“Would you like us to talk to him for you?” Harry asked.
Tilly hastily shook her head. “Since he basically asked for a wife who would stay out of his way, I don’t think he’ll look kindly on having someone nag at him on my behalf.”
Harry’s shoulders drooped. “You’re right.”
“Maybe…” Charlotte’s tone was reluctant. “Maybe it’s going to help if I told you a little more about his background. Maybe you can come up with something that I can’t think of since I’m not his wife…”
Once upon a time, a young Apache boy had been granted a scholarship and the means to leave the reserve and start a new life. He embraced this opportunity wholeheartedly, determined to make his dream come true, and people who knew him believed it would be so. He had the brains and the will to work. How could such a boy not go places?
The answer: all too easily, and the only thing he had to do was fall in love.
With a wife to support and a baby on the way, the boy turned his back on his dreams and settled for mediocrity.
Goals that used to be well within his reach became impossible, the fire in him that used to burn so brightly fading with every day that passed. And when the girl he loved left him for another, that fire in him completely died, and the boy, who was now a man, lost himself in bitter despair..
His son, too young to understand what was right or wrong, could only listen and believe as his father cursed and lamented his greatest folly. He had let love stand in the way of his dreams, and his life of misfortune was the price he must pay for it.
Before the old man passed away, he made his son promise not to follow in his footsteps, and the son gave his word to do as his father asked.
Love would have no claim on his heart, no place in his life, because love was nothing but a cage for one’s ambitions.
“We’re here, Ms. Wakefield.”
The driver’s words drew Tilly out of her troubled thoughts, and she self-consciously threaded her fingers through her hair as she checked her reflection in the rearview mirror. Dark hair pulled back in a low ponytail, face bare of makeup except for a dab of coral lipstick, and a V-necked dress.
She looked okay.
And that was exactly why she owed it to Logan to do the right thing.
Fixing a smile on her lips, Tilly thanked Charlotte’s driver for giving her a ride before stepping out of her friend’s limousine. She took her time climbing the steps leading up to the high-rise building that Logan and his friends co-owned, but her trepidation still came back in full force by the time she entered the high-ceilinged lobby and found herself horribly underdressed.
The receptionist looked at her from head to toe when Tilly came up to the counter, and she was left with the impression that her appearance didn’t quite make the cut. She was H&M, this establishment was YSL, and wearing clothes with the right acronyms apparently meant everything to the other woman.
Not that there was anything wrong with H&M, Tilly mused ruefully. It used to be that she could only afford to shop there when the store had a clearance sale, and being secretly married to a billionaire wasn’t enough to make her forget that.
“May I help you?” The receptionist had finally deigned to speak, and her voice practically dripped with snooty distaste.
“I’m here to see Mr. Hardwall.” Tilly’s smile didn’t even slip as she was made to endure a lip-curling look of condescension. After surviving Caryn for over a year, she could survive anything.
“Do you mean Mr. Logan Hardwall of Hardwall Industries?”
“Yes, I do.” The receptionist couldn’t be more aghast, and Tilly had trouble smothering her laugh.
“And do you have an appointment?”
“Not really, but if you could tell him his nephew’s nanny is here…”
“Oh.” The receptionist’s face cleared. “You’re the nanny.”
“Yes, I am,” she said cheerfully, “and being a nanny is not a disease, you know.”
“No, of course not.” The reception’s voice was condescending.
“Nannies get to live with their billionaire bosses, after all.”
The receptionist – Tessa, her nameplate said – looked like she had swallowed poison now.
“And once the baby falls asleep, the things that could go bump in the night can get really fun…” She winked at Tessa, who now looked like she was ready to keel over. “If you know what I mean?”
“I do not.” Tessa practically snarled each word out.
“That’s too bad. You should live some more, you know?” Pretending not to notice the murderous look on Tessa’s face, she looked around, asking brightly, “So where should I wait?”
The receptionist wordlessly snatched the receiver and began jabbing buttons. To say that Tessa was enraged would be an understatement, and it almost had Tilly regretting deliberately setting the other woman off.