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Undying Love

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«Undying 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…Uncovering her secrets…Since her husband's death six months ago Shanna has thrown herself into her work by day and wild parties by night. Anything to avoid being alone with her own thoughts and darkest fears…But arrogant American playboy Rick Dalmont isn't taking no for an answer. His relentless pursuit is annoying—and more than a little exhilarating! But Rick seems to know that the last months of Shanna’s marriage had been far from happy—and he is dangerously close to discovering the tragic reason why…!
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Undying Love Carole Mortimer


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THE first person Shanna saw when she entered her brother’s spacious lounge was Rick Dalmont. And that was enough to make her want to leave again!

But she met that black-eyed gaze without blinking, nodding cool acknowledgment before turning to talk to her sister-in-law, Janice. But she knew those strange dark eyes still watched her, was always aware of Rick Dalmont’s gaze on her whenever they happened to meet. And that had been all too often lately as far as she was concerned.

‘I’m so glad you made it,’ Janice said with some relief; she was a small blonde-haired woman, married to Shanna’s brother Henry for the last ten years; their two offspring, a boy and a girl, were fast asleep upstairs.

Shanna didn’t need to question her sister-in-law’s feeling of relief; she knew the reason for it—Rick Dalmont. Half Spanish, half American, the black-haired, black-eyed business tycoon had made no secret of his pursuit from the moment they met two weeks ago. Until that time a young up-and-coming actress had shared his life; she had been asked to leave the night Rick met Shanna for the first time. A lot of women would have been flattered by the almost single-minded pursuit by such a man—Rick Dalmont was a very eligible bachelor—but Shanna would rather he turned his attention elsewhere. Ricardo Dalmont, to give him his full name, wasn’t her type at all. His reputation with women was no secret, his method of ending those relationships was not always gentle. In fact, it was very often cruel; the women were simply replaced, without notice.

But that wasn’t the reason for Shanna’s lack of interest, she simply wasn’t interested in any man at the moment. Clinically she could admire Rick Dalmont’s looks, the over-long black hair, the hard tanned face, the jet-black eyes that revealed none of the man’s thoughts; his mouth was a cynical twist, his tall body leanly muscled, his sexual magnetism tangible even to the immune Shanna. But as a person she disliked him intensely, disliked all that he stood for.

‘For goodness’ sake get him away from Henry,’ Janice pleaded with her. ‘This is supposed to be a party, not a business meeting,’ she groaned.

‘I’m sure Henry doesn’t mind,’ Shanna said dryly, knowing her brother’s preoccupation with business. She hadn’t reached the age of twenty-five without learning that of her older brother.

‘He probably introduced the subject,’ the other woman nodded. ‘But he suddenly seems to have lost Rick’s attention,’ she mocked dryly.

Shanna followed Janice’s amused gaze, her green eyes clashing with his black ones. She had never seen eyes like Rick Dalmont’s before, so dark a brown they appeared black. That dark gaze moved slowly over her body, from the smoothness of her straight shoulder-length black hair with the feathered fringe from a centre parting, her green eyes surrounded by dark sooty lashes, the small straight nose, the bright lip-gloss on her slightly pouting lips, the slenderness of her throat, the perfection of her body in the clinging knee-length red dress, her long legs thrust into black high-heeled sandals, adding to her already considerable height.

She met that intimate gaze with a challenge of her own, and made herself return the inventory, the over-long black hair swept back from the wide intelligent forehead, the harsh features carved as if from stone, the animal elegance of the powerful body beneath the black evening suit, the material stretched over wide shoulders, tapering to a narrow waist and powerful thighs. Rick Dalmont was a magnificent specimen of manhood; and he left Shanna cold, both physically and emotionally.

And he knew it too, had known of her coldness from the beginning, and it only increased his desire for her. She should have known such a man would consider her a challenge, that he would meet that challenge head-on. If she had known of his presence here, at what was primarily a private party for a few friends of her brother’s, she would have refused the invitation. That was probably the reason Henry had remained silent; her brother was well aware of her feelings in regard to his new business acquaintance.

The newness of Henry’s apparent friendship with the other man bothered her somewhat. Rick Dalmont wasn’t a man’s man, his relationships were mainly sensual, his many business interests seeming to be his only other occupation. The Dalmont fortune had been made by Todd Dalmont, Rick’s father, originally in oil, but since Rick Dalmont had taken over fifteen years ago he had diversified the family fortune, successfully, into a number of different industries.

A man like Rick Dalmont would be successful at anything he set out to do, from winning the woman of his choice to getting the best deal for Dalmont Industries!

And that was what bothered her. Henry and Rick had absolutely nothing in common socially. Henry was a staid family man, very much in love with his wife, whereas Rick Dalmont had made his opinion of marriage known on more than one occasion; he approved of it for other people, but not for himself. So that only left business that Henry could have in common with the other man, and yet even that didn’t seem plausible, for as far as Shanna knew Rick Dalmont had no interest in the newspaper business, and as Henry ran and owned one of England’s biggest newspapers…

‘He’s coming over,’ Janice whispered softly.

She had been expecting it, could sense his presence even now, was aware of the warmth of his body as he came to stand beside her, could smell the spicy aftershave that was exclusive to him, as were the cheroots he smoked.

‘Shanna,’ he greeted in a voice of gravel and honey. She had been surprised by that voice the first time she heard it, had never heard such a smoothly seductive voice cloaked in such husky tones, his accent softly American.

‘Mr Dalmont,’ she returned smoothly, knowing he found her distant behaviour amusing.

‘Could I get you a drink?’ he offered gruffly.

‘I’m sure Henry——’

‘Rick knows the way to the bar,’ her brother dismissed unhelpfully.

Shanna gave a haughty inclination of her head, left with no other choice. ‘Then I accept your kind offer, Mr Dalmont.’

Her arm was taken between vicelike fingers as she was steered away from Henry and Janice and through to the bar in the adjoining room. ‘I wasn’t being kind at all, Shanna,’ Rick told her softly. ‘Not unless you count to myself. You left Doug Gillies’ party two evenings ago before I even had the chance to talk to you.’

She would have left this evening too if it hadn’t been her brother’s party. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said coolly, only reaching up to his shoulder despite her own considerable height.

He grinned, deep grooves in the hardness of his cheek, his eyes a deep enigmatic black. ‘You aren’t sorry at all,’ he derided. ‘But I’ll let it pass for now. Dry Martini, isn’t it?’ he nodded towards the bar.

Shanna didn’t question his knowing her preference in drinks; this man would make it his business to find out her preferences in everything! ‘Thank you,’ she accepted distantly.

‘My pleasure,’ he drawled suggestively.

Shanna ignored the innuendo, realising that this man was used to a more positive reaction from women, that her indifference to him intrigued him. She had had no choice, she either showed him her indifference or gave him what he wanted. And as he wanted her, made no secret of the fact, she had decided to show him indifference. Either way he was sure to lose interest soon, and this y there was no harm to her. She had no intention of sleeping with a man just as a means of getting him out of her life! Rick Dalmont wasn’t a man who enjoyed the chase for long, she just hoped he would tire of her soon; he was making it awkward for her to go anywhere, always seeming to be where she was.

‘Here,’ he held the long glass out to her, somehow managing to touch her slender fingers in the process. ‘Not very subtle,’ he acknowledged the slight raise of her brows. ‘But I figured it’s the only way to touch you at all. Do you usually freeze men off the way you’ve been freezing me?’

He was beginning to tire, she could tell that. Until tonight Rick Dalmont had shown her of his attraction to her, but it had always been charmingly done, never a word or movement out of place. Tonight his behaviour was noticeably different; the chase was over, the feline abobout to catch his prey, any way he could. It was the time she had been dreading the most; her own polite but distant behaviour was no longer enough to repel him. She would have to be as blunt as he intended being.

She met his gaze unflinchingly, her black hair swinging back over her shoulders. ‘Yes,’ she answered abruptly.

The charm had gone from his face now, leaving his expression harsh, his mouth taut, his eyes narrowed. ‘So I’m not the exception?’ he bit out, seemingly unaware—or just unconcerned—of the people standing near them, the conversation and loud laughter doing a lot to mask this very private conversation.

‘No,’ she drawled, knowing the idea displeased him. Rick Dalmont was a man who arrogantly dismissed women when they displeased him; he was never dismissed himself. It would have been that way all his life; the Dalmont fortune had been made long before Todd took his young Spanish bride and produced Ricardo. Rick Dalmont had grown up with a gold spoon in his mouth, and the determined line of his mouth said he wasn’t going to allow a mere woman to deny him something he wanted—even if it was her! For thirty-seven years nothing had been denied him, and Shanna Logan wasn’t about to be the exception, not even when it was her body he wanted. ‘What do you and my brother have to talk about so earnestly?’ She decided attack was still the better form of defence.

Rick’s mouth twisted derisively. ‘He hasn’t told you yet?’

‘No,’ she evaded.

‘I wonder why?’ he taunted.

She gave a careless shrug.

‘I have no doubt he will, in time.’

Rick gave a haughty inclination of his head. ‘In time. But will that be too late?’

‘I have no idea. Will it?’

He gave a husky laugh. ‘It could be,’ he mocked her attempt to get information out of him.

‘Then perhaps I’d better go and talk to Henry now.’ She turned to leave.

Firm fingers grasped her arm, strong relentless fingers that held Shanna to his side. ‘It can wait,’ he dismissed abruptly. ‘Maybe if you ask me nicely enough I might be persuaded to tell you.’

She eyed him coldly. ‘I can get the information from Henry with much less effort.’

His breath was warm against her cheek. ‘Would it be so much of an effort?’

‘Yes!’ she snapped—and then cursed herself for her show of anger. She had intended to show this man no emotion at all, but his manhandling of her couldn’t go without retaliation of some sort. She pulled pointedly out of his grasp, knowing her arm was going to be bruised in the morning from his reluctance to release her. ‘Yes, I’m afraid it would, Mr Dalmont,’ she repeated coldly. ‘And I hate having to make an effort of any kind.’

‘Poor little rich girl,’ he rasped.

Her cool green eyes openly mocked him. ‘Isn’t that slightly ridiculous, coming from you?’

‘I worked for my place as head of Dalmont Industries from the time I could understand what stocks and shares were,’ he bit out fiercely. ‘My father never gave anyone anything for nothing in his life, and he wasn’t about to start with me. What’s your excuse?’

She had hit a raw nerve, she could tell that; Rick Dalmont would lose his temper only rarely. He had just done so very effectively. ‘I don’t have one,’ she told him quietly. ‘I’m the editor of a magazine Henry owns.’

‘So he informed me,’ Rick nodded abruptly. ‘A cursory title, I’m sure.’

‘Then don’t be,’ she snapped. ‘Fashion Lady may only be a women’s magazine, and unimportant to a man like you, but I run it to the best of my ability.’

‘And how good is that?’

She flushed at the quietly intended insult. ‘Ask Henry!’ her eyes flashed.

To her chagrin Rick Dalmont began to smile. ‘At least this is an improvement. I’ve made you lose your temper with me three times in the last five minutes.’

‘I think that probably makes us even,’ she taunted.

‘Nothing like it,’ he still smiled. ‘My temper has been much less controlled since I met you. But you could soon change that,’ he added throatily. ‘All it would take is one word from you.’

And she knew exactly what that word was! ‘I haven’t been using that word too often lately,’ she said abruptly.

‘Since your husband died.’

Shanna froze. ‘What do you know about that?’

Rick shrugged. ‘It’s no secret that he died, is it?’

‘No.’ She avoided that black-eyed gaze, knowing this man could see into her soul if he wanted to. And from what she knew of him he would want to.

‘Or how he died?’ His eyes were narrowed now, sensing her increased hostility.

She swallowed hard. ‘No.’

It had been no secret how Perry died, it had been emblazoned across the front page of every newspaper in the world. A famous ex-racing driver killed in a road accident was world-wide news.

‘Or that you were in the car with him at the time?’ Rick continued his prodding into her personal pain.

This time she didn’t even answer him; her expression was wooden, refusing to show any emotion to this man. He would take any sign of weakness and use it to his advantage.

‘Or that your marriage had already ended.’

The cruelly stated words brought a light sheen of perspiration to her brow, although her dull gaze remained fixed on one of the light-fittings on the far wall.

‘That the two of you be together at all was an unusual occurrence.’

Her gaze slowly moved back to the hard face of the man standing in front of her, missing the taut enquiry of his expression, seeing only the determined cruelty of his eyes and mouth. ‘If you’ll excuse me, Mr Dalmont——’

‘And if I won’t?’ Once again his fingers bruised her arm, but this time she didn’t even feel the pain.

‘You will.’ The cold dullness of her voice made his hand drop away, and without another glance in his direction she walked away.

People rarely spoke to her of Perry, most of them respecting the fact that she must still feel her husband’s loss after only six months. But Rick Dalmont had a hard cruelty about him that didn’t respect anything, even a widow’s grief. He had even mentioned the reports in some newspapers that her marriage to Perry had been far from happy at the end. Only an insensitive swine could have done that. Rick Dalmont would use anything to get what he wanted, including her grief for Perry.

‘Shanna,’ Henry touched her arm lightly. ‘What have you said to Rick?’ he asked anxiously. ‘He looks like thunder.’

She blinked up at her brother, her elder by five years, his receding hairline adding to his air of maturity. Although right now he looked very worried.

‘You haven’t upset him, have you?’ He kept shooting worried glances at the other man.

‘Does it look like it?’ she mocked. Rick Dalmont was now leaning against the wall talking softly into the ear of a giggly blonde.

‘Rick isn’t interested in Selina,’ Henry dismissed.

‘Oh?’ She was regaining control now, wishing she hadn’t made her distress quite so obvious to Rick Dalmont. He was a man who shouldn’t be given any advantage, and she had just given him one.

‘You know he isn’t,’ her brother sighed.

‘Do I?’

‘You’re too old to play coy games, Shanna,’ he said impatiently. ‘The man wants you, and you know it.’

‘I also know he isn’t going to have me!’ Her eyes flashed deeply green.


‘Henry, I think we should talk,’ she watched his flushed face warily. ‘I don’t like the way you’ve suddenly become involved with that man.’

‘That’s business, Shanna——’

‘But what business? When did Rick Dalmont become interested in the world of newspaper publishing?’

‘He isn’t——’

‘Then what business are you involved in with him?’ she frowned.

‘We can’t talk about it here, Shanna,’ he avoided. ‘This is a party. And you know Janice doesn’t like business discussed at her parties.’

She sighed. ‘Tomorrow, then?’

‘Sunday? Mm, come to lunch,’ he added. ‘Peter and Susan will like that.’

Her expression softened at the mention of her nephew and niece. And she had a feeling she was being manipulated once again, and this time by her own brother; Henry knew how fond of Peter and Susan she was.

‘We’ll talk about Rick Dalmont before lunch.’ She didn’t let him even think he had got away with the distraction. ‘I’ll come over about twelve.’

He grimaced. ‘Fine.’

She smiled at his lack of enthusiasm. ‘You got into this, Henry,’ she drawled at his discomfort. ‘Now you can explain it to me.’


She touched his cheek mockingly. ‘Tomorrow, Henry. And I shall expect a full explanation.’


‘A full explanation,’ she repeated determinedly.

‘I’m beginning to wonder who’s the eldest in this family,’ he muttered before moving away to join his wife, as a couple of the guests were taking their leave.

‘A good question,’ drawled an amused voice from behind her, an unmistakable voice of honey and gravel. Shanna spun round, wondering just how long Rick Dalmont had been listening to her conversation with her brother.

‘You really shouldn’t pressurise Henry, honey,’ he mocked. ‘Now me, you wouldn’t have to pressurise at all.’

‘I told you——’

‘You wouldn’t even have to be persuasive,’ he cut in softly. ‘Let me take you home and I’ll tell you all.’

She stiffened at the intimate warmth of his gaze. ‘I have my car here.’

He shrugged his broad shoulders. ‘Then you drive me home—I came by cab.’

‘I’d rather not,’ she refused distantly.

Anger flashed in the dark eyes. ‘No wonder your husband turned to other women!’ he rasped.

Shanna went deathly pale. ‘What did you say?’

‘When a man is frozen out of his own bed it’s inevitable that he’ll turn to other women for physical satisfaction,’ he scorned.

‘Are you saying that’s what Perry did?’

‘It’s public knowledge,’ he shrugged again.

‘Is it?’

‘Was he still sleeping with you before he died?’

‘Our sleeping arrangements have nothing to do with—Oh!’ she gave a painful gasp as her wrist was grasped and her arm twisted up behind her back, her body brought dangerously close to the hard-muscled flesh of Rick Dalmont. ‘Let me go,’ she ordered between gritted teeth.

‘Smile,’ he instructed curtly, his teeth showing white against his dark complexion. ‘I said smile, damn it,’ he bit out savagely at her lack of response to his order.

She looked about them desperately, amazed that no one could see what this man was doing to her. And then she realised that several people who had come here alone were now in rather close clinches with a man or woman they had met here tonight. Janice would be shocked to know that some of these couples whom she had only just introduced would even be in bed together later tonight.

But not Rick Dalmont and herself. And he was still hurting her, his hold on her arm brutal. ‘How can I smile when you’re breaking my arm?’ she groaned.

He lightened his grip slightly, although the relaxation made her body curve more intimately against him. ‘I’m sorry,’ but he didn’t look very repentant. ‘Now answer my question,’ he ground out.

‘I’ve forgotten what it was,’ she muttered.!


She blinked at the vehemence of his tone. ‘I won’t discuss my marriage to Perry with you!’

Rick sighed, releasing her completely at the inflexibility of her tone. ‘Even in the face of danger you choose to defy me.’

‘Danger?’ She raised black brows.

‘So cool,’ he shook his head. ‘It isn’t natural. Your eyes speak of fire, of all you have to give a man——’

‘Not you!’

‘Me,’ his eyes glittered furiously. ‘I’m getting tired of waiting for you, Shanna——’

‘What is it, Mr Dalmont?’ She refused to rub her aching wrist and arm; she wouldn’t show any weakness to this man, ever. ‘Did you think that because I’ve been widowed for the last six months I would fall into your arms like an over-ripe plum? Did you think I would be so sexually frustrated that you would have no trouble at all getting me into bed with you?’ Her voice rose angrily.

‘Maybe you’re sexually cold,’ he dismissed.

‘Oh, that’s usually the next insult!’ she scorned. ‘Then I’m supposed to sleep with you just to prove that I’m not cold at all. I’ve been through it all before, Mr Dalmont. I must say, I’m disappointed in you—I expected more sophistication from you.’

His mouth tightened. ‘Why do you have to fight me?’ he asked quietly, impatiently. ‘I’ve asked you out so many times over the last two weeks that I’ve lost count.’

‘Then give up!’

‘I want you, Shanna,’ he told her forcefully, pinning her to the spot with the intensity of his gaze. ‘And I never give up on something I want as badly as I want you. I’ve left a trail of broken people behind me who could tell you that.’

She had gone very pale, believing his threat. ‘That was business——’

‘Business or personal, it doesn’t matter,’ he shrugged. ‘I always win in the end.’

She had heard of his ruthless business dealings, of the people he had ruined in his desire to add to the Dalmont coffers, but she had never heard of this singlemindedness with a woman before. Although perhaps he had never been turned down before! ‘No,’ she shook her head. ‘Not this time you won’t,’ she told him with quiet conviction.

‘You loved your husband, is that it?’

She couldn’t help flinching at the scorn of his tone. ‘Yes,’ her voice was husky, her head bent.

‘You still love him?’ he grated.


‘I don’t believe it!’

Her head went back proudly, her eyes flashing. ‘It’s the truth,’ she snapped.

‘And the parties almost every night, the men who pay you attention—that’s mourning him, is it?’ Rick derided harshly.

‘He wouldn’t want me to stay at home.’

‘I would!’ he bit out fiercely, his eyes jet-black. ‘I’d want you to lock yourself away until you died too.’

His intensity took her breath away, and she swallowed hard. ‘Maybe that’s what I am doing, waiting to die,’ she said softly.

‘At parties every night?’ he scorned.

She looked at him with steady green eyes. ‘Maybe I just don’t want to be alone when I die.’

Rick Dalmont looked as if she had physically hit him, paling slightly beneath his olive complexion. ‘Shanna…?’

She sighed, shaking off his hand. ‘Selina seems anxious for you to return to her side,’ she drawled. ‘I’m sure she’ll be much more—amenable than I could ever be.’

‘I don’t want Selina,’ he rasped.

‘Poor Selina,’ she murmured, her cool façade back in place. ‘She’s very attractive.’

‘She doesn’t have black hair and green eyes.’

‘I’m sure there are thousands of willing women who do.’

‘With emphasis on the willing, hmm?’ he taunted.

‘Exactly.’ She gave him a saccharine-sweet smile.

He shook his head. ‘It’s still you I want, Shanna.’

‘I’m sorry.’

‘I really believe you are,’ he frowned at her quiet sincerity.

‘Yes,’ she nodded.

‘I can’t work you out.’ Rick shook his head dazedly.

‘Don’t even try,’ she advised. ‘Just don’t become involved with me——’

‘I want to go to bed with you, not become involved!’

Her smile was genuine this time. ‘And one precludes the other with you?’

‘Yes,’ he bit out tautly at her mockery.

‘Goodnight, Mr Dalmont. We’ll meet again?’ she drawled.

‘You can bet on it!’

‘I’m not usually a betting woman, but I’m sure that if I were I would win that bet.’

‘Little tease!’ he rasped.

Her humour faded as quickly as it had begun. ‘That’s one thing I’m not, Mr Dalmont. I’ve told you bluntly to leave me alone, you’ve chosen not to take that advice. You would be doing us both a favour, and saving yourself a lot of time, if you gave up on me now.’

‘Because you’ll never give in to me?’


He shrugged. ‘I’m not prepared to give up on you yet. I’ll be seeing you, Shanna.’ He ran a fingertip lightly down her cheek, lingering against her mouth, nodding confidently before going over to Henry and Janice to take his leave.

Shanna wasn’t altogether surprised at his departure from the party; he knew there was no point in pursuing her any further tonight, not when she had made her feelings more than plain. And she didn’t want to stay here any longer herself now; the verbal encounter with Rick Dalmont had opened up wounds that she knew would never get the chance to heal.

‘What did you do to him?’ Henry demanded when she joined him. ‘I’ve never known Rick to leave a party at eleven o’clock before!’

She shrugged. ‘There has to be a first time for everything.’

‘Yes, but——’

‘It may have escaped your notice,’ she taunted, ‘but Selina has gone too.’

‘She left with Gary,’ her brother dismissed. ‘She gave up once Rick returned to you. She decided it’s Gary’s lucky night instead.’

‘Bitchy!’ she smiled.

Henry grimaced. ‘Selina picks up a different man every time she comes here. I’ll have to tell Janice not to invite her again.’

‘A snob too!’ Shanna mocked.

‘Stop changing the subject,’ he scowled. ‘What did you do to make Rick leave?’


‘Nothing?’ Henry frowned.

‘Exactly that,’ she nodded. ‘And I intend to continue doing nothing. Don’t forget to tell Janice I’ll be here for lunch tomorrow,’ she reminded lightly, intending to show him she had far from forgotten the talk she wanted to have with him.

‘She always cooks enough for an army,’ he answered vaguely.

Her brother’s air of distraction did nothing to reassure Shanna. Henry always knew what he was doing, had been a more than competent successor to their father as head of the family newspaper and magazine empire.

Poor little rich girl, Rick Dalmont had called her. He didn’t know anything about her. Until her marriage to Perry four years ago, perhaps that description would have fitted her, but marriage had matured her far beyond the spoilt girl she had been at twenty-one.

She had married Perry against her father’s wishes, something that had been hard to do considering her closeness to her single parent, her mother having died years ago. Her father had been completely against her marrying a man who risked his life for a living. But the marriage had been a success, and it had perhaps been Perry’s constant brushes with death that had speeded the process of her maturity and cherishing of the deep love they had for each other. Whatever the reason, her father had been assured of her happiness before he died two years ago. At least she had given her beloved father that, and he had been spared the pain she was still suffering, the pain of losing Perry.

No one knew or could understand the loss she felt at Perry’s death, not even those closest to her. And no one knew how she feared death for herself…

She breakfasted alone the next morning, as she had for the last six months, before tidying the apartment. Not that it needed much of that, one person didn’t make much mess, and because she and Perry had spent most of their marriage living out of suitcases she had learnt not to have too many personal possessions, so the apartment was bare of all personal imprint.

It was a new apartment since Perry’s death, the one they had used as their home-base when in London had been on the other side of town. But photographs of Perry were prominent in every room, photographs of him racing, of him winning, of the two of them together. Most of them were from before Perry’s first accident, the one that had precipitated the end of his career. A serious back injury meant the end of his career as a top racing car driver six months before his death, and she knew it had been a blow Perry had never fully recovered from. Racing had been his life, his career, and for a time he had gone wild.

Damn Rick Dalmont! She knew he was the reason for the memories. What else could she do but remember when he had pointed out so forcibly that all had not been well between Perry and herself at the time of the fatal accident? But he had been right about one thing, the fault in the marriage had been hers, not Perry’s. It was true that when a man couldn’t find satisfaction in his own bed he turned elsewhere for solace. Perry had done just that.

None of her sleepless night showed as Janice opened the door to her shortly before twelve, her expression coolly composed, looking elegant in a dress the same green of her eyes, its long-sleeved, high-necked style more provocative than a more seductive style could be.

‘I’ll never know how you do it,’ said a harassed-looking Janice, her blonde curls in disarray, a smudge of flour on her nose. ‘You always look like a fashion-plate, and I—Well, I look what I am, I suppose, a housewife.’

‘A beautiful housewife,’ Shanna smiled, kissing her sister-in-law affectionately on the cheek. ‘And I look this way because I go out to lunch,’ she laughed.

‘Hm,’ Janice acknowledged wryly. ‘Although that doesn’t explain how you still look this way when we come to your apartment for dinner too.’

‘Caterers,’ she taunted dryly.

‘You know you’re a fantastic cook,’ Janice dismissed with a sigh. ‘Well, I’d better not keep you from Peter and Susan any longer. They’re waiting for you in the lounge.’

The next few minutes were taken up with the ecstatic greetings of her young niece and nephew, although Shanna had time to realise that there was no sign in the spotlessly clean lounge of the smoky party of the night before.

Peter and Susan were five and six respectively, as alike as if they had been twins, both fair-haired and blue-eyed like their mother, although they had their father’s height and were both inclined to be serious like Henry too. But they were lovely children, and Shanna greeted them as enthusiastically as they did her.

Henry sat back in his favourite armchair and watched them with an indulgent smile on his lips, puffing away on his favourite pipe; an affectation he believed gave him a look of distinction. It just made him more endearing to Shanna. She and Henry had always been close, despite the difference in their natures, but as the time for lunch neared and Henry still made no effort to bring up the subject of Rick Dalmont she decided to broach the subject herself.


‘Lunch is ready,’ Janice came through to announce.

Henry gave a pleased smile as he stood up. ‘Thank you, darling.’

‘I’ll give you thank you!’ Shanna muttered as she accompanied her brother through to the dining-room. ‘You won’t get away so easily after lunch.’

He turned to grin at her. ‘But at least then I’ll have a full stomach!’

‘It won’t help you,’ she warned.

‘Maybe not, but you’ll seem less fierce once I’ve eaten.’

‘Fierce, Henry?’ she spluttered. ‘I’ve never been fierce in my life!’

He shook his head. ‘Sometimes you remind me so much of Dad it’s incredible.’

‘Dad was a lovely old man, despite his crustiness; I can’t see the resemblance at all,’ Shanna smiled.

‘Oh, it’s there. I’ve seen it in your handling of Rick Dal——’

‘—Mont,’ she finished triumphantly. ‘I’m so glad you haven’t forgotten about him, Henry.’

‘No,’ he mumbled. ‘But lunch first, hmm?’

‘But no longer,’ she warned. ‘My patience is wearing a little thin, Henry.’

‘I didn’t know you had any!’

Shanna grinned at his woebegone expression, and her good humour lasted all through the delicious Sunday lunch Janice had prepared. Peter and Susan helped her with the washing-up afterwards, then she carried through a tray of tea to her brother and Janice, arching her brows at Henry as he seemed settled in front of the television.

‘Henry and I will take our tea through to the study,’ she announced firmly. ‘Won’t we, Henry?’ She looked at him steadily.

‘Will we?’ He sighed at her stubborn expression. ‘I suppose we will.’ He stood up reluctantly.

‘I won’t keep him long, Janice,’ she promised.

‘Oh, I think you will,’ her sister-in-law said knowingly. ‘Good luck, Henry.’

‘She sounded as if she thought you might need it,’ Shanna questioned as she sat opposite her brother in his study.

‘I might,’ he nodded.

She frowned. ‘Tell me, Henry,’ she said quietly, ‘what business do you and Rick Dalmont have?’

‘You won’t like it,’ he warned.

‘I have a feeling not,’ she acknowledged heavily.

He stood up to pace the room. ‘You see, the newspaper hasn’t been doing too well lately, and I needed a cash flow for a while.’


‘I’ve been trying to get this deal together with Rick for months, and when he came over to England two weeks ago it was an ideal opportunity to further the talks. We finalised the deal on Friday, that’s partly what the party was about last night.’

‘Yes?’ Shanna was very wary now, Henry deliberately avoiding her gaze.

‘Well, that’s it,’ he shrugged.

‘No, that isn’t it at all, Henry,’ she refuted softly. ‘You haven’t told me anything I didn’t already know. What’s the deal you’ve made with Rick Dalmont? Has he come in as your partner or just with a financial loan?’

‘Neither.’ Henry wetted his lips nervously.

Shanna’s unease began to deepen. It wasn’t like Henry to be so evasive. ‘Then what is the deal?’

‘Look, when Dad died he left all the publishing business to me. Maybe he shouldn’t have done, but you were happily married to Perry at the time, and Dad did leave you financially secure.’

‘I never wanted any of the business, Henry, you know that,’ she dismissed. ‘You’re entitled to make whatever deals you want. I just want to know where I come into it, because I do, don’t I?’

‘Yes,’ her brother sighed heavily. ‘It’s Fashion Lady.

‘What about it?’ she gasped.

Henry shrugged. ‘As of Friday it belongs to Rick Dalmont. You now work for him.’


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