Salvatore stood. He paced forward and reached out both arms in the dramatic way he used when he wanted to drive home a victory.
Raffa swallowed his distaste.
‘Well, that’s different. That’s entirely different. Do you promise, Raffa? That Argento will be mine?’
‘I’m dealing with one thing at a time,’ he said, with Coral’s words echoing in his ears. ‘First the DNA sample. Then I want you to come to say hello. Coral is expecting us and I really want this to go well, Salvatore. There’s a hell of a lot riding on it.’
I COULD GET used to this, thought Coral, reclining in a chair as one maid worked on her hair while the other painted her toes. As they chatted happily in Greek, she heard more staff arriving, trundling rails of clothes into the dressing room to be unpacked.
The whole island was clearly delighted that Raffaele was back for a few days. He rarely came at this time of year, and it was a pleasure for them to see him. Of the whole family, he was clearly everyone’s favourite.
Tell me something I don’t know, she thought. This whole thing would be so much easier if he wasn’t.
She opened her eyes and stared back at the woman in the mirror. Despite what she’d told Raffa she’d barely slept, tossing and turning all night, her mind still rammed with a thousand thoughts. Wondering if he would come to her…wondering what she would do if he did.
Her resolve not to be his temporary sex toy was now rendered completely moot. Their marriage would be consummated—of that there was no doubt. And she’d be a liar if she said she wasn’t looking forward to that aspect of their union .
But what else about their marriage would be normal?
In the darkest hours, waves of self-pity had almost engulfed her. Here she was on her father’s island—but not because he had ever wanted her here. Her father had never wanted her at all. It was as if she had gatecrashed his private world, despite all his efforts to keep her out.
And she was marrying the man almost every woman in publishing fantasised over. Why? Not because he loved her, but because she had trapped him. She had got herself pregnant and, because he was who he was, he’d stepped up and done ‘the right thing’. Those were the words she could hear echoing round the publishing world.
Made a name for herself? She sure had.
But she had made her decision. Raffa had been right all along. It really didn’t matter what anyone else thought. What mattered was securing her child’s future. Raffa wanted marriage. And, try as she might, there was not a single fibre of her being that could deny that she wanted it too.
As she’d lain back in bed, staring at the ceiling, she’d allowed herself to imagine flashes of the days ahead. It was like dipping a spoon in honey, twirling it round and letting it drizzle down her throat, savouring its sweetness.
But she was a realist. That delicious future could disappear as quickly as it had come. There were no guarantees—no absolutes. So she would not sit back and let this all be on Raffa’s terms. She would swallow her self-pity and find every single opportunity to gain her own independence.
Claiming her share of the Di Visconti inheritance was something she’d never have been able to do for herself. Her pride wouldn’t have let her. But claiming her son’s share? She’d fight tooth and nail to get that.
Yes, she’d make a name for herself, all right.
The maids moved around her, still giggling and chatting away. Her left hand was lifted to begin a massage, and they all stared down at the elegant yellow diamond. They sighed theatrically and smiled, and she sighed theatrically and played along with their little game.
She’d promised herself that she wouldn’t torment herself with wondering what a real proposal would be like. After sticking that dagger in her own heart and twisting it around a few times she had consigned it to the ‘Don’t go there’ list for evermore.
She closed her eyes and let the maids finish their pampering while she got her head around the next thing on her agenda. What a morning it had been so far—and it wasn’t even ten a.m.
She’d cut Mariella off at the pass by phoning her at seven with the news. Making her the first to know and involving her in some of the planning was a shortcut to gaining her loyalty, but Salvatore wasn’t going to be quite so easy to win over. He’d already made it plain that any half-sister was one too many.
Well, too bad. Nobody could change the past. All they could do was make the best out of the future. And, since they were going to be working together, she was going to give this meeting her best shot.
No matter how it went, she’d already arranged for a legal team to look after her affairs.