“But that’s silly,” Katherine said as the door closed behind the woman. “You don’t know any of the facts. It’s only a rumor.”
Another door opened, and a diminutive Mexican-American woman peeked out. “Are you the only one?” she said in a lilting Spanish accent as she entered the room for a closer look, as if more nanny candidates might be hiding beneath the long bench that lined one wall, or under the other straight-backed chair that sat on the earth-colored tile.
“I appear to be,” Katherine said apologetically. “However—” She closed her mouth abruptly. She would apologize for the mistake only after she met the elusive Trey Sutherland.
“I’m Anita,” the little gray-haired woman said. “I’m Trey’s housekeeper.”
Anita and Trey. It was charmingly informal. Anita wore jeans and a big bulky sweater, Katherine realized. And sneakers on her feet.
“He’s not quite ready for you,” Anita said, “but why don’t you follow me anyway?”
As the housekeeper led the way down a long corridor, Katherine had to jog a bit to keep up. The estate was beautiful, a sprawling hacienda with Mexican-tile floors and windows set into arches, overlooking a lush center courtyard. The last of the fall flowers bloomed, bringing color to the garden, even in the cool autumn rain.
Katherine followed Anita up a flight of stairs, and then up yet another. The hallway here was wide enough to hold several chairs and a soft leather couch, positioned together in a sort of sitting area.
“Trey’s suite is in the tower,” Anita explained. She stopped outside a thick wooden door. “His office is here, his bedroom the floor above. The children and the nanny—you—sleep in the east wing, on the second floor.” She gestured toward the sofa. “Why don’t you have a seat? Trey will be with you in a minute.”
As Katherine slowly sat down, Anita descended the stairs, swiftly and silently.
Katherine drew in a deep breath. Well. Here she was. Moments from meeting the man who could well help answer all her questions.
But how thrilled would he be to help her after he found out she’d used trickery and deceit to worm her way into his home? Of course, she’d been as tricked as he, but he couldn’t know that. She’d better figure out what she was going to say, and she’d better do it quickly.
Katherine drew in another deep breath and practiced her most winsomely royal smile. “Mr. Sutherland. What a pleasure it is to finally meet you. But I do believe there’s been something of a mix-up, sir. Your staff has mistaken me for the hired help, while in fact I am a princess. And that, sir, is why I’ve come to see you today. My elder brother, Prince James Wyndham, was abducted as an infant. He’s been presumed dead these past nearly thirty years, but my three sisters and I have recently found reason to believe he may not have perished all those years ago. Mr. Sutherland, we believe that your equally elusive business partner, one Mr. William Lewis, could in fact be our missing brother, and the true heir to the Wynborough throne.”
That would go over quite excellently.
Katherine closed her eyes, imagining her sister Elizabeth and their social secretary, Laura Bishop, having to fly from Colorado to New Mexico to bail Katherine out of the lunatics’ wing of the city jail.
This was a mistake—coming to Albuquerque this way, assuming that she could find Bill Lewis, assuming she could get through Trey Sutherland’s tightly closed gates. She wasn’t cut out to play James Bond. That was much more Elizabeth’s or Serena’s speed.
Katherine was the one who should have gone to search through old records at The Sunshine Home for Children in Arizona, where James was now believed to have been brought after his abduction all those years ago.
But something crazy had possessed Katherine. She’d agreed to come to Albuquerque, and now here she was.
Mistaken for a nanny.
Her fault completely.
She looked from the tightly closed door of Trey Sutherland’s home office to the stairs that led back down to the front entrance.
As much as she wanted to, now that she was here, she simply couldn’t walk away. If she were going to fail, it wasn’t going to be from lack of trying.
She took a deep breath. “Mr. Sutherland. What I have to say to you is going to sound completely insane, but I must ask you, sir, to—”
The door opened.
And there was Trey Sutherland.
Katherine had seen his picture. She had known that he was outrageously handsome, but his photograph hadn’t prepared her for the reality of the man.
He was taller than she’d expected—well over six feet. His shoulders took up nearly the entire doorway—shoulders clad in a dark-gray business suit that looked as if it had been tailored to his exact measurements. His shirt was a lighter shade of that same gray, his collar unbuttoned, his tie rumpled and loose.
His hair was jet-black and messy, as if he’d been running his fingers through it in frustration. His face was harshly handsome, his mouth set in an expression of grimness. His eyes, although tired, redefined the color blue.
“Sorry to keep you waiting.” His voice was a smooth baritone, without even a trace of a Southwestern American twang. “Come on in.”
She had to move past him to enter his office. She went swiftly, aware of the subtle fragrance of his cologne, aware once again of his sheer size.
The phone on his desk rang, and Katherine froze, uncertain whether to go any farther or to retreat and wait, once again, out in the hall.
But Trey Sutherland closed his office door. “I’m sorry, I’ve got to take this. Why don’t you sit down? I’ll be right with you.”
She gestured toward the door. “If you want, I don’t mind.
“No, this won’t take long. Please. Sit.”
As Katherine slowly perched on the edge of one of the leather armchairs positioned in front of Trey’s rather lovely wooden desk, he picked up the telephone. He took the call standing behind his desk, his back to her as he gazed out the big picture window, his hand on his neck as if he were trying to loosen the tightly knotted muscles there.
Katherine tried not to listen, gazing down at her hands tightly clasped in her lap.
“No.” Trey’s voice left no room for doubt. “Absolutely not.” He laughed, but it was an expulsion of disbelief rather than humor. “No, I’m not hiding him. Believe me, if I knew where Bill Lewis was, I’d be leading the charge to knock down his door.”
Bill Lewis. The man she and her sisters believed might be their brother. Katherine stopped trying not to listen.
“Yeah, he could call or even drop in at any time. That’s his usual MO,” Trey continued, sitting on the edge of his desk in that casual way of an American male, completely comfortable within his well-developed body. His strong back seemed better suited to a T-shirt and a pair of dusty blue jeans, although she did have to admit that his suit fit him СКАЧАТЬ