Forbidden Surrender(10)

By: Carole Mortimer

'You see?' Pete dragged Sara over to the bar. 'If you can fool Cynthia, you can fool anyone. She and Marie have been friends since boarding-school.'

Sara grimaced. 'Are you sure "friends" is the right description?'

'They're like that in this crowd,' he dismissed. 'They stab each other in the back every opportunity they get. For instance, they're probably all looking forward to the scene between Dominic Thorne and the supposed Marie Lindlay.'

'How nice!' she said with unconcealed sarcasm.

'Come on, let's have a drink,' Pete encouraged. 'We might as well enjoy ourselves now we're here.'

An hour later, when Dominic Thorne and Marie Lindlay still hadn't put in an appearance, Sara was beginning to wonder if they were coming, and she said as much to Pete.

'Don't worry,' he assured her gaily, 'they'll be here. It's only just gone ten o'clock.'

'I wouldn't mind,' she grimaced. 'But everyone here seems to think I really am Marie Lindlay. A couple of people have turned nasty because I refuse to admit to being her.'

'Then they're going to get a shock when the real one walks in. Have another drink.'

She was beginning to think they should leave. It was all turning out to be very embarrassing, these people convinced she was the other girl trying to make a fool of them, so much so that she was even beginning to doubt herself. Cynthia Robotham-James, their hostess, had become very annoyed with her a few minutes ago when she had again insisted her name was Sara Hamille.

'Here we go,' Pete suddenly whispered in her ear. 'Look over at the door,' he said fiercely.

Sara looked. Dominic Thorne was instantly recognisable in black velvet jacket and matching trousers, his snowy white shirt emphasising his tan. She held her breath as her gaze passed down to the girl at his side, gasping at what she saw. The hairstyle was different, the dress even more daring than the one she was wearing—if that were possible, and yet looking at the girl at Dominic Thorne's side was like seeing a mirror image. No wonder everyone kept insisting she was Marie. The two of them looked exactly alike!

'You see?' Pete said excitedly. 'Didn't I tell you? Let's go over there.'

'No!' She hung back, too confused at the moment to actually meet the other girl.

'Come on,' Pete insisted. 'I'm not going to miss out on the fun now.'

Sara allowed herself to be pulled towards the doorway, too numb at the moment to offer any resistance. How could two people possibly be so much alike unless they were related in some way, and yet she had no , cousins and was an only child herself. She shook her head dazedly, then looked up to find steely blue eyes fixed on her.

Dominic Thorne registered her appearance with a narrowing of those eyes, his body tensing. He looked down at his fiancée and then back to Sara, frowning darkly. He bent down to whisper something in Marie's ear, and she lifted her head, her eyes the same deep brown as Sara's as the two girls stared at each other.

Pete was the only one in the group of four who remained immune to the sudden tension. 'Hi,' he greeted Marie brightly. 'Permit me to introduce Sara Hamille.' He made the announcement with a great deal of pleasure, obviously enjoying this situation immensely.

'Miss Hamille,' Dominic Thorne was the first to break the silence, his voice just as deep and attractive as Sara remembered it, all of him just as attractive as she remembered.

'Mr Thorne,' she acknowledged, still staring at Marie Lindlay, and the other girl stared right back.

Suddenly that beautiful face broke into a smile, a mischievous smile. 'So you're the girl who's been going around London impersonating me?' she accused jokingly.

'Hardly impersonating,' Dominic Thorne replied, completely in control of himself again, and the situation. 'Miss Hamille has been acting as herself, it's others who have taken her to be you.' He looked at Sara with narrowed eyes. 'I believe I owe you an apology,' he said, as if the words didn't come easily to him, as if he rarely had to admit to being in the wrong.

'Let's move away from the doorway,' Marie suggested lightly. Her voice was completely different from Sara's, her education obviously having been in one of England's finest boarding-schools. 'We're attracting a lot of attention standing here.'

'I'm afraid that's my fault,' Sara admitted as they moved to a less prominent part of the room. 'The people here refused to believe I wasn't Marie Lindlay, and now that you've arrived ...' she shrugged.

'Ooh, how lovely!' Marie clapped her hands in delight. 'Isn't this fun, Dominic?' she exclaimed.

'I doubt Miss Hamille has thought it so, it can't have been easy being thought to be you,' he added dryly.

'Oh, Dominic!' Marie pouted prettily.

He turned to look at Sara, his eyes once again registering his shock at her likeness to his fiancée. 'I really must apologise for my behaviour yesterday evening.' His voice was stilted, his manner haughty. 'You must have thought me very strange.'