One Night with Morelli(3)

By: Kim Lawrence

‘You’re actually called Eve?’ His curious gaze roamed over her heart-shaped face. If the original Eve had possessed a mouth that lush and inviting he for one would have cut Adam some slack.

‘Let me guess—you’re Adam.’ She sighed as though it was a tired line she’d heard often.

‘No, I’m Draco, but you can call me Adam if you want to.’

‘A lovely offer but I doubt we’ll ever be on first-name terms.’ She thanked him again, crammed the last camisole into the bag and snapped it closed then, after tilting a nod in his direction, hurried away.

He’s not watching, Eve, so why the hip swaying? she berated herself crossly.

He was watching.

* * *

Frazer Campbell, a meticulous man, reached the bottom of the page, readjusted his half-moon specs and began at the top of the page again. Draco’s jaw clenched as he struggled to control his impatience.

‘I am assuming this is an empty threat?’ he asked.

The letter, though sprinkled with pseudo-legal phrases, was written by hand, the writing his ex-wife’s, the wording definitely not… Draco strongly suspected that she had received some help with it, and even without the headed notepaper it didn’t take a genius to figure out who from. His ex-wife’s fiancé, Edward Weston, had got his seat in Parliament on the family value ticket—so it wasn’t hard to see where he was coming from. Selling yourself to the British public as a defender of family values was tough when your future bride had played a very peripheral role in her own daughter’s life.

Draco didn’t personally know the man, though he’d heard him called a joke on more than one occasion and maybe, if the subject he had chosen to poke his nose into had been any other, he might have been laughing—but he wasn’t.

One thing he absolutely did not joke about was his daughter’s welfare.

Frazer, older by several years than the man who was pacing the room restless as a caged panther in the enclosed space, smoothed the paper with the flat of his hand as he laid it back on his desk—it had landed there in an angry, crumpled ball.

‘It’s not really a threat as such, is it?’ Edward Weston came across as pompous but he wasn’t a total idiot and anyone who threatened Draco would have to be; the wealthy London-based Italian entrepreneur was famous for many things but turning the other cheek was not one of them! Frazer counted himself lucky to call Draco friend—you tended to bond pretty quickly with someone you got buried in an avalanche with—but if he hadn’t been, Draco’s reputation alone would have made him someone Frazer would have avoided.

The comment earned him a flash from Draco’s dark eyes.

‘Do you want to hear what I think or what you want to hear?’ Frazer’s shaggy brows twitched into a straight line as he noticed for the first time what his friend was wearing: full morning suit. ‘Your wedding?’ he asked cautiously.

‘Marriage!’ The single word made the speaker’s opinion of that institution quite clear, it dripped with such acid scorn.

‘Shame—if you were married it would be a perfect solution to the problem. There would be no question of your daughter not having…’ he paused to consult the letter and read out loud ‘…“a stable female influence in her life”.’ Frazer smiled at his own joke while Draco, his dark eyes glinting not with laughter but with cynicism, lowered his long, lean frame into a chair on the opposite side of the desk.

‘I’d sooner move my mother in.’ The other man laughed; he had met Veronica Morelli. ‘You make a mistake,’ Draco continued, ‘and you don’t repeat it, unless of course you’re a total fool.’

Frazer, who was blissfully happy in his second marriage, did not take offence. ‘Do you think it’s safe to come to a fool for expensive legal advice?’

Draco gave a tight grin that deepened the lines radiating from his deep-set eyes and briefly lent warmth and humour to the dark depths. ‘There are exceptions to every rule,’ he conceded. ‘And I’m coming to you as a trusted friend—I couldn’t afford what you charge.’

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