Baby of His Revenge

By: Jennie Lucas


“’Bye,” Laney said, still mourning her broken phone. “Thanks for not killing me.”

Turning away from him, she dropped the fragments of metal in a corner trash can. Slinging the ruined fur over her shoulder, Laney started to walk desolately down the sidewalk in the pouring rain. She’d go back to the Hôtel de Carillon and ask Jacques if he knew a fur cleaner that could perform magic. Oh, who was she kidding? Magic? He’d need to turn back time.

She felt someone grab her arm. Looking up in surprise, she saw Kassius, his handsome face grim. He said through gritted teeth, “All right, how much do you want?”

“How much of what?”

“Just get in my car.”

“I don’t need a ride—I’m just going back to the Hôtel de Carillon.”

“To do what?”

“Give my boss her fur back and let her yell at me and then fire me.”

“Sounds like fun.” Lifting a dark eyebrow, he ground out, “Look. It’s obvious you threw yourself in front of my car for a reason. I don’t know why you’re not doing the obvious thing and immediately asking for money, but whatever your game is—”

“There’s no game!”

“I can solve your problem. About the coat.”

Laney sucked in her breath. “You know how to get it fixed? In time for the ball tonight?”

“Yes.”

“I would be so grateful!”

His voice was curt. “Get in.”

By this time, the cars behind them weren’t just honking, but the drivers were yelling impolite suggestions.

Kassius held open the passenger door, and she climbed in, still clinging to the ruined, muddy, ripped fur coat. He climbed into the driver’s seat beside her, and without bothering to respond to the furious drivers behind them, he drove off with a low roar of his sleek car’s powerful engine.

She glanced at him as they drove. “Where are we going?”

“It’s not far.”

“My grandma would yell at me if she knew I’d gotten in a car with a stranger,” she said lightly. But part of her was already wondering if she should have refused his offer. The fact that he drove an expensive car didn’t mean he could be trusted—in fact, in her admittedly limited experience, it generally meant the opposite.

“We’re not strangers. You know my name.”

“Mr. Black—”

“Call me Kassius.” He gave her a dark sideways glance. “Though I don’t think Mimi ever introduced us.”

“All right. Kassius.” The name moved deliciously on her tongue. She licked her lips. “I’m Laney. Laney May Henry.”

“American?”

“From New Orleans.”

His sudden look was so sharp and searching that it bewildered her. She wasn’t accustomed to being noticed by men, and especially not a man like him. She felt Kassius Black’s attention all the way to her toes.

Her boss had said the man was inscrutable, that he had ice water in his veins. Why was he bothering to help her?

But she needed his help too badly to ask questions right now. “Thank you for helping me. You’re being very kind.”

“I’m not kind,” he said in a low voice. He looked at her. “But don’t worry. You won’t lose your job.”

Her heart lifted to her throat. She couldn’t remember the last time anyone had helped her. Generally she was the one who was responsible for everyone and everything.

“Thank you,” she repeated, her voice cracking slightly as she looked out the window, blinking rapidly.

Monaco was a small principality, only two square kilometers, pressed against the Mediterranean Sea on one side, surrounded by France on the other. But as the country had no income tax, wealthy people from all over the world had flocked to become citizens, so it was said that a third of the population were now millionaires. It was famous for its nineteenth-century grand casino, its elegant society and the Grand Prix held every year on the notoriously winding streets.

“I don’t see how this can possibly be made perfect again,” she said sadly, looking at the ragtag coat in her arms. She looked at him. “Maybe you could come back with me to her suite and explain what happened? If you put in a good word, then the comtesse wouldn’t fire me.”

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