Brazilian's Nine Months' Notice

By: Susan Stephens



 * * *

 He showered at first light with the temperature turned to ice. Nothing helped. He huffed a smile at his physical reaction to thoughts of Ms Emma Fane. She was only a matter of yards away, which didn’t help. She slept in the staff quarters beneath the eaves, the floor above his room, one of the housemaids had told him with a cheeky smile.

 Securing a towel around his waist, he glanced at his face in the mirror and raked his hand through his hair. He couldn’t get Emma out of his head. He had to do something about this. She had bewitched him in London and that memory hadn’t died. Having slept on the problem, he thought he knew why she’d come home. Sometimes in life it was necessary to reboot before moving on, and where better could she do that than here amongst friends?

 Towelling down roughly, he threw on his jeans, wondering where she was now. She had run away last night like Cinderella when the clock struck twelve—to look after the bride, she’d said. To avoid talking to him, he’d thought.

 Maybe she had a boyfriend?

 He swore viciously at the thought—then remembered he hadn’t seen her with anyone at the party.

 Maybe her boyfriend worked at the hotel and couldn’t get away from his job?

 Maybe. Emma Fane was an attractive woman. It seemed unlikely that she was on her own.

 And who cared? It was none of his business. To hell with Emma Fane!

 Glancing in the mirror, he parked the idea of a shave, but then he made the mistake of glancing at the bed and remembering their night in London. Having Emma in his bed had been one of the best parts of that night. She’d been wild for it, and he’d been only too happy to oblige. He tore his gaze away regretfully. He didn’t have time for distractions like that. He wasn’t just here for the wedding. He had a castle to buy, along with some other business to attend to. Neither was he an adolescent to waste his day fantasising about having sex with Emma Fane. Forget her. Breakfast, and then work...

 Forget Emma?

 Would she be working today?

 Why not? She was a regular girl with a regular job.

 Snatching up the phone, he called Housekeeping. ‘I need some more towels in here, please.’

 Emma was a regular girl?

 He laughed at the thought. No way was Emma a regular girl. Nothing about her resembled the women he knew, from her generous figure to the way she took him on. None of the women he knew would dare to take him on. They wouldn’t risk spoiling things. They expected him to lavish his time and money on them and then they repaid him in bed. Emma expected nothing from him. In fact, the less she had to do with him, the better she seemed to like it, or so it appeared to him.

 He paced the room, weighing up the odds of getting the result he wanted. Even a hotel this size must surely employ more than one chambermaid.

 He didn’t have to wait long to find out. There was a knock on the door, and a voice called out ‘Housekeeping.’

 Emma.

 * * *

 ‘Towels, sir? Oh, for goodness’ sake!’ Emma blurted before she could stop herself.

 Luc laughed, his eyes black with hidden thoughts. ‘You didn’t think to check the name of the guest requesting towels?’ he challenged as he admitted her into his room.

 ‘I’m not expected to address the guests by name, sir.’

 Luc’s lips pressed down with disapproval as he observed tersely, ‘Poor training.’

 ‘Safer for the staff,’ she countered, walking past him. ‘We’re not encouraged to be familiar with the guests.’

 ‘Even those you know, Emma?’ Luc called after her.

 Her spine tingled as his stare warmed her back. ‘Even those I know,’ she confirmed coolly.

 She knew this man very well indeed, and not at all, Emma realised as she headed for his bathroom. There had been very little talking, other than about the running of the hotel, in London, and even less last night. For once in her life she’d managed to remain sensible, and had steered well clear of Lucas.

 ‘Don’t you have anything to say to me, Emma?’ Luc’s lips pressed down in mock affront when she emerged from the bathroom, having finished arranging his towels.

 ‘Sorry, sir. That’s not what I’m here for.’ This was definitely not the moment to tell him about the baby. When she did that, she wanted it to be a private chat, but in a public place. Straightening her back, she made straight for the door. Luc opened it for her, and she avoided his gaze as she told him, ‘If you want anything else just call Housekeeping and they’ll send someone—’

 ‘But maybe not you?’ he interrupted.

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