Page 21 of The Secret Father

‘Why should you care what I feel like tomorrow?’ she hit back. ‘I suppose you’re worried I won’t carry on working for you.’

‘Get real, Rosalind; there are plenty of doctors who’d jump at the opportunity to replace you,’ he said scornfully. ‘Maybe I don’t give a damn what you feel like. Maybe I am shallow and egocentric! Maybe this is about what I want. Maybe I want more…’ A compelling intensity that totally transfixed Lindy had entered his voice. ‘Maybe I think the foundations of any relationship are important. If you want it to last.’

‘And you want it to last?’ She saw the shock in her voice suddenly mirrored on his face. He froze.

‘Things are going awfully fast here,’ he muttered, rubbing his hand over the faint growth of stubble on his chin, ‘but I think I must be saying that.’ He glared at her almost warily. ‘You aggravate me to hell!’ he said, half to himself. ‘The honest truth is I find you fascinating, Rosalind Lacey, and not just on a sexual level. Although,’ he added, with a sudden grin, ‘that is a major factor!’

Lindy stared at him in disbelief. ‘I think I need to sit down. Do you use this line often?’ she enquired, more out of habit than conviction, as she weakly sank into a rattan chair. She caught hold of a cushion and hugged it to her chest.

‘If all I wanted to do was bed you, I could have done that without any soul-searching,’ he reminded her ruthlessly. ‘I’m not some predator,’ he snarled.

She winced as she looked up at him and saw his expression was dark with anger. Ironically, he looked exactly like what he was denying at that moment. A shiver of apprehension slid slowly down her spine. He was a man with strong passions—a dangerous man. He didn’t live in the same world as her. Was getting involved with Sam Rourke the sort of thing a sensible girl did?

‘What are you suggesting?’ she asked quietly. She didn’t want to know. She’d almost made an awful mistake and, ironically, Sam had stopped her. She ought to be making it very clear she wasn’t interested in anything he might suggest. She ought to be repairing the great gaping hole in her defences.

‘Friends, loving friends.’ Lindy felt colour stain her skin as he emphasised the word. ‘We let things develop with an open mind and see what happens. Any time one of us wants out—’

‘We walk,’ she finished. It sounded very reasonable; so why did she feel uneasy? Getting to know Sam would make her vulnerable. This fact screamed at her but she ignored it. She could cope, couldn’t she? Could she finally trust her own judgement?

‘With no hard feelings.’

‘You mean no kiss-and-tell stories in the tabloids?’ She shot him a challenging glare. He’d better not be suggesting that!

‘If I’m any judge of character that will never be an issue.’

‘Thank you—I think,’ she said drily. ‘So what do we do now?’ I don’t have to go anywhere, she reminded herself. This will all end in tears, Lindy, girl!

Considering one of the most sinfully desirable men in the world wanted to date her, Lindy felt a curious sense of anticlimax. Her body was still feeling cheated out of the lovemaking it had craved, the lovemaking it had anticipated.

‘Doesn’t all this—’ she made a wide encompassing gesture ‘—lack a certain spontaneity?’

Why hadn’t he let her assuage this gnawing, aching hunger? All she’d needed was to lose herself in the mindless oblivion that beckoned every time she looked at him. Now things were complicated—dangerous.

The phone began to ring shrilly before Sam had an opportunity to reply. Lindy’s glare was filled with the ambivalence that churned in her stomach. She turned her back on him and went into the living room to pick up the receiver.

‘Adam!’ Delighted surprise filled her voice as she heard the familiar deep tones at the other end. Adam forestalled her query as to her sister’s health and then proceeded to give her news that took her breath away.

Sam had followed her into the room and stood leaning his muscular frame against the wall. His eyes didn’t leave Lindy’s face as she had what appeared to be a very one-sided conversation. Whatever was being said made her face light up with sheer delight. His own expression grew almost sombre as he watched her. He felt an unexpected stab of jealousy for the person who could give her so much pleasure. He was gripped by a fierce determination to make Rosalind smile at him like that.

Lindy replaced the receiver and looked at him with a stunned expression. She gave a small, silly grin. ‘That was Adam,’ she said happily.