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Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Fancy Pants

The second book in the American's Lady series, 1989

To my parents, with all my love

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

My special thanks to the following people and organizations:

Bill Phillips-who plays a terrific eighteen holes and steered me away from the bunkers. I love you.

Steve Axelrod-the best there is.

Claire Zion-a good editor is a necessity; one who also has a sense of humor is a blessing.

The Professional Golfers' Association-for so patiently answering my questions.

The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation-keepers of the flame.

The management and staff of WBRW, Bridgewater, New Jersey-a small radio station with a 50,000-watt heart.

Dr. Lois Lee and Children of the Night-God bless.

Charlotte Smith, Dr. Robert Pallay, Glen Winger, Steve Adams.

Rita Hallbright at the Kenya Safari Company.

Linda Barlow-for her continued friendship and many helpful suggestions.

Ty and Zachary Phillips-who truly do light up my life.

Lydia Kihm-my favorite sister.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me…

– Emma Lazarus,

'The New Coiossus'

Prologue

'Sable sucks,' Francesca Serritella Day muttered under her breath as a series of strobes flashed in her face. She ducked her head deeper into the high collar of her Russian fur and wished it were daytime so she could slip on her dark glasses.

'That's not exactly a popularly held opinion, darling,' Prince Stefan Marko Brancuzi said as he gripped her arm and guided her through the crowd of paparazzi that had stationed themselves outside New York City's La Cote Basque to photograph the celebrities as they emerged from the private party inside.

Stefan Brancuzi was the sole monarch of a tiny Balkan principality that was rapidly replacing overcrowded Monaco as the new refuge for the tax-burdened wealthy, but he wasn't the one in whom the photographers were most interested. It was the beautiful Englishwoman at his side who had attracted their attention, along with the attention of much of the American public.

As Stefan led her toward his waiting limousine, Francesca lifted her gloved hand in a futile gesture that did nothing at all to stop the barrage of questions still being hurled at her-questions about her job, her relationship with Stefan, even a question about her friendship with the star of the hit television series, 'China Colt.'

When she and Stefan were finally settled into the plush leather seats and the limo had pulled out into the late night traffic on East Fifty-fifth Street, she groaned. 'That media circus happened because of this coat. The press hardly ever bothers you. It's me. If I'd worn my old raincoat, we could have slipped right through without attracting any attention.' Stefan regarded her with amusement. She frowned reproachfully at him. 'There's an important moral lesson to be learned here, Stefan.'

'What's that, darling?'

'In the face of world famine, women who wear sable deserve what they get.'

He laughed. 'You would have been recognized no matter what you'd worn. I've seen you stop traffic in a sweat suit.'

'I can't help it,' she replied glumly. 'It's in my blood. The curse of the Serritellas.'

'Really, Francesca, I never knew a woman who hated being beautiful as much as you do.'

She muttered something he couldn't hear, which was probably just as well, and shoved her hands deep into the pockets of her coat, unimpressed, as always, with any reference to her incandescent physical beauty. After a long wait, she broke the silence. 'From the day I was born, my face has brought me nothing but trouble.'

Not to mention that marvelous little body of yours, Stefan thought, but he wisely kept that comment to himself. As Francesca gazed absently out the tinted glass window, he took advantage of her distraction to study the incredible features that had captivated so many people.

He still remembered the words of a well-known fashion editor who, determined to avoid all the Vivien Leigh cliches that had been applied to Francesca over the years, had written, 'Francesca Day, with her chestnut hair, oval face, and sage green eyes, looks like a fairy-tale princess who spends her afternoons spinning flax into gold in the gardens outside her own storybook castle.' Privately, the fashion editor had been less fanciful. 'I know in my heart that Francesca Day absolutely never has to go to the bathroom…'

Stefan gestured toward the walnut and brass bar tucked discreetly into the side of the limo. 'Do you want a drink?'

'No, thanks. I don't think I can tolerate any more alcohol.' She hadn't been sleeping well and her British accent was more pronounced than usual. Her coat slipped open and she glanced down at her beaded Armani gown. Armani gown… Fendi fur… Mario Valentino shoes. She closed her eyes, suddenly remembering an earlier time, a hot autumn afternoon when she'd been lying in the dirt in the middle of a Texas road wearing a pair of dirty blue jeans with twenty-five cents tucked in the back pocket. That day had been the beginning for her. The beginning and the end.

The limo turned south on Fifth Avenue, and her memories slipped further back to those childhood years in England before she had even known that places like Texas existed. What a spoiled little monster she had been- pampered and petted as her mother Chloe swept her from one European playground to another, one party to the next. Even as a child she'd been perfectly arrogant-so absolutely confident that the famous Serritella beauty would crack open the world for her and make all the pieces fall back together into any new configuration she wished. Little Francesca-a vain, feckless creature, completely unprepared for what life was going to hand her.

She had been twenty-one years old that day in 1976 when she lay in the dust on the Texas road. Twenty-one years old, unmarried, alone, and pregnant.

Now she was nearly thirty-two, and although she owned every possession she had ever dreamed about, she

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