Daisy stiffened. ‘I—’
‘But not one word did you say to me at the time!’ Blazing golden eyes raked over her small, still figure. His wide mouth clenched hard, fierce tension splintering from every taut angle of his lean, poised length.
So, believe it or not, the divorce hit me very hard! I wasn’t prepared for it and I certainly didn’t see it coming. I loved you and I genuinely believed that you loved me...and then I found out different, didn’t I, Daisy?’
That devastatingly candid admission hung there, quivering in the rushing silence.
Daisy was frozen to the spot, plunged at shattering speed into emotional turmoil. Even that day at the bank, she had not considered the staggering idea that Alessio might not have wanted the divorce. ‘You’re just saying that now to make me feel bad,’ she censured him in a faltering undertone. ‘You’re lying.’
Alessio strode forward. ‘Dio, I—’
Pale and taut, Daisy whirled away from him. ‘You’re trying to twist everything and act as if I left for no good reason when you know very well that there was nothing left to stay for! You had already moved out of our bedroom!’
Alessio tugged her back to him, his strong hands closing round her slim forearms to imprison her. His dark features were rigid and his eyes held something that looked remarkably like bewilderment. His long fingers tightened on her slender arms and then loosened before slowly dropping from her. His ebony brows drew together, black lashes lowering as he frowned down at her. ‘Only because I couldn’t sleep in the same bed and hope to keep my hands off you.’
‘That doesn’t make sense—’
‘Doesn’t it? The most embarrassing time of my life,’ Alessio confided with a rueful twist of his eloquent mouth, ‘has to be the day my father cornered me to say that he sincerely hoped that I wasn’t still making sexual demands on my wife because pregnant women didn’t find lovemaking comfortable after the first couple of months.’
Daisy’s jaw dropped.
‘I was seriously embarrassed,’ Alessio admitted with a grim half-smile of remembrance. ‘And I wanted to ask you whether I had been hurting you but I couldn’t quite work up the courage. My demands in that department had, after all, been pretty voracious—’
‘I thought you didn’t want me any more,’ Daisy interrupted, in a complete daze. ‘You never hurt me.’
She shook her head in an urgent negative, her shining silver-blonde hair flying round her flushed cheekbones, her violet eyes welded to his.
‘That was why I felt so guilty when you lost the baby,’ Alessio confessed harshly. ‘I thought that all those passionate encounters might have contributed to that—’
‘No!’ Daisy protested in a pained whisper, her gaze soft with distress as she drew instinctively closer to him and smoothed her fingers down his arm in a comforting motion. ‘That was just something that happened. The doctor had assured me that there was no reason why we shouldn’t be making love—’
‘How the hell could you have believed that I didn’t want you any more?’ Alessio broke in with a blatant lack of understanding.
‘That’s how it seemed. You never touched me again,’ she muttered uncomfortably.
‘Daisy, I couldn’t trust myself to touch you! I didn’t have any self-control around you and I was very frustrated,’ he breathed feelingly. ‘Celibacy felt like another punishment. I was a selfish little jerk.’
‘No, you weren’t,’ Daisy said shakily, devastated by what he had told her but undeniably touched too. Her heart skipped a beat as her eyes connected with his vibrant golden gaze. A tiny muscle somewhere deep down inside her pulled tight and her lower limbs turned weak as insidious heat curled in the pit of her stomach. ‘But you didn’t have to be so extreme...’ She swallowed and the tip of her tongue stole out to moisten her full lower lip. ‘We could have done—’
‘Other things to ease my raging libido?’ Alessio slotted in huskily as he reached out and folded both arms round her to ease her up against him, his burnished gaze nailed with magnetic attention to the voluptuous curve of her pink mouth. ‘Having made my magnificent gesture of self-sacrifice, I was in full martyr mode, and I was far too proud to come back and ask for favours.’