“That’s none of your business.”

“Anything you do at the moment is my business, cara.”

“I told you last night—he’s buying some land from me.”

“So you can pay off the mortgage on your mother’s house?”

“Of course, you know everything about me.”

“I don’t want you accepting money from that man.”

She stared at him in amazement and was about to give a scathing answer when he continued. “In fact, I don’t want you having anything to do with him.”

Lia stared at him in disbelief. “That might be a little difficult, seeing as how he’s my boss and my trainer.”

“Then maybe you should start looking for another job. He wants to be more than your boss.”

“He knows we’ll never have that kind of future together. Clearly you were eavesdropping so you’d know what I told him. I need my job when this is over, Luc. I want my job. I love my job.”

“Why the hell would anyone want to slave away every day at that place?”


“It’s all I ever wanted to do,” she said. “I was your typical pony-mad teenager. After my mom sold my pony when I was fourteen and the money ran out, I haunted the local stables. I probably made Pete’s life a misery, but he put up with me, gave me a job when I left school.”

“You don’t need him. I’ll buy you a stable full of horses. I’ll hire you a new trainer.”

Standing up, she shook her head. He had no clue about real life. “I don’t want you to buy me anything,” she said sadly. “Forget about dinner. I don’t want any dinner. I’ll make myself a sandwich and eat in my room.” But as she slammed the door behind her and threw herself onto the bed, a strange, almost unbelievable, thought occurred to her. She stared at the ceiling as she turned the idea over in her mind.

Luc was jealous.

Chapter Ten

He was jealous.

It had taken him a while to recognize the problem; jealousy was not an emotion that had played any part in his life up to now. Even two days later, he still couldn’t believe it. But when he’d seen Lia in Pete’s arms, he’d been filled with a primitive urge to rip the man away from her, toss him down the stairs, and lock Lia in her room where he could keep her to himself.

Of course, he hadn’t, but the fact that it had even occurred to him was very strange. In fact, his whole life seemed to have taken on a surreal quality since he’d met Lia.

He sliced through the water in the pool trying to dull the ache of frustration that was his constant companion these days. It didn’t work, and he finally gave up, hauled himself out of the water, blotted himself dry, and pulled on a pair of drawstring pants and a shirt.

He knew she found him attractive—he could feel her eyes on him whenever they were in the same room—but he’d decided to go slow. He wanted her to come to him of her own free will. No way was she going to accuse him of seducing her a second time. He was beginning to believe she was telling the truth about her father. Or maybe it was more that he wanted her to be telling the truth. He wished she were someone else, and he could forget Jimmy Brent ever existed.

Of course, that was impossible. Luc had to let this play out. He owed it to his own father and to all the other men and women whose lives Jimmy had destroyed over the years. And who knew what the man was up to even now—he was hardly the type to reform.

He found himself hoping that Jimmy Brent would remain absent. Lia had claimed she loved her father, and while he didn’t actually believe that, he doubted that she would forgive him for sending her father to prison. The outcome and its potential aftermath were killing him. Losing Lia was a very real possibility.

Luc paused at the top of the spiral staircase. Below, Lia sat cross-legged on the sofa talking to her brother on the phone. She talked to him every day.

“I’ll ask him,” she said.

Glancing up as he padded barefoot down the stairs, her eyes fixed on his bare chest where the shirt hung open. She licked her lips and heat coiled in his belly.

She looked away. “I know he promised, Mike, but he’s a busy man.”

Luc sank down onto the sofa opposite her, resting his bare feet on the coffee table, his head against the back. Murphy had followed him down, and now the cat jumped up beside him. Luc stroked the silky fur while he waited for Lia to finish the call, letting the soft lilt of her voice wash over him.

He’d only been in love once in his life, at eighteen. He’d never been naïve, even back then, but he had still at least believed in love. Serena had been blond, blue-eyed and beautiful, and when his life had fallen apart, when he needed her the most, she’d dumped him.

He’d been locked up like an animal, and each day, he’d waited for her to visit, sure that she would arrive; after all, she’d told him she loved him. How could she even think he was capable of the crimes he’d been accused of? How many days and lonely nights had it taken before he’d finally accepted that she wasn’t coming? He remembered clearly the overwhelming bleakness when he’d realized she’d abandoned him—that she believed the lies about him. Or at least that she had doubted him enough that she hadn’t wanted to risk the censure of her friends and family by sticking by him. So much for love.

He ran a hand through his hair. He couldn’t believe he was thinking of Serena after all this time, or about love. What the hell had gotten in to him?

“You shouldn’t make promises you don’t intend to keep.”

Lia spoke, breaking into his memories. She’d finished her phone call and was regarding him as though he were something unpleasant. What had he done now?


“You promised you would take Mike for a ride in your Ferrari.”

“And what makes you think I don’t intend to keep my promise?”

“Do you?”

Why did it piss him off that she should sound so incredulous? Did she think he was incapable of nice gestures? Hell, he had a cat. Of course he was nice. “I have some things I need to do this morning, but we can go over there this afternoon.”


He smiled. “Don’t you want to come for a ride in my Ferrari, Lia?”

Lia knew he was teasing her, but she couldn’t deny the warmth that flushed her skin at his husky words. They promised all sorts of delights.

It had been a strange couple of days. Luc was back to being Mr. Nice Guy. Charming even. And she really wished he wouldn’t. How was she supposed to keep her distance?

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