Bianca studied her in contemptuous disbelief. ‘You can’t be serious! You can’t want to be here when Alessio gets back. How could you want to humiliate yourself to that extent? If I caught my husband in the act of an adulterous tryst with another woman, believe me, I wouldn’t be sitting humbly waiting for him to come home again!’
Daisy was rigid, her pallor pronounced. ‘But then what I do... and indeed what Alessio does... is none of your business, Bianca. You’re his sister, not his keeper.’
‘Alessio and I are very close!’ Bianca shot back at her in angry resentment. ‘And I want you out of his life for good!’
Daisy uttered a strangled laugh. ‘The same way you wanted rid of me the last time? You lied about Sophia Corsini and I swallowed your every lie whole,’ she condemned, bitter resentment flooding through her. ‘He never even went out with the wretched girl!’
Bianca flushed and then her jawline hardened, her mouth thinning as she made a recovery. ‘Where on earth did you get the idea that I lied about Sophia? Alessio may be my brother but even I have never tried to pretend that he’s the faithful type—’
‘I’m sick of listening to your poison,’ Daisy interrupted fiercely.
‘You just haven’t got the courage to face the truth. If you had any pride at all, you would be getting out before Alessio makes an even bigger fool of you! He doesn’t want you; he never wanted you!’ Bianca asserted in furious frustration. ‘All he ever wanted was his daughter! How can you try to cling to him even after I’ve given you the proof that he’s still involved with Nina!’
Without warning the door was thrust back noisily on its hinges.
Both Daisy and Bianca jumped, their heads spinning in unison. Alessio stood on the threshold, diamond-hard eyes blazing with outrage, his golden skin pale with anger.
‘Nina is waiting for you at her apartment, Bianca,’ Alessio breathed with chilling bite. ‘She’s most unhappy with the dramatic role you have assigned to her. She doesn’t appreciate being used as a weapon—’
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about!’ Bianca broke in, a mottled flush overlying her tautened cheeks.
‘Spurred on by you, Nina had no objection to causing a little minor mischief, but she draws the line at setting out to destroy my marriage. She’s already ashamed of the lies you instructed her to tell yesterday. You misjudged your partner, Bianca.’ Alessio’s grim gaze rested on his sister in harsh condemnation, his nostrils flaring with distaste. ‘She thinks your malicious games have got dangerously out of control... and, believe me, she’s not the only one!’
Every scrap of colour had now drained from Bianca’s complexion. She stared at her brother in mingled shock and embarrassment. ‘Alessio, you don’t understand,’ she began shakily. ‘I was only thinking of your happiness.’
Alessio crossed the floor, closed a determined hand round his twin’s elbow and practically dragged her out of the room with him.
Daisy’s knees wouldn’t hold her up any longer. She sagged down like a broken doll onto the nearest seat. From the hall, staccato Italian broke from Alessio, scorching anger powering every syllable, Bianca’s responses running from defensive to pleading to—finally—tearful. Throughout, Daisy’s temples pounded with tension. She couldn’t yet think straight but she could not miss hearing the resounding slam of the front door as Alessio saw his sister off the premises.
‘You’re soaking wet, piccola mia...’ Alessio gritted, crouching down until he was on a level with her, his vibrantly handsome features still dark and taut with fury, although there was a curious tenderness that bewildered her in the golden eyes that rested on her strained face. ‘You need to get out of those clothes before you catch pneumonia.’
Stiff as a little clockwork soldier, Daisy cloaked her gaze in self-defence. Springing upright, Alessio swooped down on her again and swept her up into his arms without another word. A startled gasp burst from Daisy. She was not in the mood to be soothed like a distressed child.
‘Nina wants to apologise to you but I told her that this wasn’t the right time.’