Brazilian's Nine Months' Notice

By: Susan Stephens

 ‘There is one thing.’

 ‘Yes, sir?’ she repeated with studied patience.

 ‘Tell Housekeeping they need to get bigger towels.’

 None of their guests was half his size. Luc was a towering presence in every way. ‘Will there be anything else, sir?’

 ‘Yeah. How long do you plan to keep this up?’

 ‘Keep what up, sir?’ She waited a moment. ‘If there’s nothing else, sir?’

 ‘Not for now.’

 * * *

 He leaned back against the door and laughed. On each meeting he liked Emma more. It wasn’t just her voluptuous form, her flame-red hair or her spiky nature—though he liked that a lot. She might look young and vulnerable with that pale Celtic beauty, but beneath her demure uniform-clad exterior Emma Fane was still the firebrand he remembered and had enjoyed. She was everything he’d craved when he’d first seen her in London, and he was in no way done with her yet.

 She’d improved, he concluded as he pulled a sweater over his shirt. She was more assured. While in London he hadn’t been very interested in her personality, he had detected that she was bolder now, though she’d been bold enough then—a wild thing, furious with passion. She was different now. Steely.

 It was only natural she would have toughened up after her parents’ accident and the subsequent brutal press revelations. He was impressed with her control, and the polite words she’d trotted out, delivered with that fiery emerald stare. That wasn’t something he was going to forget in a hurry.

 Picking up the keys to his car, he looked around and thought the room seemed empty without her. Emma was a small woman with plenty of character. She’d been too busy with her bridesmaid’s duties for them to get together last night, and then she had taunted him with the lilting laugh she reserved for her friends. Her reddened, careworn hands hadn’t changed, he mused as he left the room and strolled down the corridor towards the bank of elevators. He had noticed them in London, with particular reference to the magic such work-worn hands could weave—once she had been shown how to use them and had been encouraged.

 Nodding politely to his fellow guests, he entered the elevator still thinking about Emma. When she had disappeared out of his bed in London in the middle of the night, his enquiries had proved he wasn’t the only one to be surprised by her disappearance. Emma was such a good worker, he’d been told, and had such great prospects of advancement in the business. Well, he’d noticed that in her himself. Why would she leave? Where would she go? She was renowned for putting in long hours without complaint, and always making the best of every situation. What had happened to Emma Fane had been the question on everyone’s lips. He knew now that she was making the best of a bad situation. But did he know anything about that situation?

 Emma Fane was trouble he didn’t need, he told himself firmly as he stood back to let the other guests spill out into the lobby first. He admired her professionalism, but it riled him that she could treat him like any other guest. After their night in London he’d expected more.

 Giving him the chance to turn her down?

 Okay. Yes. His pride was bruised. He had never been wrong-footed by a woman before. Had Emma forgotten that he’d made her scream with pleasure in his arms? Or was that why she was keeping her distance from him? Couldn’t she trust herself around him?

 He liked that version best, and smiled as he waited for the valet to bring his car round. There was no basis for his obsession with Emma. Full lips, full breasts and shapely legs—all great, but he wasn’t about to fall at the feet of a flame-haired temptress simply because she was dressed in a severely cut uniform that demanded it be ripped off her. Tipping the valet, he got into his car.

 All that day he lectured himself on steering clear of a woman who affected him so badly he couldn’t concentrate. Hadn’t he vowed never to become plagued by a woman again? He’d kept that pledge up to now—apart from that one slip in London with Emma. When he’d woken that morning he’d been almost glad she’d gone—until he’d started missing her. Hadn’t he learned that caring destroyed lives, or that hunger for a woman could so easily become an obsession? He wasn’t going down that blind alley ever again.

 So why was he still thinking about Emma Fane?

 Because she was making herself unavailable to him, and that was a situation he would not allow to continue.

 With the last appointment of the day done and dusted, he gunned the engine and released the handbrake. Thanks to Emma, he was aching with frustration. If he couldn’t get her out of his head he would continue to be distracted. And that wasn’t going to happen. He had to do something about Emma Fane. And soon.

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