The Millionaire Falls Hard - Sample Chapter
'Hey! Move away from that loch! You! Boy! Get away from the loch!'
That sounded like one mean man! Charlie's head sprung up in fear and he ran.
Carrie rushed to her feet from where she'd been sitting, enjoying the April sun on her face. The hostility she heard in the man's voice incensed her as she ran towards it.
She found its owner sitting in a mucky looking landrover with the window wound down. She glanced at his face and then at the back of her son as he ran away.
Anger oozed from her pores. She balled her hands into fists by her side as if ready for a fight.
'Who do you think you are? How dare you!' she yelled. 'How dare you speak to a six year old child like that.'
Shocked, as she'd appeared from nowhere, and shaken by her anger, Jake was momentarily rendered silent. This flame haired woman with flashing green eyes stirred something in him.
'This is my land,' he managed to stutter. That's not what he should have said. Hell, he didn't know what he should have said. Her natural beauty left him speechless, gawping like a hormonal teenager. Not a scrap of makeup that he could see, long curly hair hugging her heart shaped face; she was the most naturally beautiful woman he'd ever seen. And he'd been with a good few women in his time. His success ensured he was never short of some woman wanting to be seen with him. Not that he was as bad as the tabloids made him out to be, he was choosy who he took to his bed. He was jarred from his momentary reverie by the angry voice.
'So that's how you're going to play it is it? Well that's fine. We'll stick to our own land in future.'
Carrie stormed off, running to catch up with Charlie.
For a moment, Jake just sat there and stared blankly ahead of him. He couldn't think straight. He didn't understand why he had reacted like that - so completely out of character. He hadn't thought about it for years; thought he'd long since got over that horrendous, nightmare inducing episode of his childhood.
Then there was the effect that woman, whoever she was, had had on him. Not only did he feel emotionally drained from the memories stirred from deep within his subconscious, he felt as horny as hell. He glanced up to his rear view mirror and watched her, admiring her cute, tight behind straining within figure hugging jeans as she ran. He had a flash of her front before she'd turned away. There was a woman with a figure a man could lose himself in, he thought. Beautifully proportioned with enough curves to satisfy without the extra flesh to conceal. He felt his erection harden as he pictured her running in the cropped tee that so wonderfully embraced her attributes. He'd been too long without a woman if his body could react that strongly, that quickly, to a woman he'd merely glanced at.
He shook himself hard, took a few deep breaths and continued to drive up the long Estate road to his home. A home he was inordinately proud of. It had taken a year to renovate the historic manor house that had belonged to the Gemmell family. It had been badly run down when he'd bought the Estate, even though the only remaining ancestor, the son, Roderick Gemmell, had been living there.
Jake had turned it into four luxury apartments. He'd felt the house would be too big for just himself and he couldn't imagine finding anyone he wanted to share his life with, now or in the future so breaking it up had made sense. From the outside you'd never guess the house was apartments. He'd found an architect who had been extremely sensitive to the building, and to the uninitiated the house looked as if it had been sympathetically restored to its former glory.
Jake had come up from London when he could to check on the restoration but it was this week, twelve long months later that he'd finally been able to move into the largest of the apartments. Jake had designed the interior layout of his three floor, four bedroom apartment himself and it never ceased to amaze him how instantly he felt as if he'd come home. It was just over a quarter of a century since he'd left with his widowed father, a hurt and lonely little boy. In his wildest dreams he'd never thought that at age thirty three, he'd be the proud owner of the vast Estate that he'd played on as a child whilst his father had maintained the grounds and his mother had worked in the house.
With his housekeeper moving up from London into the smallest of the apartments, he just needed to decide what to do with the other two. Whilst he knew his decision to break up the building had been the right one, he couldn't bring himself just yet to sell part of it to strangers, even though they would have separate entry and would likely rarely bump into him. For now they could be kept as company flats for overseas staff over on secondment but that wouldn't provide a return on his investment in the longer term.
He thought about the thirty staff who had been prepared to relocate from London to a country Estate in the heart of Scotland, just because he'd decided he had to move out of the rat race and return to the one place where he'd once been happy. He counted himself as fortunate to have such a loyal staff that they would be prepared to up sticks with him. Of course, the generous salary and benefits he paid his staff, along with the fabulous relocation package could well have had something to do with it.
He was incredibly proud of his world-wide IT and consultancy business and his own reputation for understanding client and market requirements to consistently deliver world-class results. He'd come from nothing, built the company up himself, with the help of a few first-class, handpicked people. He was now a highly respected and wealthy business leader.
The Estate boasted two working farms, a dozen cottages, a stable block and a small chapel. Like the manor house, they'd all been in severe need of renovation. In conjunction with the tenants he'd had their homes modernised and had then sold them to them for a modest fee. Doing that had given him a personal satisfaction to think that people who had lived there for a long time and had once been dependent on the Estate for a living now had their financial independence from it. If things had worked out differently for his parents, that could have been them. Still, there was no use focussing on what could never be. His mother had died whilst working there and his father had never got over his devastating loss.
The only dwelling still being renovated was the stable block which was being converted into a large period house. This work was nearing completion and he would shortly have to decide what to do with it. The small chapel was close to the main house and needed work too. He quite liked the idea of restoring it and having it used for special occasions. With its elevated position it had a stunning backdrop of the distant hills and the most glorious stained glass windows that were miraculously in good condition. The building seemed to surround a person in peace and serenity.
There had once been one other small holding but it had been in a state of near collapse, and it was there, on the east side of the Estate that he had built his state of the art headquarters. It was far enough away from the manor house to ensure his privacy and would be welcoming his staff for the first time in just a few days. With ten local staff recruited into the more junior positions, his company could move forward again with no distractions. He certainly had ambitious plans in the coming months that would keep everyone incredibly busy.
Thinking about his business always had the effect of driving out other, less comfortable thoughts, which meant, for now, he didn't need to analyse them. He parked up in front of his apartment and felt an inner peace as he gazed at what he had achieved.
As Carrie rushed to catch up with Charlie, her thoughts were in turmoil.
'How dare he shout at my loving and wonderful little boy! He's just six for goodness sake, and all his life I've had to be both mother and father to him. I've taught him about safety, he knows how to swim and loves studying the wildlife in the loch. Does that man think I would put him in danger?'
The incident tugged at a rare feeling of inadequacy that she couldn't provide Charlie with a father.
She may have disliked the previous owner of the Estate, Roderick Gemmell, but at least he hadn't cared if they'd used the lochs.
She thought for a moment about Lord Gemmell, Roderick's late father, a man she had grown incredibly fond of, despite the few times in her life she'd met him. She was sure he'd turn in his grave if he knew what had happened to his beloved ancestral home, now in the hands of a stranger. Still, she thought, as THAT man had said, it was his land now. Not that that thought calmed her down. If anything it made her resentful at that moment that he'd bought it. Living on the Estate wasn't going to be quite so carefree again.
Carrie found Charlie hiding in his little den of bushes just inside the gate to their expansive property, which stood at the south end of the Estate grounds. Charlie only went there on his own when he was deeply upset about something. Her blood boiled again, that that man could have had such an upsetting effect on her son.
'Come on sweetheart, let's go and get some ice cream. That man clearly has ideas above his station.'
Talking to her son broke through her angry thoughts and she found herself calming down. As Charlie took her hand and they walked up the drive to the house, Carrie wondered why she'd responded the way she had. She rarely got angry and certainly not so quickly or with such venom.
She'd felt so aroused.
That brought her to a standstill. No, he can't have had that affect on her, no man ever had. Having felt so used and abused by Charlie's father, she hadn't had a relationship since. She still felt the hurt from that disastrous time in her life, and now she had Charlie, she just wanted to protect him. For her, that meant not letting any man who might hurt them get close.
She started walking again.
Maybe her anger was a hormonal response. Her menstrual cycle had always been incredibly irregular, perhaps she was due. But then, she'd never been conscious of any hormonal mood swings before.
Maybe it was the threats. She'd had another one today and they were getting nastier. Up 'til now she'd tried to shrug them off as something to expect when you were in the public but perhaps now she should tell someone about them and share the burden that was beginning to weigh heavily.
'Mum,' Charlie interrupted her thoughts, 'can we go swimming after we've had our ice cream?'
That was one of Charlie's strengths she mused, he bounced back quickly!
As she played with her son for the rest of the afternoon in their indoor heated swimming pool, she forgot all about the new owner, Jake Calderwood, and all about the threats. Charlie was the light of her life and their time together was so precious.
Later that evening, after Charlie was in bed, Carrie sat in her custom-made oversized porch swing in the garden room. It was really a very large conservatory but Carrie never felt calling it that did it justice when it had glass walls that folded open all the way round to allow complete access to the outside. In the summer she loved nothing better than having pool parties, where the outside merged seamlessly with the inside. With her pool also having a glass wall that slid open, her guests could move easily between indoors and outdoors and the pool. She couldn't wait for the warmer days to arrive.
At other times of the year, like now, she loved sitting in her wonderfully comfortable, huggable porch swing, looking out into her subtly lit landscaped gardens, listening to peaceful, relaxing music and drinking a mug of her favourite rooibos, red tea.
Carrie usually found this a relaxing time and place, somewhere where she just seemed able to blot out her worries. But tonight, she had troubled thoughts. Jake Calderwood's face kept swimming into her mind. Now she seemed able to use his name, rather than think of him as 'that man'. She'd been so incensed with him earlier, and yet his ice-blue eyes and dark blonde wavy hair were firmly imprinted on her. She couldn't recall any other features. She couldn't recall either, ever having been driven to such anger, those threatening letters must be getting to her more than she thought.
She sighed as she settled further into the swing. She'd fallen in love with a smaller version of this type of hammock and had had this one hand-crafted from solid oak for the frame and cotton for the rope structure. All the pillows were the softest egyptian cotton. Being enveloped in the cosiness of this swing, she reckoned, was as close a feeling she would ever get to the feeling of a loving man's arms around her.
Surely not all men were like her ex-husband. She longed to feel cosseted and loved, and had a momentary flash of what it might feel like to have Jake's arms around her.
She shook herself, took a sip of her tea and closed her eyes.
Jake's anger reminded her of her ex.
Exhaustion washed over her.
Her mind drifted back and if anyone had been looking at that moment, they would have wondered about the flow of pain and confusion, with the occasional smile, that flitted across her face. Why was she remembering now? She always tried to blot out her past; the mistakes she'd made; the unhappiness she'd experienced. But tonight, it was all there so clearly as if it had just been yesterday.
She'd felt so content when her and her mother had finally landed on American soil, having travelled for over ten hours from Scotland. The tension she hadn't realised had existed in her young body had just drained away. At fourteen years of age, she'd been so relieved to find out they would finally escape from her abusive father, or rather the man she had believed to be her father at the time. Not that he'd ever laid a hand on her, although as she'd reached puberty he'd started to leer at her developing body. It would probably have been only a matter of time before he'd tried it on with her. She could still see those boggle eyes dragging themselves all over her body before they would turn to her mother and seem to pop out of the sockets as he raged at her and hit her for yet another minor mistake her mother was supposed to have made. She involuntarily cried out, momentarily opening her eyes to realise she was in the sanctuary of her home. Her eyes drifted closed again.
The only kindness in their lives at that time had been Lord Gemmell, who had been meeting them secretly for a couple of years. A man who looked much older and grander than her mother, and yet, someone who looked as if he'd allowed life to beat him. She hadn't understood then why he had taken an interest in them and finally persuaded her mother to head for the sanctuary of her cousin's in the States. They'd never seen him after that, but she knew her mother had exchanged lengthy letters with him. She remembered him with a fondness and a longing that she'd never got to know him better. But it was no use lingering on what could never now be.
Her mother, determined to turn her life around, had worked hard to put herself through a college course whilst working full time, so she perhaps hadn't been there enough for Carrie in those difficult teenage years. Very often Carrie had felt so alone in a new country with her mother preoccupied and no father to turn to. That was probably why Pip Hastings had been such a pull. Twenty years older than her seventeen years, he was perhaps the father figure she'd longed for, and yet there had also been an excitement about his life that had appealed to the free spirit within her.
She grimaced as she recalled the pain etched on her mother's face during those turbulent years spent with Pip. She didn't know what possessed her to go through with the wedding when she'd known even then that what she felt wasn't love. How she'd rebelled in those years and lived to regret it afterwards.
Although she'd lived without love and respect and had to tolerate providing sex on demand to a man who it was publicly rumoured favoured the company of prostitutes, two good things had come from her liaison with her ex-husband. On the few occasions when he wasn't high on drink and drugs, he'd introduced her to the right people and by the time she was twenty two she'd been a world renowned author with three of her books serialised on American TV. Writing at that time had been a fantasy world she could escape to and she'd discovered it was something she excelled at.
Charlie was the other wonderful thing to come out of that turbulent relationship. Conceived in hatred when Pip had all but raped his own wife, she had loved Charlie from the moment she realised she was carrying him. After that dreadful night she had shut herself away for months, filled with dread and self-hate for what she had allowed her husband to do. 'I didn't want you, you stupid woman. I hope I've given you some nasty disease. Serve's you right you sanctimonious bitch'. Every word he had flung at her that night as he'd walked out for the last time was imprinted on her memory forever. How could she have been so stupid for thinking that that time he'd really meant to change.
It had been her mother's unquestioning love and faith in her daughter that had finally convinced Carrie she needed to see a doctor and take control of her own life.
A smile crossed Carrie's face as she thought of her mother, still in the States, and the wonderful, close relationship they had shared since that time.
Her face became sombre as her thoughts continued.
Just as she'd started to feel stronger she'd finally discovered the truth about her mother's relationship with her birth father and the legacy he'd left her. Lord Gemmell had died and left her two acres of land on his Estate in Scotland along with one million pounds with which to build a house.
Her mother had finally sat down and told her the truth. How she had been Lord Gemmell's housekeeper and how she had comforted him when he'd lost his beloved wife, because she had loved him herself. Carrie was the result of that brief affair. Lord Gemmell had only discovered the truth when his frequently drunken son had let something slip. Lord Gemmell had been so wrapped up in his grief that he'd never heard the rumours about himself and his housekeeper and why she'd left. From the moment he had tracked them down, he had played a part in their lives. He had been genuinely pleased when Carrie's mother had written to tell him she had finally found the love of a wonderful man.
Carrie sighed as she wished again that she could have known her father better. Apart from her and her mother, the only living person who knew was Lord Gemmell's son, Roderick. It was a secret that she suspected she would take with her to the grave. Now that she was living in a place where Lord Gemmell was remembered with love and respect, she would never be the one to sully his memory.
Carrie opened her eyes, feeling emotionally drained from raking over her past. She wished she could forget but knew that without it she wouldn't be the person she was today, wouldn't be living here and wouldn't have her beautiful little boy. Lord Gemmell's legacy had been her life line and she'd fled to Scotland the moment Charlie was born. She hadn't known what she would do with the land until she'd seen it and fallen in love with the beauty and the peace. Charlie may never fully enjoy his heritage, with the Estate now sold outside the family, but he could at least grow up on the land and love it as she did. She looked around her with pride at the magnificent home she'd had designed to her specific requirements. It had space, because that was one thing she'd always craved. Every room was spacious and well thought out.
A glass fronted entrance hall opened into a wide and long hall. On the right, there was a magnificent living room with a glass external wall running the full length of it. With a central fireplace to ward off the scottish winter evenings, it boasted a grand piano, a home cinema system and three separate groupings of wonderful, comfy sofas and chairs.
Because she entertained so frequently, her dining room and kitchen were equally spacious. She'd also had the forethought to design in an extra room that housed commercial ovens and fridges that the caterers used, which also doubled as a laundry room. Down a long corridor opposite the living room were five large bedrooms, all with en-suites. Her own was the height of decadence with an oversized four-poster bed in the centre. She'd had a fantasy of enjoying passionate nights on that bed with a life long lover, but six years on, it remained just that, a fantasy.
Her suite of offices were at the front of the house with their own entrance for visitors. Her work had been so successful in the last six years that she now employed a full-time PA and someone part-time to administer her charitable trust fund. She'd created her own space for writing in a snug next to the main office. The first floor boasted five spacious en-suite guest rooms each with their own balcony, an exercise room and a treatment room. Carrie was spotted and photographed everywhere she went, and whilst the locals respected her privacy, it was easier for the professional people she used to come to her. She would forever be grateful that she could afford luxuries she'd once never known existed.
Carrie looked at the clock on the wall, shocked to discover it was nearly midnight. Too late to phone her PA and best friend, Lynne. She resolved to unburden herself tomorrow as she turned off the outside lights and the music and took herself off to bed, annoyed that once more her thoughts had turned to Jake. Still, she grimaced, if it was a toss up between worrying thoughts about the threats or disturbing thoughts about him, she supposed he was the lesser of two evils.