‘How should I—–'
‘Don't lie,’ she warned with controlled fury. ‘The last thing I remember about last night was telling you I was leaving.'
He returned her gaze unblinkingly. ‘And the last time I saw you you were on your way out.'
‘That's a lie—–'
‘I don't lie, Cat,’ he dismissed in a bored voice.
He was lying now, and she had a fair idea why; his father's anger was formidable, even to this self-confident young man. ‘Luke, can't you see you're just making matters worse?’ she encouraged. ‘You know very well I didn't get as far as leaving the party last night.'
‘I know it now,’ he nodded.
She gave a frustrated sigh. ‘If you're worried about your father's anger then surely you realise he's going to be twice as furious if you don't tell him the truth now?'
Luke gave a harsh laugh, glancing slyly at his father. ‘I'm not in the least concerned about Dad's anger,’ he scorned. ‘What can he do, stop my allowance, throw me out?’ He gave a derisive snort.
Caleb looked unmoved by his son's disgraceful behaviour. ‘So you aren't telling the truth?’ he pounced.
‘I didn't say that,’ his son drawled dismissively. ‘I just don't want Miss Howard to get the impression I'm frightened of you.'
‘Aren't you?’ his father threatened softly.
Luke blinked, disconcerted for a moment, and then the defiance was back in those restless eyes. ‘If that's all?’ he derided. ‘I'm meeting some friends this morning.'
‘Go,’ his father dismissed wearily.
With a malicious smile in Cat's direction he did so. Cat disliked him even more than she had yesterday, and with more reason! And yet something about his behaviour struck a chord in her memory.
‘They say it's tough being the child of a well-known father,’ Caleb Steele mused hardly. ‘No one mentions how difficult it is being the father of that child!’ He gave a ragged sigh, straightening his shoulders with fresh determination. ‘And don't quote me on that,’ he rasped warningly.
‘I'm not the type—–'
‘To “kiss and tell”?’ he finished scornfully. ‘All women are that type, reporters especially so,’ he bit out harshly. ‘It's a pity you haven't actually experienced my lovemaking so that you can give me a rating as a lover; publicity like that could be very beneficial to my social life!'
From what she had heard his social life didn't need any boosting, women falling over themselves to go out with him! And he obviously held every one of them in contempt for finding him attractive.
‘I think you should concentrate on straightening out your son rather than worrying about your social life,’ she told him tartly.
He became suddenly still. ‘What did you say?'
Steel cloaked in velvet again. She was coming to know some of the facets of this man's personality, and right now he was furiously angry at her for daring to interfere between him and his son. But she had finally realised what it was about Luke that was so familiar, recognised it and feared it. ‘At the moment your son could go either way,’ she spoke with quiet intensity. ‘He's teetering on the edge of falling down into that abyss of depravity that will totally destroy him, or coming to his senses and carrying on with his life.'
Caleb Steele scowled. ‘What the hell are you talking about?’ he demanded impatiently.
She gave a ragged sigh, desperate to make him understand how near his son was to losing all reason. ‘Luke is going through a trauma of some kind,’ she explained, ‘and the only way he knows how to deal with it is by going from one deed of recklessness to another. Last night—–'
‘Let's forget last night,’ he rasped. ‘There appear to be two schools of thought concerning that.'
She nodded. ‘And you naturally choose to believe your son,’ she said without rancour.
‘Naturally,’ he drawled harshly, watching her with narrowed eyes.
Cat shrugged acceptance of his loyalty. ‘One of these days your son is going to do something that's going to hurt someone else very badly, and then it's going to be too late to help him.'
‘You speak as if from experience,’ he probed slowly.
She knew the nightmare of waking up every morning with only feelings of despair, of knowing the day would only get worse not better, of feeling that way and knowing there was nothing she could do to stop it. Luke Steele showed signs of that inner trapped feeling she had carried about with her for over a year, she had seen it there in his eyes when he momentarily let down his guard. She didn't like him, or the things he was doing, but she understood him. Which was surely more than his father did!
‘Believe me, Mr Steele,’ she ignored the question in his tone, ‘if you don't soon stop Luke it could be too late. He's very angry at the world right now and—–'
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