Page 19 of Second Time Bride

Her heart leapt into her throat. She had a dazed impression of the receptionist’s stunned incredulity and then she turned and fled, heading for the stairs instead. There was no point in assisting Alessio to spring an embarrassing scene in public. Obviously he was in deep shock, otherwise he wouldn’t have shouted at her like that. He was also in a blaze of fury, and that was new—but not something Daisy planned to hang around and find out more about. She crashed through the last set of fire doors and raced down a wide set of stairs.

‘I’ll drag you up again by the hair if you don’t get back here!’ Alessio roared down at her from the flight above.

‘I’m running away for your benefit, not my own!’ Daisy hurled breathlessly back. ‘If I don’t, you’ll say a lot of things that you’ll be deeply ashamed of saying in a few hours’ time!’

‘You bitch!’ Alessio grated as he continued his enraged pursuit.

‘Don’t you dare call me that!’ Daisy paused to shout back. ‘And by the way, it was your birth control that failed and not my lack of it! The dates prove that beyond doubt!’

Alessio spat something in Italian that sounded very aggressive. Daisy blenched. This was not a mood she knew him in—Alessio in an uncontrollable dark fury, doubtless made all the more dangerous by his lack of practice in expressing such feelings. It had not once crossed her mind that she might find herself being chased through the Leopardi Merchant Bank by a male who even at nineteen had prided himself on his self-control and superhuman cool. So he was furious—well, that was no surprise, was it? But that was no excuse to attack her!

Tara had been conceived in August, not July, which meant that Alessio was the one responsible. Of course, he had tried to push that responsibility off onto her, citing the very first time they had made love, when a slight misunderstanding had occurred and he had falsely assumed that she was protected from pregnancy. Even with Alessio in hot pursuit, Daisy was childishly delighted to have finally been able to throw that important fact in his teeth.

‘Watch out! You’re going to fall and break your neck!’ Alessio blazed, sounding far too close for comfort.

In her attempt to speed up, Daisy missed her footing and lurched forward. She gasped as a powerful hand suddenly closed on the collar of her jacket to steady her and haul her back up a safe step. Whisking her round, Alessio imprisoned her between his hard, muscular length and the landing wall without noticing that her feet were no longer connected to solid ground.

‘ dare you accuse me of being relieved when you lost our baby?’ Alessio thundered down at her, glittering golden eyes splintering with violent anger, his hands anchored to her narrow ribcage to hold her entrapped. ‘I went on a binge! I got so damned drunk, I nearly killed myself! I didn’t have the guts to come to that hospital...I was too ashamed to face you! I didn’t know what to say when it was too late to say it. “Sorry” wasn’t likely to cover it when our baby was dead!’

As he slowly released her, she slid down the wall again and one of her shoes fell off but Daisy wasn’t up to fumbling blindly for it. Keeping herself balanced on tiptoe on one side, she gaped up at him, violet eyes wide with astonishment at what he was telling her.

‘I showed up three days later and you had gone,’ Alessio added unsteadily, dense dark lashes screening his gaze from her, but not before she had seen the savage pain and guilt in the stormy depths of his darkened eyes. ‘My father told me that if I put one foot onto a flight for London he would personally kill me! He said I’d done enough damage. But I didn’t listen to him until Bianca told me about the money and convinced me that that was all you had wanted from the start—’

‘I doubt you needed much persuasion.’

‘You’d gone,’ Alessio said again. ‘You agreed to a divorce without even discussing it with me!’

‘But that’s what you wanted,’ Daisy pointed out very shakily.

Aggressively taut, his strong face shuttered, Alessio took a step back from her. Her throat was working, her insides churning, but all she could think about was the fierce pain and remorse he had revealed—feelings that she had never once dreamt he might be experiencing in the aftermath of their breakup.