The Best Next Thing - Natasha Anders Page 0,4

nearly kicked herself as she remembered the bed. She couldn’t, in good conscience, leave him to sleep on an unmade bed.

Five minutes later, she was knocking on his door, hating the fact that she was disturbing him again, but she took too much pride in her job not to.

“Come.” There was no hesitation in the familiar command. Not for the first time, Charity shocked and amused herself by picturing him using the exact same word and intonation in bed with one of his lovers as he commanded her to climax.

Somehow, she couldn’t picture Miles Hollingsworth as a passionate, hot-blooded lover who lost himself in the act of sex. Instead, she envisioned him as a cold automaton barking orders at the woman beneath him while he heaved away methodically inside of her. The thought sent a shudder of revulsion and fear down her spine, and her amusement faded almost instantly.

She let herself into the room and blushed like a schoolgirl when she saw that he had divested himself of his shirt, shoes, and socks in the last five minutes. He was seated on the edge of his bed, with half a sandwich in one hand and the mug of hot chocolate in the other.

Whoa! Mr. Hollingsworth might have lost too much weight since she’d seen him last, but he still had an impressive chest. Wide shoulders with well-defined pecs lightly dusted with downy looking dark hair that tapered down a pretty decent six-pack toward the waistband of his trousers…

She jerked her eyes to his face, which was wearing one of his trademark frowns.

“I brought fresh towels and clean bedding. I’ll just…”

“Leave it.”


“Leave it, Mrs. Cole,” he repeated, the words ripe with irritation. “I’m knackered, I don’t want to sit around waiting for you to get those military corners just right. All I need is the duvet and a pillowcase. You can take care of the rest tomorrow. Towels in the bathroom, if you please, and then leave me alone.”

Butthole. Charity fought to keep her annoyance out of her expression. She nodded and carefully placed the linen at the foot of the bed, before making her way to the attached bathroom. She neatly placed the towels on their racks, replaced the toilet paper, and put his favorite soap, shampoo, and conditioner in the shower.

When she returned to the bedroom, it was to witness him polishing off the last of the sandwich and washing it down with the hot chocolate.

He noticed her hovering and jerked his head toward the tray. “You might as well remove this.”

He had barely touched the salad, and she bit the inside of her cheek to refrain from commenting. He had clearly been ill but hadn’t eaten the healthiest thing on the tray. It wasn’t her place to say anything. Instead, she gathered up the tray and once again bade him goodnight.

“Mrs. Cole.” His voice halted her retreat right at the door, and she lifted her eyes to meet his cool, gray gaze. “No more interruptions.”

“Yes, sir.”

After she left his room, she fled to the kitchen. It was her haven, and she felt safe and in control here. She picked up a pen and some paper and sat down to make a list of everything she needed to get done in order to take the house out of snooze mode and get it one-hundred-percent operational again.

She always did the cooking, and while she had cleaning staff in once every fortnight when the Hollingsworth family wasn’t in residence—preferring to do most of the light cleaning herself—she would have to arrange for them to come in at least twice a week with Mr. Hollingsworth there.

She made a mental note to text Amos later to let him know the boss was back. The elderly man usually joined her for breakfast a couple of times a week when the Hollingsworth family wasn’t in residence, and she wasn’t sure what the straitlaced Mr. Hollingsworth would think if the gardener showed up at the kitchen door in the morning expecting breakfast.

She usually ordered massive amounts of food online when she knew the family was coming on holiday, and she liked to have their menus planned—first day to last—weeks ahead of time. But she would have to “wing it” this time. God, how she hated spontaneity when it came to her job. She liked to know exactly what she needed to do and by when it had to be done. This upheaval would probably require a physical shopping trip to Knysna—the closest big town—because delivery for