A Stand-Alone Romance!
The first time Travis North lays eyes on Liana McDermott, she’s wearing the most hideous bridesmaid dress he’s ever seen. He doesn’t immediately recognize the world-famous super model who is attending her cousin Enid’s wedding at the country club he owns. Thanks to Enid’s shameless matchmaking, Travis and Liana become acquainted and later embark on a two-week fling intended to be free of emotion and entanglement. As Liana’s return to work gets closer, however, Travis wonders how he’ll ever let her go when the time comes while Liana considers whether he might be her true north. Two high-powered careers, two amazing weeks and a love that comes along just once in a lifetime. Is she ready to give up her career for a different kind of life? Does he want the same things she does? After insisting on an emotionless affair, she can’t very well ask him. Or can she?
SIGNED PRINT EDITION
By Marie Force
On anyone else the dress would have looked ridiculous. Pink bows of all sizes, tulle, a puffy peplum, and the full, swinging skirt that, all combined, made up the most hideous bridesmaid dress Travis North had ever seen. Chuckling, he imagined the reaction of the exquisite creature wearing the dress when she saw it for the first time. What women did for their friends…
Travis had worn Armani so he would blend in with the guests as he kept tabs on his well-orchestrated staff while they served filet mignon to five hundred guests under a massive white tent overlooking Narragansett Bay. The sun was setting in a blaze of summer color, and so far, there had been no major crises. Travis did a quick check of the elaborate ice sculptures, sparkling white lights, shimmering candles, forty thousand dollars worth of flowers, thirty-piece orchestra, and seven-course meal as the scene played out from his vantage point on the sidelines.
All his careful planning, obsessive attention to detail, and unwillingness to leave a single thing to chance was paying off. Anything less than a complete success was unacceptable to Travis, who had an enormous amount riding on this evening. He had bided his time waiting for the right premiere social event to elevate North Point, the country club and marina he had built over the last three years on the northern coast of Aquidneck Island, home to the high-society city of Newport, Rhode Island.
When Edith St. Martin and her homely-as-sin daughter Enid came calling nine months earlier, Travis had known he had a winner. The St. Martins were old Newport money, and Enid’s wedding would guarantee a tent full of the very people who would ensure North Point’s success. Travis couldn’t pay for the kind of P.R. this lavish wedding would generate. That’s why he’d personally seen to every detail, and now, as he watched it unfold, he was annoyed to realize he was focusing far too much attention on the stunning dark-haired bridesmaid and not enough on the delivery of petite filet mignon.
“Sam.” He waved one of the waiters over to where he stood amidst the shrubbery that lined one side of the tent.
“Yes, Mr. North?” the young waiter asked with the earnest desire to please that had convinced Travis to hire him.
“Do you know who she is?” Travis nodded toward the bridesmaid seated next to the bride at the head table. “I feel like I’ve seen her somewhere before.”
Sam raised an eyebrow. “You’re kidding, right?”
Travis glanced over at him. “What do you mean?”
“You really need to get out more, boss. That’s Liana McDermott.”
“Hello? Sports Illustrated swimsuit model of the year, 2008, 2009, 2010.” Sam counted off the years on his fingers. “Portsmouth’s most famous ex-resident?”
Travis took another look at the stunner, mentally removing the ugly dress and replacing it with a thong bikini. Before his sex-starved body could react to the image, he returned his attention to Sam. “What the hell is she doing here?”
“Horse Face’s first cousin.” Sam referred to the nickname the staff had given the bossy bride. “Maid of honor.”
Travis rubbed his clean-shaven chin absently, knowing he should reprimand Sam for the use of the name, since Horse Face was going to be a cash cow for North Point.
“It’s hard to believe they share the same DNA, isn’t it?” Sam asked, settling into the conversation.
Travis snapped out of his daze. “Thanks for the info. Go on back to work.”
“Yes, sir,” Sam said with a salute.
Liana McDermott. Travis watched the delicate beauty share a laugh with her cousin. Her long, raven hair cascaded over creamy white shoulders, and the silly dress seemed to have been cut to highlight her full breasts. She was too far away for Travis to be able to tell what color her eyes were, but even from a distance he could see they were almond shaped and topped with extravagant lashes. Suddenly, he was far more interested in finding out what color her eyes were than he was in supervising the cutting of the wedding cake.
Travis watched with interest as she scanned the tent, her brows knitting with concern.
Probably looking for her date, he thought as he wondered what kind of man might accompany a woman like her.
Oh, this ugly dress is so itchy! Liana squirmed in her seat in a failed attempt to sooth her irritated skin. Why she had ever agreed to wear such a hideous excuse for a dress she would never know. Actually, she hadn’t agreed to it. She had been too busy on an extended shoot for Vogue in Milan to come to Rhode Island for a fitting and hadn’t seen the monstrosity until it was too late to object.
Never leave such an important thing to chance, not that it was likely she would be a bridesmaid again any time soon. Despite Enid’s over-the-top social climbing, she was the only close friend Liana had—and the only person she would have worn this dress for.
Now where in the world is Mom? Liana scanned the room yet again. When she arrived the night before she had been startled by the change in her mother. A little bit of forgetfulness on her last visit a year ago had blown up into something much more serious. After the wedding Liana planned to have a long chat with her Aunt Edith who was supposed to be keeping an eye on her sister in Liana’s absence.
Enid reached for her hand. “Come with us to cut the cake,” she said, her dull gray eyes dancing with excitement.
Poor Enid. Liana shuddered again at the unfortunate wedding dress her cousin had chosen. The thing had to weigh at least forty pounds, and the fine sheen of sweat on Enid’s face was a testament to the effort it took to carry the concoction around. But the dress did cover up a world of sins on Enid’s pear-shaped body. Her equally unattractive groom, Brady Littleton, gazed at his wife with such unabashed love that Liana was struck by a sharp wave of longing. For all her supposed beauty, no one had ever looked at her like that.
As she got up to follow Enid, Liana took one last visual trip around the tent in search of her mother. She didn’t find her mother, but she did catch a handsome man in a tux checking her out. Thick dark hair, strong jaw, well built, and devastating in the formal attire, his eyes crinkled at the corners when he smiled and nodded at her.
“Enid,” she whispered.
Her cousin turned back, and the huge bustle on the back of her dress caught Liana like a punch to the stomach.
Protecting her midsection from her cousin’s dress, Liana asked, “Who’s the wallflower in the corner?”
Enid made no attempt to be discreet as she leaned around Liana’s shoulder. “I don’t see anyone.”
Liana turned and was disappointed that he was gone. “Oh, well, he was there a minute ago.”
“Enid,” Brady said. “They’re waiting for us, honey.”
Still wondering where the heck her mother was, Liana took the arm of Brady’s pimply-faced best man—who had already made several flagrant passes at her—and went to watch Enid and her husband cut their cake.
Somehow Liana managed to get through the required dance with the best man, who acted as if his three minutes of smashing her toes was the highlight of his life.
Ugh! Liana was so sick of men panting after her like dogs in heat. If they only knew how boring and predictable they were. Not one of them was different—same old boring lines, same old boring compliments, same old, same old. Just because they had seen her in a few skimpy swimsuits they thought they knew her and worse yet, they thought she owed them something.
When the dance finally came to an end, Liana broke away from the befuddled best man, determined to locate her missing mother.
Looking around the crowded tent, she wasn’t watching where she was going and collided with a broad chest and a bow tie.
He grabbed her arms, which was the only thing that kept her from falling.
“What the . . .” she muttered, glancing up at the strong, handsome face she had spotted earlier. “Oh. It’s you.”
With the amused lift of a dark eyebrow he went from handsome straight to rakish. “Have we met?”
“No, but I saw you looking at me before.”
“I would think you’d be used to that.”
“Would you please excuse me?” She tugged her arms free of his hold.
“Is there something I can help you with?”
Another line, Liana thought with exasperation until she looked up to find genuine concern on his flawless face. She wondered if he had ever modeled. “I can’t find my mother.”
“When was the last time you saw her?”
“Right after the wedding party arrived. She waved to me when we were having photos taken on the lawn, but I haven’t seen her since.”
“You’re sure she’s not in the tent?”
“I’ve checked every table, but I don’t see her.”
“What’s her name?”
“Agnes McDermott. She’s wearing a navy gown and has short gray hair and my eyes.”
“Violet eyes,” he said, offering his arm. “Come with me. Let’s see what we can do.”
“Thank you, Mr. . . I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”
“Travis.” He led her from the tent to an office in the clubhouse and gestured for her to have a seat on the sofa.
He laughed. “No, just Travis. That’s my first name.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I’m just so worried about her. She hasn’t been herself lately, and I’m worried she might’ve wandered down to the water.”
Travis sobered and went into management mode. Reaching for the inside pocket of his tuxedo jacket, he withdrew a wireless headset with a built in microphone. “Beck, it’s Travis.”
As Liana sat on the sofa and tried to get comfortable in the scratchy dress, she watched Travis take charge, intrigued by the authority he projected.
“We have a missing guest, and her daughter is concerned she may have wandered down to the shore. Can you send some men down there to check? Yes, Agnes McDermott.” He covered the microphone to ask Liana, “How old is she?”
“She’s sixty-three, gray hair, violet eyes, wearing a dark blue evening gown.”
A moment later, a young woman wearing a headset knocked on the office door. “Travis, I saw the woman you’re looking for about an hour ago. She left in a cab. I recognized her from your description.”
“Never mind, Beck,” Travis said into the mike.
Liana rose to her feet. “Where was she going?”
“I’m not sure, Ms. McDermott. I can call the taxi company and find out if that would help.”
“That would be great, thanks,” Liana said.
“Thanks, Niki,” Travis said before he turned back to Liana. “You’re welcome to wait here.”
“Is this your office?”
“Are you the manager?”
“Something like that.”
“May I use your phone?”
“Of course.” Travis lifted the receiver and punched a button to get her an outside line. He handed her the phone and gestured for her to make herself at home behind his desk.
She dialed a number and chewed on her bottom lip while she waited for someone to answer. Dejected, she set the phone down a minute later. “I thought maybe she went home.”
Niki came back with a slip of paper. “They dropped her at 242 McCorrie Lane fifty-five minutes ago.”
“Thank you very much,” Liana said.
“Do you know that address?” Travis asked.
Liana nodded. “It’s her house. I wonder why she didn’t answer the phone.”
“Is there a neighbor or someone you can ask to check on her?”
She brightened at the suggestion and dialed a number from memory. “Mrs. Zito? This is Liana.” She sighed with exasperation. “Yes, I’m here for the wedding. Two weeks. I know. I wish I got home more often, too. Listen, I need a favor. Can you run next door and check on Mom for me? She left the wedding without telling me. Sure, I can wait.” Holding the phone to the side, she asked, “Am I keeping you from something?”
“It’s fine,” Travis said with a glance toward the tent. “Take your time.”
“Oh,” Liana said with a sigh of relief several minutes later. “Thank you so much, Mrs. Zito. Yes, I’ll be over to see you. I have to get back to the wedding now. Okay, bye.” She set the phone down and turned to Travis. “Crisis averted. She was asleep in bed.”
“Why wouldn’t she tell you she was leaving?”
“Something’s going on with her. I’m not sure what to make of it.”
“Well, I’m just glad she’s safe.”
“Me, too. I’m sorry for the trouble. Thank you so much for your help.”
“My pleasure. May I?” He held out his arm to escort her back to the wedding.
Liana looked first to his outstretched arm and then up to meet his dark brown eyes. “Yes, please.” She hooked her hand through his arm. “Do you know what time this thing is supposed to end?”
“How many more hours is that?”
He checked his slim Phillippe Patek watch. “More than three.”
“I’m going to die in this dress before then.”
Travis laughed. “It does make quite a statement.”
“Don’t say a word, do you hear me? Not one word.”
“I’ll do my best to refrain from comment.”
As they entered the tent, Enid rushed over to them. “Oh, there you are, Liana. I see you’ve met Mr. North, the owner of this beautiful place.”
Liana glanced up at him. “Owner?”
“Guilty,” he said with a small smile.
“I’m so glad you’ve met because I’ve asked him to take you home,” Enid said.
“You did?” Travis asked, perplexed.
“Remember the final revision to the contract where I added the addendum about my special guest?”
“I assigned that to my chief of security, Mr. Beck.”
“I’d like you to see to it personally.”
“I can find my own ride home, Enid,” Liana said.
“No need. I’m sure Mr. North will be happy to take care of it himself.”
“Of course,” Travis said with a charming smile. “It’s no problem.”
“In the meantime, why don’t you ask her to dance,” Enid said.
“Is there anything else I can do for you, Ms. St. Martin?” Travis asked.
“It’s Mrs. Littleton now, and no, that’ll be all.” She scooted them along to the dance floor with a delighted gleam in her eye.
“I think I’m being handled,” Liana said, amused by her cousin’s flagrant matchmaking. “She wants everyone to be as happy as she is tonight.”
“They do seem well suited to each other,” Travis said as he led her around the dance floor while keeping an eye on the goings on in the tent.
“They’re madly in love,” Liana said, glancing up at him. “You’re released from obligation. I’m sure you have better things to do than baby-sit me.”
“Actually, it seems my very capable staff has everything under control. We’ve both got a few hours to kill, so why don’t we kill them together?”
Since that was a line she definitely hadn’t heard before, Liana smiled. “Why not?”
“Isn’t he dreamy?” Enid asked hours later as Liana helped her change from her wedding dress into an equally ghastly going-away outfit. The girl needed some major fashion advice, but Liana had given up on that years ago.
“Who?” Liana asked. “Brady?”
“Well, of course Brady’s dreamy.”
Dreamy wasn’t the word Liana would have used to describe Brady.
“I meant Travis North,” Enid said with a sigh. “The day I met him I said to Mummy, ‘wouldn’t he be perfect for Liana?’ Mummy totally agreed. He’s so James Bond-the-Pierce-Brosnan-years, isn’t he?”
“Thus the addendum to the contract,” Liana commented as she zipped Enid into her dress.
“You didn’t seem to mind dancing with him for the last couple of hours.”
“Dancing with him kept every other man in the place from badgering me.”
“Oh, it’s so hard to be you, isn’t it?” Enid joked without a hint of jealousy. “How do you stand it?”
If you had any idea . . .
“I knew you’d never bother with him if I didn’t help you along a little,” Enid said with exasperation at the old argument. Despite the disparity in their looks, Enid had had twice as many boyfriends as her much more exotic cousin.
“I don’t have time to bother with anyone,” Liana said with equal exasperation. “I’m only here for two weeks, and then I’m working in Europe for the rest of the year. What do you picture happening between me and Pierce Brosnan?”
“White picket fences and very pretty babies,” Enid said without hesitation.
“You’re high on wedding cake and love! I just met the man, and to pacify you I’m allowing him to drive me home. How do you get picket fences and babies out of that?”
“All right then, how about some sweaty sex?”
Enid grabbed Liana’s arm. “When was the last time you had sweaty sex?”
Never. Liana tried to remember the last time she’d had any sex. “I don’t keep track of such things.”
“If you don’t know, then it’s been too long.”
“I’m not having sweaty sex or any other kind of sex with Travis North,” Liana said, even though the idea wasn’t exactly repulsive. She shook her head to rid herself of salacious thoughts about the very sexy Mr. North. “I have other things to be focused on over the next two weeks. I thought you and your mother were keeping an eye on my mother.”
“We were,” Enid said. “We are, but she doesn’t make it easy.”
“What do you mean?”
“She’s very evasive and secretive. Mummy goes over there at least once a week and everything is always in perfect order, but Auntie Agnes never has much to say to Mummy.”
“Do you think she has Alzheimer’s?” Liana asked, expressing her deepest fear.
“I really don’t know, Leelee. I’ve been so busy with the wedding I haven’t spent as much time with her as I should have. I’m sorry about that.”
Hearing her childhood nickname and seeing the genuine regret on her cousin’s face made Liana go soft with sentiment. “You have nothing to be sorry about. She’s my mother. I need to spend more time with her.” Liana zipped the wedding dress into a garment bag and turned back to Enid. “You look beautiful.”
“No, I don’t,” Enid said in her typical matter-of-fact way. “You’ve got the market cornered on beautiful. But Brady doesn’t care. He loves me just the way I am. I want you to find that, too, Liana. There’s nothing quite like it in the world.”
“I’ll have to take your word for it. Come on, your husband’s waiting for you.”
“He wants to have sweaty sex.”
Liana laughed. “Enid! Really! Spare me the details.”
“Maybe I should share the details so you’ll want some of your own.”
“I’ll pass, but thanks just the same.”
“Your loss,” Enid said with a breezy wave of her hand. “But if I were you, I’d jump all over that sexy Travis North. Have a little fling while you’re home. What could it hurt?”
“I’m not the fling type,” Liana reminded her.
“And that’s your problem. Take my word for it—a sweaty fling exactly what you need.”
“Thanks for the advice, Dr. Ruth. Now, let’s go.”
On the way out the door, Enid stopped Liana with a hand on her arm. “I want you to have what I have with Brady. I know your career is important to you, but don’t be so focused on your work that you forget to have a life. I love you, Leelee. I want you to be happy.”
Liana hugged her. “I love you, too, and I’m delighted to see you so happy.”
“Thank you for coming so far to be with me tonight.”
“There’s nowhere in the world I’d rather be,” Liana said sincerely.
Enid and Brady ran through a shower of rice to the vintage Rolls Royce Liana’s Uncle Charles had rented to transport his daughter and her new husband to Boston where they would spend the night before leaving on their European honeymoon. After they left, the tent began to empty out.
Liana was still wiping the tears from her eyes when Travis came up behind her, offering his handkerchief.
“Thank you.” She dabbed at her eyes in a practiced move that protected her makeup.
“Are you ready to go home?”
“Don’t you have to supervise the cleanup?”
“Hell, no. That’s what I’m paying all these fine people to do. I have appointments this week with seven of your cousin’s guests who want to discuss having their events here,” he said with a satisfied grin as he tugged off his bow tie and released the top button of his formal shirt. “My work here is finished.”
“That’s wonderful. With such a beautiful place I have no doubt you’ll be very successful.”
“Too bad not all the locals are as generous.”
“What do you mean?”
“Let me drive you home, and I’ll tell you about it.”
“Would you mind terribly if we didn’t go right home?”
He tilted his head to study her. “What do you feel like doing?”
She shrugged. “I’m just wide awake and full of energy. Must be all the excitement of the wedding.”
“Do you have a change of clothes with you?”
“No,” she said with a frown. “I guess I’ll just go home after all.”
“We could go to my place right over there.” He pointed to the ten-story building at the other end of the sweeping lawn. “I could loan you a T-shirt and a pair of shorts.”
Her captured her bottom lip between her teeth as she sized him up and tried to gauge his intentions. “Is that a line?” she finally asked.
He tossed his head back and laughed. “I guess it kind of sounded like one, didn’t it?”
Wow, that smile is devastating. “Sort of.”
“Well, let me put your mind at ease. I meant it only as an offer of more comfortable clothes.”
She contemplated the situation for another moment, remembering Enid said she could trust this Travis North. “In that case, I accept. Thank you.”
He offered her his arm. “Right this way.”
Accompanied by a chorus of crickets and the bay rolling gently to the shore, Travis and Liana walked the short distance to the newly constructed condo tower, the tallest building between Newport and Providence. In the elevator, he inserted a key to the penthouse.
The doors slid open into a dark room. He took her hand to help her from the elevator. When he reached for a lamp, she stopped him.
“Let me see your view first.” The moonlight drew her to the wall of windows overlooking the bay. To the left she could see the Newport Bridge lit up in the distance. To the right were the Mount Hope Bridge and the Providence skyline. “Oh, Travis. This is amazing.”
“I’m glad you like it,” he said, reaching around her to open the door to a sweeping patio.
Liana stepped outside for a better look. “I’ve always wanted to live on the water.”
“So why don’t you?”
She shrugged. “I don’t really live anywhere. I have an apartment in New York, but I haven’t been there in months.”
“That seems like a tough way to live.”
She flashed him the smile that had made her millions but isolated her from regular people. “And yet my job sounds so glamorous, right?”
“It does have that reputation. Can I get you a drink?”
“Do you have white wine?”
“Sure do. I’ll get that and the clothes I promised. I’ll be right back.”
Liana turned back to enjoy the tranquility. Far below she could see the workers cleaning up after the wedding and heard the faint hint of reggae music coming from the tent. She wondered if Enid was having sweaty sex yet. Stop, Liana, she told herself, but she couldn’t deny her cousin had struck a nerve with her comments about Liana’s austere lifestyle. Maybe it was time to shake things up a bit. If—and that was a very big if—she was to have a sweaty affair, Travis North would certainly make an intriguing candidate—a very sexy candidate.
She jumped, startled out of her scandalous thoughts.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
“You didn’t,” she said, breathless from the current of electricity that raced through her at the sound of his voice. He had changed into faded jeans and a T-shirt that confirmed what she’d discovered while dancing with him—sculpted pecs and biceps along with what appeared to be six-pack abs. She licked her suddenly dry lips and watched his eyes follow the progress of her tongue.
He handed her the glass of wine. “I left a couple of options on my bed.” He gestured toward the one room in the sprawling penthouse that was lit. “Use whatever you need.”
“Thank you.” She took a sip of the dry wine, put the glass down on a table, and brushed past him on her way inside. His bedroom was tastefully decorated with a king-sized bed, marble-topped tables, and a small sitting area by the full-length windows. The room, like the man who slept here, was masculine but elegant. Liana was further intrigued after being allowed into his private sanctum.
At the foot of the big bed, he had left several T-shirts and two pairs of gym shorts with drawstrings. Suddenly frantic to get out of the itchy dress, Liana reached for the hook at the back of her neck and pulled, but it snagged. Working to free it, exasperation began to mount along with a burning need to be free of the hideous dress. She whimpered as her arms fell to her sides, exhausted from the struggle. Realizing she was hopelessly stuck, she went back to where he waited for her on the patio.
He turned when he heard the swish of her long skirt. “Didn’t fit?”
“I, um, I need some help.”
He chuckled. “Is that a line?”
“Please,” she pleaded. “Get me out of this thing!”
“With pleasure.” He led her into the bedroom to make use of the light.
She gathered her thick hair and pulled it to one side, giving him access to the wayward hook.
“What would you have done if you were alone?”
“I would’ve gotten a big pair of scissors and cut the thing straight down the middle.”
He laughed as he worked to free her.
His breath was warm on the back of her neck, and she suppressed a gasp when his fingers brushed against her sensitive skin.
“I think I’ve got it. Do you want me to do the others?”
She swallowed hard. “Sure. Thanks.”
As he worked his way down her back, Liana told herself the slight shiver was from the cool air hitting her irritated skin, not because a sexy man was all but undressing her in his bedroom. God, he smells good. When he disposed of the last hook, Liana began to turn around.
He stopped her with his hands on her shoulders. “Wait.”
Her heart pounded with anticipation, and her skin heated under his hands. She jolted when his lips brushed the sensitive spot where her neck met her shoulder while his finger grazed the straight line he’d uncovered down the middle of her back. “Travis,” she gasped, tilting her head to give him better access.
“What?” he murmured against her neck.
He ran his tongue lightly over her ear, making her shudder. “Why not?” he whispered as he moved around to face her.
He took her hands, brought them to his shoulders, and went back to work on her neck. “Because why?” He caressed her back inside the dress.
“Because,” she said, leaning into him as her protests became less and less convincing.
With a disarming smile, he brought his hand to her face, tilting it to meet his kiss. His lips were soft and undemanding, but they electrified just the same. At the exact moment when she thought she would go mad from wanting more of him, his control snapped and he plundered. All she could do was hold on for the ride as he ravaged her mouth. Never, she thought, in her one moment of lucidity before she ceased to think at all. Never had she been kissed quite like this.
Held prisoner against the hard wall of his chest, Liana buried her hands in his hair and met the thrusts of his tongue with her own, eliciting a groan from deep inside him.
Only when he lowered her to his bed and came down on top of her did Liana snap out of her passion-induced fog. She pushed against his chest and twisted to break free of his kiss. “No,” she gasped. “Stop.”
Travis rolled to the side and lay flat on his back, breathing heavily with an arm covering his eyes.
Liana sat up and tugged her sagging dress back up over her shoulders. Tears burned her eyes. Why can other women be so cavalier about these things? Why can’t I just take the pleasure he offered and enjoy it? Probably because she never had figured out how to tell the difference between men who were out to nail a supermodel and men who wanted to make love to her—Liana, the girl from the small town in the smallest state who also happened to be an international celebrity. She had yet to meet anyone who fell into the latter category. Apparently, the man panting next to her on the bed wasn’t going to be the exception.
His expression full of regret, he sat up. “I’m sorry.”
“I said I didn’t want you to do that,” she snapped.
“You were as into it as I was,” he said, clearly making an effort not to snap back.
Liana got up, keeping a tentative grip on what was left of her dignity as she held her unbuttoned dress closed with one hand over her shoulder. “I’d like to go home now, please.”
His eyes narrowed into an expression that could have turned water instantly to ice. “Get changed, and I’ll take you.” He stalked from the room and slammed the door behind him.
Liana sank to the bed and tried unsuccessfully to curb the tears.
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
~ Calvin Coolidge