’d got his attention. She wasn’t going to make that mistake again.

“I’ll be right back,” she announced.

Bron planted her hands on the table and leaned forward, whispering conspiratorially. “Are you trying again?”

“Yes,” and Ellie found her confidence once again. “I need that man, and I’m damn well going to go get him.”

Ellie Flannery stood, straightened her shoulders, tried not to think about the punk band throbbing in her chest cavity where her heart was supposed to be, and summoned every bit of her professional cool.

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