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The Sicilian's Innocent Mistress Carole Mortimer 2022/8/5 17:02:20

She looked down uncomfortably at the gleaming glassware and pristine white linen on the table, sure, after sitting here for ten minutes, that Luc wasn’t coming.

Not that she altogether blamed him for exacting such retribution. In fact, she had deliberately chosen to meet him at Garstang’s so that he could do exactly that if he wanted to. It was the least she owed Luc after the way she had misjudged him.

‘Thanks, James. Bring a bottle of Gevrey Chambertin, hmm?’

After spending the last ten minutes glancing anxiously towards the door, she had finally missed him when he did arrive!

She looked up at him dazedly as he stood beside the table, bedazzled and slightly breathless at how gorgeous he looked in a dark evening suit and snowy white shirt.

‘I’m sorry to be late, Darci. The traffic was heavier than I expected,’ he murmured huskily as he slid smoothly into the seat opposite hers.

She didn’t care if the London traffic was at a standstill so long as Luc was here, after all!

He looked good. His deep, burnished gold hair gleamed silkily in the muted overhead lighting, his face was all hard, aristocratic angles that reminded her he was the son and brother of a count, and the leashed power of his body was barely restrained by his sophisticated clothes.

But her heart sank as she looked up into a gaze hard with cool impersonality, telling her that Luc might have taken pity on her and come here this evening after all, but that he certainly hadn’t forgiven her!

She swallowed hard. ‘It’s very good of you to have agreed to meet me like this—’

‘I have agreed to nothing, Darci,’ he cut in icily, his eyes narrowed to slits. ‘To have left you sitting alone here would only confirm me as the callous bastard you already consider me to be,’ he explained harshly.

Would reduce him to the same level that Darci had lowered herself to when she’d deliberately stood him up….

She moistened dry lips. ‘Luc, I owe you an apology—’

‘Thank you, Paul.’ He turned to smile warmly at the wine waiter as he arrived beside the table with a bottle of red wine, and the next few minutes were taken up with uncorking and tasting the vintage.

Giving Darci a few minutes’ respite to look at Luc unobserved.

Yes, he was still as nerve-tinglingly handsome as she remembered.

Yes, he still made her feel weak at the knees just to look at him; he completely took her breath away, in fact.

But there was a remoteness about Luc this evening that hadn’t been there before. A bleakness that was more than surface deep and that totally eradicated the wicked glint of humour in his eyes which had so surprised her when she’d first met him. It sent shivers of apprehension down her spine!

The fact that she knew she deserved to feel those shivers didn’t make them any less effective.

Luc took his time sampling the wine, giving himself a necessary few moments’ respite to adjust to seeing Darci again. To recognise that she was even more beautiful than he remembered…!

In fact, he had felt a moment’s pure violence when he’d entered the restaurant a few minutes ago and seen her out-staring the avid gaze of a man seated at a table across the room. His own hands had clenched at his sides as he’d resisted the impulse to go to the other man’s table and tell him precisely what he could do with his admiring glances.

Not that he could exactly blame the guy for his interest when Darci was looking so absolutely beautiful, in a pure white dress that showed off the tan of her bare arms and throat, no jewellery to detract from her cream skin, and with her lush red hair secured at the sides of her head with two antique silver combs, completely exposing the delicate lines of her face, those moss-green eyes and the pouting mouth which was enough to entrance any man.

‘It’s fine.’ He finally nodded tersely for Paul to pour the wine, waiting until the waiter had left before looking across at Darci with mocking eyes. ‘What shall we drink to, Darci?’ he taunted. ‘New beginnings…?’ he ventured sardonically as he lifted his glass for a toast.

Darci found herself swallowing hard a second time since Luc’s arrival, not quite knowing how to deal with him in this intimidating mood.