Brazilian's Nine Months' Notice

By: Susan Stephens

 ‘Three beautiful women, aren’t they?’ the older woman sitting next to him commented.

 He only realised now that he had been ignoring his dining companion and had been staring fixedly at Emma. There was only one beautiful woman in this room as far as he was concerned. ‘All the women in Scotland are beautiful, from what I’ve seen.’ he said, in an attempt to make amends for his lack of manners.

 ‘And you are another charmer from Brazil,’ the older woman observed shrewdly. ‘But our women seem to like you dangerous men.’

 He huffed a smile as he stared at the groom. Tiago Santos had been a notorious heartbreaker until the bride, Danny, had tamed him. The matron of honour, Lizzie, was married to another member of the Thunderbolt polo team, and Chico Fernandez had hardly been noted for his scrupulous behaviour when it came to women before he’d met his wife.

 He had no intention of changing, Luc determined as he turned to make up for his poor manners at the dinner table. ‘I trust you won’t find me too threatening tonight?’ he teased his wily companion.

 ‘I shall keep you at arm’s length,’ she assured him with a twinkle in her eyes. ‘Forty years ago it might have been a different story. Just don’t hurt her,’ the matriarch added, her face turning serious as she stared at him unblinking.

 ‘Who are you taking about?’ he said, frowning as if he didn’t know what she meant.

 ‘Emma Fane.’ She gave him a look. ‘It’s no use trying to fool me, young man. I know exactly who you’ve been looking at. And my warning stands firm. That one’s had more trouble in her life than she deserves.’

 He knew better than to deny his interest in Emma. She was in his sights. Hearing the affection with which his neighbour had just described her made him all the more determined to hunt her down. Emma Fane intrigued him. She aroused him. He wouldn’t let her get away from him a second time.

 * * *

 The band was playing. The ballroom was glittering with chandeliers, crystal and silver as it played host to an elegantly dressed crowd. But all Emma could see was Lucas. She pretended not to notice him. She had thought it would be easy to save all her attention for her friends, but couldn’t stop her gaze wandering, and each time she looked at Luc he was looking back. She found that thrilling and dangerous, like a promise that this wasn’t over yet. When the time came for her to leave her seat and help the bride get ready to leave the party with the groom, Luc was waiting for her in the hall.

 She wasn’t ready for this. She would never be ready for this.

 ‘I’m sorry,’ she said, adding a regretful smile, ‘I really can’t talk to you now.’

 ‘When?’ Luc demanded, his voice uncompromising.

 ‘I’m busy. Can’t you see?’ She stared pointedly after the bridal party as they started up the stairs.

 ‘Make time.’

 ‘I beg your pardon.’ She shot him a look.

 ‘You heard what I said,’ he repeated harshly.

 ‘You make it sound irresistible,’ she countered.

 Luc glared at her. His voice held that same edge of command she remembered from London. It was the voice that had made her body thrill. Ignoring the pulse of lust, she moved past him.

 He stopped her with his hand on her arm.

 ‘Let me go.’


 His face was close, his eyes were blazing messages she didn’t want to see. ‘Are you always so direct?’ She pulled away, tightening the tension between them.

 ‘You should know,’ he murmured drily.

 Sensation rocked through her. She remembered every one of Luc’s instructions. It didn’t help that his wicked mouth was tugging in the faintest of smiles as he stared into her eyes. He was letting her know that he understood the effect he was having on her. ‘I seem to remember you like me to be direct—and to direct you,’ he said.

 ‘How could you bring that up now?’ Her voice was low and tense as she glanced around, wondering who might have heard him.

 Luc shrugged.

 ‘Excuse me, Senhor Marcelos. I need to go.’

 ‘Luc,’ he corrected her, his mouth tugging faintly.

 Shaking her head with impatience, she tried again to move past him, and hated herself for being disappointed when he moved away first, holding his hands up as if he couldn’t wait to be rid of her. Was she so easily seduced by Luc’s black charm?

 No. She was not, Emma decided. Running up the magnificent staircase to catch up with the bride, she didn’t give him a backward glance.

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