In any area of his life.

Raul managed to convince himself that he was relieved with tonight’s outcome.

Well, not relieved.

Far from it.

He was aching and hard, and was just sliding down his zipper, when he heard knocking at the door.

Good things, Raul realised as he made his way to the door, did come to those who waited. For just when he had thought the night was over, it would seem it had just begun!

He didn’t bother to turn on the lounge light—just opened the door and Lydia tumbled in.

She had a suitcase beside her, which would usually be enough to perturb him, but there were other concerns right now.

She was shaking while trying to appear calm.

‘Sorry to disturb you...’

Her voice was trembling.

‘What happened?’

‘We had a row,’ Lydia said. ‘A long overdue one. Anyway, I don’t want to talk about that now.’

Oh, it wasn’t just that she knew the price for a night in his room—Lydia wanted to go back to feeling happy.

Preferably now, please.

She wanted the oblivion his mouth offered, not to think of the turbulent times ahead.

He was naked from the waist up and her demand was sudden. ‘Where were we?’

And her mouth found his and her kiss was urgent.

He tasted of liquor, and he was obviously aroused when she pressed into him.

Yet for once Raul was the one slowing things down.

His body demanded he kiss her back with fervour, that he take her now, up against the wall, and give her what she craved.

Yet there was more to this, he knew.


‘Lydia...’

He peeled her off him and it was a feat indeed, for between his attempts to halt her he was resisting going back in for a kiss. He was hard and primed, and she was desperate and willing.

An obvious match.

Yet somehow not.

‘Slow down...’ he told her. ‘Angry sex we can do later.’

Raul never thought of ‘later’ with women and was surprised by his own thought process, but his overriding feeling was concern.

‘I’m not angry,’ Lydia said.

She could feel his arms holding her back as he somehow read her exactly and told her how she felt.

‘Oh, baby, you are!’

She was.

Lydia was a ball of fury that he held at arm’s length.

She was trying to go for his zipper. She was actually wild.


‘Lydia?’

He guided her to a chair, and it was like folding wood trying to get her to sit down, but finally he did.

Lydia could hear her own rapid breathing as Raul went over and flicked on a light, and she knew he was right.

She was angry.

He saw her pale face and the red hand mark, and Raul’s own anger coiled his gut tight. But he kept his voice even. ‘What happened?’

‘I told Maurice that I shan’t be his puppet and neither shall I be returning home.’

He came to her and knelt down, and his hand went to her swollen cheek.

‘Did he hit you anywhere else?’

‘No.’ She shook her head. ‘I’m fine. Really I am.’

Raul frowned, because there were no tears—it was suppressed rage that glittered in her eyes.

‘Do you want me to go and sort him out?’

‘I would hate that.’

He rather guessed that she would.

‘Please?’ he said, and saw that she gave a small smile.

‘No.’

He would do so later.

Right now, though, Raul’s concern was Lydia. He stood and looked around. There was a woman in his hotel suite, and for the first time Raul didn’t know what to do with her.

Lydia too looked around, and she was starting to calm.

She saw the champagne and the flowers, and the room that had been prepared for them, and cringed at her own behaviour. She had asked for romance and he had delivered, and then she’d thrust herself on him.

‘Can we pretend the last fifteen minutes never happened?’ Lydia asked.

‘You want me to go back to licking your feet?’

Lydia laughed.

Not a lot, but on a night when laughter should be an impossible task somehow she did.

She felt calmer.

Though she was shaken, and embarrassed at foisting herself upon Raul, now that she had stood up to Maurice she felt clearer in the head than she had in years.

‘Do you want a drink?’

She nodded.

‘What would you like?’

And she could see his amber drink and still taste it on her tongue.

‘The same as you.’

‘So, what happened?’ Raul asked, and she answered as he crossed the suite.

‘A necessary confrontation, and one that’s been a long time coming,’ she admitted. ‘I’ve hated him since the day my mother first brought him home.’

‘How long after your father died?’

‘Eighteen months. Maurice had all these lavish ideas for the castle—decided to use it for weddings.’

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