The Demetrios Virgin(9)

By: Penny Jordan

‘Where is Megan?’ she asked Lorraine.

‘She was called in unexpectedly to work an extra shift. She rang to let me know and I said we’d drive straight over to her place and meet up with her there.’

Saskia smiled wanly. By rights she knew she ought to be feeling far happier than she actually was. Though out of the three of them she suspected that Megan would be the only one who would actually be pleased to learn that her Mark had determinedly refused to be tempted.

Her Mark. Megan’s Mark. There was a bitter taste in Saskia’s mouth and her heart felt like a heavy lump of lead inside her chest.

What on earth was the matter with her? She couldn’t possibly be jealous of Megan, could she? No! She couldn’t be…she must not be!

‘Are you sure you tried hard enough?’ Lorraine was asking her sternly.

‘I said everything you told me to say,’ Saskia told her truthfully.

‘And he didn’t make any kind of response?’

Saskia could tell that Lorraine didn’t believe her.

‘Oh, he made a response,’ she admitted grimly. ‘It just wasn’t the kind…’ She stopped and then told her flatly, ‘He wasn’t interested, Lorraine. He must really love Megan.’

‘Yes, if he prefers her to you he must,’ Lorraine agreed bluntly. ‘She’s a dear, and I love her, but there’s no way…You don’t think he could have guessed what you were doing do you? No way he could have known…?’

‘No, I don’t,’ Saskia denied. She was beginning to feel tired, almost aching with a sharp, painful need to be on her own. The last thing she wanted right now was to deal with someone like Lorraine, but she owed it to Megan to reassure her that she could trust Mark.

As they pulled up outside Megan’s house Saskia saw that her car was parked outside. Her stomach muscles started to clench as she got out of Lorraine’s car and walked up the garden path. Megan and Mark. Even their names sounded cosy together, redolent of domesticity…of marital comfort. And yet…if ever she’d met a man who was neither domesticated nor cosy it had been Megan’s Mark. There had been an air of primitive raw maleness about him, an aura of power and sexuality, a sense that in his arms a woman could…would…touch such sensual heights of delight and pleasure that she would never be quite the same person again.

Saskia tensed. What on earth was she thinking? Mark belonged to Megan—her best friend, the friend to whom she owed her grandmother’s life and good health.

Megan had obviously seen them arrive and was opening the door before they reached it, her face wreathed in smiles.

‘It’s all right,’ Saskia told her hollowly. ‘Mark didn’t…’

‘I know…I know…’ Megan beamed as she ushered them inside. ‘He came to see me at work and explained everything. Oh, I’ve been such an idiot…Why on earth I didn’t guess what he was planning I just don’t know. We leave next week. He’d even told them at work what he was planning…that was the reason for all those calls. Plus the girl at the travel agency kept phoning. Oh, Saskia, I can’t believe it. I’ve always longed to go to the Caribbean, and for Mark to have booked us such a wonderful holiday…The place we’re going to specialises in holidays for couples. I’m so sorry you had a wasted evening. I tried to ring you but you’d already left. I thought you might have got here sooner. After all, once you’d realised that Mark wasn’t at the wine bar…’ She stopped as she saw the look on both her cousin’s and Saskia’s faces.

‘What is it?’ she asked them uncertainly.

‘You said that you’d spoken to Mark,’ Lorraine was saying tersely to Saskia.

‘I did…’ Saskia insisted. ‘He was just as you described him to us, Megan…’

She stopped as Megan shook her head firmly.

‘Mark wasn’t there, Sas,’ she repeated. ‘He was with me at work. He arrived at half past eight and Sister gave me some time off so that we could talk. He’d guessed how upset I was and he’d decided that he would have to tell me what he was planning. He said he knew he couldn’t have kept the secret for very much longer anyway,’ she added fondly.

‘And before you say a word,’ she said firmly to her cousin, ‘Mark is paying for everything himself.’

Saskia leaned weakly against the wall. If the man she had come on to hadn’t been Megan’s Mark, then just who on earth had he been? Her face became even paler. She had come on to a man she didn’t know…a total and complete stranger…a man who…She swallowed nauseously, remembering the way she had looked, the way she had behaved…the things she had said. Thank God he was a stranger. Thank God she would never have to see him again.