Pregnancy of Revenge(9)

By: Jacqueline Baird

Colour swept Charlie's face. Was that the equivalent of, 'Your place or mine?' Whichever, she wanted to cry, Yes! — And it shook her to feel so vulnerable. She was hopelessly out of her depth and sinking fast. She had never met a man like Jake before.

Charlie had grown up in a home full of adults, and she had to some extent been left to run wild around the mountains and crags of her beloved Lakes. Her hobbies were sailing and rock climbing. She was a member of the local rescue team, and also of the International Rapid Rescue Team. With a good manager to run the hotel on a day-to- day basis, Charlie took care of the accounts and it worked out well. She kept her gear packed at all times at home, and simply postponed the paperwork when she was needed elsewhere.

She had recently returned from a trip to Turkey, where she had helped in an earthquake recovery, and gone straight into the hectic Easter holiday at the hotel. The two weeks she was spending in London were at the suggestion of Dave, her team leader. He thought that with the recent death of her father and running two jobs, she needed a complete change. Time to take an ordinary holiday, instead of being at the beck and call of other people all the time.

Charlie had agreed. She had visited hot spots all over the world, but now she was taking the chance to visit some of the highlights of her own capital city, something she had never done before.

As for men, she knew plenty on a professional level, but they all treated her as one of the boys, which was how she liked it. Glancing at Jake's perfectly chiseled profile, she realized that never in a million years could she think of him as one of the boys. In fact, she had trouble thinking at all around him.

The car came to a smooth stop, and Jake turned slightly in his seat, his black eyes gleaming with intent, capturing hers. 'So what is it to be—a nightcap? This is my hotel.'

She knew what he was offering, and it wasn't just a drink. The air in the close confines of the car positively crackled with sexual tension as he waited for her answer and suddenly Charlie was afraid. She tore her gaze from his and glanced out of the window. It was a very plush hotel, one of the best in the city, and she knew she couldn't do it...not yet.

'I think I have had enough to drink,' she said carefully, 'Thank you all the same.'

His dark eyes narrowed slightly, and she wondered if he was angry. But as she watched he shrugged his broad shoulders. 'Your decision.' Dropping a brief kiss on her brow, he turned and started the car before adding, 'I will pick you up for lunch tomorrow at twelve,' his attention on the road ahead. 'And we can move on from there.'

'Can we indeed?' she shot back. 'It would be nice to be asked instead of told.' But there was no bite to her words; secretly, she was relieved her attack of maidenly modesty had not ruined her chance with him after all. 'I'm here on holiday, following the tourist trail, and I intend to visit the British Museum tomorrow.'

Jake's every masculine instinct had been screaming out at him to persuade her into his bed, but the almost frightened look in her blue eyes had disconcerted him. She might be selfish and money-grubbing in her love affairs—in his experience, most women were—but it didn't necessarily follow she was promiscuous. Jake was very choosy himself. He preferred to pick his lovers with care and his affairs were always as discreet as he could make them, given his high profile in the international business world.

The only reason he was without a lover at the moment was, ironically enough, because of Charlotte's father. His death had created a set of circumstances that had kept Jake at home in Italy and caused him to neglect his last lover, Melissa, a New York model, who had therefore moved on to another wealthy man.

It hadn't surprised him. Melissa had been a high- maintenance lady, he thought cynically as he stopped the car outside the apartment block, and slipped out to open the passenger door.

'Come on, Charlotte, I will see you inside.' He reached for her hand. 'And there I promise to leave you until tomorrow,' he reassured her with a dry smile. 'And before you argue—' he placed a finger over her lips '—we will do both. Lunch and the museum.' Fingers entwined, he walked her to the lift. Again he registered the wariness in her incredible eyes, and grinned. Little did she know she was in no more danger from him tonight. He drew the line at making love to her in a bed she had shared with another man. 'Until tomorrow.' He kissed her brow and left.


JAKE D'AMATO prowled around the enormous hotel suite. He was too frustrated to sleep, and it was all the fault of a particular blue-eyed blonde. Not quite all, he allowed—the painting of Anna played heavily on his mind as well.

It had taken all of his considerable powers of self-control to stand in that damned gallery and stare at the portrait, which, as the purchaser, had been expected of him. Anna was the nearest thing he had ever had to a sister and it had seemed almost incestuous to see her exposed in such a way.