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Forbidden Surrender

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«Forbidden Surrender» - Кэрол Мортимер

Carole Mortimer is one of Mills & Boon’s best loved Modern Romance authors. With nearly 200 books published and a career spanning 35 years, Mills & Boon are thrilled to present her complete works available to download for the very first time! Rediscover old favourites – and find new ones! – in this fabulous collection…The only man she wants…Arriving in England, Sara Hamille finds it odd that people keep mistaking her for someone else. Someone who looks so similar to her that even that person’s fiancé—devastatingly handsome Dominic Thorne—mistakes Sara for his bride-to-be!…is the only man she can’t have!Envying her own double, Sara is astonished to learn that the stranger is actually her long lost twin! But the thrill of discovering a family she never knew dims when Sara realises that Dominic—the only man she could ever love—belongs to her sister…
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Forbidden Surrender Carole Mortimer

www.millsandboon.co.uk

Table of Contents

Title Page

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

Copyright

CHAPTER ONE

‘MARIE! How are you?’

Sara blinked up at the tall attractive man in front of her, smiling her regret. ‘I’m sorry,’ her American accent was very noticeable against his English one, ‘I’m afraid you have the wrong person.’ She turned away with an apologetic smile, wishing that she could have been the absent Marie. This man was very good-looking, possibly in his mid-twenties, and by the expression in his twinkling blue eyes he looked as if he could be fun to be around.

He took hold of her arm, stopping her from crossing the road. ‘Hey, I’m not going to tell Nick that you were wandering around Soho on your own.’

Sara frowned, her deep brown eyes puzzled, a startling contrast to her long golden-blonde hair, hair bleached by years under the Florida sun. Having lived in America most of her life she had been curious to see the country she had been born in, the country she had lived in until she was a year old, taken to start a new life in America by her mother after the untimely death of her husband.

‘I’m sorry,’ she repeated to the young man, ‘but you really are mistaken.’

He remained unconvinced. ‘I love the accent,’ he grinned, ‘but I know you too well to be fooled by that.’ He put his arm about her waist, his fingers spread dangerously close to her breast.

Sara stiffened, revising her opinion of him. He was obviously a flirt, and he sounded as if he and Marie were more than just casual acquaintances.

She gave him a cold stare. ‘Would you kindly take your hands off me?’ she requested haughtily, flicking her long hair back over her shoulder.

He frowned down at her but made no effort to let her go. ‘There’s no need to be like this, Marie. I admit I’m a bit sore about the way you ended things between us last year, but Nick——’

Sara squirmed away from him. ‘I don’t know any Nick, and I don’t know you either. And if you don’t let go of me I’ll call a policeman!’ She looked around for one, never having thought a man would try to pick her up so openly. It was the middle of the afternoon, she had got lost during a sightseeing session, and she certainly hadn’t expected to be accosted like this.

‘Okay, okay,’ the man grimaced, ‘there’s no need to get nasty. If you want to keep up this pretence of being an American tourist then that’s all right with me.’ He shrugged.

She wasn’t pretending to be anything, an American tourist was exactly what she was, although this wasn’t a very high class area to have got lost in. She only hoped Aunt Susan didn’t go home without her. Only having been in this country a couple of days herself she had no idea of the way back to Aunt Susan’s house.

‘Maybe I could be your guide?’ The man gave her a sideways glance. ‘Hey, that could be fun, Marie. We could——’

‘I already have a guide,’ she interrupted him, annoyed by the fact that he still believed her to be this other woman. It would seem he knew Marie very well, which made his obstinacy about her identity all the more surprising.

Unless this was the way he usually picked his women up!

‘Oh, I see,’ he smiled bitterly. ‘I bet Nick doesn’t know about this—and I wish to God I didn’t!’ He bent and kissed her briefly on the mouth. ‘See you at the weekend,’ was his parting shot.

Sara stared after him dazedly. She wasn’t a prude, she had been kissed before, but never by a complete stranger. And he had been so respectable to look at too, his black pinstriped suit and snowy white shirt immaculate.

‘Sara!’ Her plump. Aunt Susan arrived breathlessly in front of her. ‘Thank goodness I’ve found you!’

Sara turned, the flirtatious stranger already swallowed up in the crowd. ‘I must have lost you in that last shop,’ she smiled her apology.

Susan Ford was a pleasantly plump lady of forty-eight, her blonde hair kept the same gold as Sara’s by a light tint every couple of months, her face still youthfully smooth and attractive. She was Sara’s mother’s sister, and although the sisters had been parted for the last twenty years their letters to each other had been numerous, so much so that Sara felt as if she already knew her aunt when they had met two days ago, had found herself instantly liking her aunt.

This trip to England wasn’t exactly a holiday to Sara, more of a convalescence. Six months ago her mother and stepfather had been killed in a car accident, and besides leaving her orphaned it had also left her with two broken legs, utterly ruining the modelling career that had just been starting to take off the ground.

It had taken six months for the scars to heal, both the emotional and physical ones, and on her final dismissal from the doctor she had arranged this trip to visit her English relatives, finding herself to be a very rich young woman on the death of her stepfather, Richard Hamille. They had been a close family, Sara being adopted by Richard when he had married her mother, and to suddenly find herself alone was very bewildering.

Her Aunt Susan had instantly taken her to her heart, she and Uncle Arthur having no children of their own. Sara felt at home with them, felt at home with England, and in a way she would be sad to leave when the time came. Still, that wouldn’t be for another couple of weeks yet.

‘Who was that man?’ her aunt frowned. ‘The one I saw you talking to?’

Sara shrugged as they fell into step together, making their way back to the busy city centre. ‘I have no idea,’ she answered her aunt.

Her eyes widened. ‘You didn’t know him?’

Sara shook her head. ‘No.’

‘But I saw him kiss you!’ Her aunt sounded scandalised.

Sara grinned. ‘I think he was trying to pick me up. It wasn’t a very good approach, though—he pretended that he thought I was someone else.’ She shook her head. ‘Not very original!’

‘Who did he think you were?’

She shrugged. ‘Someone called Marie. I wouldn’t have minded, but he seemed so insistent. Oh well,’ she dismissed, ‘he’ll have to chalk this one down to a no go.’

‘Yes, I suppose so,’ her aunt agreed vaguely. ‘Now, where were we? Oh yes, if we turn here we should be near the underground. Shall we go home and have a cup of tea? I’m dying for a cup.’

Sara grinned at her, her face alight with mischief, her features strikingly beautiful, the eyes wide and a deep dark brown, heavily fringed by long black lashes, the nose short, the mouth wide and smiling, her teeth very white against her golden skin. Her body was tall and supple, long-legged, and very slender. Her looks were invaluable in her profession, and she hoped to return to modelling when she went back to the States.

‘You and your tea!’ she chided. After only two days she was well aware of her aunt’s weakness for the brew, the other woman seeming to drink gallons of the stuff. Sara preferred coffee herself, but she readily agreed with the idea of going home for refreshment; the visit to Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament had tired her out.

Uncle Arthur came in soon after they did, a short stocky man, going a little thin on top, his sparse brown hair going slightly grey now.

‘I have a surprise for you, love,’ he beamed at Sara as they ate their dinner. ‘I’ve invited Eddie round tonight, my nephew by my sister Jean. I thought you would like a bit of young company for a change.’

Sara masked her irritation. Her aunt and uncle had been so kind to her, and it was ungrateful of her not to appreciate this extra act of kindness. They had no way of knowing of her recent disillusionment, of the way Barry had let her down when she needed him the most, had walked out on her when the accident had temporarily robbed her of the ability to walk into a room with him and make one of his grand entrances.

Barry was an up-and-coming actor, had appeared in several television serials, and he ranked his worth much higher than any television producer had yet had the foresight to do. Sara had been dating him a couple of months before the accident, not realising that her main attraction had been her undeniable beauty and her original way of dressing. Barry had replaced her within a day of the accident, having no time for her bereavement or her own injuries.

So at the moment she wasn’t particularly keen on men. ‘That will be nice,’ she gave a bright smile.

‘I hope so,’ her uncle nodded, settling back in his armchair. ‘He’s a good lad, works in a garage.’

‘He doesn’t work in a garage, Arthur,’ his wife chided. ‘He owns one, dear,’ she told Sara. ‘And he lets other people do the work.’

Sara felt sure Eddie wouldn’t agree with that, the poor man was probably worked off his feet. It wasn’t easy running a business, she knew that. Her stepfather had run an advertising firm, and he had often come home absolutely exhausted. Eddie probably felt the same way on occasion.

‘It’s nice of him to spare me the time,’ she said in all honesty.

‘Well, he took a bit of persuading,’ her uncle told her, ‘but I managed to talk him round.’

After Barry’s desertion of her this wasn’t exactly a booster to her morale. It was because of Eddie’s apparent reluctance to meet her that she took special care over her appearance that evening.

Her silky suit was in a pale lilac colour, the narrow belt that fitted over the shirt top in a deep purple colour. Her shoes matched the colour of the belt, her legs were long and silky beneath the straight skirt. She was aiming to knock his eyes out, so her make-up was dramatic, just to show him that his time hadn’t been wasted.

When she heard him arrive she checked her appearance. Her hair, newly washed, fell in gentle waves halfway down her back, shaped in casual curls either side of her face. Yes, she looked the top model she had rapidly been becoming until the accident, and if Eddie wasn’t impressed now he never would be.

He was. It was obvious by the widening of his deep blue eyes, by the way he slowly rose to his feet, his gaze appraising.

‘Hi,’ she greeted huskily, giving him her most dazzling smile. ‘I’m Sara, and you must be Eddie.’ She held out her hand politely.

He took her hand, seemingly reluctant to let it go again. His own hand was strong and work-worn, the nails kept short and clean. He was a man possibly in his late twenties, his hair sandy-blond, his face attractive, his dress casual in the extreme, his denims faded, his shirt unbuttoned partway down his chest.

‘Nice to meet you,’ he gave a wide appreciative smile. ‘Uncle Arthur didn’t tell me how—Well, he didn’t say—You’re gorgeous!’ he grinned.

Sara gave a happy laugh, at last managing to release her hand. ‘Thank you, kind sir,’ she curtseyed. ‘Uncle Arthur wasn’t too descriptive about you either,’ she admitted, instantly liking this man.

Eddie nodded understandingly. ‘You expected me to be wearing an overall, with oil under my fingernails,’ he derided.

‘Something like that,’ she gave a rueful smile. ‘Although Aunt Susan assured me you didn’t actually work in your garage.’ Her eyes twinkled mischievously.

‘Charming!’

She burst out laughing at his disgusted expression. ‘I’m sure she didn’t mean it the way I made it sound.’ Her aunt and uncle had taken advantage of Eddie’s visit and gone to visit some friends for the evening.

‘Hey, you’re all right,’ Eddie smiled at her. ‘Fancy coming out for a pint? A beer,’ he explained at her puzzled expression.

‘I’d love to,’ she accepted eagerly.

She had never been into a ‘local’ before, had never even been into a bar. Her mother and stepfather were quite protective of her, vetting most of her friends, and keeping her close within their own circle.

She loved the pub they went to, loved the beer Eddie made her try, loved the friendly, warm atmosphere, and most of all she loved the people. She was instantly accepted into Eddie’s crowd and persuaded to join in a game of darts, a game she was totally hopeless at. But she had a lot of fun trying, and no one seemed to mind her inability to hit the board twice in a row.

‘That was fun!’ She gave Eddie a glowing smile on the drive back to her aunt and uncle’s house.

‘Glad you enjoyed it. Care to come out with me again?’ He quirked one eyebrow enquiringly.

‘I’d love to!’ Sara’s face glowed.

‘Tomorrow?’

She looked uncertain. ‘I’m not sure what plans Aunt Susan and Uncle Arthur have for me. You see——’

‘It’s okay, Sara,’ he cut in dryly, ‘I realise I’m not the sort of man you usually go out with.’

She blushed at his intended rebuke. ‘I didn’t mean that.’

‘But it’s true, isn’t it? You were like a child tonight, enjoyed each new experience with eagerness. Uncle Arthur told me you were a rich kid, in the executive bracket.’

Sara bit her lip, knowing she had hurt him. ‘I did enjoy tonight, and I—I’m sorry if I embarrassed you with my enthusiasm. I didn’t mean to.’

Eddie sighed. ‘You didn’t. You were a success, you know you were. Maybe that’s why I’m so annoyed—I was jealous of half the men there tonight.’

Sara relaxed somewhat, back on territory she could handle. ‘You had no need to be. I always remember who took me on my date, and I always make a point of leaving with that person.’

‘So it’s still on for tomorrow, if Aunt Susan and Uncle Arthur don’t have any other plans for you? And this time I’ll take you somewhere I can have you all to myself.’

She wasn’t so sure his single-minded interest was a good thing. She would be going back to the States soon, two or three weeks at the most, and it wouldn’t do for Eddie to become involved with her, not deeply involved. When she got back home she intended concentrating exclusively on her career, there would be no time for romantic involvement.

‘Sara?’ Eddie prompted.

‘I—er—What did you have in mind?’

He shrugged. ‘A meal and then on to a club?’

‘It sounds lovely,’ she accepted, deciding she could deal with Eddie’s interest in her if and when it started to become serious. She liked him, he was fun, and there could be no harm in them going out together. ‘What time shall I be ready?’

‘Oh, about eight.’ He stopped the car outside the house.

‘Like to come in for coffee?’ she invited.

‘Not tonight, thanks. If I know Aunt Susan and Uncle Arthur they’ll have gone to bed long ago, and I wouldn’t want to disturb them. You’d better ask them for a door key for tomorrow, we could be late.’

‘Not too late, I hope,’ Sara frowned. ‘I need my beauty sleep,’ she added lightly.

‘I hadn’t noticed,’ he teased.

She smiled. ‘I really don’t want to be too late. I—I don’t keep late hours any more.’ Since leaving the hospital she had taken life at a slow pace, retiring early and rising late.

‘Okay,’ Eddie sighed. ‘I’ll have you home by midnight—Cinderella. But I should still ask for a key, they’re usually in bed by ten.’

She knew that, and for the last two nights she had done the same thing. ‘I’ll ask,’ she promised. ‘And thanks once again for tonight, I had a great time.’

‘Enough of a great time to kiss me goodnight?’

She leant forward and kissed him lightly on the mouth. ‘Goodnight,’ she called before hurrying into the house.

They had both been wrong; their aunt and uncle weren’t in bed at all, they were still in the lounge.

‘But it’s still worrying,’ Aunt Susan could be heard insisting.

‘You’re worrying over nothing,’ her husband chided her. ‘Just forget about it, it didn’t mean a thing.’

‘But, Arthur——’

‘Susan!’ he said sternly. ‘I think I just heard Sara come in, so let’s just drop the subject.’

Sara shrugged to herself, coughing to let them know of her presence. Her mother and stepfather often had minor arguments, but they usually passed within a day or so, and she felt sure things were no different between her aunt and uncle, the middle-aged couple seemed very happy together.

‘Did you have a nice time, dear?’ her aunt asked as she came into the room.

‘Lovely,’ she nodded agreement.

‘Going out with him again?’ Uncle Arthur eyed her over the top of his horn-rimmed glasses.

Sara blushed. ‘Tomorrow.’

‘Hear that, Susan?’ he turned to his wife. ‘Before you know it we’ll have a wedding on our hands.’

‘Arthur!’ she warned.

‘I’m not getting married for years yet, Uncle Arthur,’ Sara told him hastily. ‘I’m only twenty, almost twenty-one.’

‘Susan and I had already been married two years by that time.’

‘It was different when we were young, Arthur,’ his wife chided. ‘There’s so much for young people to do nowadays, places to see, that they don’t want to tie themselves down to marriage too young.’

He raised his eyebrows, his eyes twinkling with mischief. ‘After all these years she finally tells me she married me out of boredom!’ He winked at Sara.

‘Go on with you!’ his wife scorned. ‘Where’s Eddie taking you tomorrow?’ she turned to ask Sara.

‘Out to dinner and then on to a club, he said.’ Her aunt and uncle’s interest in her evening out was nothing unusual to Sara, her mother had always been interested in such things too, and it was in fact quite like home sitting and chatting like this after an enjoyable evening out.

‘Better than a trip to a pub,’ Uncle Arthur teased.

‘I liked the pub.’ Sara had been quite disappointed that Eddie had decided not to take her back there.

Aunt Susan stood up, putting down her knitting. ‘Well, I’m for bed. Arthur?’

‘I am too.’ He stood up, stretching. ‘It’s nice having you with us, love,’ he told Sara huskily.

She moved to hug him, tears in her eyes. ‘It’s nice to be here. I wish now I’d come sooner, instead of waiting until——’ she broke off, stricken.

Her uncle patted her shoulder awkwardly. ‘It’s all right, Sara. We’re your family now, for as long as you want us.’

‘Thank you.’ She kissed them both on the cheek before hurrying to her room.

The tears flowed readily once she closed her bedroom door; the loss of her parents was still a raw wound. Without Aunt Susan and Uncle Arthur’s support the last few days she didn’t know what she would have done; some of the moods of depression she had suffered in the States had been very black indeed.

After an exhaustive perusal of most of the museums the next day Sara didn’t feel up to going anywhere that evening. But she had told Eddie she would go out with him and she couldn’t let him down. If they were dining out he had probably had to book a table.

‘Oh, you look lovely!’ her aunt exclaimed as Sara came into the lounge to wait for Eddie.

She felt quite confident of her appearance, knowing her black dress would be suitable for any occasion, would blend in both at the restaurant and the club, its style demure while still managing to show the perfection of her figure, her breasts firm and uptilting, the slenderness of her waist emphasised by a thick black belt, her hips narrow in the pencil-slim styling of the dress. Her legs were long and smooth, her slender ankles shown to advantage in the high-heeled sandals she wore, a slender gold chain about one of her ankles. She had needed to wear it for one of her photographic sessions, and now found it an attractive piece of jewellery.

She sat down opposite her aunt, her long hair secured on the top of her head, leaving her neck slenderly vulnerable. ‘Where’s Uncle Arthur?’

‘Gone for a drink with a few of his friends.’ Her aunt carried on with her knitting, halfway through making a cardigan for her husband. ‘It’s a regular thing. It does him good to get out for an evening.’

Sara frowned. ‘You should have told me, then I wouldn’t have arranged to go out tonight.’

‘You go out and have a good time,’ she encouraged. ‘To tell you the truth,’ she confided with a smile. ‘I usually doze off about nine o’clock.’

‘I see,’ Sara laughed. ‘A bit of peace and quiet, hmm?’

‘That’s the idea. That will be Eddie,’ Aunt Susan said as the doorbell rang.

Sara went and answered the door herself. Eddie was looking very smart in a navy blue suit and contrasting light blue shirt. His eyes widened as he saw her. ‘You’re ready.’ He stepped into the hallway.

‘Of course,’ she frowned. ‘It’s eight o’clock, isn’t it?’

‘Oh yes,’ he nodded. ‘I just thought I’d be kept waiting until at least eight-fifteen.’

She smiled as she led the way back to the lounge. ‘I always try to be punctual. My mother always told me that if someone has taken the trouble to arrive on time then it’s only polite to be ready.’

Eddie smiled. ‘I think I would have liked your mother.’

They said their goodbyes to Aunt Susan. The drive to the restaurant was a short one, their table secluded in one of the corners of the room.

‘I quite like Chinese food myself,’ Eddie told her once they had given their order. ‘But not knowing your preferences I played it safe and chose an English restaurant.’

Sara eyed him teasingly. ‘You were taking a risk thinking I like to eat at all. Most of the models I know live on milk and lettuce leaves.’

‘Hey, that’s right—you’re a model, aren’t you? Are you open to offers? And I meant for work,’ he added dryly.

She shrugged. ‘I will be, when I get back to the States. I don’t have a permit to work over here. This trip is strictly pleasure.’

‘Pity. I have a friend who’s a photographer. No, really,’ he insisted at her dubious expression. ‘Pete and I were at school together. He’s quite successful over here.’

‘Maybe some other time,’ Sara said regretfully.

‘Okay. Maybe I’ll be able to introduce the two of you before you go home, then you’ll have a contact over here if you ever should decide to work here.’

Sara smiled, her skin a glowing peach colour, her eyes deeply brown. ‘That’s really nice of you, thank you.’

‘No trouble,’ Eddie dismissed.

It was after ten when they left the restaurant for the club, by now the two of them firm friends. Sara’s eyes were glowing from the amount of wine she had consumed during her meal, her smile more ready than usual.

The club was plush and exclusive, not really the sort of place she would have thought Eddie would have enjoyed frequenting.

‘I know what you’re thinking,’ Eddie grimaced. ‘But I’ve been here a couple of times with Pete.’ He shrugged. ‘I like watching the rich lose their money.’ He referred to the gambling tables, jewel-bedecked women and quietly affluent men gazing avidly down at the tables. ‘Pete’s a member,’ he explained the fact that they had actually been able to get in. ‘And the people here know me.’

Sara felt slightly uncomfortable among such people. ‘That sounds as if you’ve been here more than a couple of times,’ she teased.

He looked sheepish. ‘Maybe a few.’

She put her arm through his, determinedly putting any feelings of shyness behind her. ‘Let’s go and take a look.’

She had never been in a gambling club before, and for the first half hour she found it all fascinating. They were standing behind a middle-aged woman, who to Sara’s knowledge systematically lost every bet she placed. Sara stood back away from the light, finding it all very sickening, was the only word she could think of to describe that mindless addiction.

‘I’ll get you a drink,’ Eddie suggested.

She would rather have left, but she didn’t want to be a killjoy. Eddie was enjoying himself, and they would probably be leaving quite soon. She accepted the offer of a drink, continuing to watch the play in front of her, not understanding it at all but becoming more and more fascinated by the spin of the roulette wheel as she waited for Eddie’s return.

A woman on the other side of the table finally gave up, standing up to leave. A man moved to take her place, and Sara watched him as he began to win. This man had the look of an experienced gambler, a deadpan face, his blue eyes shrewd.

Sara watched him, her interest in the roulette reawakened. His movements were made without haste, his hands slender and lean, the fingers long and tapered. Her eyes were drawn from his hands to his face—a hard face, the deep blue eyes narrowed, the nose hawk-like, the mouth compressed, his jaw set at a strong angle. The evening suit he wore was impeccably styled, as was his dark over-long hair, his manner assured and speaking of wealth. The staff of the club treated him with deep respect, making Sara wonder who he could be. He was in his mid-thirties, maybe a little younger, and yet he seemed to be a man of affluence.

Suddenly he looked up and caught her watching him, and his face darkened into a frown, any attractiveness about him instantly disappearing. She recoiled from the angry dislike in his blazing blue eyes and turned away in search of Eddie. He was a long time getting their drinks.

Someone grasped her arm and she was roughly spun around to face the man she had been watching at the roulette table. He must have left the table immediately she turned away.

‘What the hell are you doing here?’ he rasped, his fingers painful on her arm.

Sara frowned at this attack on her, both physically and verbally. ‘I—We—I was signed in.’

His mouth twisted—a perfect mouth, the lower lip fuller, pointing to a sensuality this man would take pains to hide. ‘So you aren’t alone?’

‘No——’

The man pulled her away from the table and over to a quiet corner of the room—if it could be called quiet in a room like this. ‘Who are you with?’ he demanded to know.

‘I—Let me go!’ Sara tried to pry his fingers loose, looking up at him with wide apprehensive eyes. If she had done something wrong by being here why didn’t he just say so and let her leave? There was no need for him to get rough with her. And where was Eddie? He could explain that he had signed her in, that his friend was a member. ‘You’re hurting me!’ she cried as his strong fingers refused to be dislodged from her arm.

His teeth snapped together, white teeth, very even. ‘I’d like to do more than that!’ He thrust her away from him. ‘Who’s the man?’ he asked tautly.

Sara rubbed her bruised skin. ‘Eddie Mayer,’ she muttered.

The man’s expression was grim, frighteningly so. ‘I don’t know him, but then I never do, do I? Well, you got this Eddie Mayer to bring you, so he can damn well take you home again. We’ll discuss this tomorrow.’

She blinked up at him. ‘Tomorrow …?’

‘Yes, tomorrow. And make sure you’re there. I’m getting a little tired of these exploits of yours, Marie. I thought they were over,’ he sighed. ‘God, if your father knew …’ He shook his head.

It was Marie again! For the second time in two days she had been mistaken for this other girl, Marie. This man must be another of her men, and the man Nick that the man of yesterday had warned her about was obviously this girl’s father. Considering she didn’t know the girl she was finding out a lot about her!

Well, this man was a definite improvement on yesterday’s, although he was no less wrong about her identification. ‘There’s been a mistake——’

‘Yes,’ he hissed angrily, ‘and I’m beginning to think I made it!’ He gave her a disgusted look. ‘We’ll talk tomorrow.’ He turned and walked out of the club with long controlled strides.

Sara was left feeling as if she had just survived an earthquake, or something equally disastrous. Whoever this Marie was she led an interesting and varied life, and it looked as if this last man had had enough. The other girl was obviously a flirt, but that didn’t make it right that she was going to get the blame for something she hadn’t done.

She was curious to know the man’s identity, and walked over to the doorman. ‘That man …’ she paused hesitantly. ‘The one that just left …’

‘Mr Thorne?’ the man enquired politely.

‘Oh, Mr Thorne,’ she feigned disappointment. ‘It seems I made a mistake, I thought it was Gerrard Turner,’ she hastily made a name up.

‘No, miss,’ the doorman shook his head, ‘that was Mr Dominic Thorne. He’s in engineering.’

‘Thank you,’ she smiled. ‘Wrong man,’ she shrugged before walking away.

When the man said Dominic Thorne was ‘in engineering’ she felt sure he meant that he ran these firms. There had been an air of authority about the man, a determination that wouldn’t let him be ruled by anyone. Despite his rough treatment of her Sara had found him attractive. A shame he was interested in someone called Marie, a girl who appeared to be her double.

She had read that everyone had a double somewhere in the world, but it seemed hers was living in London, and that their likeness was so extreme that even this Marie’s lovers seemed to have been fooled. And Sara was sure both those men had been her lovers; they had both had a strong sense of familiarity about them towards her—or rather, Marie.

‘Sara!’ Eddie appeared in front of her. ‘I thought for a minute you’d left without me,’ he sighed his relief. ‘Sorry I was so long, but I ran into Pete. Come over and meet him.’

She went willingly enough, just relieved to have him back with her, before any more of Marie’s men accosted her. Pete proved to be an extrovert, even the sober suit and tie did not diminish his exuberant nature.

‘Wow!’ he exclaimed when he saw her, pulling her on to the bar stool next to him. ‘I bet you’re a natural,’ he enthused, studying her with the practised eye of a photographer. ‘Boy, would I like to get you the other side of my camera,’ he spoke softly to himself. ‘No chance of that?’ He quirked a hopeful eyebrow.

Sara grinned at him; this enthusiasm was doing wonders for her ego. ‘Not this trip,’ she refused him. ‘I’ve already explained to Eddie that I don’t have a permit——’

‘I could get you one,’ Pete cut in eagerly.

She shook her head. ‘I’m still convalescing.’

‘Mm, Eddie explained.’ Pete was studying her closely. ‘Have you ever worked in this country?’

‘I’ve never even been here before, except as a baby, so I certainly haven’t worked here before.’

‘I have this feeling I’ve seen you before.’ He frowned his puzzlement.

‘Not you too!’ Sara sighed. ‘You’re the third one since I’ve been here.’

‘At the club?’ Eddie enquired, sitting the other side of her.

‘No, in England. People keep thinking I’m someone else.’

‘A pick-up!’ he dismissed.

‘No,’ she shook her head. ‘The first time it happened I thought that, but it happened again tonight, here, and both men thought I was the same person.’ She shrugged her puzzlement.

Eddie put his arm about her shoulders. ‘I refuse to believe there are two like you,’ he smiled at her warmly. ‘Nature couldn’t have been that generous!’

Sara ignored the pointed show of possession, realising that Eddie was warning his friend off her. Not that she particularly minded, one man was complication enough for her stay here. ‘It was all very odd, though. Still,’ she dismissed it from her mind, ‘it doesn’t matter. Could we possibly leave now, Eddie? It’s getting late, and Aunt Susan and Uncle Arthur seem to have taken to waiting up for me.’

They made their goodbyes to Pete, and Sara promised to get in touch with him if she ever decided to work in England.

‘Lucky we ran into him,’ Eddie remarked on the drive home. ‘He can be an elusive man, impossible to find at times.’

Sara was preoccupied, unable to put the thought of the man at the casino out of her mind. He hadn’t been the sort of individual you forgot in a hurry; his manner was forceful, his attractiveness mesmerising, animally sensual. Whoever Marie was she was a lucky girl to have had him for a lover.

‘Eddie,’ she bit her lip thoughtfully, ‘tonight, at the club, there was a man called Dominic Thorne. Do you know him?’

He spluttered with laughter. ‘You have to be joking! He’s out of my league, love,’ he added less scornfully.

‘But you have heard of him?’

‘Who hasn’t?’ he shrugged, halting the car outside the house. ‘He has his finger in every business pie going, every one that’s legal, that is. He and his partner—well, his father’s partner, actually, but the old man’s dead now—they’re in the millionaire class.’

‘Is he married?’ Sara made the query as casually as she could, not wanting to show her extreme interest in Eddie’s answer.

‘No,’ he grinned. ‘But he’s going to be. He’s done the sensible thing, he’s got himself engaged to his partner’s daughter, Marie Lindlay.’

Sara swallowed hard. ‘Marie …?’

‘Mm. One day Dominic Thorne will have it all, all the business interests plus the lovely Marie.’

Sara was no longer listening to him. This Marie everyone kept confusing her with was actually going to marry Dominic Thorne. Surely he couldn’t mistake another woman for the girl he was going to marry?

.

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