Page 57 of Second Time Bride


IN DAISY’S dream, the most perfect baby in the world lay before her, unclaimed. She was in the very act of eagerly reaching out to take possession when a pair of cruel, unfeeling hands got there first. ‘I said no.’ Alessio’s voice intervened in icy disapproval and the seductive vision of sweet-smelling, lovable baby vanished.

Daisy woke up with tears trapped in her throat. A maid was pulling back the curtains. She was in bed but she was alone. She had a hazy recollection of briefly, blissfully snuggling into masculine arms and of the moan of distress which had escaped her when she had been released all too quickly into the cool embrace of a sheet. Her cheeks reddened fiercely. How long would it be before Alessio appreciated that she ran in the wrong direction only because she couldn’t trust herself too close? Or did he already appreciate that?

As for that stupid dream, she thought painfully, she hadn’t realised just how much she would love another baby until Alessio had announced that there wasn’t going to be one. She had experienced a deep sense of rejection. Her distrust and insecurity had taken over again. One unpleasant fact stared her in the face. If there was any truth in the suggestion that Alessio might be looking on their marriage as only a temporary expedient, a second child would definitely be on the forbidden list.

Even so, within twenty-four hours of remarriage, Alessio had still turned her every conviction inside out. Yesterday she had hidden behind her pride but last night she had made a first nervous step towards lowering her defences when she had told him about that Swiss bank account. She had to be honest with herself at least. She loved the rat. She desperately wanted to be convinced that their marriage was real and that it did have a future.

As her steps sounded on the stairs some twenty minutes later, Alessio strolled out of the drawing room. A shaft of sunlight glittered across his luxuriant black hair; burnished his eyes and threw into prominence his hard, classic cheekbones and beautiful mouth. Intense sexual awareness literally froze Daisy in her tracks. She couldn’t take her eyes off him. She could barely breathe. Her heart pounded in her eardrums, the blades of unquenched desire scissoring cruelly through her taut length, filling her with embarrassing heat as every pulse raced.

Alessio threw back his head, hooded knowing eyes resting on her with a flicker of lazy amusement. ‘I knew you would sleep late. You had an extremely restless night.’

Her face flamed.

‘We’re going out for lunch,’ he drawled.

A Ferrari was parked on the gravel outside. There was something oddly, disturbingly familiar about the vehicle but Daisy wasn’t capable of making a connection at that moment. She climbed in on shaking legs, scarcely conscious of what she was doing. A hunger that had no limit had possessed her, shattering her with its greedy intensity. She lifted a trembling hand to push back her hair, overtly conscious of the aching fullness of her breasts and the painful tautness of her nipples.

Soon after, in the thundering silence, Alessio brought the powerful car to a slow halt in a lay-by screened from the road by a thick line of trees. There was something even more awesomely familiar about that view beyond the windscreen. But still its significance escaped Daisy; it merely confused her more. With a seemingly casual hand Alessio reached out and released her seat belt. ‘You deserve to be in agony,’ he murmured softly. ‘You’re a stubborn little witch. You could try trusting me...’

‘Trusting you?’ Daisy was way beyond reasoning.

‘If I can forgive you for Tara, you can forgive me for being too bloody proud to follow you over to London.’

Her breath caught in her throat, her eyes widening. In a handful of words Alessio had plunged right to the heart of the divisions between them, found them equal and dismissed them, almost...almost as if he had already worked out that her distrust stemmed from the tremendous pain she had endured when they had separated.

Alessio leant over her, smouldering eyes holding her entrapped. ‘And this...this now—this is where we begin again. You, me, nothing else.’

Like a programmed doll, Daisy raised a jerky hand and slowly ran a helplessly caressing fingertip along the sensual curve of his firm mouth. ‘I loved you so much,’ she whispered, remembered distress fracturing her soft voice.