Seduction Assignment

By: Helen Bianchin
  • The Seduction Season

  • The Marriage Deal

  • The Husband Assignment



The Seduction Season

Helen Bianchin





CHAPTER ONE



IT WAS neither wise nor sensible to drive for hours through the night without taking a break, but Anneke didn’t feel inclined to covet wisdom.

And ‘sensible’ wasn’t a suitable word to apply to someone who, only that morning, had told her boss precisely what she thought of him, then walked out of his office and out of his life.

Men. Anneke swore viciously beneath her breath. Words at which her sweet Aunt Vivienne would have blenched in dismay had she heard them uttered from her favourite niece’s lips.

‘Oh, darling, no,’ Aunt Vivienne had responded in genuine empathy to Anneke’s call. ‘Come and stay with me for a while. The weather is beautiful, and you can relax.’

Family. How wonderfully they rose to the occasion in times of need, Anneke reflected fondly. Especially this particular member, who was surrogate mother, aunt, friend.

The small seaside cottage situated on a relatively isolated stretch of beach in northern New South Wales was idyllic, and it had taken Anneke only an hour to make a few essential phone calls before tossing some clothes into a bag. Then she locked her elegant small flat in Sydney’s suburban Lane Cove, slid behind the wheel of her car, and headed for the main highway leading north.

‘I won’t arrive until late,’ she’d warned her aunt, who had blithely responded it didn’t matter in the least; the front door key would be left in the usual place.

Anneke glanced at the illuminated digital clock on the dashboard. Three minutes past midnight. It would take another hour to reach the outskirts of Byron Bay, a few more minutes to traverse the road leading down to her Aunt’s beachside cottage.

It was a dark night, with no moon to cast an opalescent glow over the countryside, and she leaned forward to switch on the air-conditioning in an attempt to sharpen a brain dulled by more than nine hours of driving with only two minimum breaks along the way.

The car’s headlights probed the ribbon of asphalt and its grassy fringes, and she held back from increasing speed. A semi-trailer barrelled past her, its rig brightly lit, followed a few minutes later by another. Drivers on a tight schedule hauling freight overnight.

Anneke stifled a yawn, rolled her shoulders, then turned on the radio, scrolling through the stations until she found one providing upbeat music.

It was one o’clock when she reached the familiar turnoff and only minutes before she drew the car to a halt on the grassy verge adjacent her aunt’s garage.

The outside light was on in welcome, and Anneke switched off the engine, withdrew her bag from the boot, then trod the path quietly to the front porch, retrieved the key and let herself in.

It was an old brick cottage, renovated over the years to incorporate modern conveniences, and immaculately maintained. Its design was basic, with rooms leading off a wide central hall that ran the length of the cottage. Lounge, dining room and kitchen on the right; three bedrooms, bathroom and laundry on the left.

Anneke shut the front door and locked it, then moved quietly to the rear of the house. She’d deposit her bag in the guest bedroom, then make a much needed cup of tea.

There would, she knew, be a cup and saucer set out on the buffet in readiness, and a small plate of sandwiches beneath film-wrap waiting for her in the refrigerator.

A thoughtful gesture by a very kind lady.

The guest bedroom looked endearingly familiar. A double brass bed occupied centre space, with its old-fashioned white lace bedspread heaped with lace-covered cushions. Above the headboard was a snowy white canopy holding a billowing mosquito net. Superfluous, considering the screened windows, but Aunt Vivienne had wanted to retain the old-fashioned ambience, so the canopy remained.

White lace frilled curtains at the window, old-fashioned wooden furniture, and highly polished wooden floors.

It would be so easy to slip off her shoes, shed her clothes, and sink into bed. For a moment she almost considered it. Her shoulders ached, her head ached, and she was so tired, not to mention emotionally exhausted.

She was inclined to add ‘devastated’. Although that wasn’t quite the description she wanted. Angry, certainly. With Adam, her boss. And herself. Especially herself, for believing in him. She’d been a fool to think she was different from the steady stream of women who inhabited his life.

The type of man, she reflected viciously, who constantly sought challenges on a professional and personal level, Adam knew all the right moves, which buttons to press. He was very, very good at setting the seduction scene.

But not quite good enough. She retained a clear image of his surprise when she’d announced her intention of walking out. The practised hurt when she’d refused to accept his assurance she was very important to him. The slightly wry smile and the spread of his hands in silent acceptance of her vilification that he’d never change.

The only satisfaction she had…and it was very minor…was the knowledge she’d been the one to end the affair. Something she was sure had never happened to him before.

The bravery had lasted as she’d walked out of his office, and all through the long hours of driving.

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