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One

The Arrival

S

tanding in the middle of the vast foyer immersed in the enormity of her surroundings, Belle stood waiting nervously as Simon peppered his London butler, Henry Chambers, with questions. Two young, uniformed men hurried past and moments later returned, one carrying Simon’s luggage, the other her lone suitcase.  There had been a Rolls Royce limousine waiting for them at the private airfield, but she hadn’t seen their bags pulled off the plane and put in the car. For that matter, neither had she seen Cecil, Simon’s private secretary, or Parker, his dutiful chauffeur, both of whom had been on board Simon’s jet in their own cordoned off section. When she and Simon had been together in Beverly Hills, Cecil had been like Simon’s shadow, and Parker and had been indispensable.  “Come on, Belle, let’s get you settled.” 


Maggie Carpenter

Simon’s hand wrapped around hers reassuringly, and he led her past the ornate, sweeping staircase towards a reception room, but just as they reached it he stopped and turned into an alcove. She found herself staring at a highly polished wooden door.  He pushed a barely visible button on the carved frame and the door slid open. It was an elevator, and he gestured for Belle to move ahead of him. “My goodness,” she sighed, “this is all terribly grand.” When the Rolls Royce cruised down the quiet street, Simon had pointed to the building that he called home.  It sat on half the block and was four stories high. “This place is beautiful,” she managed, “but isn’t it an awful lot of rooms for one man?  How many people do you need to keep it running?” “Yes, I suppose it is, but I bought it as an investment not really a home, which sounds bizarre considering I live here,” he smiled.  “It was in a dreadful state of disrepair and I virtually stole it.  Over the last seven years I’ve been restoring it section by section.” She admired the mahogany paneling as the elevator lifted them up to the top floor, realizing it shouldn’t have been a surprise that the house would have one. It came to a gentle halt, the doors opened, and Belle stepped into a hallway decorated in pale blue and white. Walking down a short distance, Simon opened double doors, and she found herself in a luxurious living room decorated in exactly the same blue and white decor. “My gosh, I feel as if I’m walking into a life-sized Wedgewood ornament,” she declared.  “Simon, this is beautiful.” “I’m glad you like it.  The bedroom is this way.” He hurried forward and veered to his right, and Belle spied large, white double doors with ornate brass handles.  Pushing them open, he stepped aside allowing Belle to walk 


The British Billionaire Bachelor, Act Two

ahead of him.  She did, then stopped, staring in amazement at the luxurious surroundings, then fixed her gaze on the huge four-poster against the far wall. “Simon, that is the biggest bed I’ve ever seen in my life,” she exclaimed. “It’s custom.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I have come to think it is a bit excessive,” he smiled.  “Mind you, now that you’re here I may have been right.” “Maybe you were,” she twinkled. “Your wardrobe is through here,” he declared, walking her across the expansive room to wide, louvered doors.  “Go ahead, take a look.” Belle pushed them open, not quite sure what to expect and loving his use of the english word ‘wardrobe’ instead of closet. When she stared inside she discovered it was as large as the living room in her condominium in Beverly Hills.  It offered a center island, a large vanity area, racks, drawers and poles at various levels throughout, and on one wall, a floorto-ceiling mirror. “It will take me a lifetime to fill it,” she declared, then added quickly, “I mean, uh, I didn’t mean I think I’ll be here a lifetime or anything.” Belle felt herself blush and wished she could just inhale the words back into her mouth. “Belle, you don’t have to explain. It’s a figure of speech, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t happy to hear you say it,” he gently scolded, seeing the mortified frown cross her brow, “I am so happy you’re here. Don’t start censoring your speech, or anything else for that matter. For as long as you’re here, this is your home. Got it?” Turning to look up at him, she felt her heart do a little jig. “Got it,” she smiled, silently adding, I am totally crazy about you. 


Maggie Carpenter

“Amaranth and James will be waiting I’m sure, so I suppose I should let them in,” he sighed, “though I’d much rather relax in a big soapy tub with you.” “That sounds heavenly,” she sighed. “Who are Amaranth and James?” she asked. “Oh, sorry. Amaranth will be your assistant and James is my valet. She’ll help you with anything you need, especially your clothing and social engagements.” “Wait, do I really need a, well, a dresser, or even an assistant?” “I think you’ll find it very helpful. I told you I have a very busy social calendar, and she’ll know what you should wear, where to buy the right clothes if you don’t have them, and keep you apprised of all the events.” “Simon, you’re not serious,” she declared, completely incredulous. “Quite.” Seeing the look of startled surprise on her face, Simon reached out and pulled her into his chest. “I’m sorry, my darling, that probably sounded overwhelming. I didn’t mean to give you so much all at once. Amaranth will make it easy for you, I promise. We’re going to have a marvelous time together, you wait and see.” His warm hug helped to settle her, but apprehension crept down her spine. “As long as I have you, Simon, I don’t need anything else,” she sighed. “You have me,” he promised. “It all sounds a bit daunting,” she admitted. “That’s why I arranged for you to have Amaranth. She was my personal shopper for a while, then my social secretary. Now she’s your assistant.” 


The British Billionaire Bachelor, Act Two

“I didn’t see you arrange any of this from the plane,” she remarked, stepping back. “Cecil,” he smiled.  “His title may be Private Secretary, but really he’s my sorcerer. He waves his Blackberry and magic happens.” Belle began to giggle. Already feeling giddy from the flight and the speed at which her life had drastically and unexpectedly changed, the image of Cecil, the quick walking, smallish, bespectacled man as a sorcerer, wearing a pointed hat festooned with stars and crescent moons, weaving spells with the phone that never left his side was just too hilarious.   Simon waited patiently until she gathered her wits, not quite understanding the joke. “Oh my gosh, Cecil, a modern day Merlin,” she laughed. Simon waited patiently until she gathered her wits, not quite understanding the joke. “Are you all right?” “I guess so,” she replied, catching her breath from the minor fit of hysteria. “I do love the thought of a bath. Can you join me?” “Sadly not, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t indulge. Now that you mention it, let me show you one more thing before I open the doors and bring in Amaranth and James.” He moved across to the floor-to-ceiling mirror, and exactly as the elevator button had been discreetly imbedded into the door frame, a similar button was set into the ornately carved wood that housed the mirror. “Press that,” he said grinning. Not sure what to expect, she pushed on the button, and to her surprise the entire panel housing the mirror slid aside, disappearing into the wall. Stepping through she found herself in a large, marbled bathroom. 


Maggie Carpenter

“Wow,” she exclaimed, “that’s incredible, and this is incredible,” she added, staring into the opulent bathroom. A long white marble counter ran the length of the opposite wall, boasting a large sink with gold faucets, and in the middle of the room, an island boasting a beautiful lily bouquet. Everything was white and grey with splashes of burgundy, and the walls featured pastel paintings of graceful nudes alongside pencil sketches of ballerinas. “The door into the bedroom is obviously down there,” he pointed, “but I thought it would make life easier to have a door between the wardrobe and the bathroom. This is the button to close it,” he said, showing her the small knob, again barely discernible on the wall. She pressed it and the panel silently glided back into place. “To finish,” he announced, “there’s a third door into the passageway, virtually invisible on both sides. Let me show you how it works.” “I’ll bet you really enjoyed helping your architects with this,” she remarked, following him to the end of the glistening bathroom. “Now you know why it’s taken seven years,” he chuckled. “I was always fascinated by the secret rooms and passageways of the medieval castles. I think I got a bit carried away. Wait until you see my manor house in the country.” “I can’t wait,” she replied enthusiastically, the thought of an old English country estate positively thrilling, and as they neared the end of the room, she couldn’t make out the door at all. “I don’t see a door,” she commented, “not at all.” “That’s the point,” he grinned. “Just watch. Move this piece of molding to the right,” he explained, sliding what appeared to be a fixed piece of wood. “There you go, see? The door just swings open.” 


The British Billionaire Bachelor, Act Two

Belle watched fascinated, as the door gently moved into the hallway. “If you come out here, you’ll see it’s the same on this side,” he continued, stepping out into the wide corridor. “See this molding? Just push it sideways.” “It’s all too amazing,” she sighed. “A modern day castle with all the hidden exits and entrances. Are there hidden passages too?” “Yes. A few. I thought it would add a bit of romance to the place,” he grinned. “I love it,” she declared. “You’re a genius.” “There’s so much to show you we can’t possibly do it now. Let’s have your things unpacked and get you settled,” he suggested, moving back into the bathroom. She followed him towards the bedroom, and as they passed the large Jacuzzi tub, she paused to stare at it wistfully. “You want a bath?” he asked. “Oh, yes. A long hot one,” she replied. “Done. When Amaranth and James finish unpacking, the suite is yours. I wish I could join you, but of course I have some business stuff to deal with.” “Of course you do,” she smiled. As they entered the bedroom and started towards the large double doors, she grabbed his arm. “Wait.” “What is it?” he asked turning to face her. Lifting her arms, she circled his neck and hugged him, then lifted her lips and softly pressed them against his. Melting into her, his fingers curled around a fistful of hair, imprisoning her, crushing her mouth as his fever rose, instinctively demanding more. His cock heard the call, rising in his trousers, and ruefully he pulled back. “My God, girl,” he breathed. “What you do to me.” 


Maggie Carpenter

Dropping her hand against his crotch, she felt his urgent need. “Can’t they wait?” she moaned, her sparkling eyes gazing into his. “They can, but other things can’t. You take your bath, and we will pick up right here, very soon.”




Other Titles By Maggie Carpenter Novels Elizabeth’s Education Elizabeth’s Education–The Inheritance (Forbidden Lust) Déjà Vu An Eternal Flame (Déjà Vu–Book Two) Malibu Heat The Billionaire’s Daughter The British Billionaire Bachelor The Rockstar and the Cowgirl Coming Soon

Novellas Covert Cravings



The British Billionaire Bachelor, Act Two by Maggie Carpenter