The Secret Father

By: Kim Lawrence
CHAPTER ONE




SAM ROURKE scanned the diners in the small restaurant. He recognised and exchanged nods with several members of the film crew relaxing over their food. There were three women sitting alone, and none of them bore any resemblance to the divine Lacey, but then that would have been too much to hope for.

He spoke softly to the proprietor, who had materialised as if by magic at his side, and discovered that the woman he was looking for was the only one of the three solitary females not looking at him. In fact she was probably the only person in the entire room—other than the crew members, in whom familiarity had bred a healthy contempt—not looking at him. Sam was too accustomed to attention to do more than subconsciously register the scrutiny.

He had to know every eye in the place was fixed on him, Lindy thought scornfully. She deliberately directed her own blue-eyed stare elsewhere. He positively struts, she decided, furtively taking in the long-legged lope. Her lips twisted in a small derisive smile as she twirled the stem of her frosted glass between her long, shapely fingers. He was lapping it up! She glanced at her watch and frowned; Hope was late, but then her sister’s unpunctuality was legendary.

‘Dr Lacey?’

Lindy started and found herself looking directly up into the face of Sam Rourke. Like most of the civilised world she’d seen his face in close up, enlarged to godlike proportions on the silver screen. A realist, she was quite prepared for a disappointment: make-up, lighting and a lot of hype could transform the most ordinary of creatures.

Sam Rourke was by no stretch of the imagination ordinary! In the flesh, the heavy-lidded eyes were just as startlingly sapphire-blue, the mobile lips just as sensually sculpted and the jawline just as square. His dark wavy hair was brushed back from the trademark widow’s peak and the cleft in his chin deepened as he met her critical stare.

‘Mr Rourke,’ she said, as though she were well used to meeting international superstars over her lunch. She was disgusted to find her nervous system had gone into instant shock when exposed to the undoubtedly high-octane charisma this man oozed. Happily this state of affairs did not show on her calm features. Her delicate colour didn’t fluctuate even a little as she smiled distantly.

‘Hope couldn’t make it.’ Without waiting to be invited, he took the seat opposite her. ‘She asked me to meet you and show you the way to the house.’

So, Sam Rourke knew the way to her sister’s house. How cosy. Lindy couldn’t help speculating just how well Hope, who was professionally known by her surname, Lacey, knew this man. She’d volunteered nothing about him beyond the basic fact that he was her director and co-star in the film they’d been shooting for the past two months here in Maine.

Lindy didn’t know whether to read anything into this unusual circumstance. Hope had a wicked tongue and usually she delighted in telling her sisters how disappointing the famous people she’d met were in real life. Perhaps she hadn’t found Sam Rourke disappointing. They would certainly make a striking pair, her beautiful sister and this man, and it was almost de rigueur for supermodels to be squired by actors or rock stars.

It wouldn’t do either of their careers any harm to be seen together. Lindy stifled this cynical and uncharitable thought. She might be a supermodel, but her sister Hope was curiously untouched by the more unpleasant aspects of the world she moved in; she was as warm and genuine as she had been the day she’d left their English village home.

‘I wouldn’t like to impose,’ she began firmly, not at all happy about the prospect of sharing her table with this larger-than-life individual. She’d made the mistake once of being seduced by a pretty face and these days it took more than a sinfully attractive smile to win her approval. If she was honest, men blessed in the looks department, at least this obviously, had to work extra hard to win her trust.

‘Then I’ll hint if you do,’ her companion replied swiftly, an expression of boredom that made her wince beginning to spread across his features. When people went to these sorts of lengths to treat him normally the conversation frequently became monosyllabic. ‘Have you ordered?’ He flicked a cursory glance at the menu. ‘The lobster’s great here, isn’t it, Albert?’ The maamp2;ˆtre d’ had materialised at his elbow. ‘We’ll have two.’

‘I’m allergic to shellfish.’

‘You’re not!’ He hit his forehead with the back of his hand and gestured to the waiter.

‘No, I’m not,’ she agreed sweetly. This man’s casual, bored attitude and the fact he had taken her co-operation for granted made her normally placid blood quietly simmer. ‘But I could be for all you know. I don’t recall asking you to eat with me. I don’t recall asking you to sit down.’

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