Excerpt: Catch Me If You Can

Excerpt: Catch Me If You Can

Contemporary Romance

Chapter One

“The important thing,” Emily said as she flung clothes into her duffel bag and scrabbled under the bed for her shoes, “is not to panic.”

Her neighbor Gloria watched, leaning back against the headboard, sipping a soft drink complacently in the midst of the whirlwind. “Right,” she drawled. “You’re right, of course.”

“I mean,” Emily went on, stuffing her feet into her espadrilles and zipping up the bag, “given the commitments of the great Alejandro, chances are he won’t even bother to look for us.”

“Of course,” Gloria said between sips.

Emily raked a comb distractedly through her long ash-blonde hair. “But I”m not going to sit here in case he does. Not in Barcelona. It’d be different if we were in the States. That’s my home base, not his. But here — oh, no. Alejandro Gomez probably knows every competent lawyer in Spain. He probably owns every competent lawyer in Spain. He’d have Tom away from me in a minute.”

Gloria wisely refrained from agreeing with that.

She only smiled sadly and sympathized with her friend’s dilemma. They’d only known each other for the past year, ever since Emily had come to stay in her sister-in-law’s apartment and met Gloria who lived downstairs. But, despite their relatively short acquaintance, they’d become close.

Gloria, an expatriate artist, had supported Emily through the months of her sister-in-law’s illness and eventual death. She’d been there for Emily to lean on when she’d had no one else. She’d taken care of Emily’s six-year-old nephew Tom after school while Emily had given language lessons, insisting that Emily needed to get out and do something other than hover around her nephew.

She’d even tried to get Emily to date, telling her that life had to go on. But, though Emily agreed with the sentiment, there were limits.

She didn’t want to date. Not after her disastrous engagement to Marc.

Emily’s fast-lane life as a top-flight Paris model had assured her of the company of more men over the past five years than she’d believed possible when she’d been growing up in the American midwest.

At first, charmed by their interest, she’d taken them all at face value, naively believing they liked her as a person, not simply as a beautiful face.

Such innocence. You have such innocence,” her friend, photographer, Howell Evans, was always telling her. “That’s the beauty of you.”

But Emily didn’t realize how innocent she really was until she met Marc Fontenot.

The handsome young car manufacturer had introduced himself at a Monte Carlo party, monopolised her evening, been haunting her shows, her shoots, her life.

Everywhere she went, she’d found Marc already there, strong, virile, witty and enchanting, so cleverly charming that she swept her off her feet before she knew it. Worldly, debonair Marc was the antithesis of the men she’d grown up with. And Emily had been unsophisticated enough to think she’d charmed him,to think hat he’d fallen in love with her just as she’d fallen in love with him.

When he’d asked her to marry him, she’d jumped to say yes.

If she hadn’t overheard the phone call with his mistress the night before the wedding, she might have been married to him now. Thank heavens she had picked up the phone to hear him tell Lisette that he didn’t really care about the woman he was to marry in what was to be one of Paris’s most publicized weddings. “Don’t worry, cherie you are my own true love,” he’d said softly. “Emily, she is for show. Goes with the image. She looks good on paper, you know?”

Devastated, Emily hadn’t waited around to discuss matters with him. Instead she’d run, making a thoughtless panicky midnight dash to Howell’s flat.

The paparazzi, expecting a sunny April wedding and getting instead a perplexed and furious jilted bridegroom, had had a field day with her defection.

But the one who had spotted her driving out of Paris in Howell’s Jaguar had got the biggest scoop of all.

Grainy black and white photos and two-inch headlines proclaiming Emily’s infidelity to Marc, and Howell’s to his famous reclusive sculptress wife, had been everywhere before the week was out.

Emily had been frantic.

“Don’t worry about it,” Howell, ever complacent, had told her.

But she had. She’d hated the notoriety, the falsehoods, the lunacy of it all. It was phony, foolish and wrongheaded, and she’d wanted to make it right.

“I’ll talk to the press, tell them,” she’d said to Howell.

But he had simply laughed and shaken his head. . . “Haven’t you ever heard about women who protest too much?”

Emily had, but she was still uncomfortable with it. . . Marielena’s phone call, awful as it was, had come as a sort of salvation. . . In nursing Mari and caring for Tom, Emily had got her balance again. She realized how much she hated the crazy lifestyle she’d been living, how she wanted a plain, simple life.

She’d been trying to get it in the months since Mari’s death. She’d thought she’d been making progress for herself and for Tom.

And now this!