Forbidden Surrender(5)

By: Carole Mortimer

'Of course,' she frowned. 'It's eight o'clock, isn't it?'

'Oh yes,' he nodded. 'I just thought I'd be kept waiting until at least eight-fifteen.'

She smiled as she led the way back to the lounge. 'I always try to be punctual. My mother always told me that if someone has taken the trouble to arrive on time then it's only polite to be ready.'

Eddie smiled. 'I think I would have liked your mother.'

They said their goodbyes to Aunt Susan. The drive to the restaurant was a short one, their table secluded in one of the corners of the room.

'I quite like Chinese food myself,' Eddie told her once they had given their order. 'But not knowing your preferences I played it safe and chose an English restaurant.'

Sara eyed him teasingly. 'You were taking a risk thinking I like to eat at all. Most of the models I know live on milk and lettuce leaves.'

'Hey, that's right—you're a model, aren't you? Are you open to offers? And I meant for work,' he added dryly.

She shrugged. 'I will be, when I get back to the States. I don't have a permit to work over here. This trip is strictly pleasure.'

'Pity. I have a friend who's a photographer. No, really,' he insisted at her dubious expression. 'Pete and I were at school together. He's quite successful over here.'

'Maybe some other time,' Sara said regretfully.

'Okay. Maybe I'll be able to introduce the two of you before you go home, then you'll have a contact over here if you ever should decide to work here.'

Sara smiled, her skin a glowing peach colour, her eyes deeply brown. 'That's really nice of you, thank you.'

'No trouble,' Eddie dismissed.

It was after ten when they left the restaurant for the club, by now the two of them firm friends. Sara's eyes were glowing from the amount of wine she had consumed during her meal, her smile more ready than usual.

The club was plush and exclusive, not really the sort of place she would have thought Eddie would have enjoyed frequenting.

'I know what you're thinking,' Eddie grimaced. 'But I've been here a couple of times with Pete.' He shrugged. 'I like watching the rich lose their money.' He referred to the gambling tables, jewel-bedecked women and quietly affluent men gazing avidly down at the tables. 'Pete's a member,' he explained the fact that they had actually been able to get in. 'And the people here know me.'

Sara felt slightly uncomfortable among such people. 'That sounds as if you've been here more than a couple of times,' she teased.

He looked sheepish. 'Maybe a few.'

She put her arm through his, determinedly putting any feelings of shyness behind her. 'Let's go and take a look.'

She had never been in a gambling club before, and for the first half hour she found it all fascinating. They were standing behind a middle-aged woman, who to Sara's knowledge systematically lost every bet she placed. Sara stood back away from the light, finding it all very sickening, was the only word she could think of to describe that mindless addiction.

'I'll get you a drink,' Eddie suggested.

She would rather have left, but she didn't want to be a killjoy. Eddie was enjoying himself, and they would probably be leaving quite soon. She accepted the offer of a drink, continuing to watch the play in front of her, not understanding it at all but becoming more and more fascinated by the spin of the roulette wheel as she waited for Eddie's return.

A woman on the other side of the table finally gave up, standing up to leave. A man moved to take her place, and Sara watched him as he began to win. This man had the look of an experienced gambler, a deadpan face, his blue eyes shrewd.

Sara watched him, her interest in the roulette reawakened. His movements were made without haste, his hands slender and lean, the fingers long and tapered. Her eyes were drawn from his hands to his face—a hard face, the deep blue eyes narrowed, the nose hawk-like, the mouth compressed, his jaw set at a strong angle. The evening suit he wore was impeccably styled, as was his dark over-long hair, his manner assured and speaking of wealth. The staff of the club treated him with deep respect, making Sara wonder who he could be. He was in his mid-thirties, maybe a little younger, and yet he; seemed to be a man of affluence.

Suddenly he looked up and caught her watching him, and his face darkened into a frown, any attractiveness about him instantly disappearing. She recoiled from the angry dislike in his blazing blue eyes and turned away in search of Eddie. He was a long time getting their drinks.

Someone grasped her arm and she was roughly spun around to face the man she had been watching at the roulette table. He must have left the table immediately she turned away.

'What the hell are you doing here?' he rasped, his fingers painful on her arm.

Sara frowned at this attack on her, both physically and verbally. 'I—We—I was signed in.'