Craving Her Enemy's Touch(9)

By: Rachael Thomas


 * * *

 Alessandro heard the exasperation in her voice and gritted his teeth against the urge to tell her what she wanted to know. A truth that would tarnish all the happiness she’d ever shared with her brother and a truth her father had expressly asked him to conceal from her. That had been the one and only condition her father had made when he’d contacted him. He intended to honour that—and the promise he’d made to Seb.

 She stood before him, not able to look at him as she pressed long fingers against her temples, her head shaking in denial. The rise and fall of her shoulders as her breath came hard and fast gave away the struggle she was having. Instinctively, he took hold of her arms and she looked back up at him, the beauty of her green eyes almost swaying him from his purpose. ‘Your brother was in a high speed accident. You do know that, don’t you?’

 ‘I know,’ she whispered, thankfully a little more calmly, and looked up into his face, her eyes searching his, looking for answers he couldn’t give. ‘But I need to know what happened and why.’

 ‘It is better to remember him well and happy, believe me, Charlotte. It is for the best.’ Her ragged sigh deflated all the anger from her body and he felt the resignation slip through her, defusing the fight which had raged moments ago.

 ‘I know, but so many questions need answering.’ She closed her eyes and he watched the thick dark lashes splay out over her pale skin. The urge to kiss her rushed at him, almost knocking the breath from his body.

 When he’d arrived he’d never expected to find a woman he desired so fiercely. Only once before had such a need raged in him and he’d acted impulsively on it, marrying quickly, only to discover his wife had had ulterior motives all along. Under no circumstances would he put himself in such a position again.

 The attraction which had sprung between him and Charlie the second their eyes had met complicated things, made his promise even harder to keep. He let her go and stepped back away from her, away from the temptation, curling his fingers into tight fists. The whole situation was testing far more than his ability to keep his promise.

 She looked up at him, her chin lifting in determination. ‘I will find out, Mr Roselli. Your and my father’s insistence to keep things from me only makes it more important to do so.’

 ‘Some things are best left alone. For Seb’s sake, accept what you know and do as your father wants.’ He moved away from her, back to the chair he’d sat in earlier—anything to put distance between them—but still the heady need which rushed through him persisted.

 ‘For Seb’s sake?’ Her question jolted him and he realised how close he’d come to pointing her in the direction of the cause of the accident.

 ‘Seb asked for you to be at the launch. It was one of the last things he said to me.’ There was no way he was going to tell her Seb’s actual last words and he guarded himself against letting the truth inadvertently slip. He held her partly accountable for Seb’s problems. She’d never been to see him in Italy, had never shown any interest, but that wasn’t something he was prepared to discuss now. All he wanted was for her to agree to be at the launch.

 ‘He really said that?’ Her voice was so soft it was hardly audible, but it did untold things to the pulse of desire he was fighting hard to suppress.

 ‘He wanted you there.’ He watched the indecision slide over her face and waited. She was coming to the right decision slowly. All he had to do was wait.

 * * *

 Charlie couldn’t shake the feeling of unease. Yes, she knew Seb’s accident would have caused horrible injuries, but she couldn’t rid herself of the notion there was something else. Something her father wanted to keep from her as much as Alessandro did. Did that mean he was to blame?

 She changed tactics and adopted an attitude of acceptance, realising it was possibly the only way to find out. Slowly, she walked back to the table and stood looking down at him where he calmly sat, watching her.

 ‘If I come to the launch I want to know all about the car first. I want to see everything you and Seb worked on. I want to live it, to breathe it.’ A hint of the passion she’d always felt for her job and the world of racing started to fizz in her veins after being unmoved for many months, infusing her with excitement that she hadn’t felt for a long time.

 ‘There isn’t much time for that.’ He sat back in the chair and looked up at her, observing every move she made until she wondered if he could read all her thoughts.

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