Brazilian's Nine Months' Notice

By: Susan Stephens

 Pretend love was better than no love at all, and Luc was a master of seduction. She had been so glad of it that night. He had woken her to pleasure so extreme she’d found she could forget everything. And so the fantasy had progressed for one more night. Lucas Marcelos had then been her adoring lover, and she had been his treasured love. She had even asked him at one point where they would go from there. Luc had looked at her with surprise, and then he’d shrugged. ‘We could have an affair, if you like.’

 Her dreams had shattered. And then he’d laughed, as if such things were all too easily arranged. She had waited until he’d been asleep and had slipped out of his bed, making the long trek home to Scotland, thinking that would get her head straight. In going back home, she’d hoped to find some trace of a happy memory with her parents, but there had been no trace. There had been nothing to find. So she’d got a job here and started to rebuild her life. She had never thought to see Luc again, but now he was back in her life, for however short a time, she would have to tell him about the baby.

 At least she was back in touch with reality now, Emma reflected as she smoothed the fine silk dress over her still-flat stomach. Lucas was a devastatingly handsome billionaire. She was a chambermaid in training. There was no common ground between them. And skulking in the ladies room wasn’t the answer. She had to face him. With her life as it stood now, she couldn’t afford to waste any more time on hopeless causes. She’d feel better when she explained how happy she was to be expecting a child, and that she didn’t need his help, now or ever.

 He probably wouldn’t even remember her, Emma reflected as a crowd of women joined her in the cloakroom. As they jostled for space at the mirror she reached for her small pouch of cosmetics and set about improving the things she could. Too much make-up and she’d look as if she’d painted her courage on. Too little and Luc might think her pale and weak. And she would never allow him to think that. Adding some lip-gloss helped, and blusher worked wonders. She was just putting everything away again when one of the women turned to her. ‘Hi. Great party, isn’t it?’

 ‘Have you seen who’s here?’ another woman chipped in.

 ‘Lucas Marcelos!’ a third exclaimed, faking a swoon as she directed a knowing look at her friends. ‘I wonder if any of us will come to his attention tonight?’

 Emma was glad of the raucous laughter as it gave her a chance to recover. ‘He’s here?’ she confirmed once they had calmed down.

 ‘And alone,’ the first woman confided. Raising a brow, she added, ‘Men like him shouldn’t be allowed out without a leash. Have you seen him?’ She fanned herself. ‘He’s a licence to sin. Who could blame us if we had to give him a test drive?’

 Emma said nothing as the women continued to discuss their sighting of the notorious heartbreaker. Her first impulse was to run as far and as fast as she could. She was pregnant by a rich and powerful man—a man she hardly knew, with a reputation for ruthlessness and womanising. To top that off, she was penniless in a dead-end job. A job that would lead places, she was determined, calming herself down, and motherhood didn’t come with a handbook, but, like countless women, she would do her best for her child with or without a man’s help. She wasn’t running anywhere. She would see this out. She had never been a quitter, except for that one night in London when she’d run from the most devastating man she had ever met, because she couldn’t bear to be hurt again, but now there was a child to consider, and she would never run away again. Her child wasn’t an accident, it was a gift.

 Feeling better, she collected up her things. Danny had lent her a beautiful dress to wear, and both Danny and the chief bridesmaid, Lizzie, another of her childhood friends, would be waiting for her, wondering where she was. Smoothing down the dress, she checked her reflection in the mirror one last time. Pregnancy and Lucas was a dizzying combination, but the make-up had helped to conceal her ashen complexion. She just had to get through tonight. She had to find a way to talk to him that kept the facts central and emotion out of it.

 She could do this. She turned to say goodnight to the women. ‘Have a great party—’ And stepped out of the door, straight into the path of Lucas.

 Her shocked gaze flashed to his face as he steadied her. Luc’s touch was so familiar she felt faint for a moment. It was as if they had never been apart. His dark stare was just as penetrating, his firm mouth still as tempting. Her lips tingled with anticipation, even as her stomach clenched with alarm.

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