Spanish Nights(9)

By: Jennifer Taylor

His arrogance fuelled her anger. He knew that she would have to agree to everything he demanded! ‘I can’t believe that anyone could be this cold-blooded, not even you, Luis, and heaven knows I’ve had proof of it in the past!’

‘I cannot see why you are so surprised. Surely you didn’t think I would be prepared to let you go after what you did?’

‘It would have been less painful if you had, for you as well as me. Do you really imagine that you will enjoy having me back in the role of your wife knowing that I have been forced into it?’

He shrugged dismissively, running a hand lightly around the steering-wheel. ‘You are making this sound far more dramatic than it really is. I just want my wife back, Laura. Divorce is out of the question so it makes sense that we should resume our marriage.’

‘And what does your family think of this?’ She laughed a touch hysterically. Even for the sake of appearances it was going to be hard to act the part of the loving wife when she knew how Luis felt about her. ‘What does your mother feel about having me back as her daughter-in-law? She made it blatantly obvious that she didn’t welcome me before and now that this has happened she must feel that all her worst fears about my unsuitability have been confirmed.’

‘I have not discussed any of this with my mother or any members of my family. For your information, Laura, everyone believes that you have been away with my blessing.’ He smiled at her gasp of surprise. ‘You are not the only one adept at keeping a secret, pequeña. I kept the reason for your sudden absence a secret also.’

‘But how? And why? What did you tell everyone?’

‘The how was simple. I merely let it be known that you had returned to England to stay with a sick friend. A small distortion of the truth, you must admit. As for why—well, I didn’t see that it would serve any useful purpose to discuss matters that concern no one but us. It is enough that I should have to live with the knowledge of your deceit. To imagine that others were discussing it would be unacceptable.’

He sounded so hard and unyielding that her heart wept. It just emphasised how little his attitude had changed in these past two months. If anything it had hardened because now a desire for revenge had been added to his anger. Had he ever really loved her? Laura doubted it. He had wanted her physically and married her because of that desire, but love? If he had loved her, then surely he would be able to reach beyond his pain and anger?

‘I am just surprised that you can bear the thought of having me back, Luis,’ she said softly, bitterly. ‘Are you sure you can face the thought of sharing your life with a woman like me just for the sake of appearances so that the great name of Rivera won’t be damaged in any way?’

‘It will not be easy, but there will be compensations.’ His voice was equally quiet yet it seemed to strum along her nerves and make her whole body tense.

‘What do you mean?’

‘I should have thought that was obvious, my love. Our marriage is a fact that cannot be changed so we shall have to make the best of it, enjoy the benefits.’ His eyes drifted over her slender body then returned to linger on the bruised swell of her lips in a look she could feel because of its very sensuality. When he suddenly reached over and ran his thumb across her mouth she started violently, her heart hammering until she felt giddy from the fast surge of blood along her veins.

He watched her in silence then slowly withdrew his hand. ‘Neither of us can deny that we still find one another attractive. There is still that spark, that hot sexuality, isn’t there, Laura? That will be compensation enough…for now.’

She reeled back away from him, hating the fact that he understood all the feelings his touch evoked. Their relationship had always been a sensual one even in its darkest moments but she couldn’t bear the thought of having him treat her the way he had again. ‘I won’t let you use me again, Luis.’ Her voice was harsh with pain and she saw him frown but she had to make him understand how she felt. ‘I couldn’t bear to have you…touch me the way you did before I left!’

‘I don’t see that you have any choice in the matter. You are my wife. You will share my life, share my home and share my bed.’

‘No!’ She reached for the door-handle, desperate to end this painful meeting.

‘Yes.’ He pulled her back to him, determination etched on his face. ‘This will be a marriage in every sense of the word.’ He laughed suddenly as he smoothed his hand up her arm and along her shoulder, tracing the delicate bones. ‘It won’t be such a hardship, Laura, will it? You know that I can make you want me.’

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