Lucy’s shoulder hurt where she’d charged the emergency exit, setting off a
barrage of alarms that lent wind to her heels as she raced down the
narrow, darkening streets behind the hotel.
She had no idea where she was heading, only that there were men on her
heels, all of them wanting her, all of them with their own agendas. But
she was done with being used.
‘Aaargh!’ She let out a wail of fury as her heel caught and snapped in a
grating, bringing her up with a painful jerk. Someone yelled behind her,
closing fast and she paused only long enough to kick her foot free of the
grating, leaving the shoe behind, and race on, casting around desperately
for a cruising cab. But there was never one when you were desperate!
Idiot, idiot, idiot…
The words hammered in her head in time to the jar of her feet on the
freezing wet pavement as she ran, dot-and-carry-one lopsidedly on one
She’d just made the biggest mistake of her life. Make that the second
biggest. She’d made the first when she’d fallen into the fairytale trap.
In retrospect she could see that calling her erstwhile Prince Charming a
liar and cheat in front of the nation’s assembled press pack had not been
her brightest move. But what was a girl to do when her magic
castle-in-the-air had just turned into one of those blow up bouncy things
they had at kids parties?
Stop and think?
Stand back, line up her allies before firing her ammunition from a safe
distance? Hardly the action of the girl Rupert had proclaimed to love for
her spontaneity, her passion.
That was the difference between them.
The woman who’d appeared on the cover of Celebrity wasn’t some
figment of a PR man’s imagination. She was real. Capable of feeling not
just joy but pain. Which was why she’d leapt in with both feet,
puncturing the fake castle with the 4 inch heels of her Louboutins,
letting out the hot air and bringing it down around her.
Idiot was right but who, having just discovered that she was the victim of
the most cynical, manipulative, emotional fraud imaginable, would be
As for allies, there was no one she could turn to. The press had
already bought everyone who’d known her since she was a baby – anyone who
had a photograph or a story to tell. Every moment of her life was now
public property and what they didn’t know they’d made up.
And Rupert owned the rest.
All those people who had fawned over her, pretended to be her friend,
there wasn’t one she could trust. Be sure was genuine rather than someone
on his PR company’s payroll.
As for her mother…
She had no one and, run as hard as she might, nowhere to go. Her legs
were buckling beneath her, lungs straining, as she headed instinctively
for the sparkle of Christmas lights, crowds of shoppers in which to lose
herself, but she couldn’t stop.
In moments her pursuers would be on her and she didn’t need the dropping
temperature, the huge white flakes that had begun to swirl from a leaden
sky, to send a shiver up her spine. Then, as she rounded a corner seeking
the safety of the crowds of Christmas shoppers, she saw the soaring
asymmetrical glass pyramid of Hastings & Hart, lighting up the winter
gloom like a beacon.
She’d been in the store just the day before on a mission from Rupert to
choose luscious Christmas gifts for his staff. Giving the gossip mag
photographers who followed her everywhere their photo opportunities. It
was all there in the files.
The plan to keep her fully occupied. Too busy to think.
The store seemed to mock her now and yet inside were nine warm and
welcoming floors, each offering a hundred places to hide. Within its
walls she would be off the street, safe for a while, and she flew across
the street, dodging through the snarled up traffic, heading towards the
main entrance, slithering to a halt as she saw the doorman guarding the
Only yesterday he’d tipped his top hat to her in deference to her
He wouldn’t be so impressed by her arrival today, but dishevelled and
limping, he would certainly remember her and, pulling her coat tidily
around her and shouldering her bag, she teetered precariously on her bare
toe as she slowed down to saunter past him, doing her best to look as if
she was out for a little shopping.
‘You’ll find footwear on the ground floor, ma’am,’ he said, face
absolutely straight, as he opened the door. And tipped his hat.
Like it? Buy it!
From the book
MISTLETOE AND THE LOST STILETTOby Liz Fielding
Text Copyright © 2011
by Liz Fielding
Cover Art Copyright ©
2011 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover art used by
Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved.
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