A Millionaire for Cinderella

By: Barbara Wallace



Stuart’s eyes stayed locked with hers. A Mexican standoff, with each of them waiting for the other to blink. “My aunt has a generous heart. I, on the other hand...”

“Let me guess. You don’t.”

Patience sensed rather than saw his smile. “I prefer to lead with my head. Less chance for mistakes.”

“Except, in this case, you’re already mistaken.”

“We’ll find out, won’t we?” he said. “Since I’ll be living here, we’ll have plenty of time to get acquainted. Who knows what secrets we’ll learn about each other?”

Patience managed to wait until he disappeared upstairs before hissing. What was it with him and secrets?

You didn’t exactly help your cause, did you? Challenging him like that. A smart person would have let his comments pass, refused to give him the satisfaction of a reaction. But, nooo, she had to call him out. Might as well hold a sign over her head reading I’ve Got a Secret!

So much for leaving her past behind. She should have known that a future built on a lie—even an innocent one—wouldn’t last. Ana was going to be so disappointed in her.

She bit her knuckle, forcing down her panic. No need to start packing just yet. This bluster was probably nothing more than a scare tactic to put her in her place. To make up for not having a say in hiring her, no doubt. A few days from now, after seeing how well Patience did her job, he’d back off and leave her alone.

It could happen, right?





CHAPTER TWO

THERE WAS A weight vibrating on his chest. He must have left the door open when he came upstairs. “It better be light out, Nigel,” he muttered. Freeing a hand from under the covers, he felt around until his fingers found fur. Immediately, the purring increased as Nigel leaned into the touch. A sad voice in his head noted this was the most action he’d had in his bed in way too long. “Hey, be careful with the claws, buddy,” he said when the cat began kneading the blanket. “I might need those parts someday.” You never knew. A social life might spontaneously develop. Stranger things had happened.

At work, people considered him a workaholic, but the truth was, he’d never been what people would call popular. He discovered early that being a Duchenko heir meant being judged and misunderstood. As a kid, his awkwardness was labeled snobbery. As he got older, his social desirability was measured in terms of his bank account. He had to be constantly on guard, assessing the motives of every person that crossed his path. The one time he hadn’t...well, that had taught him two more lessons: Don’t let sex cloud your judgment and even family members will screw you over. Except for Ana, that is. Ana was the one family member who loved him for him.

Nigel’s head butted his hand, a not so subtle way of saying more petting, less thinking. Giving a half sigh, Stuart opened his eyes, then blinked when he saw Nigel in perfect focus. He’d forgotten to take out his contact lenses again. No wonder his eyes felt as if they had sand in them. What time was it anyway? Yesterday had wiped him out so badly he barely remembered falling into bed.

Not too wiped out to go toe-to-toe with the housekeeper, though. It was a bit arrogant of him showing up without warning, but he’d wanted to catch her off guard. To see how she’d react to learning she wouldn’t have the run of the brownstone.

Turned out she reacted to the blind side better than most of his legal opponents.

Most of his legal opponents didn’t have eyes that lit up like chocolate diamonds, either. Dark and sinfully rich, their spark got his adrenaline going in a way practicing law sure didn’t. A guy could make a career out of looking for ways to make those eyes light up.

What was that about not letting sex cloud his judgment? Ignoring Nigel’s protest, he rolled onto his side and reached for the phone on the nightstand. It was early, he thought, noting the time, but not so early to reach an associate. The ambitious ones practically slept at the firm. A few minutes of scrolling through his contacts found him the name he wanted.

Just as he expected, Bob Cunningham answered on the first ring. “Welcome back. I hear congratulations are in order.” He was referring to the LA case.

“Too bad the former Mrs. Wentworth didn’t come to her senses last year.” Instead, she’d put her late husband’s family through hell and sentenced Stuart to months of aggravation, not to mention opening the door for Patience Rush. “There are a couple details to iron out that I’ll talk to you about later. In the meantime, I need some background research done. A woman named Patience Rush.”

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