A WILLING SURRENDER ROBYN DONALDA WILLING SURRENDER
IT was his height which first caught Clary's eyes. That, and the way the cool English sun summoned flames from the tawnyhead held so confidently.A sudden scatter of applause from the crowd dragged her attention away from the tall stranger. Her slim capable handsadded to the polite clapping as a flushed little girl tried to persuade her pony to leave the ring with some dignity. Amanda was a perfectionist, so her failure to clear two of the jumps would set her fretting for days. She would not, however, be grateful for any opencommiseration.Clary's dark-blue gaze shifted from her oldest charge to scan the crowd. Mostly mothers, except for a few au pairs likeherself holding the fort for those parents unable to be there, they all looked similar to Clary's antipodean eyes. Well-cut skirts andHusky jackets, headscarves tied against the nasty little wind amounted almost to a uniform. Even Mrs Crowe, Amanda's mother andClary's employer, a supremely elegant woman, blended into the crowd.Clary's roaming eyes found the older woman. With every appearance of pleasure she was greeting the stranger, smiling upinto his dark, striking face with open appreciation.The tawny head inclined; there was a flash of white as the man smiled in response and said something which made GinnyCrowe and the two women with her break into laughter. Leona Sedbury—
Sedbury—smoothed a possessive hand over hisforearm, mutely stressing her position as his escort.The soft lines of Clary's mouth hardened as she took in the physical attributes which had sent every woman within reachinto a pleasurable little flutter. His lean body, perfectly poised, was a sensual lure in itself, but the face above it radiated a magnetismwhich was frightening. The features were almost classically perfect except for an arrogant beak of a nose and an uncompromisingmouth. Until he smiled, and then ruthlessness was transmuted into a potent, blazing charm.Clary swallowed, recognising the odd tightening of her nerves. One did not reach the age of twenty-five withoutexperiencing attraction, that primitive call of one sex to the other which signalled virility and the ability to impregnate. It was stupid to be so shaken by a blind natural force based only on the need to reproduce the species, but when the man smiled cool sensuality hadcrackled into vivid life.Clary had good reason to distrust that sudden flare of excitement. In instinctive, involuntary defiance she straightened her shoulders, her expression altering into controlled indifference.Perhaps it was the sudden movement, perhaps the smooth sheen of sunlight on the soft bronze waves of her hair whichcaught his attention. Eyes which were a strange mixture of gold and green lanced across the intervening space, assessed her coolly andcomprehensively. Clary suffered the scrutiny of those eyes, almost wincing as they took in the measure of her face from the winged brows to the cleft chin which she and her brother had inherited from their father. The stranger's gaze probed the soft contours of her mouth, the wavy cap of hair and the scatter of freckles across her straight nose, the long lovely line of throat and neck. No emotion disturbed the strong beauty of his face; it could have been a bronze mask turned towards her, yet Claryshivered, suddenly afraid. She sensed a response to the wildfire which ate through her body. For long moments they stared at eachother across air which was as charged with energy as an electrical field.A quick flame of colour scorched across her cheekbones, the pale skin revealing too blatantly the swift rise of blood beneath it. Astounded, she watched as an answering wash of colour smouldered beneath his bone-deep tan. It was as though thatsudden attraction was some incandescent element, dangerous and beautiful as fire.Across the heated, shimmering distance between them his eyes sent a message with all the impact of a laser.Clary stiffened. The brutal, honest admission of desire produced such brazen arousal in her body that it was revealed onlytoo plainly in her resentful eyes as they were held pinned by his. He was intent on staking some claim, imprinting her with theglamour of his lean face and the swift feral grace of a body perfectly proportioned, perfectly balanced.Yet even while she exerted the willpower to turn away it was with the knowledge that when she remembered him it would be the stark power of the man she would recall, not his physical beauty.Fortunately her bewildered glance fell upon a disconsolate little figure in jodhpurs wending its way towards her through thecrowd. Almost dizzy with relief Clary scooped up the younger Crowe, who had been bouncing impetuously in her pushchair.'Come on, darling,' Clary said, 'let's go and meet Amanda.'Holding Beth like a shield she took the few steps necessary to reach Amanda, who, like all true horse-lovers, immediately began telling her how badly she had let down her pony.She was still in full spate when her mother joined them a few minutes later.'Well, it's over now,' Ginny intervened briskly. 'Everyone has trouble at first, don't they, Clary?'Fixed by her minatory eye Clary smiled. 'Never having jumped I wouldn't know, but the first time you tackle anything youmake mistakes. That's how you learn.'Mrs Crowe nodded as Amanda's upturned face lost its woebegone look. 'Clary's right, of course, even if she doesn't ride.Somehow one always assumes that every New Zealander grows up in the saddle, but you're a city girl, aren't you?''I am. New Zealand's biggest city, at that. A tiddler by the rest of the world's standards, but it's the nearest thing to ametropolis we've got.''It doesn't appear to be big enough to keep Morgan Caird occupied.' Mrs Crowe nodded towards the bold stranger who nowstood on the opposite side of the ring with Lady Sedbury and her husband, the owner of the local manor house. 'Mind you, he's morelike a force of nature than a man, which probably explains why he has interests all over the world.''He's from Auckland?''Yes. His grandfather and Sedbury's were brothers.' Which, her tone revealed, made him
one of us,
acceptable.Clary hid her astonishment with a smile, fascinated as always by the ramifications of a social system she barely understoodeven after three years spent mainly in the United Kingdom.Ginny caught her amusement and laughed, saying, 'Oh, you colonials! You always manage to look smug as well as puzzledwhen you catch us being snobs. I refuse to believe that you don't have some sort of class system in your antipodean paradise.''Of course we do.' Clary's response was equally light. 'It's not nearly so rigid, though.'Mrs Crowe's slender shoulders lifted in a little shrug. 'Oh well, it's all good clean fun. I should have thought that MorganCaird would be known to you, he's quite famous even here—and not just for his looks.''An actor?'