‘And you don’t want me to call you a dinosaur?’ Francesca hissed. ‘Look, please let me offload this trolley. Half the stuff you’re cramming on is trying to fall off the sides.’

‘Hence my argument for paying someone else to do the shopping for you.’

‘Yes. If you have more money than sense.’ And, of course, for most women, more money than sense in a man would be a very redeeming feature. He might be marrying Georgina because she fitted the bill, but how would he feel if perhaps she was marrying him because he fitted the bill?

‘Or not enough time on your hands to wage World War Three in pursuit of a few items of food.’

‘It’s not always like this.’ She grinned reluctantly at him. ‘If you come at weird hours it’s quite empty and you can fly around and get what you want without having to queue at the tills.’ Walking at a snail’s pace and insisting on looking at every jar and bottle didn’t help either when it came to speed. She realised that they had been shopping for well over an hour. Time was ticking past. There was a meal to cook. The chances of him being out of her house by nine were beginning to look remote.

She was aware of him chatting to her, nothing that would put her on the defensive. Once or twice, as she was filling the bags while he stood next to her, under orders to let her handle the packing, he referred to their past. Little droplets of memories that warmed her inside. The bread shop they would go to in Venice. The patisseries in Paris, where they had occasionally stayed in her apartment when it had been more convenient with their overlapping schedules.

He insisted on taking the bags into the house. ‘I’m more than competent when it comes to lifting heavy things,’ he informed her seriously. ‘Why don’t you go and stick the wine in the fridge and put on some of that modern English music a dinosaur like myself has not heard of?’

There was no point arguing. She stuck the wine in the fridge, wondered what she was doing, put on some R&B music, wondered a bit more what she was doing, and then there he was, piling bags on to the kitchen table and hunting in the cupboards for a couple of glasses for the wine.

And still talking to her, as though they were the friends they no longer were.

‘Let me help you,’ Angelo said, pouring them both a glass of wine.

‘What’s the good of that if the point is to see whether I’m capable of producing good food?’

Angelo stifled the urge to inform her that producing good food, or food of any kind, was not the point of the evening for him. He also stifled the urge to tell her that she looked as sexy as hell kitted out in a black and white checked apron, that he would be interested in seeing how the apron looked without anything worn under it.

‘I like the music,’ he said, dropping his eyes and swirling his wineglass gently around. ‘Sexy.’

The word dropped into the silence and rested there for a few moments. ‘Where’s Georgina this evening?’

‘Paris, I believe.’ Exhausting her rage through some retail therapy. Her mother would, no doubt, already have sympathised with her daughter that he was no good for her, a foreigner without any knowledge of how the British operated. The accusation had been one of the more choice ones from his ex-fiancée.

‘You believe? That’s a bit indifferent, Angelo. You should have asked her over here with you to sample my cooking.’

‘I prefer to savour the revelation on my own.’ He sipped some of his wine and caught her eyes over the rim of his glass.

The smoky intensity in his eyes went to her head like a bolt of lightning—a few heated seconds, plenty long enough for the sharply honed knife she had been wielding with such expertise to slice through skin.

With a little yelp, Francesca yanked her finger and dashed to the sink.

‘Let me see it!’ Angelo was next to her before she was even aware of him leaving the chair.

‘It’s nothing.’ She gave him a wobbly smile. ‘I don’t normally chop my finger to bits when I’m slicing onions.’

‘It’s pouring blood. Where is your first aid box?’

‘It’s not pouring blood. It’s…’ The remainder of her sentence was lost in sheer shock as he raised her finger to his mouth and sucked it.

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