The Millionaire's Misbehaving Mistress
|By Kimberly Lang|
|Publisher||Harlequin Presents #2866|
|Mills & Boon Modern Heat|
|Release Month||Oct 2009 (US)|
|April 2009 (UK)|
|Harlequin Presents Series #|
|Preceded by||Hot Boss, Wicked Nights|
|Followed by||The Greek Billionaire's Innocent Princess|
- Author: Kimberly Lang
- Publisher: Mills & Boon Modern Heat
- Year: 2009, April 03
- Setting: Dallas, TX
- Series: Kept For His Pleasure (A Publisher Promotion Series) - US Only
- Amazon Listing: The Millionaire's Misbehaving Mistress (US) or (UK)
Perfect, polite...and passionate!
As Dallas's most eligible bachelor and heir to his family's fortune, billionaire Will Harrison knows how to handle the paparazzi—but his little sister Evie is a worry….
Miss Behavior, etiquette expert Gwen Sawyer, has only three weeks to work her magic on Evie before a society ball, and so moves into Will's luxurious penthouse. However, she discovers too late that etiquette is the last thing on devilishly handsome Will's mind….
From the back cover of Mills & Boon Modern Heat, April 2009, UK Edition:
Top of the tycoon’s agenda!
As Dallas’ most eligible bachelor, and heir to the family fortune, billionaire Will Harrison knows how to handle the paparazzi – but his little sister Evie is a worry… Miss Behaviour etiquette expert Gwen Sawyer has only three weeks to work her magic on Evie before a society ball – and is moved into Will’s luxurious penthouse. However, she discovers too late that etiquette is the last thing on devilishly handsome Will’s mind…
"I'm pretty beat myself," Gwen said, a bit too brightly. "I think I'll head on to bed. Thank yo--."
Will interrupted her, knowing full well he wasn't going to let her retreat behind closed doors just yet. "There are a couple of things we still need to clear up."
"Really? What do you..." She trailed off as he closed the slight distance between them, and she took two small steps backward--only to find her back against the foyer wall. Her eyes flashed as he took advantage of her position and moved to within inches of her body.
Reaching out, he captured the errant lock of hair that draped across her shoulder again. Twisting it around his finger, he played with the silky strand until her breathing became shallow.
"First, business and pleasure are two totally separate situations. I'm not one to confuse the two, and I'm surely not going to deny myself one just because I hired you to work. This--" he released her hair, only to move his hand to the elegant column of her neck, pleased to feel the pulse thumping wildly there "--has nothing to do with that."
Gwen's eyes widened as his other hand slid up her neck to cradle her jaw. She leaned in toward him, and he felt his own heartbeat accelerate.
"Second, Miss Behavior, I don't give a damn about what's appropriate."
"Evie is Bradley Harrison's daughter. I can't just lock her in the attic and pretend she doesn't exist!"
"You cannot continue to send her out in society as she is, either, William. She's an embarrassment to the family and the company."
Will Harrison poured another two fingers of Scotch and tipped the bottle in the direction of his late father's oldest friend and HarCorp's company attorney. So lunch at the Club yesterday hadn't gone as expected. It wasn't the end of the world.
Marcus Heatherton held out his glass for the refill. "Evangeline is a sweet girl, but Rachel let her run wild after your father died. You see the results. The child is a complete hoyden."
Now there's a word you don't hear every day. Hoyden. Much nicer sounding than "ill-mannered," "socially inept" or "tomboyish"—all of which had, unfortunately, been applied to his half sister.
The smile caused by Marcus's word choice faded. The image of a petit four flying out of Evie's wildly gesticulating hand and landing on the head of Mrs. Wellford's spoiled lapdog like a little hat flashed through his mind. That had been funny. The ensuing regurgitation of said petit four in Mrs. Wellford's lap after Shu-Shu swallowed it whole… well, that pretty much ended Evie's most recent foray into Dallas society on a distinctly low note.
At seventy, Marcus possessed old-fashioned ideas about proper upbringing for young ladies, but old-fashioned or not, he was right. Fifteen-year-old Evie had no manners, no social protocol and, as Marcus had been reminding Will for the last half-hour, he had to do something about it.
Or else the Harrison name would be gossip column fodder once again.
When his father announced his engagement to a company secretary half his age, everyone but him easily pegged Rachel for the gold digger she was. Bradley, though, either couldn't see or didn't care, and he smiled benignly in the background as Rachel ran circles around him, spending his money like it was going out of style and making him the laughingstock of the very society she'd worked so hard to infiltrate.
When Rachel tired of Dallas, Bradley officially retired and moved her and five-year-old Evie to the Caribbean, leaving Will in charge of the family company at the ripe old age of twenty-six.
And while Will dedicated the next ten years to running the company and expanding it into an international force, his father and Rachel frolicked on the beaches around St. Kitts and traveled the world, but made no attempt to prepare Evie for her place in Dallas society—or civilization in general, as far as Marcus was concerned.
Will hadn't heard much from Rachel in the last couple of years—after his father's death, she'd been little more than another issue for the accountant to deal with—but after the accident last month that had left her daughter an orphan, he'd found himself Evie's guardian.
So far, it hadn't been easy. Yesterday had just been the proverbial last straw for Marcus.
Will cleared his throat. "Mrs. Gray and her tutors…"
"Mrs. Gray is a housekeeper. She's kind to Evangeline and makes sure you both eat well and have clean clothes, but she is hardly the person to teach the child anything about etiquette.
Evangeline's tutors, even if they were qualified, need to focus on her studies so she'll be ready to start at Parkline Academy in the fall."
Marcus could be remarkably and frustratingly single-minded at times, but he'd been the one unwavering pillar of Will's life, completely dedicated to the company and the Harrison family. Evie's arrival had given the old man new focus, and for that, Will was grateful. His own love life and the need for a new generation of Harrisons had been under Marcus's microscope for far too long. At least he hadn't revisited the idea of Will marrying in order to give Evie a female role model. Yet. The night was still young, though, so he needed to think fast.
"All right, I'll hire someone specifically to work with her on this—to teach her some manners and how to behave in polite society."
"You must do it now, William. People are already asking where Evangeline is and why you haven't introduced her to more of your father's friends or her own peer group. I've held everyone off for weeks now, claiming she needs more time to mourn her mother's passing."
"She does need time." His own mother had died when he was twelve; Will could relate to Evie's grief. At least he hadn't lost both parents so early in life. His father may have been distant, but he'd been around for the most part.
"Yes, but she has responsibilities that cannot be ignored now that she is back in the States."
"Responsibilities? She's fifteen, for God's sake. She doesn't have any responsibilities."
"Let me tell you this, William Harrison. Evangeline must be introduced into society and take her rightful place in it. Everyone is expecting to meet her at the Hospital Benefit."
With that pronouncement, Marcus sat back in his chair and swirled the Scotch in his glass, seemingly amused by Will's sputtering.
"The benefit? That's three weeks away." "Then you'd better get busy finding someone, shouldn't you?"
Dear Miss Behavior,
I told my best friend I was hoping this guy we both like would ask me to go to a concert with him. She goes and buys tickets and then asks him to go with her! I'm so mad at her, but she says that if he'd liked me, then he wouldn't have agreed to go with her. Now she wants to borrow my leather jacket to wear on their date. She says it would be the "polite" thing to do since she loaned me a pair of boots the last time I had a date. I think she's the one being rude. Since we both love your column, I told her I'd let you decide. Do I have to loan her my jacket to go on a date with the guy I like? Thnx. Cinderella
Gwen reached for her coffee cup. Empty. She'd need at least another cup before she was awake enough to deal with teenage angst. She swiveled out of her chair and headed to the kitchen for a refill to fortify her before she waded in to the dangerous waters of adolescent controversy.
In the nine months she'd served as Miss Behavior, Teen Etiquette Expert on the TeenSpace Web site, she'd been embroiled in enough melodrama to write her own teenage soap opera. She'd signed on thinking she'd be answering simple questions like who asks whom to the prom or who pays for dinner. How wrong she was. The complexities of seating charts were child's play in comparison to the day-to-day drama of high school.
The coffee carafe was still half-full as she pulled it off the warmer and poured another extra-large cup. Her experience with teenage dramatics had been vicarious at best. She'd been the "good" daughter—except that one time—leaving her sister Sarah to reap Mother's wrath over her outlandish behavior. Funny how now, after all these years, she was still standing on the outskirts of the fray and trying to mediate the peace.
A yowl was Gwen's only warning as Letitia jumped from behind the pie safe to attack the ears of Gwen's bunny slippers, only to land claws first on her ankle instead. Coffee sluiced over her hand as she jumped, splattering to the floor around the black and white cat. Letitia hissed at the coffee puddles, took one last swipe at the slippers and bolted out of the kitchen.
"You're going to get burned doing that, you silly cat." Or declawed. This was a new trick from the previously laid-back Letitia. A gift from her sister, the new slippers with their oversize ears had pushed the cat over the edge. After five days of this, her ankles looked like she'd been attacked by a ravenous horde of three-inch vampires. The slippers were comfortable, not to mention cute, but not worth the constant battle. She left the slippers in the kitchen for Letitia to attack at her leisure and went back to her computer.
Stifling the urge to start with "With friends like that, who needs enemies," Gwen typed out her response for Cinderella and posted all five of today's questions and answers to the site before logging out of her Miss Behavior account and turning her attention to the mail on her desk. Miss Behavior had been an instant Internet success, tripling the hits to TeenSpace in the last six months, and her real-life consulting business was benefiting from the popularity of the column. As much as she hated it sometimes, practically every debutante in Dallas had her on speed dial.
In addition to bills and a few checks her bank account desperately needed, the morning's snail mail brought yet another plaque of thanks from the Victorian Guild for her work with the current debutante class. She'd earned a plaque this year; that group of debs had been the worst yet. Just getting them to spit out their gum and turn off their cell phones had taken most of her patience.
She scanned her office, debating where she had room for it. Wall space was at a premium as debutante class photos, thank-you plaques and other memorabilia competed for a place. There was space over her certificates from some of the best protocol schools in the country, but she really didn't want anything relating to her current work next to them.
She sighed. If her classmates could see her now. Those certificates—many awarded with honors as the top student in her class—hung next to her degree from George Washington, all of which needed dusting. She was trained to work with politicians, heads of state and corporate bigwigs; instead, she spent her time with debutantes and cotillion clubs.
One day, she'd be able to quit teaching spoiled, rich teenagers to eat without their elbows on the table and go back to working with grown-ups in serious business.
For now, though, the teenagers of Texas were paying her rent. She pulled her file on the group of Junior League members who would be taking their daughters to D.C. next month. Teenage girls meeting senators was at least one step closer to getting back on track. She should be counting her blessings.
The three short rings of her business line caught her attention. She sat up straight, smiled and answered before the second set of rings finished.
"Good morning. Everyday Etiquette. This is Gwen Sawyer speaking."
"Miss Sawyer, this is Nancy Tucker calling from William Harrison's office at HarCorp International." The voice was cool, smooth and undeniably professional.
Gwen's heart beat double-time at the woman's words. She'd been trying to get her foot in the door at HarCorp for months. That dragon in Human Resources seemed so hellbent on ignoring her proposals, she'd almost given up. A squeal of glee wanted to escape, but she cleared her throat and concentrated on sounding just as professional as Ms. Tucker.
"Yes, Ms. Tucker, how may I help you?"
"Mr. Harrison would like to meet with you to discuss contracting your services. He realizes it's very short notice, but he could meet with you this afternoon at two, if you are available."
Adrenaline rushed through her system, and she began pulling files of proposals from her desk drawer. Available? She'd cancel a funeral to be there. Forget the HR dragon; the boss himself wanted to see her. "Two o'clock would be fine."
"Wonderful. I'll let the receptionist know to expect you." The carefully modulated tones didn't change.
"Thank you. I'll see you then." Only when the phone was securely in its cradle did Gwen release the squeal choking her.
This was it. Her days in debutante hell were finally over. After five long years of penance, she'd finally get the chance to restart her career. Ms. Tucker hadn't mentioned what kind of service HarCorp was looking for, but Gwen didn't care. If Will Harrison wanted to talk to her, it would have to be something important. Hadn't she seen an article in the paper not long ago that HarCorp was moving into the Asian market? Had someone passed along her proposals to the boss himself?
Talk about dream come true time… The Junior League file went back into the drawer, and she pulled out her folder on HarCorp and the ignored-until-now proposals. She didn't have much time to prepare, but deep down, she knew one thing.
This meeting was going to change her life.
Gwen checked her watch. One-fifty. Perfect. She'd killed the last five minutes in the ladies' room on HarCorp's fourteenth floor, not wanting to arrive too early. One last critical look in the mirror confirmed that she presented the best image possible. The wind in the parking lot had teased a few wispy tendrils of hair out of the severe French twist she'd forced her hair into earlier, but thankfully, the damage wasn't too drastic.
She powdered the freckles on her nose one last time and hoped the nervous flush on her cheeks would fade. Applying one last sweep of gloss across her lips, she studied the image in the mirror carefully. She wouldn't be winning any beauty pageants, but she looked responsible and mature—just like a protocol consultant should.
Camel-brown suit. Peach silk shirt. Closed-toe shoes with coordinating briefcase. Gramma Jane's pearls for luck. Gwen closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, willing herself to project cool, collected, confident professionalism.
Even if she was quivering so badly inside she thought she might be ill.
At one fifty-five, she opened the glass doors of the executive offices and presented herself to the receptionist.
"I'm Gwen Sawyer. I have a two o'clock appointment with Mr. Harrison."
The reception desk resembled the cockpit of the space shuttle: blinking buttons, keyboards and computer screens all within easy reach of the occupant. The nameplate on the desk identified the occupant as Jewel Madison, a detail Gwen noted so it could be added to the HarCorp file later. The Ms. Tucker she'd spoken to earlier must be Mr. Harrison's personal secretary.
Jewel consulted a screen. "Mr. Harrison has been held up in a meeting and is running a few minutes behind. He sends his apologies. You can have a seat over there." She waved in the direction of a seating area. "Would you like a cup of coffee while you wait?"
Coffee was the last thing her roiling stomach needed. As she declined, something on the desk beeped and Jewel's attention shifted. Dismissed, Gwen went to wait. A leather couch nicer than the ones in most people's homes looked too squishy to get up from gracefully, so she chose the less comfortable, but much more dignified wing chair instead. Copies of the HarCorp Annual Report covered the small coffee table and for lack of something else to do, Gwen picked one up and flipped through it absently as she mentally rehearsed her pitch one last time.
- 2009, April 03 - Ebook and Paperback Release (Mills & Boon Modern Heat) (UK Original Release)
- 2009, October 01 - Ebook, Paperback, Large Print Paperback Release (Harlequin Presents #2866) (US Original Release)
Cover Variation (By Release Date)
Kept For His Pleasure Series
See Kept For His Pleasure series page for related titles.