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THE TYCOON'S LADY

 

Kay Clifford

 

From the moment she met the tycoon Matthew Bishop Caroline was overwhelmingly aware of his attraction — and his money had nothing whatever to do with it! And Matt made no secret of his attraction to her. But where did Caroline go from there? There had been any number of women in Matt’s life; what reason had she to suppose that she would last any longer than they had? Then Caroline’s brother got into serious trouble, and it appeared the only way she could save him was to involve herself with Matt — a fate she was far from averse to. But was it marriage Matt was after? It didn’t seem so. Yet, even for the sake of her brother, could she settle for less?

 

CHAPTER ONE

Caroline Haveling
stared moodily out of the window of her Hampstead flat. Her whole week had been a mess and an exhausting one at that. After a three-day modelling assignment in Paris, she had decided not to take the coach in to Orly but to do some last-minute shopping instead. It had been difficult to find a taxi in the pouring rain, and arriving at the airport damp and weary after being stuck in a traffic jam, she found she had missed her flight. Put on standby, she finally arrived home to' find that Jane, her flatmate, had gone to visit her parents, leaving the flat unheated and without food. Shivering with exhaustion, Caroline had found enough milk to make herself a hot coffee drink and had fallen into bed immediately.

The long lie-in she had anticipated was rudely shattered by her brother Tom, who telephoned at seven-thirty next morning.

'What's wrong?' she asked at once, knowing he rarely rose before ten if he could help it.

'I've found a job.'

'Three cheers,' she said dryly.

'Don't cheer yet. My getting it depends on you. I'll need your help.'

'In what way?'

'I'll come over and tell you. See you in half an hour.'

Before she could stop him he put down the telephone, and muttering under her breath she hurriedly dressed and dashed out to the corner grocery shop to get something for breakfast.

She was on her second cup of coffee when Tom arrived. A long, lanky figure, with the same fair hair and blue eyes as his sister, he bounded up the stairs, hugged her and flung himself on the couch.

'Carrie darling, you look marvellous as usual. Obviously hard work agrees with you.'

'It might well agree with you too,' she answered tartly. 'You should try it some time.'

'That's what I want to talk to you about.' He stood up and restlessly paced the room.

Caroline sighed, hoping she had not been disturbed just to listen to another one of his hare-brained schemes for making an overnight fortune.

It was her brother's bad luck not to have been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, though he had done his best to live as if he had, ignoring the fact that, unlike his friends, he did not have family money to support him and would have to make his own way in the world. He was intelligent but lazy, not putting his brain to good use and always full of schemes for making easy money. Occasionally he hit the jackpot, and he then spent his time gambling at one of the numerous clubs of which he was an honorary member—that way he did not have to pay subscriptions!

'Well?' she questioned. 'What do you have to tell me? I can see you're worked up about it.'

'I am. It could be the easiest money I'll ever get the chance of making. You remember Mark Ingle?'

Caroline stiffened. 'Only too well,' she murmured, but Tom carried on, not hearing the interruption.

'We were at school together, but I didn't see much of him afterwards. His family have mills up north and Mark went straight into the business.' Tom broke off, looking uncomfortable. 'Damn it, I completely forgot! You went out with him for a while, didn't you?'

'Mark didn't mean anything to me,' she lied, 'and it was ages ago.'

There was a pause before Tom continued. 'Well, you know yourself what a decent chap he is. And of course he's absolutely loaded.'

'You don't mean
he's
offered you a job?'

'He's
found
me one. I met him at a party last week. He was with his fiancée—a stunning-looking bird called Helen Warner—and she turned out to be Matthew Bishop's ward.' There was another pause. 'You've heard of Matthew Bishop, I suppose?'

'The name rings a bell, but I can't place it.'

'You must have seen it in the gossip columns. He's Bishop's Industries.' When she still looked blank, he added: 'The millionaire chap who's always linked with the latest swinging beauty.'

Caroline nodded. 'Get to the point, Tom.'

'Bishop
is
the point. He bought out Mark's family firm but kept Mark on the board as part of the deal. They have a large mail order business catering for the cheap end of the rag trade, but Bishop now wants to expand into the better end and sell expensive English and Continental clothes.'

'I read something about it in the papers.'

'It's had quite a bit of publicity, and when Mark was talking to me about it, I had this brainwave. Why shouldn't we cash in on our titles by having an advertising campaign featuring Lord Haveling and Lady Caroline Haveling modelling all these haute couture
clothes in various exotic settings? It would certainly create the expensive image Bishop is after.'

'I hate using my title,' Caroline protested.

'I've never understood why. It's the only thing we inherited from the family. For once let's make something out of it. Mark liked the idea and so did Helen, but they couldn't give the O.K. until they'd consulted the great white chief. Then last night Mark rang me and said Bishop liked it too, and could we start on it as soon as possible.'

Caroline frowned. 'Even if I wanted to do it with you, I'm not sure I can. I have commitments for weeks ahead, and unless Penny can revise my schedule or put someone in to take my place, I won't be free.'

'Then the quicker you ask her, the better.' Tom looked at the telephone, but Caroline shook her head.

'I don't like asking favours over the phone. Penny can hold me to those bookings, you know.'

Caroline looked thoughtful, wondering how best to tackle the situation. Penny Grantley ran Grants, one of the top model agencies in the country, and jealously guarded her reputation for reliability.

'Tell her I'll love her for ever if she helps me out,' said Tom. 'Without you, there's no deal for me.'

'I realise that.' Caroline frowned again. Penny had a soft spot for Tom, and it might just be soft enough for her to be obliging. 'How about telling her she can put you on her books? She's always wanted to get hold of a real aristocrat.'

Tom looked alarmed. 'I don't plan to take up modelling as a profession. It's only a one-off thing, more like doing a friend a favour and getting paid for it. After
all the idea is mine, and I'm sure Bishop will show his appreciation generously.'

'The arrangements
you
make with him are your own affair,' Caroline retorted, 'but I'm under exclusive contract to Grants and Penny will insist on negotiating my fee herself. You'd be very sensible if you let her handle your fee too.'

'Maybe I will,' he said slowly. 'It would be a sweetener for her.'

'She'll appreciate that. Don't forget it's through Penny that I'm able to help you live in the manner to which you've become accustomed!'

Tom looked apologetic without looking disturbed. 'I don't forget the help you give me, Carrie, and I'm grateful for it. If I weren't such a lazy devil, I'd take a regular job. But the thought of a nine-to-five existence bores me out of my mind.' He grinned at her, then bent and kissed the top of her head. 'Ring me and let me know Penny's reaction. As soon as I hear from you I'll call Mark and fix a date for you to meet Matthew Bishop. I hope it all works out. I don't often get the chance of a free holiday abroad.'

'It wouldn't be a holiday,' she warned. 'Modelling is hard work.'

'We wouldn't be at it all day, though.'

'That's what you think,' Caroline replied, remembering her own trips abroad when she worked from early morning until the light was too dim for the photographers to shoot more film—the idea being to spend as little time as possible on location, to keep expenses to the minimum. If only her brother knew how hard it was to try to look cool in the Spanish summer sunshine as one modelled a mink coat outside the Prado, or posed in a bikini by a sunny pool smiling happily through chattering teeth as if it were a perfect
e
hot summer's day and not a bleak February one. But why disillusion him? Once he started on this project —if it materialised—he would find out for himself.

When Tom had gone, roaring down the road in his second-hand M.G., she poured herself a fresh coffee and curled up on the sofa. If she were honest with herself she would admit that she hated the idea of doing this job with Tom, not because it wouldn't be fun to work with him, but because it would bring her in contact again with Mark Ingle. The thought of him and their last meeting, when he had taken her down to Yorkshire to meet his parents, was still painful.

She had just started to do well as a model when she had met Mark at a party. She had remembered him as a school friend of her brother's and did not mind when he monopolised her for the whole evening.

Although his family business was up north, he had a flat in London, and used it for half the week, during which time he saw Caroline constantly. She had been swept off her feet by his attention, and had found it impossible not to be flattered—even though she was not short of boy-friends—for he was good-looking in a fair schoolboyish way, and knew all the people she knew.

Mark was the first man with whom she had had a sustained relationship, and she swiftly fell in love with him. When he asked her to Yorkshire to meet his parents, she was sure he felt the same way.

Her first and only visit to the large, ugly house outside Harrogate had told her they had no future together. Judicious questioning by his parents had soon established that Caroline did not work for fun, but because she needed to earn a living. They had been impressed by her title, but were the type to be more impressed by money—as was Mark—for after their return to London his phone calls abruptly stopped.

She had been bitterly hurt by his behaviour, and it took her a long while to get over him. The thought of seeing him again was disturbing, but she knew she would have to put herself to the test for Tom's sake. If only her brother were not so irresponsible! Still, perhaps this assignment might give him the impetus to find himself a permanent job.

It was shortly before noon when Caroline parked her Mini on a meter directly outside the agency's office in Davies Street. Luck was with her, she thought, and hoped it was a good omen.

As usual the outer office was crowded with girls waiting for an interview with Penny Grantley, but Susan, Penny's secretary, beckoned her forward.

'How did Paris go?'

'Fine. Is the boss in yet?'

'Do you need to ask? First in, last out,' Susan grinned. 'Go on in.'

Caroline did so and Penny rose to greet her. A model herself—before starting Grant's five years ago—she still had the willowy figure and looks that had brought her to the top of her profession. At the height of her success she had married a wealthy stockbroker who had set her up in business. They had since been divorced and the agency—begun as a hobby—was now her life. She was only thirty-three but already had the hard gloss of the committed career girl.

Caroline explained about Tom's project and to her surprise Penny immediately agreed to see if she could find someone to take over Caroline's bookings during the period she would be occupied with the mail order catalogue.

'Matthew Bishop could put a lot of work your way,' the older girl confided, 'which would mean a fat commission for me! I used to know him quite well. He was a client of my ex and we used to entertain him. Browse through some magazines while I get to work on this. I need an hour or so to set it all up.'

In half that time she had done what she set out to do. Caroline could continue her bookings until she was ready to work with Tom.

'You're an angel,' Caroline said gratefully. 'I don't know how to thank you.'

'I've already thought of a way,' Penny grinned. 'Take over for Madge Moorcroft at Wednesday's show at the Berkeley.'

'I loathe charity affairs,' Caroline protested. 'They're always so hectic and everyone's so bad-tempered.'

'Madge is ill and I have to find a replacement. You were the committee's first choice anyway, so they'll be delighted to have you.'

Knowing she couldn't very well refuse, Caroline nodded and returned home to catch up on the much needed sleep of which Tom's early morning arrival had deprived her.

That night Jane Greigson, her flatmate, told her she was returning to live with her parents. Her mother was not in good health and her father, a doctor, needed Jane in the surgery. Caroline was surprised her friend should want to return to the fold, but soon learned there was more to it than daughterly obligation.

'I rather fancy Dad's new junior partner,' Jane confessed candidly, 'and I've a feeling
he
fancies me.
So
keep your eyes on the engagement columns of
The Times!'

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