To Love Again

By: Carole Mortimer

CHAPTER ONE


CHRISTI stared in horror at the man who took up most of the open doorway to her

flat, holding her hands up defensively. ‘Whatever you do, don’t come in here!’ she warned

fiercely.

To her chagrin he smiled, although he made no effort to come further into the room.

‘What are you doing on the floor?’ he drawled unconcernedly.

Christi came up off her hands and leant back on her knees. ‘I—oh, no!’ she groaned as a

brown and grey bullet entered the room, finding herself almost knocked over as the tiny creature

leapt up and down in front of her face, trying to lick her nose. ‘No, Henry.’ She desperately



tried to stil the movements of her excited Yorkshire terrier. ‘Henry Oh, damn!’ She gave in with

a resigned groan, taking the dog into her arms to receive the ecstatic greeting.

‘He’s missed you.’ Lucas made the understatement mockingly, grinning his

amusement as Christi gave him a censorious frown.

‘I’ve only been gone a couple of days,’ she dismissed distractedly, her attention once

again on the carpet in front of her now that Henry had calmed down enough to sit relatively still

in her arms. ‘Take him, will you?’ She reached out to hold the dog up to Lucas. ‘But don’t come

any closer,’ she warned as Lucas strode forcefully into the room, having let himself into the

apartment with the key she had given him.

He gave a weary sigh, coming to an abrupt halt. ‘Make up your mind, Christi,’ he said drily.

‘Either I can come in, or I can’t. Is there a man in your bedroom? Is that it?’ He quirked

dark brows interestedly.

Christi shot him a look that clearly told him the question was beneath contempt. ‘I happen

to have lost a contact lens

‘Not again,’ Lucas groaned impatiently. ‘Last time you lost one of them it was down

your

‘I know where it was,’ she put in hastily, blushing.

‘Well, have you looked down there this time?’ He looked speculatively at the creamy

perfection of her cleavage, which was visible above the open neckline of her blouse. ‘I could

always help you if you haven’t,’ he flirted easily.

That was the trouble with Lucas; he flirted with lazy ease, having a constant stream of

women in his life, who seemed to remain his friend even after the relationship had ended. He

and Christi seemed to have skipped the first part and gone straight on to the friendship,

Lucas’s teasing of her just that. It was rather depressing to be thought of as just a ‘pal’ by a

man like Lucas! Everyone she had ever introduced him to had envied the fact that she

actually had him living in the flat next door to her own. And that wasn’t so surprising, for Lucas

was devastating to look at; tall and dark, with piercing grey eyes that could be dark with

laughter or glittering silver with anger, his body of the type that looked beautifully elegant in the

superbly tailored suits he wore, or obviously masculine in the shorts he wore when he played

tennis. He possessed a sense of humour that enchanted, a honeyed charm that enthralled,

and a raw sexuality that acted like a magnet to any woman in the vicinity.

But he was also thirty-seven to her almost twenty-two, and had taken her under his

protective wing since she had moved into this flat almost four years ago, acting more like her

uncle than her real uncle did! He had also helped her find her missing contact lenses more times

than she cared to think about, had taken care of her pets when she’d been away, and had

fed her lemon juice when she had been flat out in bed with a cold, doing a good impersonation

of Rudolf! No wonder he had never looked on her as anything more than ‘the kid next door’—

she was the kid next door!

‘Just take Henry, will you?’ She sighed her irritation. ‘I haven’t had the best of

weekends, and if I can’t find my lens I won’t be able to go for that audition this afternoon.’

Lucas held the dog lightly in his arms as Christi resumed her search, her two Siamese

cats entwining themselves about his long legs. He reached down to absently stroke Josephine and

Gladys, straightening as Christi gave a triumphant cry, holding the truant lens as she

scrambled to her feet to put it in before it did another disappearing act.

He frowned as she turned to face him. ‘I thought you were looking forward to spending the

weekend with Dizzy and your uncle.’ He spoke slowly. ‘There’s nothing wrong with the baby,

is there?’ he added, concern in his voice.

Christi’s expression instantly softened. ‘Laura is the most beautiful, contented ‘

‘The baby is fine,’ Lucas drawled drily.



‘—little love I have ever seen,’ Christi finished proudly. ‘She has lovely golden curls—which is

only to be expected when Dizzy and Uncle Zach—just Zach,’ she amended with a grimace. ‘He

finally got around to telling me I can call him that, now that he’s been married to my best

friend for almost a year,’ she derided. ‘But, with both of them being so fair, Laura was sure to

be blonde herself,’ she completed her earlier statement.

Lucas looked pointedly at her ebony hair. ‘They can’t all be blondes in your family.’

‘The Bennetts are,’ she nodded. ‘You know I got my colouring from my mother.’ She

experienced the usual sadness she felt whenever she thought of the wonderful parents she had

lost four years ago, the two of them on an archaeological dig when it had capsized and buried

them beneath tons of earth.

She hadn’t been quite eighteen at the time, and remembered that the birthday she had

spent with her Uncle Zach had been a miserable time, both of them numbed by the accident

that had left them the only two remaining members of their family. Her uncle had been distant

from her then, a remote professor of history who seemed to live among his books. Falling in love

with impetuous madcap Dizzy had changed all that, and when he wasn’t amused by his young

wife’s antics he was bemused! But, four years ago, Dizzy had been a long way from entering

his life, and the two of them had found little to say to each other to ease the pain of their

loss. Lucas had helped to ease her pain more than her uncle had, had held her as she’d cried

bitter tears, had sat with her as she’d brooded in silence, had taken her out on picnics and

walks when it seemed she would finally come out of the dark tunnel of depression her

parents’ deaths had caused.

Their friendship had grown from those months of anger and pain shortly after she had

moved in here; it was a friendship Christi knew she would find it hard to live without now,

and she dreaded the day one of those women in his life became more than lover and then

friend, sure that another woman wouldn’t welcome Lucas’s friendship with her into their

married life.

She wasn’t conceited; as an actress she had been taught to evaluate her looks, to know

her advantages and her limitations, and shoulder-length ebony hair, enormous sparkling blue

eyes, straight nose, and widely curving mouth, tall and curving body, added up to quite a

few advantages. No other woman was ever going to believe there was just friendship between

herself and Lucas! She wasn’t sure she believed it herself, considering how sexually attractive

he was, having had more than her own share of men in her life. But friends they were, and it

was a relationship they were both comfortable with. Certainly neither of them was willing to risk

what they had for what would probably amount to a few days or weeks of being lovers.

‘So what was wrong with your weekend?’

She frowned, concentrating with effort, her frown turning to a scowl as she

thought over Lucas’s question. ‘Dizzy,’ she began in a barely controlled voice, ‘in her role

as aunt and new mother, has decided that it’s time I settled down myself

‘What?’ Lucas said incredulously.

‘Oh, yes,’ Christi confirmed disgustedly. ‘Last year, Dizzy and Zach were worried because

I didn’t go out with anyone for more than a month, and now they’re worried because I

haven’t seen anyone for six months!’ She shook her head.

‘Elm,I wondered about that myself ‘

‘Don’t you start,’ she warned, moving automatically to the kitchen to get her

pets some breakfast as they all milled about her legs, Lucas having put Henry down long ago.

‘I’ve been concentrating on my career the last six months,’ she firmly informed Lucas as he

came to lounge in the kitchen doorway.

He nodded. ‘Nevertheless, it’s been pretty quiet around here lately,’ he mocked.

Christi gave him a look that clearly told him she didn’t appreciate his humour. ‘It’s a pity



the same can’t be said for next door,’ she returned waspishly, referring to the party he had

held on the eve of her departure to the Lake District to visit her uncle and Dizzy.

‘Ouch!’ His eyes laughed at her. ‘I did ask you to join us,’ he reminded, not in the least

perturbed by her complaint, knowing it wasn’t justified, for his parties were never of the ‘loud’

variety.

Her bad humour faded as quickly as it had come; she hadn’t really been angry. People

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