‘Apologise ... she wants to apologise?’ Daisy pressed in disbelief. ‘Alessio, if you don’t put. me down I’ll scream!’
In response to her challenge, Alessio merely tightened his arms round her as he started up the stairs. ‘Daisy...my relationship with Nina was never anything but casual. A prudent male thinks twice before he becomes intimately involved with the daughter of family friends.’ Thrusting back their bedroom door, he murmured grimly, ‘Nina’s ego was hurt when I married you and Bianca found her an easy target. But Nina, spoilt and self-centred as she is, has a conscience—’
‘I didn’t notice it yesterday when she was blowing kisses at you and spouting all that nonsense about Barry!’ Daisy retorted, tearing herself violently free of his hold as soon as he began to lower her to the bathroom carpet. ‘And I don’t know what kind of a story you’ve invented as a cover-up but it won’t wash because I wasn’t born yesterday! You were with Nina tonight!’
‘Bianca is staying with her. That’s why I went over there. I phoned before I left but when I arrived Bianca had gone,’ Alessio explained with an impatient frown, his brilliant eyes assessing Daisy’s now flushed and furious face. ‘When I confronted Nina, she was very upset—’
‘And only yesterday you told me that she was behaving so generously!’
At that tart reminder, faint colour accentuated the taut slant of Alessio’s hard cheekbones. ‘I was feeling uncomfortable because I dropped Nina the minute you came back into my life. Yesterday, I genuinely couldn’t see the wood for the trees, but I was furious with her tonight—’
‘Is that why you tucked her into your Ferrari with you?’ Daisy prompted in a tone of fierce accusation.
‘So that’s why you’re wet.’ Alessio surveyed her with dawning comprehension. ‘You followed me?’
Her cheeks burning but her chin angled high, Daisy told him about his sister’s phone call.
Alessio vented a sharp imprecation. ‘I was determined to find Bianca, and Nina thought she knew where she was. When we drew a blank, I dropped Nina straight back home again. If you saw us together, surely you noticed that she was crying?’
‘Sorry, I forgot my binoculars. Now go away I want a bath,’ Daisy announced brittly.
Alessio studied her, his golden eyes incredulous. ‘Dio...in the midst of all this?’
Daisy planted a determined hand on his chest, pressed him back and slammed the door in his face. But the instant she was alone she slumped, the anger she had forced to the fore in self-defence draining away. She had gone on the attack sooner than let Alessio see how pitifully fragile her self-control was.
So, Alessio had finally become suspicious and, setting out to confront his sister, had ended up dealing with Nina first. Intense relief washed over Daisy as she tasted the truth. Bianca had been telling a pack of lies and now that Alessio was aware of his twin’s venomous loathing for his wife Bianca would never be in a position to cause trouble again.
Shivering now with cold, she ripped off her sodden clothing and stepped into a shallow bath. But her sense of relief was short-lived. Misery invaded her afresh. Nothing had really changed between them, she thought wretchedly. Alessio might not be in love with Nina but he didn’t love her either. And he had reacted to the possibility of another baby in the same way that he might have reacted to a death threat. She couldn’t even cherish the hope that extending the family might help to bring them closer.
The door opened.
Daisy tensed, feeling hunted. ‘What?’ she demanded.
‘You have a count of three to vacate that bath,’ Alessio murmured dangerously softly. ‘One—’
‘I’m staying put!’
‘You’re turning into a domineering tyrant!’ Daisy screeched, nearly falling out of the bath in her haste to snatch up a towel.
She emerged from the bathroom with pronounced reluctance. Alessio was lounging back against the footboard of the bed. He rested diamond-bright eyes on her hotly flushed and mutinous face. ‘When you were with Bianca, you made a reference to a girl called Sophia...’