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Taming the Last St Claire

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«Taming the Last St Claire» - Кэрол Мортимер

There’s only one – resolutely – single St Claire male left…Gideon St Claire’s life revolves around work – just the way he likes it. He’s master of his emotions, and the women he dates never get glimpses of his home life beyond the stairs leading to his bedroom… But for how long?Feisty and fun-loving, with the annoying knack of knowing just how to wind Gideon up, Joey McKinley is the sort of woman he avoids. How does he handle such enthusiasm? But when an old enemy of Joey’s starts looking for revenge, Gideon’s forced to keep watch over her – day and night…THE SCANDALOUS ST CLAIRES Three arrogant aristocrats – ready to marry!
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About the Author

‘Does anyone ever dare to argue with you, Gideon?’ Joey asked.

‘Obviously,’ he drawled, looking at her pointedly.

‘This isn’t an argument, it’s a dialogue,’ she said.

‘I really don’t have time for this, so if you don’t mind—’

‘But I do mind, Gideon.’

She was suddenly standing far too close to him again.

‘Joey, I appreciate the fact that your sister being married to my brother puts us in the position of being almost related.’ Almost being the operative word! ‘But let me say, here and now, that I have absolutely no interest in knowing anything about your sex-life.’

Joey gave him a cool smile. ‘Then why are we still standing here discussing it?’

About the Author

CAROLE MORTIMER was born in England, the youngest of three children. She began writing in 1978, and has now written over one hundred and fifty books for Harlequin Mills & Boon®. Carole has six sons: Matthew, Joshua, Timothy, Michael, David and Peter. She says, ‘I’m happily married to Peter senior; we’re best friends as well as lovers, which is probably the best recipe for a successful relationship. We live in a lovely part of England.’






Three arrogant aristocrats—ready to marry!

If you’ve missed any of The Scandalous St Claires series, all titles are available as ebooks at www.millsandboon.co.uk

In Mills & Boon® Modern™ Romance:




Travel back to Regency England to read about where it all began—

The Notorious St Claires in Mills & Boon® Historical:






To everyone who has enjoyed

the St Claires as much as I have!


‘SO, ARE you going to stand there all morning looking down your superior nose at me, or are you going to do something useful and offer to carry one of these boxes up in the lift for me? ‘

Gideon closed his eyes. Counted to ten. Slowly. Breathed in. And then out again. Even more slowly. Before once again opening his eyes.

No, Joey McKinley was still there. In fact she had straightened from bending over the boot of her car, parked two bays down from Gideon’s own in this private underground car park, and was now peremptorily tapping the sole of one three-inch stiletto-heeled shoe against the concrete floor. He knew this woman would become the bane of his existence for the next four weeks, if this situation was allowed to continue.

Joey McKinley. Twenty-eight years old, five foot four inches tall, with short, silky red hair that somehow wisped up and away from the heart-shaped beauty of her face, challenging jade-green eyes, and a creamily smooth complexion with a soft sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of her tiny nose, her lips full and sensual. The leanness of her obviously physically fit body was shown to advantage in a smart black tailored business suit and a silk blouse the same jade-green colour as her eyes.

‘Well?’ his own personal nemesis challenged, that impatient tapping of her shoe against the concrete floor increasing as she looked across at him with auburn brows arched over those mocking green eyes.

Gideon drew in another deep and steadying breath as he considered the numerous ways in which he might cause his older brother Lucan pain for having placed him in this untenable position in the first place. Not enough to do any serious damage, of course. But a little pain? Gideon felt no qualms whatsoever about that. Lucan obviously felt a similar lack of concern about Gideon’s welfare, having inflicted this woman on him without a second’s consideration.

It was something Gideon had been contemplating for the last thirty-six hours, in fact. Ever since Lucan had informed him, at his wedding reception on Saturday evening, that when Gideon took over as temporary chairman of the St Claire Corporation for the month that he and Lexie were away on their honeymoon, he had arranged for Joey McKinley to take Gideon’s place as the company’s legal representative.

Gideon’s assurances that he was perfectly capable of fulfilling both roles had made absolutely no impact on his older brother. He’d also ignored Gideon when he’d confessed he had his doubts that he and Joey McKinley could work together.

Gideon respected the woman as a lawyer, having heard only positive comments from other colleagues concerning her ability in a courtroom, but on every other level she succeeded in making his hackles rise.

That red hair was like a shining beacon in any room she happened to be in, and she had a husky and sensual laugh that, when released, had every male head in the vicinity turning in her direction. She had been wearing a dress the last two times Gideon had met her—firstly, an ankle-length sheath of a maid of honour gown in a deep jade colour at her sister Stephanie and his brother Jordan’s wedding, almost two months ago, and a red knee-length dress at Lucan and Lexie’s wedding on Saturday. The latter should have clashed with the bright copper cap of her hair, but instead it had just seemed to emphasise the natural gold and cinnamon highlights running through those strands.

The black business suit she was wearing today should have looked crisp and professional, but somehow…didn’t. The jacket was short and figure-hugging, and the top three buttons left unfastened on the green silk blouse she wore beneath enabled him to see the tops of full and creamy breasts.

The fitted knee-length skirt showed off an expanse of her shapely legs.

In other words, Joey McKinley was—‘You know, I’ve seen paint dry quicker than you appear to be able to make up your mind!’ she called out.—a veritable thorn in his side! He drew in another controlling breath in an effort to force the tension from his body. ‘Do you always have to be this abrasive?’ Silly question; he knew her well enough by now to know that she always said exactly what happened to be on her mind at the time. Something that Gideon, a man who always measured his words carefully before speaking, found disturbing to say the least.

Her next comment was a prime example of that bluntness. ‘Maybe I wouldn’t feel the need if you occasionally took that I’m-so-superior stick out of your backside and joined the rest of us mortals in the real world.’

Gideon winced. The two of them had met—what?—four times in total. Most recently two days ago, at Lucan and Lexie’s wedding, and before that nine weeks ago, when he’d first met her in her office at Pickard, Pickard and Wright, after he had gone to inform her he had managed to extricate her twin sister Stephanie from an awkward legal situation. Two weeks after that he’d met her at the wedding rehearsal of his twin brother Jordan and Stephanie, and then he’d seen her again at their wedding a week later.

Gideon frowned now as he remembered his absolute astonishment during Jordan and Stephanie’s marriage ceremony. Everything had gone so smoothly in the lead-up to the wedding, and Gideon, as his brother’s best man, had ensured that he and Jordan arrived at the church in plenty of time. Gideon had even felt a lump of emotion in his own throat, on his twin’s behalf, when the two of them had turned to see how beautiful Stephanie looked as she walked down the aisle. Until, that was, Gideon had caught the look of derision in Joey’s gaze as she’d glanced at him from where she followed just behind her twin.

Not that this was anything unusual; the two of them seemed to have taken an instant dislike to each other the very first time they’d met. No, the reason for Gideon’s astonishment had come later in the ceremony, when everyone had sat down while Jordan and Stephanie and their two witnesses signed the register, and he’d heard an angel singing.

A single, unaccompanied voice had soared majestically to the heavens, filling the church to the rafters, as sweet and clear as the perfect, melodic chiming of a bell.

He had never before heard anything so beautiful as that voice—so clear and plaintive it had been almost magical as it claimed his emotions. He had felt so dazed, his senses so completely captivated by the pure and haunting beauty of that voice, that it had taken him a minute or so to realise that all the wedding guests were looking towards the right side of the church—which was when Gideon had realised that the singing ‘angel’ was none other than Joey McKinley!

Joey had no idea why it was that Gideon St Claire brought out the very worst in her—to the extent that she enjoyed nothing more than deliberately baiting him out of what she considered his arrogant complacency. Maybe it really was that superior attitude of his that bugged her. Or the fact that, with his icy reserve firmly clamped in place, he was always so emotionally unresponsive. Everything about him was restrained, from the short style of his wonderful gold-coloured hair, the tailored dark suits he wore—always over a white shirt and matched with a discreetly subdued silk tie—to the expensive but unremarkable metallic-grey saloon car he drove. If Joey had been as rich as the St Claire family was reputed to be then she would have driven a sporty red Ferrari at the very least!

Or her resentment could just stem from the fact that a couple of months ago Gideon St Claire had stepped in, with his highly polished size eleven handmade leather shoes, and sorted out a delicate and personal legal matter for her sister, which Joey had been trying—unsuccessfully—to settle for weeks.

It certainly couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that, putting the icy reserve apart, the man was as handsome as sin but gave every impression he hadn’t so much as noticed Joey was a female, let alone a passably attractive one!

His hair—cut too short for her liking—was the colour and texture of spun gold, and styled over his ears and brow. His eyes were a dark and piercing brown, set in a ruggedly handsome face, and as if that wasn’t enough, nature had bestowed upon him high cheekbones, sensually chiselled lips, and an arrogantly square jaw.

Having studied him from beneath lowered lashes at their second meeting—she had been too overwhelmed by both his legal reputation and his considerable arrogance the first time they met in her office!—Joey had no doubt, just from the predatory way that he moved, that the body beneath those dark tailored suits and white silk shirts was powerfully lean and muscled.

Wheat-gold hair, chocolate-brown eyes, broodingly sensual features that any male model would kill for, and a body that was all hard masculine contours meant that Gideon St Claire was seriously hot—with a capital H. A description that, if he were to hear it, would no doubt offend all his icily reserved sensibilities!

Taking all that smouldering sensuality into consideration, Joey had been intrigued by the fact that he hadn’t brought a woman with him to the weddings of his brothers. That coupled with the fact that Gideon didn’t even seem to register her as a female, had eventually made Joey ask her sister whether Gideon maybe preferred men to women. She had assumed Stephanie’s answer to be a resounding no after it had taken her sister almost five minutes to stop laughing hysterically.

So, Mr Arrogantly Reserved and Broodingly Sensual obviously liked women—just not Joey!

Well, that was fine with her—Gideon St Claire might be one of the most disturbingly attractive men Joey had ever met, but the lack of interest he always showed in her only succeeded in making her feel defensive, and more often than not she deliberately set out to shock him.

‘Are you suffering from laryngitis, or are you just not a morning person?’ The bright cheerfulness with which Joey spoke showed neither of those two things applied to her.

‘Perhaps if you were to stop talking long enough to allow me to answer you?’ He spoke tersely, yet even the low and gravelly tenor of his voice was sexy, she thought with a mental sigh. He made no move to close the short distance between their two parked cars. ‘Miss McKinley—’


His nostrils flared with obvious distaste. ‘Would you object if I were to call you Josephine?’

‘Not at all—as long as you don’t mind me reacting the same way I did the last time someone tried to do that,’ she came back breezily. ‘He ended up with a black eye,’ she supplied with a smile as Gideon raised questioning blond brows.

One of those brows remained raised. ‘You don’t like the name Josephine?’

‘Obviously not.’

This was not going well, Gideon accepted heavily. He had come to the conclusion, during the hours since Lucan had spoken to him on Saturday evening, that the only solution to this problem was for him to talk to Joey and calmly and logically explain why he didn’t feel they could work together, before waving her a cheery goodbye and getting on with his role of acting chairman of the St Claire Corporation. For heaven’s sake, she must be as aware as he was of their different approaches to—well, everything!

A reasonable and well thought out plan, he had believed at the time. Until he had actually been faced with the abrasively outspoken woman in person. Just these few minutes of conversation with her was enough to show him that his conclusion had been entirely correct. However, he’d also swiftly realised that any suggestion on his part that she might care to rethink agreeing to work with him for a month would probably only result in the contrary Joey McKinley doing the exact opposite.

For once in Gideon’s well-ordered life he had no idea what to do or say to best achieve his objective. He just knew he couldn’t tolerate working in close proximity with this forthright young woman for four weeks and stay sane!

Even if she did have the singing voice of an angel…

The fact that Lucan had announced he was taking a whole month off for his honeymoon, during which he intended to be completely incommunicado except for absolute emergencies, was extraordinary in itself.

Not that Gideon should have been surprised—both his brothers had been behaving in a completely unpredictable manner since they had met and as quickly married the two women they had fallen in love with.

It wasn’t that he didn’t like both Stephanie and Lexie—he did. It was the change in his two brothers that he found… unsettling.

Jordan, an A-list actor who had enjoyed any number of relationships with beautiful actresses and models during the past ten years, had surprisingly fallen in love with his physiotherapist two months ago, and showed every appearance of continuing to be totally besotted with Stephanie now the two of them were married. To the extent that the filming of his current movie was completely scheduled around the hours Stephanie worked at the clinic she had opened since moving to LA.

And until Lucan had met and fallen in love with Lexie he had never taken more than a few days away from the company he had built up into one of the most diverse and successful in the world. In fact, driven was the word Gideon would most have associated with his older brother until the advent of Lexie into his life only a few short weeks ago.

It was a word that could have been associated with all three of the St Claire brothers since they’d reached adulthood and entered their chosen professions: Gideon in law, Jordan in acting, Lucan in the world of business.

All of that had changed in the past two months, and as a man who preferred order and continuity Gideon was still trying to come to terms with it. Something he wasn’t likely to do with the annoying Joey McKinley haunting his every working moment!

‘Very well, then. Joey it is.’ He gave an almost imperceptible sigh. ‘I’m sure that Pickard, Pickard and Wright—Jason Pickard, in particular—was sorry to see you go.’

‘See me go where, exactly?’

Gideon eyed her impatiently. Really, nothing he had heard about this woman had ever given him reason to question her intelligence. ‘Here, of course.’

Joey looked taken aback. ‘I’m sorry, but you’ll have to explain what you mean. Especially the “Jason Pickard, in particular” remark,’ she added coolly.

Gideon wasn’t enjoying having this personal conversation in the middle of a private car park, of all places, where any of the other company employees might arrive at any moment. Admittedly it was only a little after eight o’clock in the morning, and most St Claire Corporation employees didn’t arrive until nearly nine o’clock, but it would be most unprofessional for anyone to arrive early and see the acting chairman at loggerheads with an unknown woman in the car park.

Gideon closed the distance between them in three long strides, to stand only feet away from Joey, and instantly became uncomfortably aware of the light but heady perfume she wore. The choice of perfume was a surprise; Gideon would have thought, with her forceful personality, that she would wear one of those I’m-here-notice-me perfumes. The type of perfume that tended to give Gideon a headache the moment he inhaled. Instead, it was a delicate, subtly sensuous scent that made him react in an immediate way he intended to ignore.

His mouth thinned. ‘I was merely trying to express my sympathy at how unreasonable it was of Lucan to ask you to give up your place at Pickard, Pickard and Wright in order to work here for only four weeks.’

Joey found herself momentarily distracted as she watched Gideon move, with the lean and predatory grace of a jungle cat.

Once again she considered it a perfect waste of a gorgeous man that he was as tightly buttoned down as the points on the collar of his pristine white shirt. A little effort on Gideon’s part—and fewer disapproving looks!—and the man wouldn’t only be arrogantly handsome but also totally devastating to any female with a pulse and a heartbeat.

If he would just grow his hair a little longer he would look younger, and also rakishly sexy. Ditto as regards those conservative tailored suits he always wore. Put him in a pair of faded jeans and a figure-hugging black T-shirt, to show off his muscled chest and arms, and any woman with red blood in her veins was likely to have an orgasm just looking at him!

Joey smiled wickedly to herself, imagining the look of horror that would no doubt come over his arrogantly handsome face if he were even to guess at the inappropriateness of the thoughts she was having about him.

‘Do you find something amusing?’

It was amusing to imagine a more relaxed and sexy Gideon St Claire, as he attempted to fend off the attentions of all those panting women! But it was not so funny that Joey was actually aware of how much more dangerously attractive this man could be if he would just lighten up a little…

She gave herself a mental shake as she looked up into that darkly disapproving face; this man really wasn’t her type. She preferred men with the daring and energy to try anything new; Gideon gave the impression that the last new thing he had tried was wearing black socks instead of grey!

She drew in a deep breath. ‘Oh, but I haven’t given up my place at Pickard, Pickard and Wright; the senior partners were only too happy to give me a month’s leave of absence so I can help Lucan out.’

Something, Gideon realised with rising impatience, that must have taken some time to arrange. ‘Exactly when did Lucan make all these arrangements?’

‘Three weeks ago—’ Joey broke off to look up at him with narrowed, assessing eyes. ‘When did Lucan break the bad news to you?’

Gideon stiffened. ‘I don’t remember saying I regard it as bad news.’

‘You implied it,’ she dismissed shortly. ‘So—when? ‘

His jaw tightened. ‘I really don’t see—’

‘He only told you at the wedding on Saturday, didn’t he?’ she realised slowly.

Gideon had absolutely no idea why it was he always felt less in control of the situation around this particular woman. During his years in a courtroom he knew he’d acquired a reputation for being formidable. Now, as a corporate lawyer for Lucan’s vast companies worldwide, he knew he was regarded as being no less ruthless than his older brother. And yet just having a conversation with the unpredictable Joey McKinley was enough to set his teeth on edge. To set the whole of him on edge, in fact…

‘He did, didn’t he?’ Joey said with satisfaction, those green eyes now openly laughing at him. ‘It probably totally ruined the rest of your weekend, too!’

Gideon’s fingers tightened about the handle of his black briefcase. ‘My weekend was perfectly enjoyable, thank you,’ he lied stiffly. ‘In fact I had lunch with Stephanie and Jordan yesterday, as they are flying back to LA early today.’

‘And I had breakfast with them this morning, before driving them to the airport, and neither of them mentioned you’d asked for my telephone number. Which I’d have thought you would have done if you had wanted to have this conversation with me earlier.’ Joey McKinley gave a taunting shake of her head.

It had crossed Gideon’s mind, in fact, to ask Stephanie for her sister’s private telephone number, but on consideration he had decided not to involve either of their families in what was, after all, a private clash of personalities.

‘Or maybe you just didn’t want either of them to jump to the wrong conclusions?’

He scowled his displeasure. ‘I beg your pardon?’

‘By you asking for my home telephone number. I’m sure you wouldn’t have wanted to give Steph and Jordan the impression that you have a personal interest in me,’ she answered mockingly.

Gideon drew in yet another deep, controlling breath—a futile exercise, he thought wryly. He couldn’t remember feeling as rattled as this in a long time. ‘I believe that’s very unlikely.’

‘You do?’

Was it his imagination, or was Joey suddenly standing closer than she had been a few seconds ago? So close that Gideon could actually see the full swell of her breasts and the top of the lacy cup of her bra, and the pulse beating smoothly, enticingly, at the base of her throat.

Dear Lord…

His gaze turned to ice. ‘Surely you recognise just from this conversation that we can’t possibly work together?’

She was suddenly all business again as she straightened. ‘My arrangement is with Lucan, Gideon—not you. And I make a point of never letting people down once I’ve agreed to do something. A character trait I believe you share?’

It appeared that Joey was as aware of parts of Gideon’s nature as he was of hers! ‘I’m sure that Pickard, Pickard and Wright are more in need of your professional skills than I am,’ he pointed out smoothly.

‘On the contrary, they were only too happy to accommodate Lucan’s request,’ she assured him.

Of course they were, he thought derisively. No doubt Pickard, Pickard and Wright were perfectly aware of the prestige of allowing one of their associates to work at the St Claire Corporation for a month. Being asked for personally by a man of Lucan St Claire’s standing in the business world wouldn’t do Joey McKinley’s career any harm, either.

‘So, Gideon, Lucan’s happy with the arrangement, Pickard, Pickard and Wright are happy with the arrangement and I’m happy with the arrangement—it appears you’re the only one who isn’t.’ She looked him straight in the eye—an obvious challenge.

Gideon coldly returned that gaze. ‘I don’t recall saying I was unhappy with it.’



‘Then that little problem appears to have been settled to everyone’s satisfaction, doesn’t it,’ she dismissed lightly.

Like hell it was! As far as Gideon was concerned, having Joey in the St Claire building for the next four weeks was totally unacceptable.

She cut into his dire thoughts with another equally unwelcome sally. ‘Perhaps now you would care to explain exactly what you meant when you commented that “Jason Pickard, in particular” would have been sorry to see me go?’

Gideon realised she wasn’t being deliberately provocative any more. Her emotions were now much more subtle. On the surface she sounded pleasantly interested, but he recognised the anger burning beneath that supposedly calm surface; it was there in the sparkling green of her eyes and the flush to those creamy cheeks. Although why she should feel that way Gideon had no idea; everyone in the close-knit law community knew that she had been involved with the junior Pickard for the past six months.

He shrugged broad shoulders. ‘It’s public knowledge that the two of you are friends.’

‘That’s exactly what we are—friends,’ she stated evenly. ‘Nothing more, nothing less.’

‘I apologise if I’ve stepped on your personal toes.’

‘I’ve just told you that you haven’t,’ she said.

Gideon’s mouth thinned. ‘I’m not prepared to get into an argument with you over a perfectly innocent remark which I have already apologised for.’

‘Does anyone ever dare to argue with you, Gideon?’ Joey McKinley eyed him with obvious frustration.

‘Obviously,’ he drawled, looking at her pointedly.

‘This isn’t an argument, Gideon, it’s a dialogue,’ she snapped.

He shook his head. ‘I really don’t have time for this, so if you wouldn’t mind—’

‘But I do mind, Gideon.’ She was suddenly standing much too close to him again as she interrupted him ruthlessly. So close that he could feel the warmth of her breath against his jaw as the three-inch stiletto heels on her shoes brought the top of her head to his eye level.

Gideon dearly wished he had never started this conversation. That he had just picked up one of the boxes from the boot of this woman’s bright red Mini and travelled up in the lift with her, before shutting himself away for the day in Lucan’s office.

He was thirty-four years old, successful in his chosen career, and the brief and businesslike affairs he occasionally indulged in rarely even registered on the scale of his emotions. Other than the affection Gideon felt for his two brothers and his mother, he preferred to keep a physical and emotional distance from the rest of humanity.

It was difficult to do that around the forceful Joey McKinley. Especially when she was now so close to him that he could smell the lemon of her shampoo, and see the auburn, gold and cinnamon highlights in that glossy red hair. An unusual colour that Gideon knew didn’t come out of a bottle, because her twin sister had hair with exactly the same beautiful autumn shades.

What would that hair feel like to touch? As soft and silky as it looked? Or as brittle and defensive as the woman herself—

Gideon took an abrupt step back, shutting down his thoughts as he realised what he was doing, his jaw tight as he looked down the length of his nose at her. ‘Joey, I appreciate the fact that your sister being married to my brother puts us in the position of being almost related.’ Almost being the operative word! ‘But let me state here and now that I have absolutely no interest in knowing anything about your sex life.’

Joey’s eyed widened at the vehemence she heard in Gideon’s tone. She had no doubt that he genuinely respected and liked her sister, and that he approved of Stephanie’s marriage to his brother. So why had he decided he disliked Joey from their very first meeting?

Maybe he had disliked and disapproved of her before that first meeting, if his assumptions about her friendship with Jason Pickard were any indication, she mused. She was well aware of the rumours that had circulated about her and the junior partner at Pickard, Pickard and Wright for the past six months. Erroneous rumours, as it happened.

Oh, Jason was incredibly handsome, and the two of them went out to dinner at least once a week. Joey always enjoyed herself on those evenings as she found Jason good company. But their friendship wasn’t based on either sexual attraction or love.

In actual fact their friendship had become more in the nature of a smokescreen, because Jason was really in love with a man he had met at university and had shared an apartment with for the past ten years. Unfortunately his parents, Pickard Senior and Gloria, had no idea that their son’s relationship with the other man was anything more than friendship, and would have vehemently disapproved if they did.

Joey had been thrilled the first time Jason had asked her out—after all, he was the second Pickard in Pickard, Pickard and Wright. But it hadn’t taken her long to realise that Jason wasn’t in the least sexually interested in her. With her usual straightforwardness she had asked a couple of blunt questions, and eventually received a couple of straight answers. The revelation about Jason’s sexuality hadn’t changed anything as far as Joey was concerned; she liked him and enjoyed his company. Enough to agree to go out to dinner with him often—and why not, when there was very little happening in her own love life at the moment! And so the myth of their having a relationship had been born, a myth, it seemed, that even the coldly aloof Gideon St Claire was aware of.

Joey gave him a cool smile. ‘Then why are we still standing here discussing my sex life?’

‘You—’ Gideon broke off in obvious frustration, choosing instead to exercise rigid self-control. ‘Shall we just take your things upstairs and get to work?’ He moved to pick up one of the boxes from the boot of her car before walking stiffly over to the private lift.

Joey picked up the other box and then closed the boot and locked her car, a smile of satisfaction curving her lips as she followed him.

The next four weeks—if they entailed shaking Gideon St Claire out of his aloof complacency—promised to be a lot of fun. For her, if not for himself.


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