Page 9 of The Secret Father

‘There was an accident,’ she said. I sound normal, she realised with amazement. ‘Mr Rourke…’

Sam snorted at her formality. ‘Dr Lacey,’ he said sardonically, ‘butted me in the face. Busted my nose.’

The humour faded dramatically from Lloyd’s face. For the first time he seemed to notice the evidence of bloodstains. ‘Hell-fire, Sam, have you any idea how much over budget we could be if you mess up your face?’ he demanded hotly. ‘The insurance premiums we pay because you insist on doing those damned stunts are astronomical as it is.’

Sam shot Lindy an ironic look before he replied. ‘The doctor assures me my beauty is undimmed.’

‘I can see a damned bruise. I swear I can,’ Lloyd insisted. ‘Put some ice on it, Sam,’ he said, reaching into a bowl Lindy had left on the counter.

‘I think I’ll go and freshen up,’ Lindy said.

‘I’ll come with you,’ Hope responded, and Lindy could see the speculation dancing in her sister’s eyes.

‘Don’t push it now,’ Lindy advised quietly as they left the room. To her relief, Hope took the hint. She knew she’d have to face the speculation and questions sooner or later, but right now it was going to be hard enough to justify her brazen behaviour to herself, let alone anyone else!


LINDY didn’t look up as her sister came in and lay on the patchwork counterpane of her bed. Hope lifted one long, tanned leg, revealed pleasingly in a pair of denim shorts, and examined her painted toenails silently.

‘Good journey?’ she said brightly.

Lindy knew this wasn’t the question she was longing to ask. What she really wanted to know was how her restrained sister had managed to end up on Sam Rourke’s lap in a passionate clinch after an extremely short acquaintance.

‘I’ve no idea how it happened,’ she said abruptly, glaring half-defiantly at Hope in the dressing-table mirror she was facing. She tapped ineffectually at her honey-blonde hair with a silver-backed brush and frowned at her reflection.

‘The journey or…?’ Hope raised her eyebrows dramatically.

‘Or…’ Lindy confirmed quickly, before her sister went into painful detail.

‘Well, if you’re going to go all spontaneous and passionate it might as well be with Sam. He is about as delicious as men get.’ She ran her tongue across her lips as if relishing the thought and swung herself upright, tucking one leg neatly underneath the other in the lotus position.

‘It wasn’t what it looked like. I don’t go for beef cake. People as obviously good-looking as him only exist in soaps—daytime soaps!’

‘Miss hoity-toity!’ Hope taunted. ‘Let your mind wander back a few minutes.’

Lindy covered her face with her hands and groaned. ‘Don’t!’ she pleaded, her bravado disintegrating. She spread her fingers and peeped out at her sister. ‘I can’t believe I…’ She shrugged her shoulders and her hands fell away from her face. ‘You know… It’s awful!’

‘Heavens, I’m supposed to be the tragedy queen of the family,’ said Hope. ‘Don’t tell me he’s got bad breath—I have some semi-lecherous scenes with the man.’

‘I’m surprised you haven’t been practising.’ Lindy bit her lip when, after a startled silence, her sister burst out laughing. ‘I’m glad you find this funny,’ Lindy snapped, spinning around on her stool. The idea of her gorgeous sister sampling the pleasures of Sam’s lips and heaven knew what else made her feel very bad-tempered. ‘Is he still here?’

‘Lloyd’s gone but, if you mean Sam, he’s staying here. I was going to surprise you.’

‘Oh, you did, Hope, you did. I made a total fool of myself.’

‘A few kisses!’ Hope shrugged. ‘It was just a few kisses, wasn’t it? All right, don’t blow a fuse,’ she said hastily. ‘Rigid principles are all well and good, but sometimes the best of us weaken given temptation.’

Lindy put aside her own problems for a moment as she recalled the insinuations Sam had made about Hope and the rather daunting man she had recently, if briefly, met. ‘Are you speaking from personal experience here?’

‘You and Sam did spend some time talking, then, before you ripped off his clothes.’

Lindy firmly put aside the startling image of Sam Rourke’s perfect frame. She wasn’t about to be diverted from her theme. The cautious expression she had seen briefly in her sister’s eyes had been enough to worry her.

‘I can’t think of any reason to undress a man who is capable of doing it for himself.’ She couldn’t let this assumption pass unchallenged.