Table of Contents
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Epub ISBN: 9780753528938
Black Lace novels are sexual fantasies.
In real life, make sure your practise safe sex.
First published in 2000 by
Thames Wharf Studios
Rainville Road, London W6 9HA
Copyright © Natasha Rostova 2000
The right of Natasha Rostova to be identified as the Author of this Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Typeset by SetSystems Ltd, Saffron Walden, Essex Printed and bound by Mackays of Chatham
ISBN 0 352 33497 5
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior written consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
‘Remember, Callie,’ Eldritch murmured, ‘your Tarot reading said you had to question who was in control.’
Callie swallowed hard. ‘I don’t have to question that. I know who’s in control.’
Her voice sounded unconvincing, even to herself.
‘Are you sure about that?’ Eldrich stood up, pushing his hands into his pockets. ‘Or do you want to find out?’
Callie’s courage suddenly faltered. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust Eldritch, but she’d never been with anyone like him in her life. Then an inner voice reminded her that sex didn’t have to be all hearts and roses. Thoughts of being tied down and a dark, male voice had been invading her mind that past week. It was now or never.
ou look rather sluttish.’
Callie Waterford’s head snapped up. She stared at her husband in shock. ‘Excuse me?’
Logan’s dark gaze skimmed over the figure-hugging silk dress Callie wore. ‘Where did you get that dress? I certainly didn’t buy it for you.’
Callie’s fingers tightened on the bangle she was fastening around her wrist. ‘No, you didn’t. Gloria gave it to me a few months ago.’
‘Ah, well, that explains it. Your sister wouldn’t know decency if she took a bath in it. That dress is too short.’
Callie wondered briefly if he was joking, but she knew that Logan never joked. She glanced down at her sleeveless dress, which fell to mid-thigh in a clingy sheet of black silk. The scooped neckline revealed more than a hint of cleavage. Maybe it wasn’t something Callie would have chosen for herself, but Gloria always knew what was fashionable.
‘It’s perfectly decent,’ she retorted. ‘Just because you didn’t hand-pick it, it doesn’t mean it makes me look like a slut.’
‘Bend over,’ Logan repeated. ‘I hope you’re at least wearing a bra. Chances are anyone could see clear down that neckline.’
‘Well, then, it’s a lucky thing I usually stand upright and not bent over, isn’t it?’
Logan’s mouth tightened. ‘Callie, you know that I expect you to present yourself accordingly to my business associates.’
Callie struggled not to be irritated by his pompous attitude, but failed miserably. ‘Excuse me, Mr Prim, but the fact that I’m presenting myself at all to your stuffy associates is accordance enough for me.’
Logan sighed. ‘Now what does that mean?’
‘Your friends are more boring than a lecture on quantum mechanics. And it’s a good thing I’m showing a little leg, or else Harold Winningham would put himself into a coma discussing his latest case.’
‘There is no need to be melodramatic.’ Logan turned to the mirror and began fastening his tie.
Callie let out a puff of pure indignation. ‘Melodramatic? Me? You’re the one who’s acting as if I should be wearing a nun’s habit.’
‘I did not say that. I only expect you not to look like a streetwalker.’
‘My God, Logan, I hope you’re going in for surgery soon.’
‘What are you talking about?’
‘You need to get that stick removed. You know, the one up your arse.’
‘Don’t be childish, Callie.’
‘Then don’t criticise me so rudely,’ Callie replied, disliking the sharp note in her voice. She had begun to hate showing her own emotions because any display of them always felt like surrender. In their stilted conversations, the unspoken prize went to the person who could restrain their emotions. Unfortunately, Logan always won. ‘I’m your wife, not some little chippy you can order to your own specifications.’
Logan looked at her, his entire body perfectly still. Even the air around him seemed unmoving, as if he could command its very inertia. ‘I’m aware of that. However, I also know that you come from quite a different background than mine.’
Callie’s hands clenched into fists at her sides. She couldn’t stand it when he reminded her that he came from silk ties, mahogany furniture, and country clubs, while she had been reared amidst secondhand clothes, TV dinners and state schools. It made her remember that she had been acceptable in Savannah society only through her association with her half-sister. Gloria was firmly ensconced in the upper echelons of society thanks to her mother’s family, who could trace their money back to Civil War days. Callie’s mother, on the other hand, had spent her life working as a clerk in a grocery store. The working-class association was one that never failed to rankle Callie, not because she was ashamed of her roots but because they gave Logan fodder for derision.
‘Yes, Logan, you were rich, I was poor,’ she snapped. ‘What do you mean by bringing that up?’
‘It means that I would have expected you to have learned by now.’
‘Learned what? How to do everything according to how
want it done? Forgive me, but that’s obviously a lesson I intend to have dropped from the curriculum.’
‘I’m beginning to realise that.’ Logan picked up a comb and ran it through his thick, dark hair. ‘You know, I think it would be a good idea if you didn’t see your sister quite as much.’
‘This has nothing to do with Gloria!’ Anger simmered through Callie’s blood. ‘Besides, she’s the one who introduced us, or have you forgotten that? I never would have been accepted into society if it hadn’t been for her.’
‘Your sister rivals Meryl Streep when it comes to her acting ability,’ Logan replied. ‘I only wish that the ladies of Savannah could see past her proper facade. It would be like turning over a rock to reveal the worms underneath.’
‘Look, you knew both me and my family when you chose to marry me,’ Callie reminded him. ‘You had your pick of any number of pink-and-lace virgins from proper Savannah families so, if you regret your decision now, then don’t you dare take it out on me.’
Turning her back on him, she plunked herself down at the dressing table and started applying mascara with a shaking hand. So he thought she looked like a hooker, did he? Fine, then, she’d give him plenty of hooker. The pompous ass.
Truth be told, as much as she hated admitting this to herself, she often wondered what Logan had seen in her when he asked her to marry him three years ago. They’d known each other for less than a month after Gloria first introduced them. While Callie had been rather infatuated with his powerful personality, he was ten years older than her and light years apart in social standing and bearing. She had hardly expected a relationship with him, let alone marriage.
Callie shook her head at the reflection that stared back at her from the mirror. She supposed now that all those differences should have given her a clue as to their chance at a successful future. Or lack thereof.
After putting on enough mascara to make her eyelashes look like Liza Minelli’s, Callie stroked her cheeks with rouge and applied the reddest lipstick she could find. She enhanced the effect with dangly, silver earrings and the highest pair of black heels she owned.
Logan’s eyes narrowed with disapproval when she turned back to face him. ‘Callie, you know I dislike it when you behave this way.’
‘Do you?’ Callie gathered her shoulder-length brown hair into a twist and pinned it up. ‘Well, I happen to dislike it when you treat me like a piece of trash.’
‘I’m doing no such thing.’ Logan turned and headed for the door. ‘Our guests will be here any minute now. I want you to change into something more acceptable.’
‘This is as acceptable as I’m going to get,’ Callie retorted.
‘As you wish. Then this conversation is over.’
‘The hell it is,’ Callie muttered as she followed him down the carpeted stairs into the hall.
Elegance dominated the antebellum southern mansion, a luxurious display case for mahogany antiques and rich oil paintings designed to show just how far back her husband’s heritage and money went. Callie appreciated the house on an intellectual level, the way one would appreciate a museum, but she had never felt at home here.
She cast Logan a sideways glance as they went into the sitting room to wait for their guests. He looked quite regal and autocratic in a dark suit and tie, his hair brushed away from his forehead to enhance the sharp planes of his features. He appeared perfectly suited to the immaculate decor of the mansion, reminding Callie of a museum sculpture: chiselled, cold, remote and utterly untouchable.
‘Would you like a drink?’ Logan asked cordially as he headed for the drinks cabinet.
The man could change moods like a chameleon changes colours, Callie thought. Only with Logan, it wasn’t so much a change, but simply a variation of the same, constant mood.
‘Just a glass of red wine, please.’ She sat down on a leather chair, feeling like a stranger in her own home.
An intricate Oriental carpet covered the floor, and the chairs and chaise longues were covered with buttery silk. An oil painting of Logan’s father hung over the fireplace mantel. Delicious scents of baked salmon and wild rice drifted from the kitchen, where the caterers were busy finishing their preparations for dinner.
Callie stared at the painting of Logan’s father; she was uncomfortable now at the striking resemblance of father and son. Edward Waterford sat on a wing-backed, leather chair, looking at her with cold, varnished eyes. His features were strong, carved with the distinctive marks of time. He appeared very distinguished with his thick, grey hair and moustache, and yet totally remote. Callie wondered what kind of person he had been. She had never met her father-in-law, since he had died ten years ago, but she had always felt as if his presence hung like a dark, oppressive curtain over this house.