- JUNE 2010 -
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~ PLAYBOY'S SURPRISE SON ~
as featured in AND BABY MAKES THREE
Her cell phone rang.
“It’s me,” he said. “I’m just across the road.”
Answers jangled in her head. Who do you think you are? Go away, I’m finished with you. You’ve got a nerve.
“I’m just coming,” she whispered.
The house faced a park. Emerging from the front door she could see him standing beneath the trees, watching for her. At last she saw him smile, and wondered if he was really overwhelmed with relief, or was that just his usual charming act?
Be careful, warned her inner voice. Don’t trust him for a moment.
“I thought you’d be long gone,” she said, trying to sound indifferent.
“Sometimes it’s nice to linger and talk about old times. It’s good to see you again. Look what I brought you.”
He held up a bottle of wine, the very same kind they had drunk that other night.
“You said this was your favourite,” he reminded her.
“How did you ever remember that?” she gasped, touched, even against her will.
He grinned. “I guess I just – remembered.”
No man had the right to be so charming. It wasn’t fair. But she was on her guard.
“There’s a bench over there by the pond,” he said. “Let’s sit down. Give me your hand.”
She did so, but reluctantly. Touching him was dangerous.
By moonlight they made their way to the bench and he poured the wine.
“Let me look at you,” he said, twisting on the bench, and turning her gently with his hands on her shoulders, so that they were facing each other. Smiling, he studied her, his head on one side, then on another.
“Hm,” he said at last. “I’m not sure it’s the girl I remember. You’re different.”
“You don’t remember that girl at all,” she said with cool irony. “You forgot her next day.”
“I recall some things about her. She was a cheeky imp, always ready with a smart answer.”
“Oh, that’s me. Definitely. As you’ll find out if you try to get clever.”
“Ah! And ‘getting clever’ means – ?”
“Anything I want it to mean. I’m like that. Awkward.”
“Good. That’s how a woman should be. I don’t like the compliant, submissive kind.”
“Oh please! Who do you think you’re kidding? The compliant, submissive kind are all you have time for.”
“No, no, that’s just the public image.”
He grinned. “I’m not as bad as I’m painted, honestly.”
“Don’t let your admirers suspect that,” she said coolly. “They like to think you’re worse than you’re painted. If you start coming across as a decent fellow it could cost you a fortune in sponsorships.”
“Ah yes, macho is better.” He struck his forehead. “I must try to remember how to do that. I’m sure I’ve got a book about it somewhere.”
“You probably wrote it.”
“You see too much,” he said. “I’m afraid of you.”
“That’s better.” She struck an attitude, declaiming, “Fear is good. Fear is what I like. Fear is constructive.”
He edged away. “I’m getting more scared by the minute.”
She raised her plastic cup to him, sipped the wine, then rose and strolled slowly away. She needed to set a distance between them until she was more certain of her control.
She was shocked at herself. She’d meant to be so level-headed, a responsible citizen and devoted mother, efficient, practical. Part of her was managing that, but the other part was like a dazzled teenager on her first date.
But in some ways he was her first date, then and now. Over the years she’d been out with other men, but nothing had come of it because no man could touch her heart.
Then this one man had had come bursting out of the shadows reminding her of how easily he’d conquered that very heart once, and how fatal it would be to let him do it again.
She must play him cleverly; drawing him close for Mike’s sake, but protecting her inner self. An excitement was rising in her, but she beat it down. Control. Common sense.
Right! She had it now.
“Stop just there,” he called.
She did so, half turning, to find him leaning back on the bench, enjoying the view.
“You’re definitely not her,” he said. “She was a skinny little thing, no curves. Now you – ”
“The odd curve or two,” she agreed. “I owe that to Mike. There’s nothing like having a baby to make you go in and out.”
Now, she thought, he would ask about Mike. Surely it must occur to him to wonder? But if so, he was keeping it to himself……..
From the book PLAYBOY'S SURPRISE SON by Lucy Gordon.
Copyright 2011 by Lucy Gordon
Cover Copyright © 2011 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited. ® and tm are trademarks of the publisher. The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
~ a taste of italy at home ~