A Night of No Return(8)

By: Sarah Morgan



Stung, she stood still for a moment. ‘Actually it does matter. I’ve just risked my neck and upset someone I love to bring you a file you don’t even remember needing. A “thank you” would be nice. Manners are a good thing to have.’

‘But I’m not nice. And I’m certainly not good.’ His bitter tone shocked her. Her anger fizzled out.

‘Lucas—’

‘Get out, Emma.’ This time he used her name so that there could be no mistake about whom he was addressing. ‘Get out and close the damn door behind you.’





CHAPTER TWO


OF ALL the ungrateful, rude, pig-headed … Emma stomped down the stairs, along the landing and down the main staircase, swept forward by rolling waves of righteous anger.

Get out, Emma.

Get out, Emma.

Those words rang in her ears and she set her teeth and walked faster.

Well, she was getting out. She couldn’t get out fast enough.

She consoled herself that at least her conscience was clear. She’d done her job. She’d given him the file. No one could accuse her of behaving unprofessionally. Now she could relax and enjoy the holidays with Jamie without suffering a nagging worry that she should have done more. Lucas had made it clear that his personal life was his own business and that was just fine with her.

Her footsteps echoed in the magnificent hallway as she stormed towards the door. There was still no sign of anyone else and she wondered why a party would have finished so early.

I told you to get out!

His words played over and over again in her head. Who had he told to get out?

Telling herself that his manners were none of her business, she pulled open the door. The cold slammed into her and she gasped and huddled into her damp coat. Even in the comparatively short time she’d been inside, the weather had turned seriously ugly. The snow was falling twice as heavily. Already her footprints were covered and her car was an amorphous white blob.

Her head still aching from her last unscheduled contact with the ground, Emma picked her way gingerly to her car and knocked the worst of the snow off the windscreen with her glove. If that much snow had fallen since she’d been in the house then the bridge she’d crossed to get here would pretty soon be impassable. Her little car wouldn’t be able to cope with the combination of the snow and the gradient.

With that thought in her head, she was about to slide into the driver’s seat and start the engine when something about the smooth, untouched mound of snow on the roof made her think of the cake. And thinking of the cake made her realise what it was that had been bothering her. The cake was untouched. Whole. It hadn’t been cut. Not a single slice had been taken from it.

Emma stood for a moment, one leg in the car, the other on the snowy ground, wondering about that. The celebration, whatever it was, had obviously stopped before they’d reached the part with the cake.

I told you to get out.

She tightened her lips and slid into the car. It wasn’t any of her business. Wrapping her freezing fingers around the key, she started the engine. Maybe he didn’t like cake. Maybe he didn’t have a sweet tooth. Maybe—

‘Drat and bother.’ Switching off the engine, she thumped her head back against the seat. He’d told her to get out. If she had any sense she’d do just that.

Slowly she turned her head and looked back at the house.

He’d said he wanted to be alone so that was exactly what she should do. Leave him alone.

She tightened her hands on the wheel.

Whatever was wrong with Lucas Jackson wasn’t any of her business.

Lucas stared blindly into the dying flames of the fire. He was drunk, but nowhere near as drunk as he wanted to be. The pain was as acute as ever. It was like lying down on the business end of a saw, feeling the teeth digging into every single part of him. Nothing he did could ease it.

Standing up, he walked to the basket of logs by the fire and pulled one out.

‘You shouldn’t be doing that. You’ll burn the whole place down if you’re not careful.’ A female voice came from the doorway and he turned, wondering if he were hallucinating.

Emma stood there. Her cheeks were pink from the cold, snowflakes sparkled and clung to her dark hair and her eyes were frosty. He wasn’t sure if he was seeing anger or defiance but he knew he was looking at trouble and he straightened slowly.

‘I thought I told you—’

‘—to get out. Yes, you did, which was very rude of you actually.’ Her tone was brisk. ‘For future reference, you deserve to be left on your own if that is the way you speak to people.’ She lifted her hand and unwound her scarf from around her neck, sending snow fluttering onto the thick rug that covered the floor of the turret bedroom.

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