She glared at him incredulously. “I didn’t know my father well, and I hardly knew Mr. Watson at all. But I do know something of what he was, what they both were, and I couldn’t just walk in there and ask.”
“Why did you leave with me?”
Lia looked away and shoved her hands in her pockets. “For the same reason. You said you knew my father and…” She cast him a bitter glance, “at the time I believed you were the safer bet. Anyway, I thought you might have some information. You said you were an acquaintance. I don’t know anything about you apart from that. Then we…” she paused at a loss for words.
“Had wild, mind-blowing sex,” Luc said, and she glared at him again.
“Anyway, I felt uncomfortable, so I ran, but I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“I told you the job was separate, nothing to do with sleeping with me.”
“And I told you I don’t want your stupid job, I only wanted to find my father.” She looked at him and suddenly realized that it had all been for nothing anyway. “You don’t know where he is either, do you?”
Luc sipped his coffee. “No, but I want to find him.”
“What sort of unfinished business?” she asked.
“That’s unimportant. So, why do you want to find him now after all this time?”
Lia thought for a moment. She didn’t want him to know her financial situation; it was none of his business.
“I promised my mother,” she said at last.
“My mother loved my father. She was very upset when he left. And my father hasn’t even met Mike, my brother, he’s only ten—he was born after my father disappeared. My mother wanted him to see Mike, and I promised I would try to find him.”
“Very admirable. But what’s changed? Why now?”
God, he was persistent. “My mother died six months ago.”
“You told Harley she was fine.”
“I thought Mr. Watson might not help me. He and my mother were friends, sort of, but I was nothing to him. Look, my mother’s dead, and I wanted to find my father, that’s not a crime.”
“Do you love your father?”
“Of course,” Lia said, lying.
Until that point, Luc hadn’t been sure, but now he knew she was lying; she had that same innocent look in her big blue eyes that Jimmy Brent used to get. Right before he stabbed you in the back. No, she was definitely lying; he just wasn’t sure why.
If he had any sense, he would hand this whole mess over to his security team and get them to investigate Lia Brent and discover whether he was being set up. Obviously, he had no sense. He’d spent the last three weeks abroad; it was all that had kept him away this long. Nothing was going to keep him away longer. Instead, he’d come here determined to find out what she was up to, what she’d been searching for that night.
At first, he hadn’t recognized her. When he’d pulled up in the well-kept yard, he’d seen a tall blond man talking to a girl outside one of the stables. Only when she had turned slightly had he realized the girl was Lia. As he’d watched, she’d leaned over and kissed the man. It was a light kiss, but Luc had felt an almost primal fury well up inside him. And at that point, he’d admitted to himself he wanted her in his bed again.
But this was a different Lia from the one he’d met at the club and the one he’d had in his bed. No makeup, dressed in faded jeans, the soft, blue denim molded to her long legs and the slight curves of her bottom, and an equally faded T-shirt clinging to her small breasts. The sleek fall of hair had been replaced by a mass of blond curls pulled ruthlessly back into a ponytail. He found her natural beauty a refreshing change from the sophisticated, made-up women he usually dated.
So which one was the real Olivia Brent? Was she setting him up so Jimmy Brent could finish the job he’d started all those years ago? She honestly didn’t look treacherous—she looked gorgeous and real, and down to earth.
She’d put down her coffee cup and sat curled up in the chair, hugging her knees to her chest, nibbling on that succulent lower lip, obviously deep in thought. Then she glanced up at him.
“So, now I’ve told you what you wanted to know, will you give me those pictures?”
A scowl flashed across her face, and she jumped up and paced the room in frustration. She came to a halt in front of him hands on her hips, and Luc almost smiled.
“How do I even know they exist?” she asked, staring at him through narrowed eyes. “You could be making this up.”
He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a photo. “I like to keep this one with me. It raises all sorts of…” He stared into her eyes, his lips curling into a slight smile. “Fond memories.”
Lia slowly took the picture from his outstretched hand. She had to force herself to look down and then wished with all her heart she hadn’t pushed it, had taken his word. At first glance, she didn’t recognize herself, but it was definitely her. Naked from the waist up, with a man’s dark head against her breast, and her hands burrowed in his hair, holding him to her. But even worse was the expression on her face. She would never forget that look. If this picture became public, she could kiss her sponsorship deal good-bye.
She closed her eyes. When she opened them, he was staring at her, that slight smile still on his lips. Reaching out, he took the photo from her limp fingers and studied it.
“Tell me, Lia,” he said, “did that feel as good as it looks?”
In all her life, she had never wanted to physically attack someone—until now. “What is it you want from me?”
“I want to help you find your father.”
Lia snorted in disbelief. “How freaking noble of you. But why do I find it hard to believe that you’re doing all this for me?” She stared at him through narrowed eyes. “I don’t trust you. What are you really? Some kind of mob guy? Exactly how did you know my father?”
Luc regarded her thoughtfully for a moment. “My father worked for yours, and I did a few jobs for Jimmy before I…” he paused as if about to say something then changed his mind. “Before I started my own business.”
“And what is your business?”
“Oh, I buy and sell things. Lia, you’ll be coming to stay with me in London for a while. Organize it.”