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Authors: Stella Whitelaw

Sweet Seduction

BOOK: Sweet Seduction
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Three important men in Kira Reed's life have let her down -- her grandfather, her fiancé and her MP employer. Feeling she can have a better life and start over, Kira relocates to the beautiful island of Barbados, forgetting about past disappointment and about her failed London career. Determined to succeed, she reinvents herself as a successful, glamorous executive. She has a secret, too, and is determined to find the man she believes caused the death of her mother, Tamara.

 

Giles Earl owns a sugar factory and plantation called Sugar Hill. He is the type of man Kira should be seducing with her business expertise, but instead, she finds herself falling in love with him. Can she trust him with her secret, or will he use it to destroy her?

 

The mystery of Dolly’s unfolding story is told alongside Kira’s: Kira discovers an insurmountable barrier with her love of Giles. Her grandmother, Dolly, a wild young girl, had two lovers at the same time -- one of them had been Giles’ father. Could Tamara be Giles' sister? This would makes Giles, the man Kira deeply loves, her own uncle.

 

Just as Kira is about to discover the truth of Dolly's marriage secret and who killed her mother, Hurricane Hannah hits Barbados, destroying almost everything on Sugar Hill. Will Kira ever discover the truth?

 

 

SWEET SEDUCTION

Stella Whitelaw

 

Published by Tirgearr Publishing

 

Author Copyright 2013 Stella Whitelaw (http://www.stellawhitelaw.co.uk)

Cover Art: Amanda Stephanie (http://www.tirgearrdesign.com)

Editor: Christine McPherson (http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com)

Proofreader: R. L. McCoy (http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com)

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold or given away. If you would like to share this book, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please log into the publisher’s website and purchase your own copy.

 

Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

 

DEDICATION

 

To Milly, Sox and Brandy

 

 

SWEET SEDUCTION

Stella Whitelaw

 

 

One

 

She had this persistent feeling that someone was staring at her. She did not like it. The hot trade winds blowing across the wild, mountainous island of St Lucia combed through her unruly chestnut hair and covered her face with strands of confusion.

Kira turned slowly on one heel, her lame leg resting against the gate which confined passengers to the transit lounge. The muscles were aching and she was disconcerted by the eyes that felt as if they were burning into her back.

Head and shoulders above the crowd, far across on the other side of the crowded lounge, stood a tall man in an expensively-tailored business suit, the jacket unbuttoned. He wore a wide-brimmed hat pulled low on his forehead. Kira could feel the magnetism of his eyes, forcing her to look at him.

She caught the glint of a gold watch chain worn across a double-breasted waistcoat. How could he wear a waistcoat in this heat? He touched the brim of his hat in a mock salute.

Damn him, she thought, she didn’t need or seek a pick-up. It was the last thing she wanted now or ever. She deliberately turned her back.

But she could feel the man moving towards her. It was uncanny, something to do with the long flight, the sultry darkness and the unaccustomed heat of the velvety Caribbean night.

A quiver of apprehension ran through her body in those moments, a sudden corruption of the past as the man’s stride slowed into the slow-motion of a dream.

He had thrown her a long challenging look that was almost overpowering. Memories which she had tried to suppress were surging back through her mind. Why had this man’s glinting eyes begun to peel back layers which she had successfully kept hidden from the world?

Three men had nearly destroyed her life. Grandfather Benjamin Reed, ex-fiancé Bruce, and Percival Connor MP. They had each sent her reeling into a corner. Now, rid of them all, Kira Reed was back on keel, going to be
herself, live out her own life.

A smile touched her lips, deepening the small dimple at the corner of her mouth. The salvation was in her own hands. She would make sure it happened. She would become a different woman, leave that other damaged person behind in London.

"Is the heat getting you, ma’am?" he asked, stopping by her side. His eyes were a piercing blue, the clearest blue of the ocean, startling in their purity. "It’s a hot night and this cattle pen is no place for a lady to be kept standing."

His gravelly voice bore through her thoughts. She wanted to get away from him, sensed he was dangerous, but somehow she was rooted to the spot. She did not answer.

"I guess London is still cold," he went on. "This heat will take some getting used to."

"Yes," said Kira, turning away. "It’s been a cold winter."

* * *

London, that winter, had been another word for rain, sleet, plunging temperatures and slushy snow underfoot. But hurricanes were not part of its grey scene. Instead, cold north-easterly winds regularly whipped wavelets along the murky mud water of the Thames, blew umbrellas inside-out, sent junk food wrappers skittering along gutters. Winter moved sluggishly into the coldest, wettest spring for years.

Her mind went back to her accident. It had not been the fault of the wind or the motorbike out of control. She had been out of control. Her heart had been teetering on the rind of the world, ashes in her mouth.

She had met Bruce when he came to the House of Commons to install a new computer system in the Members’ Library. Kira met him while having a quick coffee in the cafeteria. He stayed to steal her heart.

Bruce had been impressed by her job and she had been smitten by his fair good looks. He had a cheerful and casual outlook on life which lightened her more serious attitude. He charmed Kira out of her quiet, reserved ways and showed that there was more to life than security and a pay cheque. Her orderly life went into a spin from the moment she met him.

She had fallen in love with him, thinking in her innocence that their romance would lead to a wedding. She began saving for a wedding and a home. Bruce had a way of agreeing with everything she said. Everything was wonderful. He was younger than her but it was no problem.

"Did you get any Valentine’s cards?" she asked that evening in February. She should have noticed the strain on his handsome face but she was too blinkered with her own happiness to notice.

"Cards?" he replied vaguely.

"Oh dear, perhaps you’re not so popular this year," she teased. "Don’t you know what day it is?"

His face was a mask. He didn’t meet her eyes. Kira sensed a distance that she did
not understand.

"I haven’t been home yet. Kira, I must tell you something. I’m sorry, it’s been wonderful, you and me
. . . but now, well, I’ve met someone else," he said, his voice full of genuine misery.

It was like a pan of ice cold water thrown in her face. The shock hit her, his words echoing darkly in her mind. Someone else?
She tried to find the solidness of something, anything, to hold onto so that she would not fall.

"I sent you a Valentine’s card," she said, as if that made any difference.

"I’ve met this girl," Bruce went on relentlessly, his face stiff and unapproachable. "We didn’t mean it to happen. I was in love with you and wanted to be. Please try to understand."

It was all meaningless. "But I thought you loved me. I love you. What about our plans? I thought we were getting married."

"Jenny and I are very much in love. You and I, well, it was wonderful but it’s all over. I’m really sorry."

"We’d talked about marriage. Made plans
. . ."

"Only talked," Bruce corrected her. "Nothing more. If you thought it was serious, then you imagined it. It’s never been more than a lot of fun."

Kira felt the colour drain from her face as if she were bleeding. The sharp easterly wind cut through her coat like a knife.

"Fun? Fun?" Her breath caught in her throat. She struggled on. "You can’t mean it. What we have is special. You’ll get over her, this Jenny."

"It’s not so simple. Jenny is going to have a baby. She’s pregnant."

Kira’s world shattered into a thousand pieces and lay around her feet like so much broken glass. She did not move. She could not move.

"A baby . . ." she repeated, dazed, her mind flashing over the intimacy.

"Jenny is my secretary," he went on. "She joined the firm last October."

"And pregnant by February?" Kira exploded. "You move fast, don’t you? Was it at the firm’s Christmas party? Remember, I couldn’t come. Mr Connor had work to be finished before the Christmas Recess. So when is the baby due?"

"September."

"Perhaps Jenny would like some of the things I’ve bought for our home, and housing details from the estate agents? Anything else of mine she’d like?"

"I’ve moved into her house."

Kira hit rock bottom.

She did not see him to speak to again. But she caught sight of him once in the furniture department of the Army & Navy Stores in Victoria Street. She hid behind a sturdy walnut bookcase, like a fugitive, desperate for an escape route down the stairs.

It was a same chilling wind that had Kira hanging onto her skirt as she came out of Great Smith Street and turned into Parliament Square some weeks later. It threatened to wrap the skirt round her waist, revealing long shapely legs in sheer black tights and the useless modesty of a brief silk slip.

"Drat the wind," Kira gasped, struggling with her skirt, shoulder bag, clutch of library books and a splitting brown paper bag of fruit from Strutton Ground market. She was in a hurry. Mr Connor had a question down for Prime Minister’s Question Time and that always made him nervous. He was afraid of the braying pack on the other side of the House.

Parliament Square was snarled up with traffic; red double-decker buses, slogan-painted tour buses, black beetle taxis in droves, huge container lorries, coach-loads of tourists gaping at Big Ben and the newly cleaned stone face of the ancient Westminster Abbey. The traffic lights at the north end of Victoria Street were working normally but the sheer number of vehicles had jammed Parliament Square, choking, clogging, barely moving, and the tailback grew impatient.

Mr Connor, a junior minister at the Ministry of Defence, regarded his embryo career as being of the utmost importance. He expected his secretary to be there when he needed her, day and halfway through the night. Late sittings and his erratic work schedule gave Kira little or no social life. It was a wonder she had ever had time to meet and romance Bruce. Mr Connor thought nothing of dictating a pile of letters to his constituents as she was packing up for the day.

"You don’t mind staying late, do you, Kira?" he’d say, pacing his office, not waiting for an answer.

Kira did not mind hard work. Being at the heart of Parliament and working in an historic building never failed to give her a thrill every morning as she put her identity pass in the electronic entrance gate. The cloisters of New Palace Yard had witnessed so much history. Guy Fawkes had been hung, drawn and quartered in the Yard.

Kira worked long hours in cramped conditions. Mr Connor shared one of the old ministerial rooms but Kira had a desk in a crowded secretarial area in a semi-basement. The secretaries positioned filing cabinets and plants as screening to give themselves some privacy. There were windows along one wall, high up, but all they saw were legs walking through Star Court. Occasionally a friendly face peered down and smiled.

Kira stood on the pavement, checked her watch. She was running out of time. Revving engines spewed out dirty exhaust fumes. The wind billowed her skirt as if she was a dancer, and momentarily she wished she had known her father, Aaronovitch, the famous Russian dancer. He would not have minded a few inches of thigh showing.

"Keep down, you dratted skirt." She glared at the whirling material. "This could cause an international situation."

It was at this moment that the flimsy bag of shopping chose to split. Apples and pears scattered across the pavement. The culprit was a juicy over-ripe pear which the market vendor had slipped in. Kira raced after the rolling fruit. She was not aware how close she was to the kerb stone or that an express delivery rider – helmeted and goggled – on a heavy, black Honda 750cc motorbike was roaring through gaps in the stationary traffic.

For a second Kira saw the shiny black helmet. Then her skirt caught in the front mud guard of the bike and she was jerked off balance. The bike dragged her into the roadway. The sky spun, buildings towered, colours flashed. Pain stabbed her leg, shot through her shoulder.

Kira heard the screech of brakes and the hoarse cry of the motorcyclist as the big machine skidded out of control. Patches of sky swam scarlet with the pain; windows in her head shattered with strobes of light.

 

She lay in the grey no man’s land of unconsciousness. Kira surfaced briefly, found herself plugged into the complicated wires and tubes of the intensive care machinery. She did not move. She hurt all over.

"Miss Reed? Kira, can you hear me? Grip my hand if you can."

The voice was calm but comforting. Grip whose hand? What hand? Kira thought vaguely.

"I’m Dr Armstrong. You’ve been hurt in a road accident. But you are going to be all right."

Kira tried a polite smile but her face would not work. She drifted back into the dim sleep where she was not required to do anything but float in pain.

When she surfaced again, she became aware that something tight was constricting her arm and one of her legs felt a ton weight.

"What’s happened
. . . to me?" she managed to ask this time. She did not recognise the croak as her voice.

"You’ve a cracked collarbone, a broken leg and some concussion. Nothing that won’t heal perfectly well in time. We had to shave off some of your hair to stitch a head cut but it’ll
soon grow," said Dr Armstrong.

"Save me going to the hairdressers," Kira said weakly. The nurse was swabbing her arm for an injection.

"Miss Reed, have you any family? We looked in your bag and found your Common’s’ pass. We’ve been trying to trace relatives."

The doctor’s voice was far away as waves of healing sleep engulfed the pain. Kira sank into cotton wool darkness, longing for the hurt to go. She had work to do. She ought to be getting on with it. How would Mr Connor manage without her?

"I’ve a grandfather," she managed to murmur. "In Barbados. Fitt’s House. It’s a castle."

"What did she say, Nurse?"

"Something about a castle in Barbados," said the nurse primly, as if Barbados was one stop along from Clapham Common on the Northern Line.

"Ask her again when she comes round."
Dr Armstrong folded up his stethoscope and put it in his top pocket. "Perhaps you could catch that MP she works for and ask him, though he seems more worried about getting a replacement than about his secretary’s injuries." The nurse nodded.

"One of those dedicated career women," he went on. "No family, no relations, no real friends. A little flat in Pimlico, conveniently close to work. Who’s going to take care of her when she comes out of hospital?"

"Not you or me," said the nurse curtly, adjusting the height of the drip. "That’s what I mean. We shall do a good job on Miss Reed, then throw her out into the community to get on as best she can."

BOOK: Sweet Seduction
5.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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