|Название||The Price Of His Redemption|
|Автор произведения||Carol Marinelli|
|Серия||Mills & Boon Modern|
But just as she had been about to leave her father had called her back.
‘Oh, there’s something I forgot to tell you.’
Her father, who had been begging Libby to the point of tears, had then looked a touch uncomfortable and evasive. ‘He goes under a different name now.’
‘Sorry?’ Libby had had no idea what he was talking about.
‘Or rather it would seem that Daniel Thomas has recently reverted to his real name—Daniil Zverev. He was adopted.’
‘Well, if he’s gone back to his birth name, clearly there’s a serious rift. I’m not going to interfere...’
‘Libby, please,’ her father begged. ‘All Zverev has to do is show up and make a speech.’
A speech? The list of demands for Daniil had again increased. Show up, dance with aunts, be sociable, and now she had to ask him to make a speech!
No, Libby was not comfortable with this at all. She lived in her own dreamy bubble where the role of negotiator didn’t exist. She was very forthright, in that she had an expressive face and a tendency to say what she was thinking. She also, to her parents’ disquiet, had always refused to quietly toe the line.
‘You never said anything about him having to make a speech.’
‘Can you just talk to him for me, Libby? Please!’
Why the hell had she said yes?
Of course, she had looked Daniil up on her taxi ride here. Her father had said that face-to-face he was sure that Libby would be able to appeal to his conscience but it would seem, from her brief skim through several articles, that the esteemed financier previously known as Daniel Thomas didn’t have one.
It was, one article observed, as if he saw everyone as the opposition and would step over whomever he had to if it meant he achieved his aim.
As for women—well, it would take far longer than a thirty-minute taxi ride to read up on that part of his history! The word heartbreaker was thrown around a lot. User. From what Libby could glean, his longest, for the want of a word, relationship had been a two-week affair with a German supermodel, who had been left devastated by their sudden ending.
Well, what did these women expect? Libby had thought when she’d read how some considered the break-up to have been cruel.
Why would anyone ever get involved with him?
Libby had never been one for one-night stands but it would seem Daniil Zverev was a master of them. She was cautious in relationships, never quite believing men who said that her dancing wouldn’t get in the way and that they had no issue with the hours she devoted to her art.
Always she had been proved right to be cautious. Invariably the reasons for the break-ups were the same—that she was obsessed with ballet, self-absorbed and hardly ever free to go out.
She’d told them the same at the start.
Libby got back from dwelling on her disastrous love life to trying to fathom Daniil.
Surprisingly, there had been little made of his name change—it was as if even the press was wary of broaching certain topics around him.
So, too, was Libby. She certainly didn’t relish the prospect of asking him to play ‘happy families.’
Of course, she felt like David going into face Goliath as she came out of the elevator and walked along a corridor, only to face another seriously beautiful woman who ran her eyes over Libby as she approached the desk.
‘I’m here to see Mr Zverev,’ Libby said, but her smile wasn’t returned.
‘Perhaps you would like to freshen up before you go through.’
‘Oh, I’m fine, thank you.’ Libby shook her head—she really just wanted to get this over and done with.
‘You will find the ladies’ room just down the hall and to your right.’
To her sudden embarrassment Libby realised that it was being suggested, and strongly so, that she needed to tidy herself up.
Could the great Daniil Zverev only lay eyes on perfect people? Was he only prepared to hold court with women at their coiffed best?
She held back the smart retort, though, and instead, blushing to her roots, took herself off to the ladies room. As she stepped inside and saw herself in a full-length mirror she was, though she would never admit it, rather grateful for the advice to take a little time before seeing Daniil.
It was a warm and windy August day and she had the hair to prove it.
Determined to keep practising and to maintain her skills, without the delicious routine of dance class and rehearsals, Libby had been home, warming up, when word had come in that her father had been involved in a car accident. Of course, she had just pulled on some leggings and a wrap over her leotard, grabbed her workbag and raced to the accident and emergency department.
Her head was still spinning with all her father had revealed that afternoon. The family business was in serious trouble and they needed this anniversary party to go ahead next month. For that to happen, though, Daniil’s acceptance of his parents’ invitation must be secured.
Libby couldn’t think about her father’s business troubles now.
She went through her huge bag and pulled out a fresh ivory wrap and put that on over her leotard and changed from leggings into a grey tube skirt. Her blonde hair was already tied back but messy so she brushed and retied it and pinned it up. Her face was devoid of make-up and she looked far younger than her twenty-five years. Somehow she didn’t think fresh-faced would appeal to such a sophisticated man but Libby didn’t have an awful lot in her make-up bag to work with. Some mascara made her blue eyes look bigger and she added some lip gloss too.
She’d just have to do.
Libby knew she didn’t stand a hope with him. A man who had cut ties with his family so dramatically that he’d changed his name was hardly going to want to turn things around on her say-so.
And, anyway, Libby was the last person to tell someone else what they should do.
She, herself, didn’t like free advice.
She’d be working in the family business if she did.
Resigned to being sent away even before she’d got out the first sentence almost took away the fear of meeting him.
Yes, she’d just say what she had to and then walk away. She would not allow herself to be intimidated.
Snooty Pants at Reception must have deemed Libby looked suitable now because she picked up the phone and informed him that his 6:00 p.m. appointment was here. ‘However, as I said it is—’ He must have interrupted her because she didn’t finish explaining again that it was Libby rather than Lindsey who was there. ‘I’ll send her in.’
As Libby finally went to head for the door it would seem that she’d jumped the mark.
‘You can leave your bag here.’
She was about to decline but again she realised it wasn’t a suggestion so she put her bag down and headed for the door. As she was about to raise her arm she was halted.
‘Don’t knock, it irritates him. Just go straight through.’
Libby felt like knocking just for the hell of it!
And knocking again.
And then knocking again.
The thought made her smile.
And that was how he first saw her.
Smiling at some secret joke, because,