The Redemption of Darius Sterne(4)

By: Carole Mortimer


And Andy was sure it was.

Though she had never, ever, responded in such a visceral way to any man before tonight. Before she’d looked at Darius Sterne and been unable to look away again.

Until the age of nineteen, her life and her emotions had all been totally dedicated to ballet and her career, with no time left for romance. After the months of recovering from the accident, Andy had had necessarily to concentrate on making something else of her life.

Her dream of one day becoming a world-class ballerina had been over, but she was by no means a quitter, and had no intentions of just sitting around feeling sorry for herself. Consequently she had known she had to do something with her life.

It had been a lot of hard work, and taken most of her own share of the money left to her and Kim by their parents when they’d died almost five years ago. But three years after making that decision, Andy had finished her training to teach and been able to open a ballet studio for five-to-sixteen-year-olds. Ballet was what she knew, after all. And maybe one day, if she was lucky, she might actually be responsible for discovering and training a world-class ballerina.

Her personal life had been the casualty of all those years of hard work, both as a ballerina and latterly her training to teach others to dance. As a consequence she’d had no intimate relationships before her accident. Or since...

The loss of both her beloved parents had been a terrible blow, and Andy had buried herself even more in her love of ballet as a way of coping with that loss. The accident just months later, putting an end to her career in ballet, had shaken her to her very core.

Oh, she had recovered some of her previous confidence these past four years, on the outside at least. But the physical scars that now marred her body were undeniable. She certainly hadn’t ever wanted to share those with any man.

Most especially a man as handsome and sophisticated as Darius Sterne, who no doubt dated some of the most beautiful women in the world. He certainly wouldn’t be interested in someone like Andy, who was scarred emotionally on the inside, and visibly on the outside.

* * *

‘Darius?’

Darius masked his irritation as he gave the beautiful blonde across the restaurant one last appreciative glance before turning his attention slowly back to the three people seated at the table with him. His twin Xander. His mother. And stepfather.

Darius had managed to block them all out in his preoccupation with the fragile-looking woman, having quickly assessed her dining companions when he arrived, and just as quickly dismissed them; the likeness between the two women, in colouring and facial features, meant they were probably sisters, and the man’s close proximity to the second woman showed he was with her rather than the woman who held Darius’s interest. There was no fourth place setting at the table, either.

The woman was ethereally beautiful, her ash-blonde hair a straight curtain to just below her shoulders, green eyes huge in the delicate perfection of her face. It was those hauntingly lovely green eyes that had first caught and held his attention the moment he’d entered the restaurant.

Surprisingly.

Because she wasn’t his usual type at all; his taste usually ran towards women who were older, and more sophisticated than the youthful-looking blonde. Women who expected nothing more from him than a night or two in his bed.

But there was something about the green-eyed blonde that had caught and held his attention.

Possibly because something about her seemed slightly familiar to him? The tilt of her head... The elegance of her movement...

And yet at the same time Darius knew he had never met her before; he would surely have remembered where and when if he had!

Maybe it was her other-worldly air that had caught his notice? She was so willowy she looked as if a puff of wind might blow her over, her bare arms incredibly slender, her collarbones and the hollows of her throat visible above the neckline of her black dress. Her face was hauntingly lovely; eyes fringed by thick dark lashes, cheekbones high, straight nose, full and sensuous lips, with a pointed, stubborn chin. That straight ash-blonde hair had the appearance of moonbeams, tempting a man to run his fingers through its silkiness.

Moonbeams?

He could never remember waxing lyrical about the colour and texture of a woman’s hair before.

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