Molly blinked, watching him curve a hand round the balcony’s ornate ironwork balustrade until his knuckles showed white with tension below his brown skin. He had beautifully shaped hands with long, elegant fingers. The steady beat of music and the pound of feet on the dance floor travelled out from the wedding party inside the house. Her attention roved up to his strong jaw line, straight classic nose and stunning profile. She wasn’t surprised that she couldn’t take her eyes off him: he had the sleek, dark, sinful beauty of a fallen angel. But what had she been playing at? Letting one of the guests kiss her when she was supposed to be working? Was she crazy? Her job was all that stood between her and unemployment. She had been there once and didn’t want to undergo that humiliation and stress again.
‘It shouldn’t have happened and normally it wouldn’t have,’ Leandro breathed, finally opting to acknowledge the strange restless mood that had afflicted him for the past week.
Molly recalled the fact that he had virtually pushed her away and a shamed flush swept across her face as high as her hairline. No, that embrace shouldn’t have happened and it said nothing in her favour that he had been the first of them to register that truth and act on it. Where had her wits been? But she still felt hot and shivery and awesomely aware of him. The lure of the excitement he had generated was potent and her body was cooling into a state of taut disappointment. The hot colour in her cheeks refused to disperse.
‘I’m not quite myself. Perhaps I’ve had too much to drink. What other explanation could there be for my behaviour?’ Leandro demanded with chilling cool, noting the way her complexion had coloured and wondering what age she was, for at that moment she looked very young to him. ‘Dios mio! You are the waitress.’
In receipt of that blunt rejection of who and what she was, Molly turned very pale. She was a person, an individual, another human being before she was a waitress, she thought painfully. ‘I should have realised that you’d be an out-and-out snob. Don’t worry. You don’t need to make excuses. I’m not naïve enough to think a kiss meant there was a relationship in the offing and you’re not my type anyway!’
In a series of brisk, no-nonsense movements, Molly cleared the tray on the table and headed back indoors.
‘You’re gorgeous, querida,’ Leandro heard himself murmur huskily. ‘I didn’t need any other excuse.’
Her colour fluctuated at that unexpected compliment as she walked away. Gorgeous? Since when had she been gorgeous? She had been called pretty once or twice when she was all done up, but there was no truth whatsoever in the label he had just given her. She was five feet one inch and she had a mane of black curls that was often impossible to control. Her skin was good and she considered herself lucky in that she could pretty much eat what she liked without gaining weight. Those were her only advantages in her own estimation.
‘Were you outside with Mr Carrera Marquez?’ the bride’s mother demanded angrily, planting herself combatively in Molly’s path. ‘Why did you go out there to bother him?’
‘I wasn’t bothering him. I needed to thank him for intervening with those men on my behalf and I took him some food.’ Molly lifted her chin at a defiant angle.
The tall blonde woman stared down at her with angry superiority. ‘I’ve already told your manager that I won’t have you working in my home again. You’ve got the wrong attitude,’ she censured curtly. ‘You had no business making a personal approach to one of our guests and spoiling my daughter’s wedding.’
That unjust rebuke made Molly’s eyes prickle with angry tears and she had to bite back a sharp retaliation. She had done nothing wrong. She had been insulted verbally and physically, but nobody was about to say sorry to a mere waitress. She went back into the kitchen where Brian suggested she start helping the chef to clean up. She worked steadily and fast. The evening wore on until the chatter of the guests slowly died down along with the music and people left to go home.
‘Do another check out there for glasses,’ Brian instructed.
Molly took out a tray and the first person she saw was the Spanish banker, leaning up against a wall at an elegant angle and talking into his mobile phone. He was ordering a taxi. She refused even to look in his direction as she hurried through to the next room to pick up a collection of abandoned glasses. The whole time she was within view, Leandro watched her small figure like a hawk.
She had said he wasn’t her type but he was convinced that that had been pure bravado. Yet she was definitely not the sort of woman he had gone for in the past. Tall, elegant blondes like Aloise had always been Leandro’s style. But Molly got to him on a much more basic plane. The sensual sway of her curvaceous hips would have attracted any red-blooded male’s attention, Leandro told himself grimly. The wild mop of black curls anchored on top of her small head, the huge green eyes and the gloriously full inviting mouth were drop-dead sexy attributes before he even glanced below her chin. Just looking at her, he got hot and hard. Remembering the soft allure of her mouth opening for him and the eagerness of her response did nothing to improve his condition. He needed a cold shower. He needed a woman, he acknowledged, his wide mouth compressing into a line, for he was furious that he could have so little control over his own body.