“Have you really been living with Luc?” Claire asked. “What’s it like?”

Lia glanced at the girl. What was she supposed to say to that? She thought back over the last few days. Of course, Luc hadn’t given her the pictures. He had walked away from her that night, as she’d known he would. And he’d been distant ever since, but she had felt him watching her whenever they were in the same room together, a puzzled expression on his face.

He left early in the morning, not returning until evening, and she hadn’t repeated the mistake of interrupting his morning swim again. There was only so much temptation a girl could take. And face-to-face with a naked Luc was way past her limit, so she’d loitered in her room until she heard him leave in the morning.

They shared the evening meal, where Luc was invariably charming. She was snarky in return. She knew it was a defense mechanism, but the alternative was succumbing to that charm, and that was not an option. And after dinner, he disappeared into his office.

Resisting temptation aside, she’d actually enjoyed her time in London. The possible loss of her home had been weighing on her since her mother’s death. That, combined with her grief, had made the last few months emotionally exhausting. Now it was as though a huge weight had been lifted from her.

She’d done some sightseeing, and spent the rest of the time in the roof garden, swimming in the pool, lying among the lush vegetation, reading books from Luc’s extensive library. Waiting for him to come home. She’d also done a lot of thinking; the truth was, she didn’t believe Luc would do anything with those pictures. While he wanted to find her father, he wouldn’t hurt her in the process; whatever else he was, he was an honorable man. So there was nothing to hold her here. The thought had not produced the happy effect she would have expected.

“I don’t actually see much of him,” she said in reply when she realized Claire was still waiting for an answer.

Claire sighed, obviously disappointed by the lack of details. “Well, you’re finished,” she said. “Want to look?”

Lia stood up, took off the protective cover she was wearing over her dress, and turned to the full-length mirror.

“I’m not quite sure I believe that’s me,” she said, staring at herself. She peered down from her reflection to the perfection of her French manicured nails and almost grinned. Kelly would die when she saw her.

They had performed magic. Her hair was up in a smooth chignon with tendrils curling over her ears. Very elegant—Lia almost laughed as the word flickered through her mind. It was not a word she had ever expected to use regarding herself, but she had to admit she looked pretty good. She’d been a bit worried when Claire had opened her makeup case that she would end up like a painted doll. And Claire did seem to have spent ages applying the cosmetics, but the effect was so subtle it appeared as though she were wearing none. Except her eyes looked huge, deep blue, her mouth glossy pink, and her skin luminous and flawless.


The dress was a dark midnight blue that did indeed bring out the color in her eyes. With a halter neck and floor length, it clung to every line of her body. Her shoes were silver sandals, with a modest two-inch heel. Maggie had tried to persuade her to wear higher heels, but Lia pointed out that it didn’t matter how elegant high heels are if she spent all night tripping over them. She’d won her case.

“You look like a princess,” Debbie said dreamily.

The front door slammed.

“Is that Luc?” Claire squeaked.

The girl had been asking the same question every few minutes. It was obvious how Maggie had persuaded her to come. The possibility of catching a glimpse of Luc was well worth the effort.

A minute later, a knock sounded at the door. She heard Claire’s indrawn breath and almost smiled.

“Come in,” she called. Her own breath caught in her throat at the sight of him. She stared, her eyes wandering over his tuxedo-clad figure. The suit was obviously made for him; it fit perfectly, emphasizing the broad shoulders and lean hips of his powerful physique.

The two girls stood beside her, openmouthed, all sophistication vanished.

“You look beautiful,” Luc said as he came into the room.

“Well, you can thank Claire and Debbie for that—they’ve been working on me for at least two hours.”

Luc glanced briefly at the girls and nodded. Claire almost swooned.

“Luc?” she asked quietly as the two girls packed away their equipment while casting not-very-subtle glances at Luc. “Is it a big party?”

He raised an eyebrow. “Quite big.”

“Would you notice two more?”

He frowned.

“Claire and Debbie,” she said. “They’ve worked really hard. They had a tough job. Look at what they had to start with.”

Luc ran his gaze over her and smiled. “Why not.” He took out a card and scribbled something on it. “Tell them to give this to the man at the door. He’ll let them in.”

Lia went over and told the two girls, handed them the card. “You can come.”


Claire squealed and hugged her, but carefully so as not to mess up her finery. She almost dragged Debbie from the room. “Come on, we need to get ready. It’s going to take hours!”

“Thank you,” Lia said, as the door closed behind them. “You’ve made their day. Well actually, their life probably.”

She turned to him; he was resting against the dressing table, watching her. His eyes were hooded, showing nothing, and a wave of shyness washed over her. Her heart started a deep throbbing inside her rib cage, and her legs wobbled.

He held out a hand, and she took a step toward him and placed her palm in his.

“Lia, you are beautiful.”

“It’s amazing what makeup can do. At least, if you’ve got your own beautician and hairdresser that is,” she added nervously. “You don’t look so bad yourself.”

He smiled. “I want to talk to you before we leave.”

She peeked up into his face but couldn’t read his expression. “You do?”


“What about?”

He considered her for a moment. “I wondered if we could have a truce tonight.”

Lia pursed her lips. “What sort of truce?”

“Oh, just enjoy ourselves.”

“How do we do that?” Lia found she was holding her breath.

“Forget your father for the night. Forget why you’re here. Just enjoy the party.”

Most Popular