Fake Marriage with the CEO(9)

By: Amanda Horton

Miranda’s eyes flashed. “Answer the question! We need to know why.” She gestured to the open door where the crowd could be seen, watching the scene. “Unless you want a riot in your hand, you’d better give us an explanation.”

“Yeah, asshole! Give us the food!” A barrage of angry voices followed.

We’re really close to losing control of the situation! Miranda took a deep breath. She pushed aside the memory of her harsh treatment at the hands of the police and approached the leader. “Mister, please. You and your men can’t possibly stop this crowd once they go berserk. Some of them haven’t eaten in days. Do you know what that does to a person?”

The man glanced at Miranda, then the waiting crowd. “I’m sorry, but I have to do my job. My boss called and said to stop the food truck at all cost.”

That made no sense! “But why?”

The man pointed a finger. “Maybe you can ask him.”

Miranda looked in the direction he pointed. A sleek BMW sidled to the side of the truck. The door opened and the driver stepped out, tossing his keys to the man within.

Miranda gasped.

Oh my god. It’s him and the car that almost ran me down. Shit! Who is he? The boss? Miranda swallowed, watching the man approach. Even from a distance it was hard not to notice his arctic blue eyes as he summed up the situation. His thick lashes couldn’t hide his authority as he nodded to his men. The way he strides on those long lean legs… It’s like he owns this city.

She’d heard about men like this. Dominant men who wield their power like a wand. Even his five o’clock shadow looked like it had been cultivated to complement his squared jaw line. Miranda tightened her hands into fists. He’s probably paying his men exorbitant fees to protect him from this hungry mob!

As the man got closer and Miranda could observe his flashing eyes and the tightly drawn lines of his face, she revised her opinion. Does he ever need protection? He looks like someone who can do a body slam easily.

He was close now, close enough that Miranda could breathe in the scent of his aftershave. Thoughtless asshole! Who wears aftershave and Burberry and drives their BMW to a homeless center? Doesn’t he know that some of these people haven’t bathed in weeks? He came to a halt in front of her, and Miranda was keenly aware of his eyes on her and the flare of his patrician nose. Probably trying to work out if I’m a volunteer—or one of the homeless. She squared her shoulders, meeting his gaze defiantly. If he thinks he can push us around, he’s making a big mistake.

He spoke. “Are you the head of the center?”

Miranda rolled her eyes. Typical rich kid—he hadn’t done his research before showing up and bossing them all around. “Mister, this center has no head. It’s a cooperative effort, led by volunteers.”

He blinked, clearly more used to being greeted with obeisance than sarcasm. “I donated these food boxes. But I got a call from my staff member who thinks the food might be spoiled. That’s the reason I asked my men to prevent the truck being unloaded.”

Miranda’s eyes widened. “Spoiled? How?”

“I haven’t got the whole story but I couldn’t risk people getting ill. I’m here to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Miranda breathed out. The man was right. If something was wrong with the food, chances were high many of the people present would land in the hospital. Most of them had no insurance. It would be a catastrophe.

Word traveled fast. Murmurs of ‘there is no food today’ spread through the crowd. Those fortunate enough to have eaten something during the day left. Those who were hungry stayed behind, throwing belligerent looks at the volunteers.

“We have to do something,” Miranda said. “Talk to them. Tell them what happened. It may not help with the hunger, but at least they’ll know this wasn’t deliberate.”

The man nodded. His eyes studied the crowd with what looked like sympathy. “Is there anything I can do? I hate to deny people who are hungry.”

Miranda rolled her eyes. Didn’t he realize it was his fault? He should have checked the food before he dispatched it. “Hungry? You have no idea, Mister. Some of these men have been eating out of dumpsters…and they’re the lucky ones.”

He stiffened at the accusation in her voice. “This wasn’t deliberate. I came as soon as I heard.”

“Worried about the backlash?” Miranda knew that was unfair.

He frowned. “Yes, I was, but that’s not the only reason I came. I do care about these people… even if you find that rather hard to believe.”

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