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The Billionaire Boss's Innocent Bride

By:Lindsay Armstrong

The Billionaire Boss's Innocent Bride
Lindsay Armstrong

       CHAPTER ONE


ALEXANDRA HILL arrived home in Brisbane on a particularly chilly May   morning. She'd been on a skiing holiday in the Southern Alps with a   group of friends. And while it had been freezing in Canberra when she'd   boarded the flight muffled up in a scarf and ski jacket, she hadn't   expected to be grateful for these items of clothing in sub-tropical   Brisbane even in winter.

But as it went on to be the coldest May day on record, she was still   wearing her coat when she stepped out of the taxi she'd taken from the   airport-to find her boss waiting for her on the doorstep of her small   terrace house in Spring Hill. Simon Wellford, ginger-haired and chubby   and whose brainchild Wellford Interpreting Services was, threw his arms   around her. 'Thank heavens! Your neighbour wasn't sure if you were due   home today or tomorrow. I need you, Alex. I really need you,' he said   passionately.

Alex, who happened to know Simon was happily married, removed herself   from his clutches and said prosaically, 'I'm still on holiday, Simon,   so-'

'I know,' he interrupted, 'but I'll make it up, I promise!'

Alex sighed. She worked for Simon as an interpreter and had come to know   him as somewhat impulsive. 'What emergency this time?' she enquired.

'I wouldn't call it an emergency, definitely not,' he denied. 'Would you call Goodwin Minerals anything but an absolute coup?'

'I don't know anything about Goodwin Minerals and I don't know what you're talking about, Simon!'

He clicked his tongue. 'It's huge, it's a blue-chip mining company and   it's going into China. Well-' he waved a hand '-they're about to embark   on negotiations here in Brisbane with a Chinese consortium, but one of   their Mandarin interpreters has fallen sick and they need a  replacement.  Almost immediately,' he added. Alex dropped her tote bag  onto her  roller suitcase. 'On-site interpreting?' she queried.

Simon hesitated. 'Look, I know you've only done document and telephone work for me, Alex, but you're damn good at it!'

Alex put her hands on her hips. 'If we're talking mining here, are we also talking technical terms?'

Simon glanced at her keenly as he thought, I wish we were-then said,   'No. It's for the social events they need you. They … ' he hesitated   ' … wanted to be assured you'd be comfortable in formal social   circumstances.'

'So you told them I don't eat my peas with my knife,' Alex remarked, then started to laugh at his injured expression.

'I told them you came from a diplomatic background. That seemed to   reassure them,' he said a little stiffly because, if the truth be told,   he did have one reservation about Alex and this job and it was neither   her manners nor her fluency in Mandarin … it was the way she dressed.

He'd never seen her in anything but jeans, although she did have a   variety of long scarves she liked to wind round her neck-and her hair   was obviously a bit of a trial to her. She also wore glasses.

A classic bluestocking, one could be forgiven for thinking. Not that it   had ever mattered how she dressed, because telephone interpreting and   document translation were all behind-the-scenes stuff. In fact she did a   lot of it from home. You would expect no less than a high social scene   from the prominent Goodwin Minerals, though.

He broke his thoughts off with a jerk of his chin. He could sort that   out later; getting the job was the important thing and he was running   out of time.

'Hop in the car, Alex,' he instructed. 'We've got an interview with Goodwins in about twenty minutes.'

She gazed at him. 'Simon-you're joking! I've just arrived home. I need   to shower and change at least and I'm not even sure I want to do this!'

'Alex … ' he strode across the pavement and opened the passenger door of his car

' … please.'

'No, hang on, Simon. Do you mean to tell me you committed me to an   interview and you committed Wellford's to this job with Goodwin Minerals   when you weren't even sure I was coming home today?'

'I know it sounds a bit, well … ' He shrugged.

'It sounds exactly like you, Simon Wellford,' she told him wearily.

'Great men seize the moment,' he responded. 'This could lead to an awful   lot of work coming our way from Goodwins, Alex. It could be the making   of Wellfords-and,' he paused suddenly before saying, 'Rosanna's   pregnant.'

Alex blinked at her boss. Rosanna was Simon's wife and this would be   their first child so the future of the interpreting service would be   especially important now.                       
       
           



       

'Why didn't you say so at the beginning?' she demanded, then her gaze   softened and she beamed at him. 'Oh, Simon, that's wonderful news!'

Once in the car, some of the difficulties associated with this mission came back to her, however.

'How am I going to explain the way I'm dressed?'

Simon glanced at her. 'Tell 'em the truth. You've just arrived back from   a skiing holiday. We'll be dealing with a Margaret Winston, by the  way.  She's Max Goodwin's principal private secretary.'

'Max Goodwin?'

'The driving force behind Goodwin Minerals-don't tell me you haven't heard of him either?'

'Well, I haven't. Simon-' Alex clutched the arm rest as he wove his way   through the city traffic '-do you have to drive so fast?'

'I don't want to be late. He's a very powerful man, Max Goodwin, and-'

'Simon!' Alex interrupted urgently, but it was too late. A delivery   truck pulled out unexpectedly in front of them and, despite a liberal   application of the brakes, they bumped into the back of it.

Simon Wellford clutched the steering wheel and groaned heavily as he   stared at the crumpled tip of his bonnet. Then he turned his head to   Alex. 'Are you all right?'

'Fine, slightly jolted, that's all. How about you?'

'The same.' He flinched as the driver of the truck, a burly   annoyed-looking man, hove into view. 'But this just about wrecks it   all.'

'How far away are we?' Alex asked.

'Only a block but-'

'Why can't I go on my own? You won't be able to leave the scene for a while but I can go, can't I? What's her name again?'

Simon sat up. 'Margaret Winston, and it's Goodwin House, next block on   the left, fifteenth floor. Alex, I'll really owe you if we get this,' he   said intensely.

'I'll do my best!' She got out of the car, but before she closed the door Simon said,

'If all else fails, dazzle 'em with your Mandarin!'

She laughed.

In the event it wasn't only Margaret Winston Alex found herself   confronting, it was Max Goodwin as well, and a Chinese gentleman, Mr Li,   all of which contributed to her rather breathless disarray on top of   having run the last block to Goodwin House.

But it was Margaret Winston, middle-aged, her brown hair exquisitely   coiffured and wearing a tailored olive-green suit, who showed Alex into   Max Goodwin's impressive office.

A wall of windows looked down on the Brisbane River as it flowed around   leafy Kangaroo Point beneath the Storey Bridge. A sea of royal-blue   carpet covered the floor. There was a vast desk at one end and some   fascinating etchings of Brisbane, in its early days, framed in gold on   the walls. At the other end there was a brown leather buttoned   three-piece lounge suite set about a coffee table. And Max Goodwin   himself was impressive.

For some reason Simon's brief summing-up had led Alex to expect a tough,   rugged man, even perhaps leathery, as the billionaire mining magnate   who headed the company.

Max Goodwin was anything but that. In his middle thirties, she judged,   he was the most intriguing-looking man she'd seen for years. Not only   was he a fine physical specimen beneath the faultless tailoring of his   navy-blue suit, he also had rather remarkable dense blue eyes. His hair   was dark and the planes and angles of his face were sculpted finely and   his mouth was thin and chiselled.

There was absolutely nothing gnarled and leathery about him, although he   could well be mentally tough, she thought, even downright dangerous.   There was a kind of eagle intensity to those dark blue eyes that gave   every intimation of a man who knew what he wanted-and got it.

Her next thought was that she wasn't what he wanted at all …

It was a feeling he confirmed when, following the introductions and   after a lingering assessment of her, he rubbed his jaw irritably and   said, 'Oh, for crying out loud! Margaret-'

'Mr Goodwin,' Margaret Winston broke in purposefully, 'I have not been   able to get anyone else, tomorrow afternoon is approaching fast and Mr   Wellford assured me Ms Hill here is extremely competent and has a   comprehensive command of the language.'

'That may be so,' Max Goodwin stated, 'but she looks about eighteen and as if she's run away from her convent school.'

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