His understanding touched something deep inside Daisy. She met his golden gaze and her heart skipped a beat, her pulses pounding. Concentration became impossible. They didn’t talk much on the drive back. Having narrowly missed a ticket for speeding, Alessio shot the Ferrari through the gates of the villa with a groan of relief.
‘Do you remember what we did to recover from your very first meeting with my family?’ he murmured thickly.
Daisy went hot all over and blushed. It had taken too many glasses of wine to carry her through that long-ago meal with the coldly disapproving Leopardis. Alessio had carried her up the stairs, laughingly asserting that he couldn’t take her home until she had sobered up, and... she had tried to take his jeans off with her teeth.
‘I’m still waiting for you to do that again.’
‘You didn’t wait then,’ Daisy muttered, alarmingly short of breath.
‘Practice makes perfect,’ Alessio breathed in a husky, sensual growl.
They were crossing the hall in a direct line to the stairs when a maid appeared. ‘There is a Signor Barry Stevens on the phone, signora,’ she recited breathlessly.
‘B-Barry?’ Daisy stammered in surprise.
‘How the hell did he get this number?’ Alessio launched down at her accusingly.
‘I don’t know!’
His hard mouth twisted, his brilliant eyes suddenly icy cold. ‘Obviously you’ve been in contact with him since we arrived.’
Daisy swept up the phone in the library. ‘Who gave you this number?’ she hissed down the line without any preliminaries.
‘It was waiting for me when I got back to the office yesterday. I understand that you wanted me to call!’
‘No,’ Daisy groaned.
‘So you don’t have any news for me?’ he pressed thinly. ‘Then who left that flipping message telling me to contact you?’
‘I’m afraid it must have been someone’s idea of a joke. Barry...please don’t call here again,’ Daisy sighed wearily.
Alessio was still standing in the hall, his dark, strong face impassive and set like granite.
Daisy snatched in a deep breath. ‘Alessio... either Bianca or Nina must be responsible for giving Barry this number because I have not been in touch with him—’
‘Why the hell would either of them want to do something like that?’
‘Both of them seem equally keen to cause trouble between us,’ Daisy stated doggedly, her chin coming up in response to his blatant incredulity.
‘I’m not into crazy conspiracy theories, Daisy. If your toy boy is missing you, find someone else to blame. But don’t insult my intelligence by trying to drag my sister or Nina into the mess you’ve left in your wake!’
The acrid sting of tears struck Daisy’s strained eyes. ‘You said...you said that I could try trusting you...when are you going to try trusting me? she prompted painfully.
Alessio dealt her a look of bleak contempt and strode out of the house.
Daisy folded her arms in a jerky motion and then her patience snapped. What a moody, volatile swine Alessio could still be! No matter what he said, he was still as suspicious as hell of her every move.
Desperately keen to look as if she had barely noticed his absence, Daisy was floating on a Lilo in the swimming pool when Alessio put in a reappearance. Since it had taken so much effort to get onto the Lilo, she didn’t twitch a muscle behind her sunglasses and maintained an attitude of sun-worshipping relaxation and cool.
‘If you’ve got into that water without learning how to swim, I’ll kill you!’ Alessio spelt out in a raw opening salvo.
Daisy looked smug. ‘I can swim... I can even lifesave.’
‘Since I found an instructor who didn’t think dropping me in the deep end and telling me I would float would miraculously do the trick.’
‘Come out,’ Alessio ordered.
‘Why should I?’ Daisy retorted, sitting up suddenly and without due care and attention. The Lilo lurched and she made a frantic attempt to correct her balance but still ended up being tipped into the water with a gigantic splash.
‘Stop it...let go!’ she spluttered when she found herself being towed back to the side, incredulous that Alessio had dived into the water in a quite ludicrous rescue bid fully clothed. ‘I told you that I could swim!’