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Hidden Love

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«Hidden Love» - 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…Pregnant with his heir…Completely infatuated with successful pro-tennis player Nick St Clare, Rachel offers no resistance to his sinful seduction. But when their unbridled passion results in a pregnancy, Nick insists that Rachel marry him—no heir of his will be without a father!Rachel knows their marriage is one of convenience, yet the incendiary heat between them still burns bright! But with Nick off travelling the world, how can she convince her husband that there’s more to their marriage than just a baby?
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Hidden Love Carole Mortimer


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‘RELAX, Rachel,’ Danny encouraged softly, his lips nuzzling against her ear.

She was trying to, but a public park wasn’t the best place for this sort of thing, even if they weren’t the only couple lying on the lush green grass engaging in the same activity.

The two of them had decided to forgo the inevitable stodgy college luncheon in favour of sandwiches and a Coke sitting in the park. Their food eaten and their refuse disposed of in the nearest litter-bin, Danny had decided that kissing her would take up the fifteen minutes they had left of their lunch-hour. A few kisses were one thing, but he was getting a little too intimate for her liking.

‘Danny!’ She struggled-to sit up.

Danny sat up too, a frown marring his youthfully handsome face. ‘Rachel, don’t be such a prude. I was only kissing you.’

‘Yes, but—Danny …’ she frowned, her gaze fixed on something over his shoulder. ‘That woman over there,’ she nodded behind him. ‘She doesn’t look well.’

He turned to look at the young woman too, shrugging as he turned back to Rachel. ‘She’s pregnant, maybe she’s got cramp or something. My sister was always moaning when she had Damien.’

Having met his sister, she wasn’t surprised. ‘Yes, but—–’

‘Hey, Rachel!’ he chided moodily. ‘You’re supposed to be concentrating on me, not some very pregnant woman sitting on a park bench.’ His mouth once more claimed hers.

She let him lower her back on to the grass, kissing him back, her hands entangled in the long dark hair at his nape. Any of her friends at college—with the exception of Hilary, who couldn’t stand him—would gladly have taken her place, Danny being the college pin-up of the moment, very good-looking, his hair thick and dark, his eyes like brown velvet, the denims and matching denim shirt he wore skin-tight, faded with wear, giving him a rugged look that he cultivated. Yes, any number of the girls she knew at college would have taken her place, although she and Danny had been dating for two months now, meeting two or three evenings a week.

But right now she couldn’t give him all of her attention, her thoughts drifting time and time again to the pale woman sitting on the bench a few feet away from them. She hadn’t been there a few minutes ago, and the strained look about her mouth wouldn’t be banished from Rachel’s mind. She was a pretty woman, probably in her early or mid-twenties, and as Danny had already pointed out, very pregnant. It was this last fact that worried Rachel the most. What if the poor woman were about to give birth here and now?

Danny raised his head, his eyes snapping with impatience. ‘Rachel, are you with me?’

‘Of course.’ She pushed her long dark brown hair away from her face, her long lashes the same dark colour, thickly surrounding her smoky grey eyes, her nose small and snub, covered with a light sprinkling of freckles, her mouth wide and smiling, usually. Now it was rather pensive. ‘I’m just worried about that woman.’ She stood up, brushing the recently cut grass from her fitted black denims and red tee-shirt, her figure boyish rather than curvaceous, her height only a little over five feet.

It was because of her lack of inches, both in her figure and height, that she was often taken to be younger than her eighteen years. ‘She does look ill, Danny, and—’

He stood up too, his mouth set angrily. ‘She’s probably just walked too far,’ he dismissed callously. ‘She’ll be all right when she’s rested for a while.’

Still Rachel hesitated. ‘I think I should just see if she’s okay.’

‘We have to get back to college.’ Danny took her hand firmly in his.

‘But that woman—–’

‘Is probably waiting for her husband—–’

‘But we don’t know that,’ she insisted determinedly. ‘It isn’t going to hurt anyone if I just ask her, now is it?’ the last came out almost pleadingly.

Danny angrily dropped her hand. ‘Well, I’m not going to hang around while you do. I have a class in ten minutes.’

She eyed him challengingly. ‘Since when did getting to a class on time bother you?’

He flushed at the taunt, suddenly only his nineteen years, his air of bravado wavering. ‘It doesn’t,’ he said almost sulkily. ‘You know that.’

‘Then it isn’t going to hurt you to wait two minutes while I ask her how she is, is it?’ she said brightly.

‘Okay,’ he agreed grudgingly. ‘But don’t be long,’ he added warningly as she turned to walk towards the other woman.

Dear Danny, he did like to think he was the Don Juan of Maddox College—and acted accordingly. When he forgot to act the macho man he could be good company, fun to be with, but in this mood he wasn’t quite so pleasant.

Close to, the young woman looked even worse, a sheen of perspiration on her brow, her pale skin having a grey tinge to it, her breathing shallow and ragged.

‘Excuse me …’ Rachel began hesitantly.

The woman looked up, tears instantly flooding her eyes. ‘Oh, thank God someone has actually spoken to me!’ she groaned, her accent distinctly American, her hand coming out to clutch on to Rachel’s. ‘Can you please help me?’

Rachel sat down on the bench beside the woman. ‘Of course,’ she squeezed her hand reassuringly. ‘Is it the baby?’

‘Yes. I—I think it’s going to be born soon. I’ve been having pains the last hour. Sharp pains,’ the woman added pointedly.

Rachel chewed on her bottom lip, knowing little or nothing about giving birth. ‘Do you think you should go to hospital?’

‘I know so,’ the other woman admitted ruefully. ‘I’ve been trying to get out of this park and into a cab for the last thirty minutes, but no one seems willing to help.’

Rachel gave her hand another squeeze, knowing exactly what she meant, having once seen a man actually collapse in the street and people walk past him. It wasn’t that the people were callous or uncaring, they just didn’t want to get involved—as Danny hadn’t. Only she wasn’t made of the same stuff, had been the one to call an ambulance for that man and sit with him while they waited for it to arrive, and she was going to help this woman too.

‘I’ll help you,’ she promised. ‘I’ll get you a taxi, and—–’

‘You won’t leave me?’ The woman sounded panicked.

‘I could call someone for you—–’

‘Nick—he’ll come. I—Oh!’ she groaned, her hand squeezing the blood out of Rachel’s fingers.

‘A contraction?’ Rachel gulped.

‘Yes,’ she gasped. ‘They’re coming quite regularly now. I don’t think it can be much longer.’

Rachel was no expert, but she had the same feeling. ‘There’s a call-box just outside the park gates, I’ll call an ambulance. And Nick.’

‘Just call the ambulance,’ the woman advised raggedly, pulling a tattered piece of paper out of her handbag.

‘It’s a private clinic,’ she explained as she gave Rachel the slip of paper. ‘My name is Kay Lennox, by the way—they might ask you that. The call to Nick can wait until later.’

Rachel managed to extricate her hand, flexing the fingers to recirculate the blood. ‘I’ll call the clinic now, and—–’

‘Rachel!’ Danny had tired of waiting and now stood in front of them. ‘We have to get back,’ he hissed pointedly.

She licked her lips nervously, knowing he wasn’t going to like what she said next. ‘Mrs Lennox is having a baby,’ she explained.

‘I can see that,’ he snapped.

She shook her head, and stood up. ‘I mean now,’ she told him softly. ‘I have to call an ambulance—–’

‘Count me out,’ he said instantly—as she had known he would. ‘Rachel, you can’t get involved in this!’

‘I can’t not get involved,’ she snapped angrily. ‘Can’t you see that—–’

‘I can see you’re determined to do this. I have a class to go to,’ he told her coldly. ‘Call me when you’ve finished—baby-sitting!’ He turned and walked off.

‘Danny!’ She soon caught up with him, grabbing his arm to stop him. ‘I thought you could stay with Mrs Lennox while I made the telephone call,’ she looked up at him pleadingly.

‘Then you thought wrong,’ he scowled darkly. ‘Are you mad, Rachel? It won’t just be the telephone call, the next thing you know she’ll want you to go to the hospital with her.’

‘She won’t ask, Danny,’ her hand fell away from his arm, ‘because I’ll offer,’ she added rebelliously.

‘Then you do it alone!’ He shook his head. ‘You always have to interfere. Why couldn’t you just leave the woman alone?’

‘And let her have her baby on a park bench?’ Her eyes flashed.

‘She wouldn’t have—–’

‘She still could if I don’t make that call. Goodbye, Danny.’


She looked at him coldly, disappointed to find he was another of those people who didn’t want to get involved. ‘I said goodbye.’ This time she was the one to turn and walk away.

When she next looked round it was to see Danny striding back towards the college. She doubted she would be dating him again. Oh well, maybe it was for the best; she didn’t particularly like people who couldn’t care for others.

She quickly called the clinic, giving them instructions on how to find them before rushing back to Kay Lennox’s side. ‘They’ll be here in a few minutes,’ she reassured her.

‘Thank you.’ Kay seemed to relax visibly. ‘You’ve been so kind. The baby isn’t really due for another three weeks, and I thought it would be all right for me to go shopping. Nick will be so angry when he finds out what’s happened,’ she frowned worriedly.

He must be a bit of a brute to be angry just because his wife was having their baby three weeks early. ‘I’m sure he’ll understand,’ Rachel soothed softly.

‘You don’t know Nick,’ Kay grimaced.

And she wasn’t sure she wanted to! Kay seemed genuinely worried about her husband’s disapproval. He should be made to understand that babies had no idea of the date picked out for them to arrive.

‘I’ll call him,’ she promised again. ‘Just as soon as we get you to the clinic. I’m sure he’ll forget to be angry once he sees the baby.’

Kay grimaced once again. ‘I doubt it. The last thing he said to me this morning was to take things easy.’

Rachel didn’t like the sound of Nick Lennox at all, although she gave no indication of that as she accompanied the other woman to the clinic in the ambulance. Once there Kay was whisked off to a delivery room while Rachel was shown into a waiting room.

The doctor came back to tell her it would be several hours yet, and since she had tried the number Kay had given her for her husband and been met with one of those infuriating machines that said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m afraid I’m out at the moment. If you wish to leave a message do so now,’ she decided she had better wait here until the absent Mr Lennox came to the hospital in answer to her message for him to do so.

There were a few magazines lying about the waiting-room, but none of them really held her interest. The minutes dragged by into hours, until suddenly she realised it was almost dinner time and she had received no further word from the doctor on Kay’s condition, and Nick Lennox still hadn’t put in an appearance.

When she tried the telephone number Kay had given her for a second time it was to again be met with that hollow-sounding recording, leaving the same message for Mr Lennox to come to the hospital immediately, thinking that at this rate the baby would be a year old before its father put in an appearance! It was ridiculous to leave on an answering service when you knew your wife was so near to having her baby.

The doctor came back into the waiting-room just after she had returned herself. ‘No Mr Lennox yet?’ he raised his eyebrows.

‘I’m afraid not,’ she grimaced.

‘Well, in the circumstances … You accompanied Mrs Lennox, I believe?’ he looked at her enquiringly.

‘Yes,’ she nodded.

He shrugged. ‘It should be another hour or so before the baby is born, and Mrs Lennox keeps asking for her husband. I wondered if you would mind talking to her for a few minutes, just to assure her that he has been notified.’

The thought of entering that clinical-looking room she had caught a glimpse of as they wheeled Kay Lennox inside didn’t exactly thrill her. Like most people, she had no love of hospitals. But Danny’s words about getting involved came back to taunt her, and she was determined to prove to herself, if to no one else, that she could cope with this.

The gown, cap, and shoe-guards they made her wear weren’t exactly glamorous, and the next few minutes of reassuring Kay that Nick had been notified and was probably on his way here even now—something she hoped, but doubted—weren’t the most enjoyable she had ever spent in her life; Kay’s contractions were obviously coming very frequently now.

She felt quite dizzy once she was back in the waiting-room, very grateful to the nurse who brought her a pot of tea and a sandwich. No one else had turned up in the waiting-room in her absence, so she still had the place to herself. Considering the number of babies being born in this country she was rather surprised at the small number of births in this private clinic today.

The tea was hot and strong, the chicken salad sandwich delicious, and she had just taken another mouthwatering bite when the door opened and a man came into the room. Her eyes widened as she looked at him, at the golden-blond hair, the deeply tanned skin, the obviously athletic body in the black fitted trousers and black silk shirt, the latter partly unbuttoned to reveal the darker blond hair that grew on his chest. But it was his face that was so arresting, an arrogantly handsome face that was familiar and yet somehow wasn’t. His eyebrows were the same dark blond of the hair on his chest, his eyes deeply blue, the lashes long and thick, his nose long and straight, his mouth rather stern now, although the laughter lines about his eyes seemed to indicate that he didn’t always look this forbidding.

Rachel slowly lowered the sandwich back on to the plate, watching with mesmerised eyes as he closed the door and walked across the room towards her, his movements made with ease, his body lean and muscled, his clothes looking good on him. He was really a very attractive man, in his late twenties or early thirties, sure of himself and other people’s reaction to him.

‘Miss James?’

His voice was low and husky—sexy, most of her friends would have called it. ‘Yes,’ she answered, frowning now. This man didn’t look like a doctor. Oh, she knew that not all doctors had to wear white coats, but this man just didn’t look anything like the harassed doctor who had spoken to her earlier. In fact, this man looked as if very little bothered him at all!

He nodded, as if she had just confirmed his thoughts. ‘I thought so. I got your messages on my answering service, and—–’

You’re Nick?’ Her eyes widened with disbelief. This was Nick Lennox?

He smiled at her surprise, his eyes crinkling at the corners, as she had known they would, instantly looking more boyish, although the leashed power that surrounded him seemed to deny he had ever been that. This man looked as if he had been born experienced. ‘Yes, I’m Nick,’ he told her, his accent as American as his wife’s, Rachel noticed for the first time.

Rachel frowned her confusion. He really wasn’t what she had been expecting Kay’s husband to be like. Or was it just that he didn’t look like anyone’s husband, the looks he was giving her seeming to say he didn’t feel like anyone’s husband either; open appreciation for her slender curves and gaminly attractive features were shown clearly in his deep blue eyes.

It was because of this openly flirtatious look that she answered him more sharply, more bluntly, than she might otherwise have done. ‘It’s about time you turned up,’ she snapped. ‘Do you realise I’ve been calling you all afternoon—–’

‘Twice,’ he put in softly, seemingly unmoved by her attack.

She gave him an irritated look. ‘Once at two-thirty, and once at five o’clock.’

‘But hardly all afternoon,’ he taunted.

Rachel flushed. ‘That doesn’t change the fact that I put in the first call over four hours ago.’

‘I was out—–’

‘That’s obvious,’ she scorned.

This time he seemed to stiffen at her criticism, his eyes hardening and narrowing, his expression harsh. ‘I don’t have to explain my movements to you, Miss James—–’

‘No, you have to explain them to that poor woman in there having a baby—–’

‘The doctor said she’s doing very well,’ he frowned.

‘She is. But you don’t seem to have felt the need to go in and find out for yourself.’ She stood up, feeling at a disadvantage being seated while he stood over her, although his extra foot in height still made her feel small and defenceless.

His mouth twisted mockingly. ‘The last thing Kay needs is for me to see her in the middle of childbirth. She wouldn’t thank me for it, I can assure you.’

Rachel’s eyes sparkled, deeply grey in her anger. ‘There’s nothing wrong in seeing a woman give birth. In fact I think it’s rather beautiful.’

‘I’m sure it is,’ he dismissed. ‘Now look, Miss James, I came in here to thank you for looking after Kay, not to receive criticism from you for the fact that I happened to have been working all day, and to tell me I should go in there when I know damned well Kay wouldn’t want that.’

‘She’s been asking for you,’ she told him accusingly.

‘She has?’

‘Well, of course she has—–’

‘I don’t see any “of course” about it, Miss James—–’

‘My name is Rachel,’ she cut in impatiently. ‘And of course your wife has been asking for you. Any woman would ask for her husband at such a time!’

‘Ah, her husband,’ he said slowly, his eyes starting to glow with amusement. ‘Yes, I suppose a husband would be wanted at such a time.’ His arms were folded across his broad chest, the cuffs of his shirt sleeves turned back to just below his elbow, a plain gold watch fastened about his right wrist. ‘But you see,’ he added mockingly, ‘I’m not Kay’s husband.’

‘I—You aren’t?’ Rachel gasped.

‘Nope,’ he answered confidently, those deep blue eyes sweeping over her with deepening amusement.

She frowned. ‘But she asked for you.’

‘Yes,’ he nodded, ‘I’m sure she did.’

She had been so sure Nick was Kay’s husband, was sure the doctor had thought so too. But then she hadn’t really noticed whether or not Kay Lennox was wearing a wedding ring, and she hadn’t asked specifically for her husband, just for Nick. Well, if he wasn’t her husband he must be … Her mouth twisted as she looked at his arrogantly confident face, the mocking smile as she began to blush.

Heaven knew she wasn’t a prude, the permissive society had been going on long before she was even born, but surely there were enough illegitimate children in the world already without adding to their number.

‘I’m sorry,’ her voice was stiff with disapproval, ‘I didn’t realise you weren’t married.’

Nick moved to one of the armchairs and sat down, the ankle of one leg resting on the knee of the other one, looking completely relaxed as he smiled up at her. ‘I’m not—but Kay is,’ he informed her softly.

Goodness, this was getting more and more complicated! Nick wasn’t Kay’s husband, but she did have one somewhere. And was the baby Nick’s or her husband’s?

‘Before your imagination runs riot,’ he taunted, the blue eyes narrowed, ‘I think maybe I should tell you that I’m Kay’s adopted brother.’

‘Her—her brother?’ Rachel gulped.


What an idiot he must think her! Although in all honesty he had done nothing to correct her obvious misunderstanding, had known what she was thinking and had made no effort to acquaint her with the truth. This Nick—aptly named as far as she was concerned!—had been having fun at her expense. How ridiculous she must have looked when she tried to reprove him about not being married when he was expecting to be a father at any minute!

Her head went back, her stature challenging, her eyes flashing deeply grey as her hair fell straight and gleaming to her waist, mahogany-dark, a startling contrast to her red tee-shirt. ‘Very funny,’ she snapped, gathering up the books she had brought with her, intending to have taken them to her next class. ‘I’ll leave now you’re here.’

He moved with a speed that surprised her and was standing at her side even as she pressed the books to her breasts. He grasped one of her wrists. ‘Don’t go,’ he said huskily, the pressure on her narrow wrist unsettling the books she was holding and causing several of them to crash to the floor. ‘Sorry.’ He released her, bending to pick up the books, the overhead lighting making his hair look like gold.

Rachel stood in shocked silence, waiting for the wild sensations from her wrist to the rest of her body to stop. Her skin actually tingled where he had touched her, although there were no visible marks there to tell her just why this man’s touch made her feel so odd.

He was straightening now, giving her chalky-coloured cheeks a quizzical look, the clear blue of his eyes like a Mediterranean sea. ‘Hey, I didn’t hurt you, did I?’ he queried softly, standing so close she could see the green speckles in the blue of his eyes, could smell the spicy cologne he wore, the male warmth of his body.

She quivered as sexual attraction gripped her, a sensation such as she had never known before, a feeling of wanting to press herself against this man and be engulfed by him. It was mad, utterly out of character, and yet as soon as he had entered the room she had been totally aware of him. That was maybe even the reason she had been so sharp with him when she thought he was Kay’s husband.

He was looking at her now, the brooding blue eyes puzzled, a frown marring his brow. And well he might. He was probably wondering what was wrong with her, he had spoken to her several minutes ago and she hadn’t answered him yet.

She licked her suddenly dry lips, aware that to this ultra-sophisticated man she must appear very juvenile. Especially now, when she was acting like an infatuated teenager instead of a responsible eighteen-year-old. ‘No, you didn’t hurt me,’ she answered strongly. ‘One of the books fell on my toe,’ she invented.

‘Mm,’ he looked down at the title of one of them. ‘They look heavy—in more ways than one.’

‘They are.’ She snatched the books out of his hands—taking care not to touch him again, putting them on top of the others.

Business in the Eighties,’ he quoted softly. ‘Rather a strange subject for a schoolgirl to be studying, isn’t it?’

‘I’m not a schoolgirl, Mr—er—–’

‘Nick,’ he invited softly.

Rachel flushed. ‘I’m not a schoolgirl,’ she repeated, this time omitting to call him anything. ‘I’m at college. And I’m doing a business course.’

‘And you missed classes this afternoon to bring my sister to hospital?’


‘We’re very grateful to you,’ he said deeply.

‘I didn’t do it for gratitude,’ she snapped, still too raw from that strange reaction she had had to him. ‘Your sister, Mrs Lennox, was obviously in need of help.’


‘I really have to go now.’ She looked away from him, unnerved by his steady look. ‘I have a class this evening.’

His dark blond eyebrows rose. ‘In the evenings too?’

‘I take languages at night, French and German.’

‘Do you have time for a social life?’

‘Of course,’ she flashed.

The door opened and the doctor came into the room. ‘Your sister would like to see you for a few minutes,’ he spoke to Nick.

Nick hesitated. ‘Is it all right?’

‘Just for a few minutes,’ the other man nodded.

Nick looked at Rachel. ‘You’ll wait for me?’

‘Wait for me’—how casually those words were spoken, and yet Rachel had the strangest feeling that if he had said them seriously, with the intention of coming back to her no matter what stood in his way of their being together, her answer would have been the same. ‘Yes,’ she told him huskily.

Seconds after he had left the room she was wondering why she was still here. She had done her good deed for the day, had got Kay Lennox to the hospital, her brother was now here to keep her company, so there was no reason for her to stay any longer. Except Nick’s request that she ‘wait for him’.

It was stupid, utterly insane. She should be on her way to her French class, not sitting here waiting for a man she had just met, a man who seemed altogether too confident of his attraction to women. She didn’t doubt there had been plenty of them in his life, the light of experience in his eyes seemed to say there had been many.

She knew all that, knew there was just no valid reason for her to stay here, and yet she was still sitting in the waiting-room when Nick returned.

He was pale beneath his tan, sinking gratefully into the nearest chair. ‘Do you think all women have to go through that?’

‘You mean you don’t know?’ she asked bitchily, frightened of her own reaction to this man, feeling his magnetism even stronger the second time around.

‘I told you, I’m not married.’

‘That doesn’t preclude your having a child,’ she said insultingly.

If anything he paled even more, this time with anger. ‘It does in my book,’ he ground out. ‘Any child of mine will know my love, my full-time love—unlike my own parents, who didn’t give a damn.’

‘Where is your sister’s husband?’ asked Rachel.

‘In New York on business. He left Kay in my care.’

The look she gave him showed him what she thought of his way of looking after his sister.

His eyes hardened. ‘She wasn’t supposed to have gone out,’ he said abruptly.

‘She said she wanted to do some shopping.’

Nick nodded. ‘Clothes for the baby—as if she doesn’t have enough. I don’t suppose she had you call Richard?’

‘In New York?’ she scorned.

‘No, I suppose not,’ he sighed. ‘Then I’d better do that now.’

‘I’ll go—–’

‘No, wait. Please,’ he added at her rebellious look. ‘The doctor said it won’t be long at all now, so you may as well wait and see what she has. You never know,’ he added mockingly, ‘if it’s a girl she may decide to name it after you. Raquel, you said?’

‘Rachel,’ she corrected irritably.

‘Okay, Rachel,’ he taunted. ‘You might as well wait and see whether it’s a boy or a girl. If it isn’t too late I’ll drive you to your class afterwards.’

Her mouth twisted. ‘It’s already too late. It began five minutes ago,’ she explained.

‘I’m sorry.’

‘It doesn’t matter. I have the books, I can probably do the lesson at home.’

‘Intelligent as well as beautiful!’

Rachel tried her hardest not to blush, but knew she hadn’t succeeded when she saw the satisfaction in his eyes. He knew exactly what sort of effect he was having on her—and he was enjoying the fact. He would probably tell his equally sophisticated girl-friend all about the gauche young girl he had met today when next they met. She knew he would have a girl-friend, a woman he went to bed with; the air of sensuality that surrounded him must be satisfied by some one.

‘Your telephone call,’ she reminded him stiffly.

‘Mm.’ He stood up, each movement he made fluidly co-ordinated. ‘Is there anyone you have to let know where you are?’

Rachel shook her head, her dark hair swinging forward. ‘I called my parents earlier and told them to expect me when they see me.’

‘I’ll drive you home later. Right now I’d better let Richard know he’s about to be a father three weeks early.’ Nick grimaced. ‘He’ll be so damned mad—at himself,’ he added at Rachel’s raised eyebrows. ‘He didn’t want to go on this business trip, but Kay persuaded him to go against his better judgment. He should have known better than to trust my sister, she’s never been on time for anything in her life, although she’s usually late.’

An unwilling smile curved her lips, her teeth small and pearly white, two tiny dimples appearing in her cheeks.

Nick’s eyes widened as he looked at her, almost as if he were seeing her for the first time. ‘I’ll go and make that call,’ he muttered, leaving the room.

Rachel was left with that ‘kicked in the stomach’ feeling again. Nick was like no other man she had ever met, and she acted like a nervous schoolgirl every time he so much as looked at her.

Except when she had made that bitchy comment about him possibly being a father, and he hadn’t liked that at all, his reaction against that had been very strong. Maybe she should apologise? But if she did that she would be making an issue out of it. Better to just forget the subject.

She gave him a warm smile when he returned a few minutes later. ‘Did you manage to speak to your brother-in-law?’ she asked.

‘Yes.’ Nick closed the door. ‘He’s getting the first plane back. He’s a bit annoyed because he wanted to be with Kay at the birth, but I told him he wasn’t missing much.’

Rachel gave a light laugh, her eyes a deep grey. ‘I gather you don’t intend being present when you marry and your wife has a baby.’

‘That depends,’ he drawled.

‘On what?’

‘On whether this imaginary wife wants me there.’

‘Oh,’ she blushed. ‘Of course.’

They both looked up as the door was opened, and looked anxiously at the doctor, relaxing as he beamed at them. ‘Mrs Lennox has a lovely little girl,’ he announced. ‘Seven pounds four ounces.’

Nick swallowed hard. ‘Are they both all right?’

‘Yes,’ the doctor still smiled. ‘Mrs Lennox is very tired, but she would like to see you both before we take her to her room.’

Rachel let Nick hold her elbow as they went in to see the tired but ecstatic new mother, the tiny shawl-wrapped baby she cradled in her arms already fast asleep.

‘Isn’t she beautiful?’ she glowed up at her brother.

He looked down at the tiny red-faced baby, honestly obviously warring with brotherly love. The latter won. ‘Yes, she’s lovely, honey,’ he squeezed his sister’s hand. ‘Beautiful, just like you.’

‘Rachel,’ Kay turned to look at her, ‘thank you so much for all that you did for me, calling Nick and everything. Even if he was late getting here,’ she added teasingly.

‘I was at the court all day, Kay. I had no idea I was going to be needed.’

‘Excuses, excuses!’ she said mischievously.

Rachel was still taking in the fact that Nick was a lawyer. He didn’t look anything like she had imagined a lawyer to look, like the lawyers they portrayed on television. Maybe in one of those formal suits they wore …? No, he just didn’t fit the part.

‘Time for you to rest now,’ he was telling his sister. ‘I’ll be back to see you tomorrow. Richard should be back by then too. Right now I’m going to take Rachel out to celebrate the birth of my new niece.’

‘Oh, I—–’

‘Going to wet the baby’s head?’ Kay teased.

‘Something like that.’ He gave a soft laugh, his hand still firm on Rachel’s elbow. ‘Take care, honey. And give my new niece a kiss from me when she wakes up.’

‘When she’s older I’ll tell her how brave her uncle was at her birth,’ Kay’s eyes twinkled with humour.

‘Time to go now,’ the nurse told them softly, taking the baby and putting her in the waiting cot.

Rachel collected her books from the waiting-room before accompanying Nick outside. ‘I really can’t go for a drink with you,’ she repeated the refusal he had interrupted in his sister’s room.

‘You aren’t under age, are you?’

‘No,’ she flushed. ‘I’m eighteen. I just have to get home and read up tomorrow’s classes.’

‘Has anyone ever told you you work too hard?’

Danny had, frequently. But she was determined to do well in this business course; she didn’t want to remain just a secretary when she left college at the end of next year but to make a viable career for herself in the world of business.

‘I’m really very grateful for the offer, but—–’

‘But you still refuse.’ They were walking across the car park now, Nick leading her to the side of a sleek Jaguar, its red colour visible to her in the bright evening light.

Rachel’s eyes opened wide with appreciation as he unlocked the passenger door for her. Being a lawyer must pay well! ‘I have to refuse. As you said, those books are heavy going, and I always read the appropriate chapter for the next day’s classes the evening before.’

‘Very conscientious,’ he taunted. ‘In you get,’ he encouraged.

Rachel climbed into the low seat, the car perfectly matching its owner, sleek and powerful. As Nick slid into the seat beside her she was instantly aware of the intimacy of the inside of the car, Nick’s electricity was a tangible thing. She was pleased and flattered that such a man wanted her to share in his celebration, but it just wasn’t possible.

‘I’m sorry,’ she muttered as he flicked the ignition, the engine purring into life.

‘Do you have night school tomorrow?’ he asked.

‘Tomorrow?’ she blinked at him.

‘Hmm,’ he nodded as he manoeuvred the car out into the traffic. ‘We could celebrate tomorrow if you aren’t busy.’

‘Won’t you be visiting your sister?’

‘Not all evening. Richard should be back by then anyway.’

She was tempted—how she was tempted! And why not? A drink and a chat, what harm could it do? Besides, a man like this couldn’t possibly have any real romantic interest in her. No, his invitation was just another thank-you for helping his sister. ‘Then I’d like to come for a drink,’ she accepted shyly.

‘And dinner?’

She gave a happy laugh. ‘And dinner. Thank you.’

‘Fine. Now you’d better direct me to your home, we can’t keep driving around all night,’ he mocked lightly.

She gave him the directions, relaxing back in her seat as he put on a Barbra Streisand cassette. She shot him the occasional sideways glance, hardly able to believe he was going to take her out to dinner tomorrow. With his expensive elegance she would have to review the contents of her wardrobe. Maybe she shouldn’t have agreed to dinner, she really didn’t have anything to wear, and—–

‘We’re here,’ Nick prompted softly.

‘Oh!’ She looked out of the window, seeing the dearly familiar house she had lived in all of her life. ‘Oh yes. Well, thank you,’ and she opened the door, turning to get out.

Nick’s hand on her arm stopped her. ‘Eight o’clock tomorrow?’

‘Er—Fine.’ The temptation to spend an evening in the company of this man was just too much. ‘Goodnight.’

He leant forward, kissing her lightly on the mouth. ‘Goodnight, Rachel. I really am grateful to you for helping Kay.’

She blushed, lightly as the kiss had been given. Could it be that he didn’t see her as a schoolgirl after all? ‘Then I’ll have to make sure I choose an expensive dinner, won’t I?’ she said cheekily.

Nick’s throaty chuckle showed he appreciated her humour, and she turned and waved to him before going into the house, leaning weakly back against the door. This morning, even this afternoon, she hadn’t even met him, and now she was looking forward to her date with him tomorrow.

As she went into the sitting-room she wondered what her parents would make of him. They were watching the late evening news as she came in, her mother plump and homely as she knitted a jumper for a neighbour’s child, her father intent on the world events of the day. They were nice ordinary people, and she loved them very much, but she was aware that Nick was anything but ordinary. He was like an electric charge to the system, full of forceful energy, with a lazy charm that captivated.

‘Boy or girl?’ her mother asked softly as she sat down beside her on the sofa.

Her father gave her a vague look, his affection evident in his smile. ‘Hello, love.’

‘Dad,’ she answered in a hushed voice, knowing she wasn’t to talk any louder until the news and weather had finished. ‘It was a girl, Mum,’ she answered the query. ‘I hadn’t realised newborn babies were so tiny.’ She had been awestruck at the miniature perfection of the baby’s hands and feet, her thick thatch of golden hair.

‘You were beautiful when you were born,’ her mother said dreamily. ‘You were premature, only five and a half pounds in weight, and premature babies are always prettier. Why, what are you smiling at, Rachel?’

Her humour deepened. ‘I was just thinking of the baby’s uncle’s reaction when he first saw her. She was all screwed up and wrinkled, and yet her mother was convinced she was beautiful.’ And to Nick’s credit he hadn’t shown by so much as a blink of an eyelid that he didn’t apprecite the baby’s looks.

‘The baby’s uncle, dear?’ her mother prompted.

‘Yes. Mrs Lennox’s husband was away, so I—Dad, what is this?’ she asked sharply, something, some-one on the television catching and holding her attention.


‘What are they talking about?’ she repeated impatiently.

‘Why, the tennis, of course,’ he answered with equal impatience. It was obvious what they were talking about, with two men fiercely hitting the ball at each other, determination on each of their faces.

‘What tennis?’ she asked agitatedly, desperately trying to come to grips with something that was becoming more and more obvious by the second.

‘Wimbledon, dear,’ it was her mother who answered this time. ‘They played the quarter-finals today.’

And the man playing in one of them was none other than Kay Lennox’s brother Nick! No wonder he had seemed so familiar, she had actually watched him playing one of the qualifying matches earlier in the week, had sat and cheered him on.

He was Nicholas St Clare, world-famous tennis player, winner of numerous tournaments the last twelve years, since he had turned professional at the age of eighteen. And the court he had been talking about this evening hadn’t been a court of law but a tennis court, a tennis court at the world-renowned Wimbledon Championship!


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