One Night with Morelli

By: Kim Lawrence

CHAPTER ONE

SHE HATED BEING late and she was—very.

Her jaw ached with tension. Obviously it served no purpose to get stressed about stuff you couldn’t control, like fog at airports, traffic jams or—no, dropping in at the office had been completely avoidable and a major mistake, but it was human nature and she couldn’t help it.

Weaving her way neatly in and out of the crowds still wearing her sensible long-haul-flight shoes, Eve flicked open her phone. She was studying the screen, her fingers flying, when a sharp tug almost pulled her off her feet.

Instinct rather than good sense made her grip tighten around the holdall slung over her shoulder. The tussle was short but the thief who grunted and swore at length at her had size on his side; although he was skinny, he was wiry and tall and he easily escaped with her bag.

‘Help… Thief!’

Dozens must have heard her anguished cry but nobody reacted until the tall hooded youth—a stereotype if there ever was one—who was shouldering his way through the crowd clutching her bag hit one pedestrian who did not move aside.

She saw the thief bounce off this immovable object and hit the pavement face down before crowds hid him and her bag from view.

She missed the thief shaking his head as he looked up, a snarl on his thin, acne-marked face aimed at the man at whose feet he lay sprawled. The snarl melted abruptly and was replaced by a flash of fear as he released the bag handle as though it were alight and, lurching to his feet, ran away.

Draco sighed. If he weren’t already very late he might have chased the culprit but he was, so instead he bent to pick up the stolen bag, which immediately opened, disgorging its contents at his feet and all over the pavement.

Draco blinked. In his thirty-three years he’d seen a lot and few things had the power to surprise him any more. In fact, only that very morning he’d asked himself if he was in a rut—the trouble with ruts was you didn’t always recognise you were in one—but standing ankle-deep in ladies’ underwear—wildly sexy lingerie, to be precise—most definitely surprised him.

Now that, he thought, was something that didn’t happen every day of the week—at least not to him.

One dark mobile brow elevated, and with a half-smile tugging his sensually sculpted lips upwards he bent forward and hooked a bra from the top of the silky heap. Silk, and a shocking-pink tartan, it was definitely a statement and, if he was any judge, a D cup.

Under his breath he read the hand-sewn label along one seam.

‘Eve’s Temptation.’ It was catchy and the name rang a faint bell.

Had Rachel had something similar in a more subdued colour? He sighed. While he missed the great sex, if he was honest—and he generally was—he didn’t miss Rachel herself, and he had no regrets about his decision to terminate their short and, he had assumed, mutually satisfactory arrangement.

Only she had crossed the line. It had started with the ‘we’ and ‘us’ comments—we could stop off at my parents’, my sister has offered us her ski lodge as it’ll be empty at New Year. Draco blamed himself for allowing it to pass as long as he had, but in his defence the sex had been very good indeed.

Things had finally come to a head a couple of months ago when she had accidentally bumped into him in the middle of an exclusive department store on one of the rare occasions when he was able to spend some quality time with his daughter.

It wasn’t her appallingly obvious efforts to ingratiate herself with Josie that had stuck in Draco’s mind; it was his daughter’s comment on the way home.

‘Don’t be too brutal will you, Dad, when you dump her?’

The worried expression in her eyes had made him realise that he’d become complacent, he’d allowed the once clearly defined lines between his home life and the other aspects of his life to blur. It was more important to keep that protective wall around his home life now that Josie was getting older than it ever had been.

The day he had looked at his baby and realised that her mother wasn’t coming back he had sworn that this desertion would not affect her; he would protect her, give her security. He had made some inevitable mistakes along the way but at least he hadn’t allowed her to form attachments with the women he had enjoyed fleeting liaisons with over the years and risk being hurt when they too left.

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