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The Sicilian's Innocent Mistress Carole Mortimer 2022/8/5 17:02:21

Luc gave a puzzled shake of his head. ‘Then who was this mysterious person?’

Luc’s eyes widened again. ‘Your friend Mellie is in love with your twin brother?’

‘So it would appear,’ Darci confirmed. ‘Apparently she’s been secretly in love with Grant for years, but had given up all hope of him ever returning the feeling. In fact, she was involved with someone else until she went to Los Angeles six months ago. But she and Grant met up again there, and the two of them went out for dinner a few times. She began to have hope that perhaps Grant did more than like her after all.’

‘Only to discover that he didn’t?’ Luc deduced.

‘Not exactly,’ Darci continued. ‘From the sound of it the two of them did become—quite close,’ she admitted. ‘But then Grant went off on location for a couple of months, and didn’t so much as call her, and so—so—well—’

‘So Mellie decided to try and give him a push in the right direction by letting him know, through you, that she was being hotly pursued by someone else?’ Luc suggested wearily.

It sounded extremely contrived when actually put into words, Darci accepted.

Something she had told her long-time friend at great length yesterday evening, once she’d learned the truth.

In fact, she had been absolutely furious with Mellie for the deception. Not least because it meant she now had to apologise to Luc…

‘Except you didn’t tell Grant, did you?’ Luc guessed knowingly, feeling sorry for the lovelorn Mellie even though, at the same time, he could cheerfully have strangled her for creating this totally unacceptable situation between Darci and himself.

Making him wonder what relationship he and Darci might have had without her preconceived prejudice towards him….

Darci shook her head sadly, her glorious hair gleaming with streaks of red and cinnamon in the overhead lighting. ‘It never even occurred to me to do so. I only talked to you about it because I thought you already knew! Under normal circumstances I would never betray any of my friends’ confidences.’

No, of course she wouldn’t. Her defence of Mellie Chandler for what she had perceived as Luc’s callous treatment of her friend showed Darci to be a true and faithful friend.

As she would be a true and faithful lover…?

Probably. But Luc didn’t want a true and faithful lover—or anything else!—in his life.

Luckily Luc was saved from having to make any reply by the arrival of their first course—smoked salmon for Darci and calamari for him.

‘So what happens to your friend now?’ he prompted several minutes later. ‘Is she going to confront Grant with her feelings, or simply walk away, sadder but wiser?’

Darci was pretty sure the cynical Luc didn’t have any interest in what happened between Mellie and Grant. Although, considering they were the reason she and Luc had met, perhaps Luc did have a right to know what happened next.

She grimaced. ‘She’s going to confront him, of course.’

‘Of course,’ Luc accepted wryly. ‘She sounds like a very determined woman to me.’ Darci gave him a questioning look. ‘Exactly the sort of woman I make a point of avoiding,’ he explained.

Was Luc giving her a warning not to even think about trying the same sort of tack with him?

Had he guessed—did he know—how Darci felt about him?

Did he think that her invitation to dinner this evening was her own way of behaving like a determined woman out to catch herself a reluctant man?

It would be just too humiliating if he did think those things!

‘Don’t worry, Luc,’ she assured him. ‘As I’ve already told you, any woman who makes the mistake of falling in love with you deserves what she gets!’

He didn’t even attempt to contradict her claim as he gave an acknowledging inclination of his head, his mouth a thin, uncompromising line. ‘Do you think there will be a happy ending for your brother and Mellie?’

‘Maybe,’ Darci answered slowly. ‘Grant was a little—cagey last week, when I asked him if he had seen Mellie while he was in Los Angeles. I hope so,’ she added. ‘Despite what you might think after what’s happened, Mellie really is a lovely person. And now that I’ve got over being annoyed with her, I believe she and Grant would be perfect for each other. She really is sorry for involving you in this,’ Darci finished, giving up on trying to eat her smoked salmon. The conversation—and the company!—had completely robbed her of her appetite.