Maid for the Billionaire
Page 10

 Ruth Cardello

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A group of children saw the deer that still lingered around Dominic and Abby and came screaming toward them.
“What is that noise, Dominic? Where the hell are you?”
“At the zoo,” Dominic answered absently.
Jake grunted in agreement. “Sounds like one. What are you, outside a toy store or something?”
“No, I'm actually at a zoo.” Abby shouldered the blame with a shameless shrug and continued listening to his side of the conversation with undisguised curiosity.
Jakes voice rose an octave. “A zoo as in with real caged animals?”
“Are there any other kind?”
“Huh.” For a moment that stumped Jake. Dominic could almost hear his thoughts, This is worse than I thought. “Ok, then. Give the monkeys the rest of the peanuts and head for the airport. Your plane is fueling up at Logan as we speak.”
Dominic hadn’t become successful without learning how to adapt quickly to changing situations. He turned to his deer wise companion and asked, “Would you like to see Beijing?”
Abby’s mouth dropped open. “You mean in China? I don't have a passport.”
Dominic addressed Jake again while he stood, pulling Abby up next to him. “I'll be flying out of Boston in a little over an hour. Have a passport for Abigail Dartley waiting in New York along with the paperwork I need. Have Duhamel fly back before us and pack luggage for two. She'll know what I'm talking about. We'll fuel up and fly over tonight.”
“You’re taking your housekeeper?” Jake asked incredulously.
“Just do it.” Dominic clicked his phone shut. He held onto Abby’s cold hand despite her attempts to tug it free. Bringing her with him made sense and taking action made him feel calmer, more in control of the situation.
Abby held her ground when he tried to pull her with him along the path. She dug her heels in until he was forced to turn around and look down at her.
She was one stubborn woman.
“I can't go to China. I have responsibilities here. Lil is still sick...” Abby said in rushed tones.
Dominic brushed aside her concerns. “Duhamel sent a nanny over to help her while you were out today. We'll just hire her to stay.”
Simple enough. He tried to guide her forward, but she wasn’t budging.
“China? I can't just go there...with not even a toothbrush,” Abby said. Her hand fluttered within his, giving him the first indication that she wasn’t as confident as she appeared.
"We'll buy everything you need. Now come on,” he said in a voice that made most businessmen rush to action and most women try to appease him.
She did neither.
"I can't..." she said again, undaunted by his tone.
Now was not the time for her adorable stubborn streak to rear its head. He’d already decided that he wasn’t going to China without her. Still, outright ordering her had not been effective so far. He was going to have to try something else.
He reached for her, drawing her fully against him. Desire quickly replaced resistance and proved to be an effective bargaining tool. “I want you to come. You know you want to come. Just this once, don’t play it safe.”
"China?" she asked weakly, as if she was trying to remember the topic of their discussion.
Dominic swept down to taste the lips she’d licked moist in anticipation. Her quickly indrawn breath brushed her excited nipples against his chest. It was the best yes she could have given him; leaving them both trembling with desire, and him looking forward to the long flight ahead.
Chapter Nine
A few hours later Abby was seated on a long, built-in plush couch that lined one side of the interior room of Dominic's private plane. Despite the fact that she'd had time to explore the whole thing a few times over during their flight from Boston to New York, she was still in awe of the sheer size of it. It was ultra modern with light green accent pillows and trim. There were multiple bedrooms, an exercise room, a shower, a small movie theatre and even a Jacuzzi. Why any plane would have such a tub was beyond Abby, but if she'd doubted Dominic's wealth before, there was no question of it now.
For a woman who had never flown before, this was a surreal, knee knocking adventure. She would have liked to share the experience with someone, but Dominic had been on the phone for most of the flight, giving orders to employees on two continents.
Abby had friends, but none who would believe her if she tried to explain anything about the last two days. Only Lil knew and she'd screamed with excitement at the news that Abby was leaving the country with Dominic. Lil loved the nanny Mrs. Duhamel had sent over and was thrilled that Abby was finally out there living.
Abby wished she were as certain that she'd made the right choice. It was one thing to spend the day with a man she hardly knew, it was another to commit to an international outing. She didn't know where they would be staying, who she would meet while there, or when they would return.
She wanted to dig in her heels and demand the information, but Dominic's entire staff was working in crisis mode. Dominic himself was fielding questions that seemed to dwarf hers in comparison.
Who could order a man to hang up on the President of the United States to provide her with an itinerary of their trip? Which Senator could she interrupt to ask about the hotel they would be staying in?
During this short layover in New York, Dominic was seated at a conference table reviewing the contents of several folders with Jake, a man Dominic had quickly introduced then ushered away from her.
She could hear parts of their conversation, but not enough to make sense of their purpose for this emergency flight to Beijing, other than that the officials would not negotiate with anyone besides Dominic and the governments of both countries were counting on him to remedy the situation.
Jake's pristine business suit and conservative hairstyle made Dominic's casual attire and wind blown appearance look a bit wild in contrast.
Abby stood to join Mrs. Duhamel when she arrived, followed by a young man who was carrying several bags. "I've stored the majority of the luggage below, but it's a long trip, I thought you'd want some sleepwear, some toiletries for when you shower, and a change of clothes for tomorrow. With the change in time zones, you'll be arriving there about noontime, their time."
"Thank you, Marie." Abby wasn't sure what to say.
"I gave your passport to Dominic," Mrs. Duhamel said.
"Shouldn't I have it?" Abby asked.
Mrs. Duhamel shrugged in place of an apology. "Where do you want your overnight bag?"
Falling back on caution, Abby directed the young man to place her things in one of the spare bedrooms, easy enough to discern from the huge master bedroom. She felt the heat of Dominic’s attention on her as if he'd heard her instructions. A shiver of anticipation ran down her back at the intention she read in his eyes. She could put her luggage where she wanted, but she doubted she'd be sleeping anywhere but beside him tonight.
The idea was both tantalizing and mouth drying scary. Sure she wanted to step outside of her predictable, staid life for a day; but she was being swept into a world where she had little to no control and that was more terrifying than leaving the country for the first time.
How crazy would everyone think she was if she politely excused herself and ran for the nearest taxi? Her eyes darted to the open door and then back to Dominic who seemed to tense even though she'd made no overt move toward the open hatch.
He pushed out of his chair and strode over to her. Mrs. Duhamel excused herself to join Jake at the meeting area.
Surely, he couldn't read her thoughts?
Dominic nudged her chin up gently with one finger, until she met his piercing gray eyes. "Jake is half convinced that I've kidnapped you. Are you going to bolt out the door and confirm his fears about my sanity?"
"No," she said with less certainty than she'd attempted.
Dominic's hand moved down the curve of her neck, caressing the tension he found in her shoulders. "You don't sound sure."
Abby's fears poured out of her. "China! I've never even flown until today. I don't know what kind of business you're in or who we're going to meet or where we'll even land." Her hands shook as she continued. "I don't know what my role is on this trip. Am I some form of entertainment you keep in the background and cavort with between business deals?"
"Cavort? Do people even use that word anymore?" he joked.
Angry tears filled her eyes. "Do not mock me, Dominic." She turned and picked up her small purse, the only thing of hers that was on this plane anyway, with every intention of following her initial instinct getting off the plane now while it was still possible. "I knew this was a mistake."
Some of Dominic's arrogance faltered. "Stay," he said.
Abby took a step toward the exit. "I'm not a dog. I don't do well with one word commands."
He stepped in front of her. "What will it take for you to stay?"
Abby bristled in memory of a similar conversation they'd had the day before. "I swear to God, Dominic, if you offer me money I will belt you."
He put his hands up in mock defense, but there was nothing but determination in his expression. "What do you want, Abby? Just say it."
Put on the spot like that, her requests felt ridiculous but something told her that this was a pivotal moment for them. She could maintain her pride, conceal her fears, and avoid this awkward conversation, but in doing so she would lose any chance of feeling part of his world. "I need to know why you want me to go with you."
Her request rocked him back onto his heels. "I don't know what you're asking."
She gathered her resolve. "Is it just sex? If so, inconvenient as it seems now, I'd rather stay on American soil and meet up with you after this trip."
His gray eyes darkened as his hands slid into the pockets of his jeans. Had she been too blunt? Would he be relieved to let her go now?
She'd almost given up on receiving a response from him when he said softly, grudgingly, "Yes, I want you. Getting you into my bed has been damn near all I've thought about since I met you yesterday. But..."
"But?" she prompted.
He ran a frustrated hand through his already disheveled hair. "You also calm me."
It was the furthest from what she'd expected. "Calm you?" and definitely not what he did for her.
"I can think straight when I'm around you. That's why I need you on this trip."
Being with her was helping him during this difficult week? Not exactly a romantic declaration, but she doubted she would have believed one from him at this point anyway. There was sincerity in the simplicity of his words. He needed her! The revelation was humbling.
As she absorbed his words, his frustration grew. "Listen, if you don't want to come, say it now. Duhamel can arrange for you to be on the next first class flight back to Boston. I have no idea how negotiations are going to go in Beijing. This is not a vacation. We may be there a few hours or the whole week. I'm going to be busy most of the time. It was crazy to ask you to come in the first place."
Suddenly knowing the name of the hotel they would be staying in didn't seem as important. Dominic wanted her with him. That's all that mattered. She returned her purse to the couch behind her and turned back to him, her insecurities replaced by the confidence that she meant more to Dominic than he was able to express at this time. "Ok, I'll go."