His Mistress with Two Secrets(5)

By: Dani Collins



The family name had turned up in a million news stories and gossip magazines and online hits since then. That’s how she knew, despite the distance across the dimly lit room, that they were as handsome as they seemed from afar.

They had identical dark hair cut close under matching black fedoras tilted slyly to the left. While every other man had turned up in a baggy, striped suit with a red tie and carried a violin case, these two wore crisp black shirts with the cuffs rolled back, high-waisted, tailored black pants held up with white suspenders and smart white ties.

The sharp look accentuated their muscled shoulders and neat hips, while the narrow cut of the pants drew her eye to their matching black-and-white wing tips. They looked like gangsters of old, but the really dangerous ones. The ones so powerful and commanding, they didn’t have to swagger. They killed with a blink.

They wore exactly the same expression of bored tolerance as they pushed their hands in their pockets and scanned the room.

It was funny to see them move in unison, which held her attention until one stopped. He turned his head from the direction of the stairs, barely moving, but it was as if he sensed her attention and met her gaze all the way from across the club.

Cinnia’s heart took a funny bounce. She told herself it was the embarrassment of being caught gawking coupled with the shock of recognizing a celebrity. Catching a glimpse of the Sauveterre twins, even in a place filled with faux royals and rock stars, was a big deal. She knew they were regular people underneath the reputation, not something to get fluttery over, but she was rather giddy holding this man’s gaze.

There’s my rich husband, Mum. The thought made her smile at herself.

His head tilted just a little and he gave a slight nod. It was a very understated acknowledgement. Hello.

“Who do you see?” Vera asked, and followed Cinnia’s gaze, whispering under her breath, “Oh, my gawd.”

The men moved down the stairs onto the dance floor, leaving Cinnia swallowing and trying to recover from something that had been nothing. Why did her blood feel as though it was stinging her veins?

“We have to meet them,” Vera insisted.

“Shh.” Cinnia protested, forcing her gaze back to the crooner. She and Vera were supposed to be circulating and making small talk. “Who needs another Gin Rickey?” she asked the men.

She absolutely refused to look around and see if he looked at her again. Why would he? Still, she remained attuned to him, feeling prickly and hypersensitive, like she was in grade school and her first crush had entered the room. She knew exactly where he was as they both moved around the room for the next half hour.

Vera leaned into her. “They’re by the bar. Let’s get into their line of sight.”

“Vera.”

“We’ll just see if we can say hi. Besides, there will be a stampede for drinks when it’s time to toast. We should freshen ours now, so we can take them outside for the fireworks.”

She and Vera quickly realized they’d be swimming upstream trying to get nearer the twins or the bar. They moved to safer ground near the bottom of the stairs and stood with attentive expressions as the club owner quieted the room and thanked everyone for coming.

Or rather, Cinnia gave their host her polite attention while Vera visually cruised for fresh prospects.

Vera would flirt with anyone. She was fun loving, pretty and had a knockout figure that reeled men in from across a pub or wherever she dragged Cinnia for a night out. They’d met at university and Vera was not only loyal, funny and caring, but also the absolute best at keeping Cinnia from becoming the stick-in-the-mud that Vera always called her.

Cinnia wasn’t as curvy as Vera, but she drew her share of male attention. She might not try to get by on her looks the way her mother thought she could, but she knew her wavy blond hair and patrician features gave her certain advantages. They were also a perfect foil for Vera’s darker looks, which Vera used to her advantage.

Cinnia didn’t date so much as play Vera’s wingwoman. She had come out tonight knowing they would very likely wind up departing the club with whomever Vera had set her sights on. But, while Vera often went home with men she barely knew, Cinnia fully expected to find her way back to their flat alone.

As the speeches finished up and the fireworks were promised to start soon, there was a minor lull in noise.

“It’d be nice if we could find some men to buy us a drink.”

It was classic Vera, spoken mostly in jest because she knew it got under Cinnia’s skin. She knew Cinnia believed women should be self-reliant and not look to men for anything.

Cinnia bit back her knee-jerk lecture on feminism, refusing to let her friend get a rise out of her.

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