|Название||The Price Of His Redemption|
|Автор произведения||Carol Marinelli|
|Серия||Mills & Boon Modern|
‘Did you have a reservation?’ Libby asked, as they were shown straight in and through.
‘No, I never book anywhere,’ he said as they took a seat. She put her bag on the floor and they put their phones down on the table. ‘How can you know in the morning what you will want that night?’
Second warning bell.
She glanced around and people were staring at them.
She felt a little like she had when she’d done work experience at the library and the real worker had gone to lunch. Someone had asked her a question and had expected her to know the answer.
‘I don’t really work here,’ Libby had wanted to say as she’d tapped away on the computer.
‘I’m not really with him,’ she wanted to correct the curious onlookers.
Except, to her absolute delight, tonight she was!
Oh, she knew it was a one-off, that she was here by default only, but it was such a lovely turn of events that she decided to simply enjoy it.
‘What would you like to drink?’ Daniil asked, as she read through the cocktail menu.
It was overwhelming.
Just breathing normally was an impossible feat with him so near.
She gave a slightly helpless shake of her head, which was probably terribly unsophisticated but it was all she could manage.
‘Champagne?’ he checked, and she nodded, but when he gave the order and she heard just what champagne they would be drinking she knew she had better hold on to that attention span of his because her credit card would not be able to cover it.
The champagne was poured and the ice was truly broken when Libby’s phone rang and Daniil glanced down and saw from Libby’s caller ID that it was her father calling.
‘Answer,’ he said.
She did so.
‘I’m sorry, Dad, I did speak to him but the answer’s still no.’
Daniil watched her as she talked.
His invitation to take Libby to dinner had surprised him. She was nothing like his usual type, which was generally close to a foot taller and quite happy to sit bored and silent, just pleased to be seen out with him.
Libby Tennent didn’t sit. She squirmed in the chair as she chatted, one hand was playing with her hair, her eyes were rolling and she was frantically blushing as she spoke with her father. ‘No, I’d say that there’s no chance of him changing his mind.’
‘No, I wouldn’t try calling him if I were you, Dad,’ Libby responded when her father suggested he do just that. She gave Daniil a little wink. ‘He’s a very cold person.’
Daniil smiled and took a drink of his champagne.
‘No, I think you’re just going to have to accept that his answer is no. How are you feeling—?’ she attempted, but he had already rung off.
She put down her phone and raised her palms in the air then looked up when Daniil started counting.
‘One,’ Daniil said, and Libby frowned. ‘Two...’ Just as she was about to ask what he meant, his phone rang. ‘I still don’t know how he got my private number.’
He took the call from Lindsey and was about to give his usual cold, brusque response, but, maybe because he knew that he’d be sleeping with his daughter in, say, an hour or so from now, Daniil was a touch more polite than he would usually be.
‘Lindsey, I am sorry to hear about your accident. I’m blocking your number now. Don’t try to get hold of me again.’
He rang off.
‘I feel so bad for him,’ Libby admitted. ‘As well as cross with him for sending me to try to persuade you. I told him I didn’t want to.’
‘So why did you?’
Libby gave a tight shrug. ‘He pointed out that, unlike June, my sister, I do nothing at all for the family business.’
‘What does June do?’
‘She’s a chef.’ Libby sighed. ‘Who married a chef.’
‘A very handy daughter to have for an events planner.’
Libby gave a glum nod. ‘Unlike me.’
‘What about your mother?’
‘She works with my father.’
‘Do you get on?’
‘We do but...’ Libby gave another tight shrug. ‘I’m far too demonstrative for the lot of them. You know, sometimes I’m sure that I’m adop...’ She swallowed down the most appalling faux pas but Daniil just gave a wry smile.
‘At least I knew that I was.’
‘I’m sorry.’ Libby winced. ‘That was thoughtless.’
‘What is it with the English and guilt?’ he asked. ‘It doesn’t bother me a bit, and there’s no reason for guilt about your father—it’s not your fault his business is about to go under.’
Libby shot him a look.
‘How?’ she asked. How did he know?
‘Does he usually chase up every non-attendee with such vigour?’
‘Clearly this party is very important to him.’
‘Guilt and manipulation are terrible bedfellows,’ Daniil said. ‘My parents must know that your father is desperate, so they used him to get to me. In turn, he knows that he’s getting nowhere, so he guilts you into coming to see me, hoping I would not be able to say no to your lovely blue eyes.’ He wagged his finger at her. ‘Tut-tut, Libby.’ Then he gave her a thin smile. ‘So are you close to your parents?’
‘For the most part,’ Libby said. ‘I think all families have their issues that drive each other crazy but if you love...’ She hesitated as she remembered that Daniil was estranged from his parents. ‘Do you care about them at all?’
‘No.’ He shook his head but offered no elaboration.
‘Were you ever close to them?’
‘I never let myself get close to anyone.’
She frowned, but said nothing at first. It wasn’t for her to correct him, it wasn’t for her to say he was wrong. She had stepped into his world uninvited and she didn’t make his rules or get to tell him how he should be.
‘Why?’ Libby asked, and from the blush spreading on her neck both knew she wasn’t just discussing his lack of relationship with his parents.
‘Because it leads to expectations that it might last and, in my opinion, nothing lasts. Libby...’ Daniil was incredibly direct. ‘You do understand that whatever happens tonight won’t change my mind about attending my parents’ party?’
He didn’t believe her for a moment. ‘You’re sure?’ he checked.
‘Because,’ he warned, ‘that would be very foolish of you.’
‘I know,’ she said, ‘and I hope that you understand that your expensive champagne won’t buy a night in bed with me.’
‘Yes.’ Daniil nodded. ‘But my charm might.’