The Millionaire's Christmas Wish

By: Lucy Gordon



He laughed. ‘How do you know I didn’t?’

‘Now you mention it, you probably did. You’re conceited enough for anything.’

‘So conceited that if I’d written it I wouldn’t have stopped at “threatened” to dominate. That’s not good enough for me. I have to be at the top, and I’m going to get there.’

‘Alex, you only started eleven years ago, practically working from a garden shed. Give yourself time.’

‘I don’t need time. I need Craddock’s contract, the biggest that’s ever come my way.’

‘Well, you’ve got it.’

‘Not until he’s signed it. Dammit, why did he have to get this tomfool idea about going to the Caribbean?’

George Craddock, the man whose signature he was determined to get by hook or by crook, had been all set to sign when he’d been struck by the notion of a gathering on the tiny Caribbean island that he owned. He’d called Alex about it that very afternoon.

‘And a big contract signing party to end it,’ Alex groaned now. ‘It’s a pointless exercise because the deal’s already set up.’

‘So why the party?’ Kath asked.

‘Because he’s old, foolish and lonely and has nobody to spend Christmas with him. So I have to forget my plans and catch a plane tonight.’

‘Weren’t you supposed to be seeing your family over Christmas?’

‘Part of it. I was going to arrive tomorrow and stay until the next day. Now I’ll have to call Corinne and explain that I’ve been called away. I just hope I can make her understand.’

Tact prevented Kath from saying, Sure, she understands so well that she’s divorcing you.

‘You should have told Craddock to get stuffed,’ she told him robustly now.

‘No way! You know how hard I’ve fought for this contract, and I’m not going to see it slip through my fingers now.’

Seeing disapproval on her face he said, defensively, ‘Kath, there’ll be other Christmases.’

‘I’m not so sure. Children grow up so fast, and suddenly there aren’t other Christmases.’

‘Now you’re being sentimental,’ he said gruffly.

That silenced her. ‘Sentimental’ was Alex’s strongest term of disapproval.

‘I’m sorry,’ he said. ‘I’m not in the best of moods. Go home, Kath. Have a nice Christmas.’

‘And be in early on the first day,’ she said in a reciting tone.

‘I never need to tell you that.’

When she’d gone he sat down tiredly and stared at the phone. What he had to do could not be put off any longer. If you had to break a promise it was best to do it quickly and cleanly.

He hoped there wouldn’t be any trouble with Corinne. She was used to the demands of his job, and the fact that it often took him away from his family. The only time she’d ever fought him about it was at Christmas.

And it would have to be Christmas now, wouldn’t it? he thought, exasperated. Just when he’d wanted to put a good face on things and show that he wasn’t a neglectful father, as she’d accused him!

He’d planned to join her and the children tomorrow, just for one day, because that was all he could spare. But he would have arrived, overflowing with presents, and they would have been impressed whether they liked it or not. They would have had to be. He would have seen to that.

So the sooner he called, the better. Dial the number, say, I’m afraid there’s been a change of plan-

He reached for the phone.





CHAPTER ONE




‘M UM, it’s the best Christmas tree we’ve ever had. A tree fit for Santa.’

Bobby was nine, old enough to have his own ideas about Santa, kind enough not to disillusion his adults.

‘It’s beautiful, isn’t it, darling?’ Corinne agreed, regarding her son tenderly.

The tree was five feet high and covered in tinsel and baubles which had been fixed in place by eager, inexpert hands. Perhaps the star on top was a little wonky, but nobody cared about that.

‘Do you think Dad will like it?’ Bobby wanted to know.

‘I’m sure he will.’

‘You will tell him I did it, won’t you? Well, Mitzi helped a bit, but she’s only a little kid so she couldn’t do much.’

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