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Published by Syed Ali Asim
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Published by: Syed Ali Asim on Mar 15, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Serpent in ParadiseRosemary Carter
Teri glanced at her watch and saw that it was even later than she hadrealised. Her lunch-hour was half over and she still had to get to thesupermarket before popping in to Mrs Roland.It was the storm that had delayed her. Tropical thunderstorms were alwaysto be reckoned with in Johannesburg in the summer. There had been oneeach day for the last week, always in the late afternoon, when the trafficout of the city was at its busiest. This storm had erupted unexpectedly, andTeri, caught in open-toed sandals and without an umbrella, had had toshelter beneath the wide awning of a shop-front until the worst of thedownpour had abated.She grimaced as water squelched in her shoes, and just for a moment shewondered if she had been foolish not to go back to the library withoutvisiting Mrs Roland. Emma Roland would have understood. But she wouldhave been disappointed. With her twisted ankle keeping her temporarilyimmobile, she was depending on the groceries that Teri had promised to bring her.She was not far from Mrs Roland’s flat now, and across the road was thesupermarket. Teri usually crossed the road at the traffic lights, but theywere some distance away; with her sandals waterlogged anduncomfortable she decided to jaywalk.She had just stepped off the kerb when she saw the car turning in to angle- park. She took a hasty step backwards, but she was not quick enough toescape the rush of muddy water stirred up by the tyres, and a swirl of it hither dress.It
be the one good dress she possessed! she thought, throwing afurious look at the car. It was silver-grey, long and sleek and expensive-looking. For some reason its elegance served only to enrage her further.Without thinking she bent, picked up a ball of mud and hurled it at the car.The sight of the mud spattered on the shining chrome gave her a momentof intense and gleeful satisfaction.She had reached the opposite kerb when she felt a hand close on her arm,and spinning round, she found herself looking up, quite a long way up, intoa pair of intensely blue eyes, and she felt the oddest quiver. She had never seen a face that was so handsome, nor quite so self-assured. Thick fair hair was vivid against a deep tan, and the lines of a hard mouth and chin
combined in an unusual mixture of power and sensuousness.Fear was delayed, coming seconds later than it normally would have done.This was not one of the more desirable parts of the city, strangers were notto be taken lightly. What did he want of her? In sudden panic Teri glancedsideways, wondering if anyone would come to her aid if she screamed.‘I won’t harm you.’ The blue eyes were mocking, as if he understood thegist of her thoughts. ‘I’m the owner of that car.’ He made a small gesture.‘Why did you chuck mud at me?’‘You dirtied my dress,’ she said, thinking that his dark suit and silk shirtwent well with the car. Both had the same look of money and elegance.His eyes left her face and descended to the dress. There was something blatant in the way that he studied it, as if he was seeing through thegarment to the shapely figure it clothed. Teri’s earlier outrage returned.‘A pretty dress,’ was all he said.‘It happens to be the only one I possess.’ Not true, but not wildly over-exaggerated either.‘You were jaywalking,’ he pointed out mildly.‘My sandals were wet through and the traffic-lights are a million milesaway. You must have seen me.’‘Actually I didn’t.’‘You could have let me pass anyway. Did nobody ever teach you to beconsiderate?’‘Illogical and a virago.’ The corners of his lips lifted. ‘At worst I waslooking for an apology. At best I thought you might offer to clean off themess you made. I certainly didn’t expect an attack.’Teri drew herself up to her full height—five feet and six inches seemedoddly small beside what was surely six feet two of leanly muscledmanhood. ‘You must be crazy if you thought I’d do either! May I have myarm back—I’m in a hurry.’She was walking away when she heard him chuckle. For a moment shewas tempted to turn so that she could see how the autocratic face lookedwhen it was amused, but pride stopped her just in time. Stiffening her shoulders, she squelched her way with as much dignity as she could intothe supermarket.‘You look as if the weight of the world rests on those slender shoulders,’ a

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