The voice was low and with an unexpectedly sexy rasp that was a lot more grown up than she appeared to be. Ramon had misled him when he had said woman—the female sitting there was, he decided, a girl.
A girl with hair that shone honeyed gold in the sun, dressed in a light blue summer dress that revealed slim, shapely calves. She might be shapely all the way up to her delectable lips but the dress was not fitted to her slim shape.
As he continued to observe her as yet unseen a sudden gust of warm air lifted the skirt of her unfitted dress and suggested the shapeliness went at least thigh-high.
Had he not had more important things on his mind… Had she not been too young, and possibly unstable—she was talking to herself, after all—Luiz just might, he conceded, have been interested.
But as none of the above conditions applied he could view her with total objectivity.
‘From now on everyone is going to give in to me. I’m a powerful and strong woman. God, I’m not even in my prime yet. Where has the man with the warm smile gone—to call for rein-forcements or get Luiz Felipe slimy snake Santoro?’ Liking the alliteration she smiled and wondered if she’d had too much sun.
‘He went to get Luiz Felipe Santoro.’ Accustomed to hearing himself described in slightly more flattering terms—at least to his face—Luiz was curious to discover where this young woman had formed this opinion of his character.
Nell, who had been unaware that she was voicing her thoughts out loud until that moment, focused on the shiny leather shoes a few feet away.
‘Who are you?’ Luiz asked as his brain struggled to provide a scenario that would put this odd girl here, now.
Nell’s gaze stayed at knee level. ‘I’m the one asking the questions,’ she retorted belligerently. ‘Who are you?’
‘I’m Luiz Santoro.’
A sigh of relief left her dry lips as Nell got shakily to her feet.
The man who had materialised was tall, dark and handsome, though the generic term hardly seemed appropriate considering the unique individuality of his features.
Her glance lingered on his face. The man had a firm, clean-shaven jaw, high forehead, golden skin stretched across strong cheekbones, and a wide sensually sculpted mouth.
As her eyes connected with his hooded, unblinking and slightly impatient stare Nell experienced an odd little jolt that ran like an electric shock all the way down to her toes.
She blinked to break the connection. His eyes really were extraordinary. Set beneath strongly defined black brows, they were deep-set and very dark, almost black, flecked with silver and framed by the only feature that was not aggressively male—long dark curling lashes that any woman would have coveted.
She started to shake her head, only stopping when it made her world spin unpleasantly. ‘You can’t be Luiz Felipe Santoro.’ She’d said it so often that the name was starting to roll off her tongue as if she were a native.
For a start off he was no student or teenager… Had Lucy said he was or had that been an assumption?
And that was the least of it. Her thought processes moved sluggishly as she looked up at him, her critical stare trained on the face of the man whom her niece intended to marry. Actually there was little to criticise on an aesthetic level at least, his face was about as perfect as faces got if you liked a profile that could have come from an ancient Greek statue.
And the rest of him… Nell swallowed, uncomfortable with her visceral response to the rest of him, which was silly. His body was no better than any number of Olympic swimmers she had watched cleave cleanly through the water of a swimming pool.
Of course, they had not been standing mere feet away from her. Other senses like smell—he really did smell exceptionally good in a warm male, musky sort of way—had not been involved.
‘I can’t be?’ The sinfully sexy Spaniard with the autocratic bearing sounded more curious than put out. ‘Why not?’
‘You have to be, what…?’ Her assessing gaze moved up from his toes to the top of his dark gleaming head. All of it appeared to be hard muscle and bone and aggressively male. Her stomach muscles reacted to all that undiluted masculinity and flipped. ‘Thirty?’
‘Thirty-two,’ she echoed.
Luiz was wondering why she looked so peculiarly repulsed by the admission when she added, ‘That is disgusting.’
An energising burst of anger put strength back into Nell’s legs as she took a purposeful step towards the Spaniard. Self-satisfaction was not in her experience an attractive trait, and men this good-looking were generally very self-satisfied.
Of course, her experience was limited.
‘You know what I think of men who prey on impressionable young girls?’