‘I don’t think you want the answer to that one,’ Alessio murmured, pressing Daisy into the limousine and tossing her bag in after her.
‘How could you embarrass me like that?’ Daisy demanded as the car drew away from the kerb. ‘How am I supposed to explain all that nonsense you talked?’
‘You won’t have to. When I said you weren’t setting foot in there again I was not joking. I have already acquired a special licence. We can get married on Saturday morning before Tara goes off on her school trip to France,’ Alessio explained with immovable calm.
Her lashes fluttered over incredulous violet eyes. ‘A special licence? S-Saturday?’ she stammered. ‘Are you crazy? We’re divorced and staying that way!’
‘Are you prepared to lose Tara?’ Astute golden eyes rested on her enquiringly.
Daisy stiffened. ‘Are you threatening me?’
‘It was a warning. I’m telling you what may well happen if we don’t get married and present a united front,’ Alessio pronounced with deflating cool. ‘You chose to bring Tara up outside the society in which she belongs and her life is now about to change out of all recognition. She is not in any way prepared for that transformation and my family will try to spoil her as much as they spoiled me.’
Daisy dropped her head in surprise at that admission.
‘Everything Tara wants, she will receive. You couldn’t possibly compete from a distance, any more than you can continue to deny who she is. She’s a Leopardi and one day she will be an extremely wealthy young woman. She will have to make major adjustments.’
‘I could help her—’
‘How could you help if you weren’t there? And how quick would you be to blame me if anything went wrong? Tara will need more backup than I can give her. She will need her mother’s full support. When she realises how much she has missed out on, you won’t find it easy to stay in control when she’s abroad and you’re still here in London,’ Alessio pointed out drily.
He had spelt out realities about Tara’s future that Daisy did not want to hear. Her daughter would indeed find the Leopardi lifestyle shockingly seductive. Her grandparents would undoubtedly greet her with open arms. Tara was, after all, one of them. All that money and attention might turn the head of even the most stable adult, so what effect might they have on an impressionable teenager? She remembered the Ferrari, Alessio’s eighteenth-birthday present, and her stomach turned over sickly.
‘You’re talking as if Tara’s likely to be spending a lot of time in Italy.’
‘You won’t have much choice about that, Daisy. My father is moving into semi-retirement. While he will retain a consultative position within the bank, I’m taking over our main office in Rome next month,’ Alessio imparted. ‘I’ll only be back in London on business trips after that—’
‘But you were looking for a house here,’ Daisy said involuntarily, struggling to conceal her growing dismay at what he was telling her.
‘I was viewing the house on my parents’ behalf, not my own. They’re looking for a base in London.’
A base, Daisy reflected dizzily. Only a Leopardi could refer to a house that big and expensive as a base. She surveyed Alessio with dazed eyes. It was a welcome escape from the daunting facts he was hammering her with. He looked gorgeous—undeniably and infuriatingly gorgeous. No sleepless shadows beneath his eyes and, remarkably, not even a hint of yesterday’s strain. His superbly tailored charcoal-grey suit was a spectacular showcase for his lean, vibrantly male physique, but even so Daisy found that she was experiencing a deep craving to see him in a pair of faded, tight jeans again...
Daisy stopped herself dead, guiltily squashing that train of thought. Why should she get all worked up about the fact that Alessio still attracted her? Wasn’t that immature and narrow-minded? It was only her hormones which were at fault—natural female promptings accentuated by silly, sentimental memories. Alessio was incredibly sexy...that was all. Her body was tempted but her intelligence was safely in control.
‘So you must see that if I am to establish a relationship of any depth with my daughter she will be travelling to Rome on a very regular basis.’