The Billionaire's Dilemma

Published by Whiskey Creek Press.

The Billionaire's Dilemma: Identical Twin Mistresses.

                                                                    Opening Chapter.

Nina stepped from the train to the platform at Paddington Station; her mind whirling in vortex of uncertainty as to whether her identical twin had lied to her.
       After all, Nina Klaassen now had to pass herself off as Tania Klaassen. She could do it, she had in the past  . . . sort of.
       Oh Hell, this was nothing short of a blind date.
     According to Tania, her so-called date was well educated, extremely astute and no walkover conquest. In fact, Tania had claimed him to be the most challenging man she’d ever met. Therefore Nina Klaassen. NO, NO, think Tania, Tania, Tania.
     Oh God. This trip to London could so easily become a highly embarrassing situation. Why she had agreed to this charade just didn’t make any kind of sense. You fool Nina, utter fool. The thought alone caused her fist to tighten around her cell phone. 
       She drew a deep breath. A taxi, she needed a taxi. The last message left on Tania’s cell phone had stated Tania’s new date could not make it to pick her up from the station. A tad inconvenient, but a taxi was not a problem. There were dozens lined up at a short distance. She walked on rather glad the taxi rank lay within the station precinct and the whole place sheltered from the elements. Throughout the journey from Oxford the train had thundered through a continuous wall of water, and outside probably monsoon like, if the sound of drumming rain from above was anything to judge by. 
      Taxis began pulling away from the taxi rank one after the other. If she didn’t get there, soon they’d all be gone. She hurried onward the concourse itself surrounded by eye-catching displays from postcards to teddy bears in various on-station booths, all reminding her she’d stepped out of her comfort zone into unknown territory. Nevertheless, Tania’s need for three cell phones amused her. Number one phone for family calls, number two for business and number three for new love interest. Tania had a place for every thing, and every person, too, kept in the right place just like her shoes in all the right boxes. Subsequently, number three phone was now hers for the next twenty-four hours simply because she was supposedly Tania.    
       To feel edgy was normal despite the fact she’d travelled this path more than once, though not in circumstance of a blind date. Past masquerades had involved light-hearted teasing of joint friends and associates at parties and the like. This time was different, and she really wished her identical twin could be a little more responsible in not expecting her to stand in while Tania went off somewhere else other than where supposed to be. To commit to minor deceptions at parties had been fun but to actually pretend to be Tania and on a date with a polo playing billionaire, another game entirely. A first real date for Tania, admittedly, and hopefully Allessandre Romão would not suspect any sense of duplicity.
       She and Tania both had long hair the colour of ripe corn, so no problem there that came to mind. Tania for the most part kept hers pinned back in a clasp. Whereas, her own preferred choice that of loose flowing except when styled up for evening dos and or riding of horses. Having her crown hair scraped back severe in a gripper for today felt a little unusual but bearable for the moment. Their eyes, damn, were not absolute identical. Oh Hell, such hadn’t entered into the equation until now. Where Tania’s were deep sapphire, hers were fathoms deep sapphire bordering on violet: purely to do with reflective lens differential. Would she be able to convince this unknown man that she, Nina, was Tania?  
       Tania had sworn she had not slept with the new man, and had only kissed him. On balance, it was not that easy to have sex at a Polo Match without a prime player being missed from field of play, especially with spectators relatively up close and personal.  But, Tania had ended the day at this man’s house, when in fact she’d gone to the polo ground with someone else. She had not enlightened further, beyond the no sex thingy. So, it was going to be a case of playing it by ear, and her heart skipped for she was off to the opera something she adored and Tania hated. In fact, she suspected a night at the opera to be the sole reason for Tania’s panic phone call begging identical twin to stand-in for her.
       Whatever, this was Tania’s night in name only, and Nina Klaassen was walking into the unknown with arias from La Bohème revolving in her head. She hailed a taxi.
                                                             * * *

The taxi drew to a halt outside a grand London house.
       Given Tania’s previous description of the place it ticked all the right boxes on her sister’s list for future husband and provider. Set back from the road with high walls and automatic gates protecting against unwelcome intruders, it was Tania’s dream London house, and almost identical to the one she’d sketched years ago as a child when dreaming how one day she might be a princess and live in a house such as this.
       Beyond the gates she noted a silver McLaren and black Bentley Continental parked side-by-side denoting wealth of the owner. God, what was she doing here? Rays of sunlight suddenly streaked through grey overhead canopy, the imposing structure radiating a kind of welcoming warmth. A good omen, perhaps? Whatever, a shiver of apprehension shimmied down her spine.
       In any case, she much preferred the country mansion where they resided at present, despite the dreadful tragedy and cause of their having to live there in the first place. Damn Tania. She should say to hell with this masquerade and disappear to the railed parkland opposite, a lake shimmering in sunshine by far more appealing to her love for wide-open spaces.
       “The clock’s ticking, missy,” said the cab driver. “You staying or going?”
       “Sorry,” she said, a smile, “how much do I owe you?”
       “Make it a straight ten,” he replied, which surprised her because she’d expected it to be around twelve pounds fifty pence on distance travelled.   
       With the driver paid and her now out of the taxi, it pulled away from the kerbside. This was it. She was at her destination. She could either cross the road and disappear into that park, or turn and face the intercom attached to one of the gateposts.                                     Her mind raced in wild consideration. She didn’t have to go in there, didn’t have to take part in this stupid deception. Thrusting a hand upward to release the hair gripper, feeling more like a tool for torture than useful hair adornment, she hurriedly finger-combed her hair and drew several deep breaths as the gripper disappeared to pocket.
      Why, why did she so willingly put herself through hell for her twin like this? She grabbed the handle of her pull-along case and about to turn toward the intercom she heard a click: the gates moving inward. She couldn’t turn and run. Not now. A lean man of average height came striding forth, pristine in appearance with silver grey hair and moustache, and pale blue eyes exuding immense experience in handling delicate situations. This was not her sister’s new interest. He was much too old. Tania’s preference in male escorts to parties and the like tended around late twenties early thirty mark.
       “I’ll take that,” he said, catching hold of her overnight case whilst gesturing her onward, his monotone voice impeccable manservant mode. “You will want to freshen up, no doubt.” He turned slightly and smiled. “Mr. Romão is not at home.”
       “Oh, I see,” sounded pathetic, but in that case why had she needed to be at the house by noon on the dot.
       “I’m Baxter,” said the man. “Lunch is prepared.”
       “I’m to eat alone?”
       “If hungry,” he replied. “If not, perhaps you’d care to take a swim first.”
       “Swim?” she queried, taken aback. It was summer all right, but a bit chilly at present.
       “Indoor pool,” he said, a passing smile, as though reading her thoughts.
       Oh hell, Tania hadn’t said anything about a pool. “I haven’t brought swimwear.”
       “Mr. Romão estimates his return to be at around two this afternoon.”
       So, Baxter was saying she could skinny-dip. Fair enough. Why not? They reached the door and Baxter ushered her inside: the outer gates already closing to. Nevertheless, the prospect of a skinny-dip in a pool made her feel slightly self conscious, and she hadn’t even so much as kicked her off her shoes. Oh God, she should have cancelled this date. Any excuse would have sufficed, and it would have been up to Tania to explain the why factor. It was too much to ask of her in the first place and Tania could go to hell on this little caper.
       “Look, I think I’ve made a mistake,” she said, as Baxter closed the door behind them and offered to take her raincoat.
       “Mistake?” He looked a little puzzled, his wise manservant eyes searching hers.
        She gave in to his silent request to remove her raincoat, and let him assist in wresting it from her shoulders. It was too late to walk away now. She was committed to seeing this deception through to its finale. “I’m too early, right?” she mooted, thinking it strange to be there and her date elsewhere.  Maybe Tania had given her the wrong time to arrive.
        “No, I was given to expect you at noon,” replied Baxter, a reassuring smile. “Mr. Romão had intended to be here but circumstances beyond his control intervened.” Baxter’s expression remained unreadable. “Would you like to see your room, now?” he tendered, taking her hat as well.
        Already distracted by the opulence of the entrance hall with its glass dome above, she replied, “Yes, I suppose I’d better.”
       As Baxter turned and led off, Nina let out a sigh of relief. He’d said her room. She had her own room. That eased her anxious state a little. After all, a room all her own meant Mr. Romão, who ever he was had his own room, too. Tania had not lied on that score.
       The house from the outside she’d thought magnificent while inside positively palatial. As they ascended the staircase she glanced at portraits of fine boned fillies and well-muscled stallions adorning the wall from ground level to second floor. Each framed portrait followed the curve of the marble staircase, itself rather grand with wrought ironwork and marble pillars.  “Are the equines famous by any chance?”
       Baxter smiled. “Famous is as famous does, he replied, nodding toward the last portrait of a superb grey. “Xander, there, sired the best of the best in polo ponies, even after his untimely and tragic death.”
       She guessed Artificial Insemination with pre-frozen sperm, meaning the stallion’s bloodlines to be considered second to none. Looking at the horse and thinking how fit polo players needed to be, and given Tania’s preferred choice in men Nina’s imagination started galloping. Mr. Romão was Brazilian according to her twin, or at least held a Brazilian passport. She imagined tanned olive skin, and no doubt Latino good looks. Tania had a penchant for tall very rich good-looking men, and this one was certainly not ailing in a monetary sense.
       Baxter continued along the upper corridor, again lined with more portraits of horses and one of a stunningly good-looking man. She paused and her heart missed several beats. She’d expected eyes like molten chocolate. But these were hazel, a flash of gold outer. He was squinting in the glare of sunlight the creases around his eyes rending his smile that of utterly irresistible magnetism.     
       Baxter sensed her interest, said, “Mr. Romão senior, taken thirty years ago.”
       “Oh,” she exclaimed, hoping Baxter was less perceptive to sense of inner disappointment than implied by one arced eyebrow.
       “Like father, like son,” said Baxter, opening a door. “They could be twins.”
       A flush flooded her cheeks. What would Baxter think if he knew he was talking to one of twins, identical twins? Mr. Romão, too, a carbon copy of his father, how intriguing. He ushered her into a room fit for a princess. It was a room made for Tania, her sister’s eyes the colour of the walls, the gold furnishings matching her twin’s favourite precious metal. It had a four-poster bed the like Tania had always dreamed of having one day. It was true they were identical twins but worlds apart in personal tastes, men the exception as far as dark and handsome went.