There was a big relief knowing that her bank account was well out of the red, thought Angela the following day. With one signature, her life was turning right around. Shane had already deposited a fraction of the payment and it was more than enough to keep Angela in high spirits after being on the edge of flat broke for so many months. Also, a transfer was already in the works to move her father to a more exclusive facility. Sasha had already called to let Angela know she’d been invited for an interview at a top IT firm that Sasha had only ever dreamed of working in. Sasha’s elated voice had been enough to put a smile on Angela’s face and keep it there.
It felt good that in some way she was responsible for fending for her family and she hadn’t had to do anything self-debasing to achieve it. Angela held tight to that satisfaction and wouldn’t let anything faze her mood. Even when she was instructed to move into Shane’s home, she took it in her stride. But when she was summoned into the living room to find every inch of the floor and furniture almost covered with shopping bags from designer stores, she turned to Shane with raised brows.
“What in heaven’s name is all this?”
“Your new wardrobe,” he said with calm at her lippy tone. “I had things acquired from the best shops to ensure that having the right outfit for whatever the occasion wouldn’t be a problem for you.”
“My own clothes would have done just fine,” Angela said, cheeks and neck flushing with emotion. Was it his intention to doll her up like his well-kept paramour? She wouldn’t go out with him dressed wearing stuff people would know she couldn’t well afford herself.
Looking into a few bags she could see there was enough finery to send even the most ardent fashionista to style heaven. There were clothes, shoes, jewelry and perfumes...goodness. And they all seemed to be in her perfect size. How on earth had he managed that?
“Consider this as ‘dressing for the part’,” was Shane’s laconic reply.
“I see. And I thought the ‘part’ was girlfriend and not high-priced bimbo,” Angela said sharply, fists on her hips.
Shane pinched at the bridge of his nose for a moment in a universal gesture of masculine exasperation. But his voice was patient as he replied, “Do me a favor, and simply humor me. I wanted to buy all this for you. You’re my woman now; it’s expected that you look the part. I like my women glamorous and put together. If I want to see you dressed in expensive silks, diamonds or designer heels, then that’s what I get.”
Angela could not mistake the edge of steel in his tone. He wasn’t asking. This was an order. She really had to go along with this and anything within reason he arranged. But even as she fumed inwardly she found herself glancing into a couple of shopping bags with the insignia of a high-end lingerie shop. A fresh rush of heat washed over her face.
“Racy underwear, Shane? And how does that follow your requirement, since you certainly won’t be seeing me in any of these?”
A slow, wicked smile crossed his face, making him look more diabolical than usual.
“A man can only hope and pray,” he murmured, and this had Angela’s heart rate tripping too fast for her liking. Damn the man! He knew just how to get under her skin. Well at least he was putting it out there, which was more than ample warning for her. All that sexual innuendo wasn’t going to influence her; he’d find she wasn’t susceptible to his trademark charm which he seemed able to switch on and off at will.
Shane said nothing more on that topic as he went on briskly, “The maid will bring everything up to your room and you can try them on at your leisure. If there’s a problem with anything, let me know and I’ll have it replaced or sent back. But I’ll doubt there’ll be an issue since I took care to know your exact statistics. And I took the time to personally pick the clothes out myself.”
It was on the tip of her tongue to ask him the burning question of how he’d got hold of that information, but decided against it. Maybe she wouldn’t want to know. And anyway it couldn’t be that hard to find out, since he already knew everything else about her, thought Angela.
“That’s fine and dandy,” she said with deep irony, “But rest assured you’ll be getting all this stuff back once the contract is concluded. I’ve already been paid in full for the job; I don’t require any more of your handouts.”
He simply shrugged. “Whatever you want to do later is fine with me. I have a couple of appearances to make this week and obviously you’re going to accompany me. I will instruct you on what I expect you to wear and so forth. I trust you’ll be agreeable.”
“Of course,” she said quickly, feeling silly now. She hadn’t meant to be an ungrateful ass or difficult. This was all so new. He was doing so much for her as she’d pointed out and she had no cause taking anything personal. The clothes, the jewelry were all part of the game and she’d better play it if she wanted things to go smoothly. He didn’t need to spell it out for her.
“There’s some other matters that need to be taken care of. My chauffeur will be happy to drive you wherever you need to go so long as it has to do with preparing for the upcoming outings. And while you’re in the house, I don’t mind you exploring but it’s a really big place and it’s easy to get lost. If you want to look around, let Bess know. The kitchen is also open anytime so grab whatever you want. The chef has a lot of pre-cooked meals in the fridge that simply need to be heated up or if you prefer, he can be asked to prepare something to your liking for dinner.”
“I’m sure I’ll manage,” she said, in a more subdued manner than earlier. “Everything sounds great. Thank you.”
He nodded approvingly. “I’m busy most of the day and won’t be around a whole lot. Now that I’m not racing, I spend my time on various business investments. I work from home which means I will be here – but I won’t be available. Once again, ask Bess if you need something to entertain yourself or you’re looking for things to do.”
By the time he’d finished giving her all the lowdown she’d possibly need, a uniformed maid appeared to help Angela with the mountain of bags. There was a part of her that she knew would love trying on all those beautiful clothes and things. For aesthetic reasons, of course. It wasn’t their fault they looked so good and fine. Every item screamed taste, elegance and affluence. She’d always secretly envied women who could look like this every day. And now, for the next few weeks she’d know what it feels like. Maybe it was time she stopped looking for problems in every aspect and simply enjoy it all while it lasted. Her very own Cinderella moment though instead of Prince Charming, she got the Beast.
Angela felt an instant prick of remorse for thinking of Shane that way. He was far from that: a beast. There was kindness in him beneath his shell. He made her pulses race with the way his eyes always seemed to peel off her clothes, but she knew she had no cause for alarm with him. He’d never do anything she didn’t expressly allow.
She might constantly indulge in those disconcerting fantasies of him having his wicked way with her all night long, but she was sure nothing would come of it. Yes, he flirted with her on the sly, and he seemed constantly on the lookout for any slip-up on her part to get her to fall for his seduction, but...he was overall a nice guy. She had a really good feeling about him and that was the main reason she’d signed the contract. Shane Davis was a man to be trusted. He had plenty of that soundness of character she’d have wanted in a brother, if she had one.
Angela could rely on him to keep his end of the bargain, though she’d never completely let her guard down with him. She was sure he dreaded any complications as much as she did. He obviously cherished his privacy and like her, wanted the whole thing to reach its logical conclusion: which entailed them merrily going their separate ways.