Part Five by Beverley Eikli
Seven Choc Lit authors have contributed to give you one exciting story. Each author has to continue the tale left by the previous author. They have no idea where the story will take them! Not an easy task but makes good reading for us all.
If you have missed parts one and two, you can read them here:
Damien returned his attention to the river view even before the door had even shut behind the two women.
He’d thought he’d be immune to whatever emotional ploy Kelly chose to soften his righteous anger towards her. He hadn’t expected dignity, as if she were the wronged party. Nor had he expected his own traitorous responses to be so strong.
A discreet cough dragged his attention back to the present and he swung round to see Ade standing in the centre of the room.
He forced himself to return to more important matters. ‘Ah yes, Ade, security arrangements for the Grande Reception tomorrow night…’
Ade raised one bushy eyebrow. ‘Looks like your mind was on other things.’ He took a few steps forward. ‘Your father will be surprised when he learns Kelly chose to return to work rather than take up his generous offer.’
The tone, as much as the words, sounded a warning.
‘What generous offer?’ Damien narrowed his eyes at the man who’d been more of a father figure to him than his own. As youths George Grande and Ade had worked together in the building trade but when an eye to the main chance and ruthless ambition had propelled George Grande to his current illustrious heights, he’d made Ade his right-hand man.
Ade offered Damien a look of sympathetic understanding and rubbed his chin as if weighing up whether to say more.
‘What generous offer, Ade?’ Damien repeated, his voice crisp and sharp-edged like his growing fury.
A distant roaring had already begun to fill his head. So his father had been doing his usual interfering in the wings? Worse, though, was that Damien hadn’t even suspected.
Ade reached for the only framed photograph on Damien’s desk. Taken the night George Grande had received his OBE for services to architecture, he stood flanked by his son and Damien’s glamorous ex fiancée, Celia.
‘Your father didn’t want to believe it was all over between you and Celia.’
Damien shook his head. Already the pieces were coming together. The heated argument following the celebrations that night had been the catalyst for Damien doing what he’d wanted to do for some time: call off his on-off relationship with Celia. The office party the following night had been like a glorious dive into crystal clear waters. Unshackled at last, Damien had felt gravitated naturally to the doe-eyed, coolly efficient Kelly Taylor, the firm’s newest recruit to whom he’d become increasingly attracted over the months. One thing had led to another, and when Damien had woken up in bed next to Kelly, he’d felt this was where he wanted to wake up every morning for the rest of his life.
Clearly, though, Kelly thought differently, for when Damien had woken properly at noon, Kelly was gone, and when he tried to phone her, he’d learned she’d gone to Prague on assignment and was unreachable.
Nor did she make any attempt to answer his calls or messages until Damien’s own business schedule took him to the US where, by design or coincidence, Celia had reappeared with a concerted, but ultimately futile, effort to reinvigorate their stalled romance.
The next real conversation Damien had with Kelly was when she’d announced she was four months pregnant – with his child.
‘Your father was convinced Kelly was a gold-digger and that without her around, you and Celia would patch up your differences and marry.’
Damien sucked in a laboured breath. ‘So my father did what he had to in order to make Kelly believe the worst of me.’
‘Because he believed the worst of her.’ Ade dropped his eyes from Damien’s fulminating glare. ‘But her reappearance more than adequately proves that financial gain was never her motivation.’
Resolve was like a steel rod driving into Damien’s backbone. By God, his father was going to regret meddling in his son’s life.
Coolly he said, ‘Well Ade, I trust Kelly is attending tomorrow’s celebrations.’
Ade inclined his head. ‘I’ll personally see to it she does.’ He hesitated, the sympathy replaced with a warning look. ‘But don’t leave it any longer than tomorrow night. I’d hate to see you miss out a second time.’
About the Author
Beverley Eikli wrote her first romance when she was seventeen. However, drowning the heroine on the last page was, she discovered, not in the spirit of the genre so her romance-writing career ground to a halt and she became a journalist.
After throwing in her secure job on South Australia’s metropolitan daily, The Advertiser, to manage a luxury safari lodge in the Okavango Delta, in Botswana, Beverley discovered a new world of romance and adventure in a thatched cottage in the middle of a mopane forest with the handsome Norwegian bush pilot she met around a camp fire.
Eighteen years later, after exploring the world in the back of Cessna 404s and CASA 212s as an airborne geophysical survey operator during low-level sorties over the French Guyanese jungle and Greenland’s ice cap, Beverley is back in Australia living a more conventional life with her husband and two daughters in a pretty country town an hour north of Melbourne.
Beverly won Choc Lit’s Search for an Australian Star with The Reluctant Bride. Beverley’s Choc Lit novels include: The Reluctant Bride and The Maid of Milan.
Follow the rest of the story daily!
How much would you pay for a clear conscience?
Adelaide Leeson wants to prove herself worthy of her husband, a man of noble aspirations who married her when she was at her lowest ebb.
Lord Tristan Leeson is a model of diplomacy and self-control, even curbing the fiery impulses of his youth to preserve the calm relations deemed essential by his mother-in-law to preserve his wife's health.
A visit from his boyhood friend, feted poet Lord James Dewhurst, author of the sensational Maid of Milan, persuades Tristan that leaving the countryside behind for a London season will be in everyone's interests.
But as Tristan's political career rises and Adelaide revels in society's adulation, the secrets of the past are uncovered. And there's a high price to pay for a life of deception.