Page 8 of The Secret Father

She pulled out a stool, slipped off her sodden shoes and, hitching up her pencil skirt, climbed up to reach the cupboard. She turned around and found that Sam was taking full advantage of his clear view of her legs.

‘Disgusting!’ she said, and received an unrepentant grin.

She climbed down again. ‘Sit down; I can’t reach,’ she said brusquely. Sam complied and with gauze she cleaned the blood from his face, trying not to meet his eyes as she did so; it wasn’t easy. The skin didn’t look discoloured and she told him there probably wouldn’t be any bruising.

‘Lloyd will be—hell, can I let go now?’ He’d seen her lips twitch as his sexy drawl was reduced to an adenoidal mumble.

‘I think so,’ she agreed as the flow seemed to have been staunched.

‘As I was saying, Lloyd will be pleased. Me being unable to film could cost the production megabucks.’

‘I didn’t think of that,’ she said guiltily.

‘Before you viciously assaulted me.’

Lindy drew in an indignant breath. ‘You’re right,’ she said, slowly releasing it. ‘You are a good actor. Seriously, it was an accident. What is it now?’ she asked as he closed one eye, opened it and gave a deep sigh.

‘There’s something I think you should know…’

‘Well?’

‘Your shirt’s totally transparent when it’s wet.’

A moment’s blank incomprehension and then horror spread across her face as one glance down confirmed his statement. Why, today of all days, had she not worn a bra?

Solicitously he offered her a tea-towel. ‘This might cover the…er…dilemma.’

Glaring at him, she snatched at the lifeline. ‘You took your time to mention it.’

‘Would you believe I didn’t notice? No, I thought not. It took my mind off the pain.’ He leant his head back against the wall and gave an appreciative sigh. ‘You really have a great body.’

‘How dare…?’

‘Now don’t go all double standards on me, Doctor. You weren’t exactly displaying professional interest in my body back there. Don’t get embarrassed about it— I’m used to being treated like a sex object. Your mouth’s open,’ he observed gently, reaching forward to tilt her jaw upwards. ‘I was only making an honest evaluation. I have to say I thought I was pretty good at summing people up, but I was quite wrong with you. I know this is clichéd, but you really should get mad more often.’

‘Well, really,’ she said weakly. She knew sexual chemistry when she felt it; she’d felt it before with disastrous consequences. That fact alone ought to have made it easy to laugh away his glib nonsense. He was an actor; deceit was second nature to him; she had to get out of this situation—fast!

‘You hide behind that cool, classy exterior, but I don’t believe it any more, so why pretend? I much prefer you uncoordinated and clumsy—more human. You don’t need props.’ His voice was soothingly seductive as he pulled away the towel clutched to her bosom. ‘That’s a start.’ The unconfined sway of her breasts made his breath come faster.

Heat crawled over her skin where his eyes touched—caressed. ‘You should put some ice on your nose,’ she said, desperation creeping into her voice as, simultaneously, paralysis crept into her limbs.

It was a blur to her, but somehow she had straddled his lap, her skirt riding indecently high against her thighs, and her face was being held firmly between his hands. His lips were firm, cool and unalarming. With a small cry her arms went around his neck and she stopped being passive. It was as if he’d tapped into a source she hadn’t known was there—an elemental, fiery core.

It was Sam’s turn to look startled when they broke apart. ‘Wow!’ His flippancy didn’t have the ring of authenticity about it.

‘Lindy, we’re home!’ The lilting sound of her sister’s voice rang out as the kitchen door was flung open.

‘Timing is everything,’ Sam muttered under his breath.

‘I see you’ve met Sam.’ Dry as dust, Hope’s voice cut through the startled silence.

I’ll strangle her, Lindy decided. After I drown myself, she added silently. She glanced resentfully at the floor which still hadn’t opened up and swallowed her.

Hope and the man beside her slowly took in the scene before them and to Lindy it seemed to take them for ever. With each agonising second her feelings of self-disgust grew.

‘Nice afternoon, you two?’ Sam said, his tone betraying no evidence of discomfort.

‘Not as interesting as yours.’ The expression in the older man’s eyes made Lindy cringe inside. Her face froze and her spine straightened to attention. She slid off Sam’s knee, stopping his objection with one cold glance.

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