Authors: Kitty French
Knight & Stay by Kitty French
Kindle Edition. Copyright © 2013 Kitty French
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author.
Thank you so much for buying Knight & Stay.
This is book two of the Knight erotic romance series: the conclusion to Lucien and Sophie's story which began in book one,
Knight & Play
The books are written to be read consecutively, two halves of one whole.
Knight & Stay is a work of fiction ~ in the real world Lucien and Sophie would of course practise safe sex.
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"Who the fuck is Lucien Knight?"
Dan's eyes flickered between the stranger on his doorstep and Sophie behind him on the staircase. She could practically hear the thoughts scrambling through his mind as his expression cycled from irritation, to confusion, to disbelief. It was as if he was trying to slot together the pieces of an invisible jigsaw without any idea what the finished picture should look like.
The rain outside had picked up from drizzle to downpour, and rivulets coursed down Lucien's face. He seemed not to even register it as he stood stock still, his arms crossed over his chest and one foot in the doorway in case Dan decided to slam it. His eyes were trained on Sophie.
"Should I know you?" Dan squared his shoulders as though preparing to meet threat with threat. Lucien's gaze moved slowly from Sophie to Dan, a knowing, derisory look that took in everything from his rumpled suit to his corporate haircut. He paused for a long moment before responding, his manner perfectly composed.
"I came to deliver these to your wife." He pulled a brown envelope from inside his jacket and held it out. His expression was unreadable.
It was an envelope Sophie had already seen once that day. Panic ripped through her body and galvanised her rigid legs into motion towards her husband, but the flap on the envelope was already open.
Dan glared down at the unaddressed, plain front and instinctively reached inside. The sight of the contents stilled his hand and froze his expression
The pictures. Graphic, photographic evidence of his extra-marital affair with Maria. Aghast, he shoved them hastily back inside in a vain attempt to stop Sophie from seeing them as she drew alongside him.
"Don't bother. She's already seen them," Lucien drawled.
Dan's face turned as grey as his jacket.
"Sophie, please..." He twisted around. "It isn't what it looks like..."
Lucien laughed. Actually laughed.
"Sorry. Carry on. I'm dying to hear this," he said, sarcasm all over his beautiful Viking face.
He’s enjoying this, Sophie thought. Enjoying the destruction. The beginnings of rage blazed in her as she looked at him, arrogantly dominating the situation.
But wait. No
. He wasn’t finding it funny. She searched his face, comprehension dawning. He was angry. White hot furious.
"Who the fuck do you think you are, anyway?" Dan blustered. "Magnum fucking PI?"
Lucien's expression darkened. "You don't want to know."
"You're right there. This," Dan smacked the envelope with the back of his hand, "is none of your business." He tried to slam the door, but Lucien’s foot was in the way. He shoved it open again so hard that it slammed back against the wall.
Dan turned to Sophie in outrage. "What is this, Soph? Have you hired some crackpot detective to snoop on me?"
Sophie stared at him, curiously detached as she watched him squirm on the hook.
How dare he be so indignant?
Catching a glimpse of his dangerously calm face, it crossed her mind that Lucien might take matters into his own hands and floor Dan, but she dismissed the thought. He was certainly capable, and certainly livid enough, but his self-control was legendary. Anyway, if anyone was going to hit him she wanted the pleasure for herself.
She stepped forward, plucking the envelope from Dan's fingers and finding her voice. She was surprised by how cool it sounded.
"Thank you Mr. Knight. I'll take it from here."
Why had he come here? Did he expect her to introduce him to Dan?
Hi husband, meet Lucien Knight, the man who just whisked me halfway around the world and screwed me ten ways backwards. Oh, and welcome home.
"Just go," she said, pleading with her eyes rather than her voice, which remained steady. "I’ll handle this my way." She would worry about his motivation later.
Lucien's eyelashes were spiked with rain, and Sophie found her hands itching to slide inside his jacket and find solace in the heat of his arms. His expression filled her with foreboding.
"I'll be in touch," she added, desperate to diffuse the weapons-grade explosiveness of the situation.
Dan stepped closer behind Sophie.
"I'm not sure," she said. "Please... leave this now."
Dan threw a scathing glance down the path at Lucien's Aston Martin.
"You heard the lady." Sophie flinched at the proprietary tone in his voice. "Take your flash car and piss off."
It happened in seconds.
One moment Lucien was outside, the next he was half way down the hallway with Dan pinned against the wall.
"The lady?" The two men were practically nose to nose. "
I think you lost the right to speak for Sophie when you decided to screw someone other than your wife, don't you?"
At a serious disadvantage, Dan had the eyes of a hunted man but he came back at Lucien all the same, despite the strong forearm across his windpipe.
"Who the fuck are you to tell me anything about my marriage?" Fleetingly, Sophie was impressed by the bravado, though his blustering tone revolted her.
Lucien turned his head to look at Sophie. "I'm Sophie's friend. Someone who cares about her. Someone who happens to think she deserves more than a prick like you could ever give her."
He dropped his arm from Dan's throat, as if touching him sullied his battered leather jacket. He looked at Sophie for an endless moment, then made a slight motion with his head which could have signalled disgust, or pity, or exasperation, before turning to leave.
Dan rolled his shoulders back, bold now that the immediate danger had passed.
"Close the door on your way out," he muttered childishly at Lucien's back. Then, belligerent, "And stay the fuck away from my wife."
Lucien stilled, and Sophie's stomach dropped through the floor as he spun round, quick as a whip, and swung his fist squarely into Dan's chin, sending him sprawling.
" Lucien spat as he dragged Dan to his feet, blood from Dan’s nose streaking his hands. "You're not fit to even
at Sophie, let alone call her your wife."
He had Dan by the collar, twisted at his throat. Sophie had never seen this side of Lucien, and she was suddenly terrified by the intensity and heat of his anger. There was such darkness within him, and something about this situation had plunged a knife straight into it.
Sophie felt sick. There was no glory in having these two men brawl over her. One menacing, the other indignant, both of them were fighting over something deeper than their feelings for her.
"Stop it." She grabbed hold of Lucien's arm and tried to drag him off, as effective as a kitten trying to wrangle a tiger. "Lucien, please. You're making things a hundred times worse." His grip didn’t slacken until he glanced down at her hand, and his eyes settled on the bracelet around her wrist. His bracelet.
His mother's bracelet.
The anguish on his face tore into Sophie's heart. He let Dan go as though he were radioactive, with a shove that sent him reeling, then moved close and dipped his head to Sophie's, his hand warm and firm on the back of her neck. His lips touched hers. For a moment, she forgot Dan was even there. The briefest of kisses, the deepest of messages.
You always have choices. Remember.
He released her gently and stalked away down the path, shaking Dan's blood from his knuckles as he left.
Kara's worried voice wouldn't go away, however hard Sophie tried to block it out and stay asleep.
"Wake up, Soph."
Maybe she'd give up if Sophie feigned ignorance for long enough.
But a gentle, insistent hand shook her shoulder, so she sighed deeply and forced her reluctant eyelids to open to survey the scene.
The TV still on low from the night before. An empty wine bottle on the table. An equally empty glass next to it. One glass, the hallmark of a lonely heart. The fact that she'd slept on her own sofa rather than in her big, empty marital bed said even more about the state of Sophie's heart. Kara's pretty face creased in sympathy, but her eyes were clear and determined.
"You need to get up, babe."
"Do I?" Sophie muttered sourly. "Do I really?" She pushed herself up on her elbows beneath the bunched quilt she'd dragged off the spare bed a few nights back.
"Kara, my marriage is in tatters. My husband's gone, probably moved in with the mistress he's had for the
last three years
. I don't have a job. All I have is this sofa… " - she cast a look towards the TV - "…Jeremy Kyle, and red wine."
"Yeah. How's that working out for you?" Kara pointedly moved the wine glass and replaced it with a cup of tea. "The way you're going, you'll be
Jeremy Kyle, not watching it."
Sophie huffed and dragged herself up to a sitting position as Kara perched on the other end of the sofa and tucked her feet under the quilt.
"‘I shagged my sex god boss whilst my husband was on holiday with his secret mistress’ has a certain ring to it." Kara's eyes sparkled with gentle humour as she fished a box of paracetamol out of her pocket.
"Even Jeremy Kyle would struggle to unravel my problems," Sophie muttered, accepting the pills as Kara popped them out. The tea scalded her throat as she washed them down, but the pain barely even registered. Sophie was all out of tears and her pain receptors were well and truly off duty. Her body and mind had had enough, and a week hiding beneath the sanctuary of her quilt hadn't even scratched the surface when it came to restoring normal service.
"You don't need Jeremy. You've got me."
Sophie nodded ruefully. "Amen for you."
Kara had warned her at the outset that taking the job as Lucien Knight's PA was wrong on every level, but she'd gone ahead and done it anyway. The lure of Lucien had been too strong to resist. Too exciting. Too shiny, too new, too perfect a distraction from the bad stuff going on in her life.
And as only a true friend could, Kara had held back from saying 'I told you so' when Sophie's life had crumbled around her ears. She'd been steadfast, the only solid rock on fast shifting ground. She'd soothed Sophie's broken spirits over bottles of wine and late night telephone calls, and she'd called around with dinners that Sophie couldn't bring herself to eat. And now it was Saturday morning, and she'd let herself in with the spare key she’d appropriated, armed with carriers of fresh food and the firm intention to get Sophie off the sofa before it swallowed her whole.
Sophie sighed heavily. "Dan called last night."
Kara's eyes rounded a little. "Is he okay?"
"Not really." Sophie clutched her mug for comfort. "He's all over the place. Apologising in one breath then calling me names the next."
Kara nodded slowly. "Bit like you, then."
Sophie lifted a shoulder. "I guess."
"Did you ask him how his black eye was?"
"Do you think I did?" Sophie raised a sarcastic eyebrow at her friend.
"Has he moved in with...?" Kara didn't say Maria's name, but they both knew how the sentence ended.
"I didn't ask. Where else would he be though? They've been together for years. They've been on holiday together." Sophie breathed out shakily. "Where else would he be?"
Kara's sympathetic face and lack of reply confirmed her agreement even if she didn't voice it.
"Enough about Dan. What are we going to do about you?"
Sophie threw a baleful look at the empty wine bottle. "Restock my wine rack?"
"Soph, I'm serious. If you don't get your act together, everything will just stay the same." She reconsidered. "In fact, it won't stay the same. Your bills won't get paid, and the bank will take your house."