Marriage at the Cowboy's Command(4)

By: Ann Major


“You’re looking good, Caitlyn,” Luke said, but his lips didn’t curve into the sexy smile that used to follow her name.

Not that she wanted it to.

“You, too,” she said reluctantly. The last thing she wanted to do was flatter him. “How is this possible?” she said, motioning to him, standing in her yard.

“What? The son of the county’s no-account drunk making good?”

Lisa’s sudden burst of flirtatious laughter was awkward. “Don’t run yourself down. You’ve come a long way since then, Luke. You never were anything like Bubba.”

“Thanks.”

“Caitlyn’s told me how rich your honorary father is! And how rich you are!” She moistened her lips and glanced at him slyly through her long, dark eyelashes.

Luke looked away.

Caitlyn winced. Her friend’s excessive interest in Luke bothered her. As did her words.

She remembered how Luke had once had a habit of making self-deprecating remarks. People laughed, as he’d intended, but she’d known his jokes had covered soul-deep shame for having Bubba as a father. Luke had always wanted to be more than he’d been. Well, now he was rich and powerful, but was he any happier?

Quickly she reminded herself that his happiness wasn’t her problem. He’d jilted her and moved on to better things, more beautiful women. He’d probably never hungered for her—as she’d hungered for him.

Or had he? He did seem as keenly aware of her as she was of him, which was hatefully gratifying.

As Lisa leaned closer to him, Caitlyn insinuated herself between them. “So, you really are Raffi Bin Najjar? I did some research, but couldn’t find much.”

Luke pushed away from the railing and stood taller. He’d filled out, but on him, the extra weight looked good. She was sure he was made of hot, solid muscle. The thought of touching him now made her own skin heat.

“I pay people to remove stuff I don’t want on the web,” Luke said.

“You can do that?”

“Most of the time. I’m not a movie star, so I’m not hounded by the paparazzi unless I’m out with somebody famous.”

“Like your supermodel girlfriends?”

His mouth twisted. “Jealous?”

“Of course not! But you should have told me who you were, you know.”

“Why? I’m here as a favor to Hassan. Not because I want to make your life easier. For some reason, he’s become fascinated by you and your affairs.”

“He’s been extremely helpful.”

“Yes, and I want to know why. I couldn’t find out if I’d tipped you off.”

“He told me you once lived here, but, of course, since I didn’t know who you really were, I thought nothing of it.”

“I’m as curious about his motivations as you are. Did you two talk about me the night you went to dinner in France?”

“Not much.”

“Did he tell you he invited me to come that night?”

“Yes, but I didn’t know who you were, so I didn’t pursue it.”

“I watched you through binoculars when you were working with Sahara and decided to bow out.”

So, Luke had been in Deauville, too, and had deliberately rejected her. Again.

This whole situation felt like a setup. She remembered Hassan’s comments at Keeneland about the color of Daniel’s eyes. She remembered Hassan asking her about Daniel over dinner in Deauville. When he’d asked questions about her son, she’d thought he was merely being polite. She’d been so proud of Daniel. She’d talked way too much about him, given away too much. She’d shown Hassan pictures, and he’d stared at them for a long time, even asking if he could keep one.

Had Hassan figured out who Daniel’s father was? As one of the world’s richest men, he could probably find out anything he wanted to know. Of course he would be curious about his protégé’s past. Had he sent Luke here to discover Daniel?

Maybe this reunion       could have been avoided if she’d been more clever. But no, she’d taken Hassan’s actions at face value. He’d written her a note after Keeneland, and fool that she’d been, she’d felt flattered that such a man had remembered her name. When he’d called and asked her to help with Sahara, she’d been flattered again. And she’d needed the money too badly to question his motives. Then, once she was in France, she’d been too impressed by the glamour of his château and stables to think rationally.

“We stuck to small talk mostly,” she said now, without mentioning their conservation about Daniel.

“But after taking you to dinner, he bought your mortgage. Anything happen…after dinner?” Luke’s hot gaze slid over her slowly, causing her nerves to sizzle. Did he think she was easy because she’d been easy with him?

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