Irresistible Temptation(8)

By: Sara Craven

'Of course,' she said, 'Bill might want to know why I ended up naked in your bed last night. He might feel you'd taken advantage.'

'You actually ended up naked in the spare room bed,' Declan said dispassionately. 'I had to bring you here because you were drunk, and making a nuisance of yourself at the party. I'd have taken you home, but the cab driver refused to go any further in case you threw up. I undressed you for the same reason.' He gave her a level look. 'And Bill will almost certainly not want to hear about that.'

'My word, haven't we got virtuous all of a sudden?' Melinda wasn't smiling any more. 'Could this be the influence of Little Miss Well-Scrubbed downstairs?'

'No,' Declan said wearily. 'It's all my own idea. What we had is over now. We've both moved on, so let's leave it like that.'

She threw back the covers and walked towards him, body moving sinuously. 'I could make you change your mind.'

Once, he thought. But not any more. Once he'd have damned all thought of decency, and reached for her. But his mind had stopped wanting her a long time before his body did. A realisation that made him ashamed, because in those last weeks they'd spent together he knew he'd just been using her.

He said more gently. 'You could probably bring a stone statue to life, Melinda. You're a beautiful woman. But you're not my woman—and that makes all the difference.'

'Or perhaps you're just losing it,' she said contemptuously as she went past him. 'And I'll get my own cab,' she threw back over her shoulder.

Maybe she was right, Declan told himself with wry derision as he stood under the shower a short while later. Certainly he hadn't put himself out to find female company lately. And the few dates he'd had had been strictly casual.

He could say he'd been working too hard to pursue any personal relationships. As well as writing a weekly political column for the Sunday Clarion, his television commitments were burgeoning. A new series of Division Bell was starting next week on First City TV, and he'd also been asked to research and draw up a proposal for a series on Prime Ministers of the past, covering the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Never a dull moment, he thought drily. But it left him with little free time. And what there was he preferred to spend in Ireland, at his parents' stud farm, helping out with the horses rather than doing the social rounds.

However, there'd been a girl at the party last night who'd made her interest in him perfectly clear—until Melinda had started behaving badly, and their hostess had quietly begged him to remove her.

She was an interior decorator, tall, blonde, and definitely attractive, and he had one of her cards somewhere—probably in his jacket.

'In case you want advice about a room,' she'd told him, smiling.

He'd ring her presently, he decided as he towelled himself down. Apologise for his abrupt departure, and ask if she'd like to have dinner. See where it might lead.

She was called Claudia, he remembered, and it was a name he liked. An unusual name—rather like Olivia.

His mouth tightened in irritation. He hadn't planned to throw another thought in her direction. But the image of that slight, lonely figure walking down the road with her case seemed etched on his mind.

All the more reason to call Claudia, he told himself cynically. Because Olivia was bad news, and he wasn't going to waste another thought on her—or any of Jeremy's leavings for that matter.

Sasha was a small woman, slender to the point of emaciation, and draped in a black caftan ornamented with embroidered tropical flowers. She had rich magenta hair which she wore twisted into dozens of little spiral curls, and amazing dark blue eyes, heavily emphasised with kohl. In one hand she held a cheroot. The other was attempting to control a small, brown terrier, spitting out fire and fury on a high-pitched note between a yap and a warble.

Her voice was surprisingly deep and husky, probably, Olivia thought, because of the cheroots.

'So you're Declan's waif.' Olivia was looked up and down, and assessed in one sweeping glance.

'The flat's down here, darling.' She led Olivia down a flight of outside steps to the basement. 'There's only one room, but it has its own separate kitchen, and I had the bathroom fitted two years ago. The rest of the basement I use for storage.'

She opened the living room door, and motioned Olivia to go in. 'The sofa turns into a bed, and I can lend you linen and stuff till you get fixed up. Will it do?'

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