The Seduction Scheme

By: Kim Lawrence

THE waiter lifted the lid of the silver tureen with a flourish. A closet romantic at heart, he gave a smile of satisfaction when the attractive young woman gasped in surprise.

Rachel was surprised. She’d known Nigel was going to propose tonight—he’d dropped enough hints—but she hadn’t expected a gesture as theatrical and grand as this. Mouth slightly open, she stared at the diamond nestling on the velvet cushion as if it might leap out and bite her any minute.

Nigel Latimer leant forward eagerly in his seat; well satisfied with his companion’s reaction, he nodded the waiter away with a conspiratorial grin.

‘It doesn’t bite,’ he said, reaching over and taking hold of her hand. ‘Try it on,’ he urged. ‘My God, Rachel, you’re trembling.’ Rachel, who was always so composed and in control. He was delighted and faintly surprised that his efforts had made such an impact.

Rachel tore her eyes from the sparkling ring to the spot where her hand was covered by a larger one. ‘This is such a shock,’ she lied shakily. It would offend him if she snatched her hand away, so being a considerate young woman she didn’t.

Actually it had been obvious for weeks that this moment would arise; she’d thought about it a lot and now the moment was here she still didn’t have the faintest idea what she was going to say! What a time to become indecisive.

She looked into Nigel’s handsome, confident face, at his nice clean-cut features, the silvered hair that gave him the distinguished air that went down so well with his patients—he looked every inch the successful, competent surgeon. Shouldn’t it be excitement, not consternation that made her stomach muscles spasm? Some people didn’t know when they had it good—and she, apparently, was one of them!

He expected her to say yes—and why shouldn’t he? He was the answer to most women’s prayers: good-looking, kind, wealthy. She sometimes wondered how a man like him had stayed single into his forties. Rachel found it unsettling when he called her the perfect woman he’d been waiting for all his life. His expectations of her were very high, so that she always felt almost as if she was playing a part for him. Perfect women always said the right thing at the right moment. How would he react if he discovered the less than perfect side to her nature?

He must love her to distraction to pursue her in the face of extreme provocation from Charlotte, her daughter. Did she love him? Did it matter? Weren’t other things like companionship and compatibility more important? She was thirty now, past the age of expecting the fulfilment of adolescent fantasies.

The thoughts flickered through her mind in the blink of an eye. She felt a trickle of sweat slide down between her shoulder blades as she tried to respond the way she ought to. What’s wrong with me? she asked herself. The first signs of concern were beginning to appear on Nigel’s face when the waiter reappeared and apologetically announced that there was an urgent phone call for Miss French.

It wasn’t just a desperate desire for a breathing space that made Rachel leap to her feet; the only person who knew she was here was the baby-sitter. What was Charlie up to now? she wondered in alarm.

She returned a few moments later and it was immediately obvious to her escort that all was not well.

‘What’s wrong, darling?’ Nigel was at her side in a second.

Rachel bit back a terrified sob. ‘Charlie’s disappeared!’

‘There you are!’ Benedict Arden flinched as a pair of small arms suddenly snaked around his leather-clad middle. ‘See, I told you I wasn’t alone.’

This last comment wasn’t addressed to him but was thrown defiantly in the direction of a prosperous-looking middle-aged couple who were regarding him with dubious disapproval.

Having presented the sort of appearance for almost all the thirty-four years of his life that would dispose people like this couple to regard him in a benevolent light, Benedict permitted himself a small ironic smile at this fresh reminder of how important first impressions were before his thoughts returned to the more pressing issue: who the hell was this kid?

‘This is your father?’ Pity was mixed with scepticism in the woman’s voice.

‘Good God, no!’ Revulsion flared in Benedict’s voice as he took a step backwards.

He was relieved to find his wallet was where it ought to be, in the breast pocket of his leather jacket. The jacket was air force issue; he’d inherited it from his grandfather and it proved that he hadn’t just inherited the face of a man he’d never known, but his build too.

The jacket combined with hair that had become long enough to be troublesome, plus a liberal sprinkling of dark stubble over his angular jawline, gave him an almost sinister aspect. At first glance, Benedict would be the first to admit, not the sort of character anyone would expect to find hugging a child, but then he wasn’t doing the hugging.

Hot Read

Last Updated


Top Books