If they had a proper marriage she would at least have the anticipation of ripping it off him when they got home...

 Stop it, she scolded herself. Thoughts like that did nothing for her private mission of gaining immunity against him.

 And nor did the darkening of his eyes, that look as if he wanted nothing more than to rip her clothes off too.

 A rush of warm heat pooled in the apex of her thighs, so deep and sudden her legs weakened.

 It was a look she hadn’t seen in three weeks.

 Any immunity she might have managed to attain was ripped away in one fell swoop.

                       CHAPTER TWELVE

 CHRISTIAN’S DRIVER PULLED up outside the embassy. No sooner had the engine been turned off than the door was opened for them and they were ushered out of the car amidst a hail of flashbulbs from the waiting paparazzi, who’d been tipped off that they were attending.

 As they crossed the threshold of the historic building, Alessandra almost jumped out of her skin to feel Christian place his hand on the small of her back.

 It was the first time he’d touched her since their wedding night.

 It’s for the paparazzi’s benefit, she told herself.

 When he clasped her hand into his much larger one, threading his fingers through hers, the nerves on her skin tingled with warmth, her fingers yearning to squeeze their possession.

 Keeping a firm grip of her hand, he steered her around the room, introducing her to various bankers, investors and their partners and spouses.

 She found it hard keeping track of names. Every time Christian’s body brushed against hers, her heart would skip and her mind would lose its train of thought.

 When a waiter passed carrying a tray of canapés, she pounced, glad of a decent excuse to drop her husband’s hand.

 It wasn’t just money and finance people wanted to talk to them about, though; many were keen to discuss the wedding, eager for the intimate details the press had only been able to guess at. They’d released a couple of photos to the media in the hope that having something publishable would help them lose interest.

 ‘They should give everyone name tags,’ she said after a few hours of small talk and endless canapés. Christian had noticed her springing lightly on her aching legs and, insisting she rest for a few minutes, had borne her off to some empty seats in an alcove.

 A smile tugged at his lips. ‘It would make life easier.’

 ‘How many of these people do you actually know?’

 ‘Far too many of them.’

 ‘You don’t sound very enthusiastic.’

 ‘Finance doesn’t always attract the most charismatic of people.’

 ‘It attracted you.’

 ‘You think I’m charismatic?’

 ‘You know you are,’ she said with deliberate dismissal.

 ‘Is that a compliment?’ he asked, raising a brow in bemusement while his beautiful eyes glittered.

 ‘Take it however you want.’ She smiled at a passing woman they’d spoken to earlier, the wife of a diplomat. She couldn’t help but notice the woman’s gaze linger a touch too long on Christian.

 Did she think he was charismatic?

 Christian had more charisma than anyone she’d known. People were drawn to him. Women especially were drawn to him and it wasn’t the sole result of his good looks. She doubted the size of his bank account had much affect either—the magnetism he carried came from him.

 ‘Then I will take it as a compliment.’

 ‘Why finance?’ she asked, her interest piqued. ‘Of all the jobs and careers out there, why go that route?’

 The bemusement dropped, the warmth in his eyes cooling. For a moment she thought he was going to ignore her innocent question.

 Instead, he held her gaze. ‘When I was a small child, every night before she slept my mother would get the few drachmas she had to her name, place them in front of her and count them.’ He spoke slowly and concisely, as if he were thinking carefully about his answer. ‘I think she hoped that if she counted them enough times they would magically double. The only time I was ever able to make her happy was if I found a stray coin and brought it home to her.’

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