‘See…I’m totally fine,’ she snarled, pushing aside the strong and disturbing recollection of being scooped into his arms and cradled against a chest that had about as much give as steel but felt warmer and smelt quite frankly… gorgeous.
Luiz, a nerve pumping wildly in his lean cheek, folded his arms across his chest and said with a ‘what are you going to do about it?’ smile, ‘I am not going anywhere, Nell. I have only just arrived.’
‘What,’ she demanded crankily as she pushed the silky wisps of hair from her eyes and fixed him with an unfriendly glare, ‘are you doing here anyhow?’
She tried to look away but she couldn’t; despite his negligent pose she could almost see the tension humming through his lean body.
A soundless sigh left her lips as she stared up at him. He looked utterly compelling in a dark, mean, moody sort of way. Under the sweep of his ludicrously long curling lashes his obsidian eyes glittered, reflecting back her own image, his mouth curled cynically down at one corner, the nerve beside it throbbing.
He shrugged off the full-length drover-style double-breasted raincoat he wore over his suit. It glistened with rain, as did his dark hair.
‘I was looking for you.’
And now he had found her and he couldn’t stop staring. His memory had not, as he had been telling himself, embellished the details—her eyes really were that big, her mouth that soft and kissable.
Nothing in his expression revealed the helpless lustful surge of his body or the fact he felt as though he were burning up from the inside out as he stared at her mouth, but he had no control over the dark dull lines of colour that emerged along the slashing angles of his cheekbones.
‘How are you feeling?’ He was relieved her scary pallor had receded, but she still looked incredibly fragile; it shocked him deeply to see how much weight she had lost.
Nell ignored the question. It would have been impossible to answer anyway—there were no words to adequately describe the cocktail of emotions churning inside her.
‘Looking for me?’ Despite her intention to stay cool and not allow him to guess how much he had hurt her, Nell couldn’t stop the bitterness and resentment creeping into her voice as she added with a tight smile, ‘Not with any great urgency.’
She watched through the inadequate protection offered by her lashes as an inexplicable expression of outraged incredulity flickered across his dark, stern features.
‘You thought I ignored the letter?’
His indignation struck Nell as the height of hypocrisy. ‘You did ignore it.’
‘I didn’t ignore it. I did not receive it.’
Nell, her lips curled into a contemptuous smile, shrugged and said, ‘If you say so.’
His jaw clenched. ‘I do say so.’
‘It really doesn’t matter to me one way or the other,’ she lied.
‘Yes, I can see that.’
The drawled sarcasm brought Nell’s flashing eyes to his face.
‘You addressed your letter to the castillo?’
A flicker of uncertainty entered Nell’s eyes. ‘I sent it to the castillo…so what if I did?’
‘So I wasn’t there. If it had been marked urgent it would have been forwarded to me, but as it was simply marked personal it sat there waiting for my return. My grandmother’s health is much improved—incidentally she would, I am sure, send you her love if she knew I was here. I have been travelling. I only returned to Spain this morning.’
The memory of opening the letter and reading her curt, concise little note was one he could not relive without growing pale. She had given him all the relevant details datewise, but not a word of emotion had crept in. Not a single clue of whether she was sad, happy or indifferent to the news—whether she was sad, happy or indifferent to him.
The latter question was now less of a mystery. When she looked at him none of the above was evident; it was a contemptuous loathing that shone like a beacon in her wide-spaced clear eyes.
Nell’s brows drew together as she gave a concessionary shrug. It was just feasible he was telling the truth. Jet lag would explain the high-tension aura he was exuding—that and learning he was about to be a father, which clearly had not had him breaking open a bottle of champagne.
‘I’m glad your grandmother is feeling better.’
‘As am I.’
Nell ignored the raw interjection and admitted casually, ‘I saw a picture of you in New York.’ She looked at him and thought, The day I realised I loved you.
‘I had several business meetings there.’
An image of the actress with the paint-on white gown flashed into her head and Nell retorted, ‘This wasn’t a business meeting.’ Then, conscious that her comment might be interpreted as jealousy, she added quickly, ‘So you got home and read my letter.’