The Billionaire Boss's Innocent Bride

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Authors: Lindsay Armstrong
classical education.’
    Alex was forced to wait as the housekeeper appeared to clear their dishes and bring a fruit bowl together with the coffee and some hot biscuits. As she waited she reflected that it was not a judgement she would make, that he was the villain of the piece—she was fairly sure there were two sides to the story, and feminine solidarity was not something she indulged in mindlessly. But it also occurred to her that to have him think this might provide her with some camouflage…
    She couldn’t quite bring herself to say it, though, so as she plucked a bloomy purple grape from the fruit bowl she simply shrugged.
    ‘So be it,’ he murmured, and raked his hand through his hair in a gesture of savage impatience.
    For some reason Alex felt a smile tremble on her lips.
    ‘I don’t see anything amusing,’ he remarked cuttingly.
    ‘No. It’s just—’ she hesitated ‘—well, if you thought I’d been dying to get something off my chest, I thought I detected a heartfelt urge in you to say—women!’
    He stared at her expressionlessly, his eyes dark and moody. Then the ghost of a smile touched them. ‘You were right.’ But the smile disappeared and any common amusement they might have shared was stillborn.
    Alex laid her napkin on the table and wondered how to excuse herself.
    ‘Have you ever been in love?’ he said out of the blue and his sombre gaze captured hers.
    ‘No.’ She looked away as soon as she said the word and blinked. Why had it come out sounding curiously forlorn?
    ‘Or anywhere close to it?’ he persisted.
    Unwillingly she returned her gaze to his. ‘Not really, but why do you want to know?’
    He watched her narrowly, in silence, for a long moment. ‘Perhaps you should take into consideration, then, that even a classical education doesn’t quite prepare you for—’ he paused ‘—for the highs and the lows, not to mention the mysteries of it.’
    She could think of nothing to say and it was he who excused himself. He stood up. ‘I’m going to do some work, but please make use of the den—there’s a television in there as well as books—if you’d like. Goodnight.’
    He turned and walked away to disappear inside.
    Alex stared after him and found herself close to tears. His words, before he’d excused himself, had been even and quiet, but the lines of his face and the shadows in his eyes had revealed an inner tension, a torment even, that had to lead straight back to Cathy Spencer, and her heart bled for him…
    It wouldn’t have been much consolation for Alex to know that she was right but also quite wrong…
    Max Goodwin poured himself a brandy and closed himself into his study after he walked away from her. He sat down at his desk, threaded two fingers around the stem of the balloon glass and mentally examined several points that had arisen out of his conversation with Alex.
    He thought of the highs and lows he’d experienced with Cathy Spencer and the scars they’d left him with. In the six years since he and Cathy had parted ways he’d allowed no woman to get really close to him despite telling himself time and again he was over it.
    How ironic that proof of it should come in the form of a girl one would never have thought was his type yet, within a matter of days, a girl who had slipped under his radar and taken a position in his life—in his heart, even?
    Why else would he be perfectly content to have her in his home? Why else would he appreciate so much how she was with Nicky, the little boy who had so quickly captured his heart? And there was no doubt he’d looked forward to having her company for dinner, no doubt he wanted to know everything there was to know about her, and he couldn’t deny being physically stirred by her. He took a sip of brandy and crossed his hands behind his head. Why else would he find it annoying to think she sided with Cathy…?
    But that was just one example of why Alexandra Hill was not for him, or, more precisely, why he was

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