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More Than Perfect

By:Day Leclaire

More Than Perfect
Day Leclaire


He awoke to soft morning light and an empty bed.

Lucius Devlin turned his head toward the subtle indent where Lisa should have been … and wasn't. In the distance, he caught the soft murmur of her voice and couldn't quite decide if he felt relief or regret that she hadn't left.

Last night had been a mistake. A bad one.

He rolled off the mattress and crossed to his dresser. In the bottom drawer he found an old pair of drawstring sweatpants and yanked them on before heading to the kitchen. Lisa was there and at his appearance, she ended her call and flipped her cell phone closed. She sat at the table, wearing her red power suit from the day before, a cup of freshly made coffee resting at her elbow. Thank God she'd made coffee. Right now he needed it almost as desperately as he needed air to breathe.

She regarded him with eyes every bit as dark as his own while he filled a sturdy mug to the brim. "You're dressed," he said, stating the obvious. He took a swift, settling hit of caffeine, his eyes narrowing at her through the haze of steam. "I gather you're leaving?"

"Yes." She played with her cell phone with long, supple fingers and actually allowed a slight frown to crease the space between her winged brows. Damn. If she were risking wrinkles, that meant it was serious. "I am leaving, this time for good."

"Or until you and Geoff have another fight?" He gestured toward her phone. "I'm guessing he called."

Her mouth tightened a fraction. "You always were too smart for your own good."

"That makes two of us."

Lisa sighed. Leaning back in her chair, she crossed her spectacular legs and eyed him with reluctant amusement. "Why couldn't you have been a stupid billionaire and made the incredible mistake of marrying me when we were first together?"

He took her question at face value. "Probably because stupid and billionaire are incongruous since I wouldn't be a billionaire for long if I were stupid."

"That's true in your case." She tilted her head to one side, her gaze watchful. "I'm not sure you can say the same about Geoff."

Great. Now she'd forced him into the bizarre position of defending his best friend to the woman who'd slept with them both-first with him, then when he wouldn't stick a ring on her finger, she'd moved on to Geoff, the head of his PR department at Diablo, Inc. Lucius suspected it was a foolish attempt to force a proposal out of him, one that had proved a spectacular failure.

"Geoff is neither a billionaire, nor stupid," Lucius informed her. "Naive, perhaps, especially when it comes to women like you. But he's solid gold."

"Unlike us?" She didn't need his silence to confirm her question. She already knew the answer. She picked up her cup and took a dainty sip. "He's an angel with two devils sitting on his shoulders, poor boy. Would you care to place a small wager on which devil he'll listen to, Lucius? Which devil he'll obey?"

He refused to participate in whatever game Lisa seemed intent on playing. "What do you want?"

"From you? Nothing."

"And from Geoff?"

She offered a catlike smile, full of sly confidence. "I have what I want from him, as well."

Lucius stiffened, something in her tone warning of incoming mortar fire and he braced himself for the hit. "Which is?"

"A marriage proposal." Her smile grew. "That was Geoff on the phone. He's seen the error of his ways and asked me to hop on the next plane to Vegas with him. We'll be married this afternoon and on our honeymoon by tonight."

The words pounding through Lucius's brain were coarse and crude enough that he refused to speak them aloud, even in front of Lisa. "Fast work. You roll out of one man's bed one night and into another's the next, then back again on the third." He tilted his head to one side in consideration. "I think there's a name for that...."

Her smile died and her dark eyes swam with accusation and fury. "At least when I roll back into Geoff's bed I'll be wearing a wedding ring. That's more than you ever offered."

"And if I call and tell him where you were last night?"

"He already knows. Why do you think he proposed?"

For the first time he caught a crack in her legendary control. "I'm sure you'll be relieved to hear he forgives me. Forgives us both."

This time Lucius did swear aloud. "Don't do this, Lisa. He won't survive marriage to you. You'll eat him alive."

And maybe that's why he'd allowed her to talk him into a final fling last night, in the hopes that Geoff would hear about it and finally see Lisa for what she was. An opportunist. An amoral cat who'd bed down with anyone who could afford her price. Instead, all he'd managed to do was guarantee his best friend a marriage made in hell. Great. Just great.

"If you didn't want me with Geoff, then you should have been the one to offer marriage. But you're just too damn clever for your own good, too intent on manipulating your world and everyone in it." She shoved her porcelain cup and saucer aside with a quick little jerk. The coffee sloshed over the rim and stained the virginal white saucer in bitter darkness. "I'm marrying Geoff and that's the end of it. I can make him happy and I fully intend to."

"What do they say about the road to hell?" He snapped his fingers. "Oh, right. That smear of pavement is one long, filthy tarmac of good intentions."

"In that case, I'm going to hell, though I doubt I'm going there alone. You'll be right there beside me." She shoved back her chair and stood. To his surprise tears glittered in her eyes. "Would you like to know what's funniest of all? Geoff wants to start a family right away. It's the one thing we both agree on. I may be a gold digger, but I'm a maternal one."

A fierce wave of cynicism swept through him. "Not to mention that when your marriage bombs, that little tyke you pop out ensures nice, fat child support payments to go along with that nice, fat alimony check."

Instead of his words sending her up in flames as he expected, it cooled her. "You're a total son of a bitch, Lucius. Thanks for reminding me of that fact." She snatched up her phone, shoved it into her purse and faced him with a pride he could only admire. "And one of these days I plan to make you eat those words. I may not want Geoff the way I want you, but he's a good man. A decent man. I haven't had many of those in my life. I plan to make him very happy. Delirious, in fact. And I hope you're stuck watching us enjoy that happiness for the next fifty years. That way you can choke on it."

And with that, she swept out the door.


"You aren't just a devil, you're a total son of a bitch!"

Angie Colter's head jerked up at the unmistakable sound of a hand striking flesh and she swiveled to stare at the closed door of her boss's office-Lucius Devlin, owner and CEO of the Seattle based company, Diablo, Inc., a multibillion dollar business that specialized in buying and rehabbing commercial real estate. The next instant the door slammed open and Ella, the gorgeous redhead Angie had ushered in not ten minutes earlier, emerged. The woman had been Devlin's latest in a long string, lasting a full two weeks. A record breaker among the spate of women her boss had seen over the past three months.

"I don't know how you could possibly think I'd be interested in your insane proposal." With that, she swept across the plush expanse of carpet on impossibly high heels, her backside twitching out her profound irritation as she headed for the private elevators.

Okay. That was interesting and added to Angie's growing suspicion that something was up with Lucius. She hadn't figured out what, but suspected the six-month-old baby he'd received guardianship of a short three months earlier was somehow responsible. The baby, Mikey, was the son of the former head of PR for Diablo, Geoff Ridgeway. He and his wife, Lisa, had died in a t