The Italian Boss's Secret Child(8)

By: Trish Morey

She must be crazy!

As soon as this group extinguished their cigarettes and entered the party the coast would be clear and she’d make her escape.

‘Hello? Who have we here? Don’t tell me—Cleopatra. Am I right?’

She looked up at the gruff voice, startled to see a large nun, complete with moustache and cigar, bearing down on her, the eyes of the rest of his group all turned in her direction. The most disturbing thing was that the nun sounded exactly like Sam Morgan.

‘Don’t you look something! Aren’t you Sylvia from Accounts?’ He took hold of her hand in his own meaty paw and pulled her out from behind the pot plant where she’d sought refuge.

She looked at them all, speechless. A fluffy grey koala, Tin Man and Humpty Dumpty all stared back.

‘Sylvia?’ the nun prompted. ‘Is that you under that sexy get-up?’

She shook her head, unwilling to give away her identity. If she was going to go home, the last thing she wanted was for Sam to question her on Monday as to her sudden disappearance. She’d rather people thought she’d never bothered to attend. ‘Um. Marie,’ she murmured, trying to add a different note to her voice. ‘From—the Sydney office.’

‘Welcome, Marie!’ said the nun. ‘No wonder you’re shy. Why don’t you come in with us? We’ll take good care of you. Won’t we, Tin Man?’

Tin Man rattled as he tried to nod enthusiastically, earning himself a quick dig in the ribs from the koala.

Before she could protest and extricate her hand from Sam’s, Humpty grabbed her other one and together they steered her towards the doors. ‘Don’t worry about Tin Man and Koala,’ Humpty said conspiratorially. ‘Newlyweds. And I know we’re not supposed to take off our masks till midnight, but I’m Julia. If you get lost or need any help, look for Sister Sam—’ she nodded her big egg head in the direction of the nun ‘—or me. Now, let’s join the party, shall we?’

Before Philly could protest, she’d been swept into the throng inside the large room and her plan altered. She’d slip away in a few minutes, while everyone was otherwise occupied. They’d assume she’d just met up with some other people in this crowd and wouldn’t give it a second thought.

Someone put a glass in her hand. Tin Man took Koala off to dance to make up for his gaffe and Humpty and Sister Sam found a group of colleagues and were busy comparing outfits and guessing identities.

Philly stood on the fringe of the group, planning her escape. Just her luck to run into Sam! At least he hadn’t recognised her. Father Time stood, scythe in hand, just across from her, a large fob watch conveniently around his neck. Already after nine.

She’d give it just a few minutes and then she’d steal away and go home.

She was a goddess!

He was wending his way through the crowded room, enjoying the anonymity lent by his disguise, dropping in to catch snatches of conversation with this group and that, when he saw her. Even in this sea of costumes and colour she stood out like a beacon. How could she not, looking like an Egyptian queen?

She wasn’t tall yet her legs had to be sensational under the sleek gown that looked as sheer and fine as gossamer, accentuating the feminine curves apparent beneath. Golden sandals peeped out below.

The gown ended at her breasts with some sort of twist of the fabric in a strapless arrangement that hugged her form and had him immediately calculating how difficult it would be to get off. Her lips were a splash of red, vibrant and lush and a contrast against the jet-black hair swishing over her bare shoulders. Coiled bracelets adorned her arms.

Her costume was unmistakeable. She was Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile. Little wonder emperors had fallen under her spell.

He drank in every detail and his prolonged scrutiny confirmed what he’d known immediately.

He wanted her.

Who was she? With her mask covering her eyes there was no way he could pin down her identity. Did she work for him or was she someone’s partner?

He scoured the group she was standing in, but no one guarded her possessively, no one fielded admirers. She had to be alone. No one in their right mind would let her fly solo in such an outfit. If she was his date he wouldn’t let her out of his sight.

Who was he trying to kid? If she was his date he wouldn’t let her out of his bed.

He had to have her.

Two minutes. Just two minutes more and she’d excuse herself. They wouldn’t miss her now. Sister Sam and Humpty were both deep in conversation with Noddy and Big Ears. She’d leave, make the excuse of a headache if anyone asked her, but chances were no one would even notice in this crowd.

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