Baby of His Revenge

By: Jennie Lucas


“You think so?” her friend said eagerly.

The comtesse smiled, like a smug Persian cat with a golden bowl of overpriced cream. “He’s already wasted millions of euros giving anonymous loans to my boss. But the way things are going, my boss’s company will be bankrupt within the year. I finally told Kassius that if he wants my attention, he should stop throwing money down the drain and just ask me out.”

“What did he say?”

“He didn’t deny it.”

“So he’s taking you to the ball tonight?”

“Not exactly...” She shrugged. “But I was tired of waiting for him to make his move. It’s obvious he must be wildly in love with me. And I’m ready to get married again.”

“Married?”

“Why not?”

Her friend pursed her lips. “Darling, yes, Kassius Black is rich as sin and dangerously handsome, but who is he? Where does he come from? Who are his people? No one knows.”

“Who cares?” Mimi du Plessis, who liked to brag about how she could trace her family history back not only to the Mayflower, but to Charlemagne, now shrugged it off. “I’m fed up with aristocrats without a single dollar to their name. My last husband, the comte, bled me dry. Sure, I got his title—but after the divorce I had to get a job. Me! A job!” She shuddered at the indignity, then brightened. “But once I’m Kassius Black’s wife, I’ll never have to worry about working again. He’s the tenth-richest man in the world!”

Her friend elegantly blew out another smoke ring. “Ninth. His real estate investments have exploded.”

“Even better. I know he’ll try to kiss me at midnight. I can’t wait. You can just tell any wife of his would be well satisfied in bed...” Her sharp face narrowed when she saw Laney still hesitating unhappily by the sofa, heavy coat in her arms. “Well? What are you still doing here?”

“I’m sorry, madame, but I need your credit card.”

“Give you my card? That’s a joke. Pay for it yourself. And get us more coffee. Hurry up, you idiot!”

Beneath the weight of the white fur coat, Laney took the elevator downstairs and trudged through the lobby of the elegant Hôtel de Carillon onto the most expensive street in Monaco, filled with designer shops, overlooking the famous Casino de Monte Carlo and the Mediterranean Sea. As she walked out of the exclusive residential hotel, the doorman gave her an encouraging smile. “Ça va, Laney?”

“Ça va, Jacques,” she replied, mustering up a smile. But the heavy gray clouds seemed as leaden as her heart.

It had just stopped raining. The street was wet and so were the expensive sports cars revving by, along with the sodden-looking tourists crowded together in packs on the sidewalk. In late December, the winter afternoons were short and the nights were long. But that only added to the delight of New Year’s Eve. It was a popular time for people, especially wealthy yacht owners, to visit Monaco and enjoy exclusive parties, designer shops and world-class restaurants.

Laney comforted herself with the thought that at least the rain had stopped. Aside from her worries about the coat getting wet, she’d run out of the building too fast to grab her coat and just wore a plain white shirt, loose khakis and sensible clogs with her dark hair pulled up in a ponytail—the uniform of the servant class. But even without rain, the air was damp and chilly, and the sun was weak. Shivering, she held the fur coat tightly in her arms, both to protect it from being splashed by a passing car and to keep herself warm.

She didn’t like her boss’s fur coats much. They reminded her too much of the pets she’d loved growing up at her grandmother’s house outside New Orleans, the sweet, dopey old hound dogs and proudly independent cats. They’d comforted her through some heartbreaking days as a teenager. Thinking of them reminded Laney of everything else she missed about home. A lump rose in her throat. It had been two years since she’d last seen her family.

Don’t think about it. She took a deep breath. The fur in her arms was bulky and big, and Laney was on the petite side, so she shifted the coat over her shoulder to look down at her smartphone.

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