Dirty water spattered the pristine overall she wore beneath her unbuttoned coat. With a groan of exasperation she fled on down the road, frantically checking her watch. She was late for work. As she dived across a narrow side-street, the screech of brakes almost deafened her. Jerking round, she had a brief blurred image of the car bearing down on her before she lost her balance and landed with her behind and her two hands braced on the wet tarmac. Winded and shocked, she just sat there dazedly appreciating that she was still in one piece.
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Chapter 10 Chapter 1 Chrissy leapt off the bus and splashed straight into a puddle. Dirty water spattered the pristine overall she wore beneath her unbuttoned coat. With a groan of exasperation she fled on down the road, frantically checking her watch. She was late for work. As she dived across a narrow side-street, the screech of brakes almost deafened her. Jerking round, she had a brief blurred image of the car bearing down on her before she lost her balance and landed with her behind and her two hands braced on the wet tarmac.
Winded and shocked, she just sat there dazedly appreciating that she was still in one piece. The glossy black bonnet of the luxury sports car was less than a foot from her face. A car door slammed. A pair of male feet shod in hand-stitched Italian leather entered her vision. Her wide green eyes climbed up the long straight length of masculine legs sheathed in the mohair blend of bespoke tailoring.
Disbelief had glued it to the roof of her mouth. Blaze Kenyon. Breathtaking, unforgettable and utterly unmistakable for anyone else.
He was incredibly good-looking and soul-destroyingly unattainable unless, Chrissy had once noted, your beauty was on a par with his. Once long ago, in a purely philosophical mood, Chrissy had wondered why beautiful men were invariably attracted only to equally beautiful women. Indeed, until Blaze parted his lips and actually spoke, he was so dazzlingly perfect that you were tempted to pinch him to see if he was real.
As his luxuriant black hair ruffled in the breeze, Chrissy was briefly inspected by brilliant sapphire-blue eyes. Hitching his knife-creased trousers, he crouched down to run a pair of excruciatingly thorough hands over her extended limbs in search of injury. He had the sort of charisma that switched on like a high-voltage searchlight, targeting a victim.
When he switched it off again, it was a little like being plunged into outer darkness. Careless long brown fingers were still anchored to her slim thigh. Chrissy unfroze and thrust the over-familiar hand violently away. It was not a reaction Blaze was accustomed to receiving. A slight frownline was etched between his winged dark brows as he sprang up again.
Blaze ran a measuring scrutiny over her, taking in dirty hands, laddered tights and curling mahogany streamers of flyaway hair descending forlornly from an inexpert topknot. Scarlet to her hairline, Chrissy squashed an embarrassing urge to point out what she felt should have been obvious even to the most disinterested observer. Over the past three years, she had shed almost three stone. His forefinger flicked the Peter Pan collar of her overall.
A second earlier she had been wondering at the icy edge to his tone when he voiced her surname, but now that was forgotten as her teeth ground together.
It might have been three years since she last saw him, but Blaze Kenyon still affected her much as a whip would laid across her sensitive flesh.
I damned near ran over you! You should think twice before you throw yourself beneath my wheels. She ached to massage a certain throbbing portion of her anatomy, but she fought the need until she had entered the exclusive apartment block several yards away and knew herself safely out of sight. Her coat was sodden. She was soaked to the skin. I wash this one out every night. It would be just her luck if this was one of the days their mutual employer decided to do a spot check on one of his newest workers.
But he had a soft spot for Glynis. Glynis had baby-blue eyes and fluffy blonde hair and they licensed her to get away with murder. The other cleaners hated her. None of the other women wanted to partner Glynis.
The blonde never did her share of the work and, if there was a complaint, Chrissy had already been warned that it would not be Glynis who took the blame for it.
Chrissy had been employed by the Silent Sweep agency for just three weeks and she was desperate to hang on to her job. The cleaning agency had a rulebook a full half-inch thick, and within the space of one working day Chrissy had watched the blonde break every rule in it. There was a strictly regimented list of tasks to be carried out on every visit…and those tasks were to be done even if they did not appear to be necessary.
That was what the client was paying for. Silent, unseen service. As Chrissy whizzed about with the vacuum, he leapt into her mind the instant she was free to think about him. He exploded out of her carefully blocked subconscious with the shock value of an evil genie. In his wake came a tidal wave of homesickness and a surge of very painful memories. She was able to suppress the homesickness. After all, she no longer had a home worthy of sentimental recall, she reminded herself.
Not only was her mother dead and her siblings married, but Chrissy herself was all too wretchedly aware that, no matter how bad things got, she could never expect her father to house her again.
The painful memories were far more resilient. Out there on the street, Blaze had committed the ultimate sin of seeing her as she used to be. The Hamilton family misfit. Did he even remember his last encounter with Chrissy Hamilton? She shuddered at the very idea of him remembering. A bottle of whisky on top of a recent family bereavement had made him more than usually callous and indifferent to the feelings of others.
He had been incredibly cruel, so cruel that Chrissy still carried the scars. Glynis screened a yawn as they entered the third-floor apartment next on their schedule. Chrissy headed straight for the kitchen and stopped dead on the threshold. Glynis swore at the sight of the abandoned dishes piled high on every surface and the smell of stale food. Well, she can forget that! Now we know why. Glynis said something rude and stalked off. Chrissy worked quietly and efficiently, hoping that just for once Glynis was in the mood for work.
Their schedule had to be strictly followed. Clients always specified hours when their homes were empty. Glynis was doing a twirl in a fancy cocktail dress. Glynis gave her a filthy look. Chrissy had just entered the bathroom when she heard the front door open and the sound of voices, male and female mingling.
She sprang upright, wondering frantically if Glynis had had time to change back into her overall. A brunette appeared in the doorway and frowned. Blaze Kenyon strolled into view. His brilliant blue eyes narrowed. What are you doing in her bathroom—? Leila curved a hand round his arm. Chrissy felt utterly humiliated. She was not ashamed of what she did for a living. The hours suited her and the agency paid a reasonable rate.
She had no false pride about her work, had indeed been grateful to have paid employment…until Blaze Kenyon surveyed her with well-bred amazement and suddenly made her feel like the lowest of the low. Every word was crystal-clear. The Hamiltons were into spotlit bonsai trees and floodlit oils. She drank too much and dropped the most frightful clangers with the happiest smiles. When the good life got too much, she ran off with a freezer salesman, who turned out to be a bigamist. Hamilton thought it was the funniest thing he had ever heard.
Chrissy had the vase of wilted flowers in her hand. Blaze was indolently sprawled on the sofa several steps inside the door. Leila shrieked as though she had plunged a knife into his back. The vase contained a surprising amount of water. Blaze sprang up, scattering flowers, and spun round. Blaze clawed wet hair off his brow with one hand, his glittering ice-blue eyes smouldering threat at Chrissy. Glynis came running with a towel and fervent apologies.
Chrissy stood there blinking in bewilderment. He was a filthy, rotten snob! Born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, grandson of an earl, Blaze had grown up against a background of rich, inherited privilege.
His arrogance was that of an aristocrat, who had never known what it was to try and measure up to the expectations of a higher social class.
Chapter 10 Chapter 1 Chrissy leapt off the bus and splashed straight into a puddle. Dirty water spattered the pristine overall she wore beneath her unbuttoned coat. With a groan of exasperation she fled on down the road, frantically checking her watch. She was late for work. As she dived across a narrow side-street, the screech of brakes almost deafened her. Jerking round, she had a brief blurred image of the car bearing down on her before she lost her balance and landed with her behind and her two hands braced on the wet tarmac. Winded and shocked, she just sat there dazedly appreciating that she was still in one piece.
Indecent Deception by Lynne Graham
Her father rarely bothered to use the garages, and the fact that there was no other car visible led her to hope that he had already left for his office in Reading. She had left Rosie with Floss, telling her that she had some shopping to do. Floss had remarked on her pallor but not on her reddened eyes. Floss, she suspected, saw far more than she ever betrayed. Blaze had eaten breakfast with inhuman cool, even chatting to Rosie in between times. Food would have choked her. She had lain awake throughout the long night, torturing herself with self-loathing, desperate for an avenue of escape that would take her far from Westleigh Hall.