‘Tara...your miracle ticket back into the family circle!’ Bianca vented a scornful laugh. ‘But I wouldn’t get too comfortable if I were you. Alessio may have married you to get custody of his daughter but I don’t think he’s planning to hang on to both of you—’
‘What are you trying to say?’ Daisy cut in tautly, fighting to get a grip on her wits again.
‘So you still need everything spelt out in words of one syllable.’ Bianca shot her a look of pitying superiority. ‘Alessio will keep Tara and ditch you. And why not? The way he sees it, you did the same thing to him!’
‘Why do you still hate me so much?’ Daisy whispered in a shaken undertone, appalled by the brunette’s continuing malice. ‘And what on earth are you doing here?’
‘You loused up my brother’s life once and now you’re trying to do it again. Twins stick together,’ Bianca told her succinctly. ‘As to what I’m doing here at the villa... business, strictly business, although I do feel that I ought to apologise for inadvertently reuniting Alessio with Nina. You’re such a passionately jealous little soul, and what hope have you got against a girl that age?’
Daisy turned bone-white. ‘You bitch,’ she mumbled strickenly.
‘Madre di Dio, what the devil is going on here?’ Alessio’s whiplike intervention cut across the room like an icy wind on a hot summer day.
Sharply disconcerted, Daisy whirled round, cannoned into an occasional table and sent an exquisite vase of flowers smashing down onto the marble hearth of the fireplace. Glass flew everywhere. ‘Oh, hell!’ she gasped, and automatically dropped down, intending to gather up the shattered shards of crystal.
Bianca released her breath in a long-suffering hiss. ‘I’m afraid that your wife is not prepared to let bygones be bygones, Alessio. I tried...now you can’t say I didn’t try...but you heard what she called me, didn’t you?’
‘Daisy, leave that glass alone!’ Dark eyes blazing, the cast of his strong features implacable, Alessio followed up the scorching command by striding over and hauling Daisy upright. ‘Right now we can do without a bloodspattered bride playing a starring role here.’
‘It must be a frightful embarrassment to be so clumsy,’ Bianca commented drily.
As her teeth sank into the soft underside of her lower lip and absolutely brutalised the tender flesh, Daisy tasted the sharp, acrid tang of blood in her mouth. Bianca had heard Alessio’s approach; she realised, and all Alessio had heard was Daisy insulting his sister.
‘I’m sorry Daisy has been so rude,’ Alessio drawled with gritty delivery, one powerful hand anchored to his wife’s slight shoulder like an imprisoning chain, long brown fingers exerting meaningful pressure. ‘But I’m sure that she wants to apologise for losing her temper.’
Daisy went rigid and remained mute, outraged to be dragged forward like a misbehaving child and ordered to eat humble pie. Frustration and fury lanced through her, for she was painfully aware that anything she said now in her own defence would not be convincing.
‘Don’t worry about it,’ Bianca sighed with a forgiving smile.
Daisy surveyed the brunette with barely concealed loathing, every nerve in her body still jangling from what she had both witnessed and withstood in the space of ten nightmare minutes.
‘Under the circumstances...’ Alessio hesitated, and then shrugged a fatalistic shoulder. ‘You can use the grounds for your fashion shoot. I appreciate that it would be difficult to find another venue at such short notice—’
‘I knew Nina would change your mind!’ Bianca carolled in a nauseating tone of girlish relief.
Daisy’s teeth ground together.
‘We only need a few hours and the crew are already here,’ Bianca continued sweetly and apologetically. ‘I know it’s very inconvenient timing but I never dreamt that you and Daisy might be coming to this old place for your honeymoon!’
In a sudden movement that took Alessio by surprise, Daisy tore herself free of his restraining hand and stalked out of the room.
‘Dio...’ Bianca groaned in her wake. ‘If I’d known it was likely to cause this much trouble for you, I’d never have asked!’