The Billionaire's Unwanted Virgin(4)By: Doris O Connor
A small, wiry looking man bounced on the soles of his feet with nervous energy at the top of the steep stairs leading up to the entrance, and Alice's stomach dropped. Was this him? A shiver went through her at the thought. Not that he looked menacing, exactly. He had to be in his fifties, with a receding grey hairline and small green eyes that studied her from behind silver rimmed glasses. He held a manila folder in his hand and now looked from the folder to her with a frown on his face.
"Miss Wanderlund?" he asked, when she reached the top of the stairs. His frown changed to a smile at her nod in confirmation, and his eyes narrowed. He almost looked thoughtful, as though he was silently assessing her, and Alice wiped her sweaty palms on the side of her jeans.
"You're not exactly what we were expecting?"
She shrugged her shoulders, feigning a nonchalance she was far from feeling. In fact, if her stomach churned any more she would be sick right on top of his polished loafers. She straightened her shoulders and took some degree of courage from the fact that she now looked down on him. At five foot eight, Alice was not small, and this employee—for she realized he had to be another representative of this Zeb person—barely reached the top of her nose. She had to suppress a smile at the shiny bald spot right under her vision, and some of her nervousness fled.
"Well, I am Alice Wanderlund, so I'm not sure who else you would be expecting." There was a slight wobble in her voice, but she was quite proud of the fact that she managed to form the words at all, past the huge lump clogging up her throat.
"Forgive me, it wasn't my intention to be rude. I am Percy Nevin." He extended his hand, and Alice shook it dutifully. It was a surprisingly strong handshake, and this time when he smiled, there was genuine warmth behind it.
"I hope you had a pleasant journey here. You will want to freshen up I expect and—"
"Actually, Mr. Nevin, I'd just as soon get this over with, so if you don't mind can you take me to whoever … err … well…" She couldn't bring herself to say the words. To say it out loud would make it all seem even more sordid.
He smiled again and stepped aside for her to pass. The coolness of the entrance hall raised gooseflesh on her exposed arms, and she wrapped them around herself, as she gingerly slid her feet along the marble flooring. A huge curved staircase led up to the top floor, and numerous doors led off the entrance hall downstairs.
"If you'll follow me to the courtyard. I will have some refreshments brought for you, and I'll see whether he's available."
Alice frowned at the deliberate avoidance of his employer's name. At this rate they would probably do the deed with her blindfolded and gagged. She shivered again, and rolled her eyes at her own stupidity. That thought should have her run away screaming, surely, rather than have her secretly excited. This wasn't some romance novel, and she was not about to meet some dashing hero. Someone who had as much money as this Zeb had to be butt-ugly or something. That was just the way it worked, wasn't it? And why did she wonder about this now? It wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference, because he'd bought her to do with her as he pleased.
Again she suppressed a shiver, and she breathed a sigh of relief when they stepped out of the cool house and into the courtyard. The sun warmed the little square, and she slid onto one of the garden benches scattered around the fountain in the middle with a grateful sigh. Ivy clung to the brickwork giving the house a much more welcoming feel.
"I'll be back momentarily, Miss Wanderlund." Percy Nevin disappeared through a door on the opposite side, and Alice couldn't help herself. Fountains always reminded her of a vacation they'd had in Rome, when Daddy had still been alive. They had thrown a coin into every fountain they'd found, and Alice had closed her eyes and made a fervent wish.
She dug in her oversized handbag for the spare change that always rolled around on the bottom and stepping up to the fountain, closed her eyes and threw the coin inside.
"I'm not sure any wishes made here will work, little Alice in Wonderland."
The deep, slightly accented voice wrapped itself around her like a heavy cloak, even as the age old joke on her name had her grind her teeth. She spun ‘round to give the owner of that sinfully sexy voice a verbal dressing down, but her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth when the man stepped out of the shadows.