Trophy Husband(9)

By: Lynne Graham


'I've made an ass of myself,' she whispered with stinging bitterness.

'You haven't made an ass of yourself,' Alex breathed with raw emphasis. 'You've had a rough day. That's all.'

She quivered, a turmoil of emotion sweeping over her. She wanted Brian's arms round her so badly that she thought she would break apart. But Brian would never put his arms round her again. That was finished, dead, destroyed. More pain than she would have believed possible was suddenly coming at her from all sides. Her hands knotted together.

'You really love that bastard,' Alex murmured flatly.

She covered her cold face with spread fingers, as if she could somehow hold in what she was feeling. She fought to get a grip on herself again.

A pair of determined hands drew her forward and balanced her. With enormous effort, she managed to slide her arms obediently into the jacket which Alex extended.

'What was the crack about the two million?'

Sara's slender length tensed as she shakily tugged her hair out from beneath the collar of her jacket and shook it back out of her way.

'You have the most beautiful hair. I always wanted to see it loose.' Alex's dark eyes rested on the silky black torrent tumbling down to her waist. 'Don't ever get it cut.'

She slowly lifted her head, bewildered green eyes colliding with smouldering gold. It was electrifying. Stunned, she kept on looking at him. 'Marco said... Marco said you'd pay two million pounds for one night with me...'

Alex tautened, dark colour accentuating his hard cheekbones. 'You are even more drunk than I thought you were.'

Her glazed eyes fell from his. 'I've put my foot in my mouth—'

'I intend to put my fist in Marco's.'

'I was only joking.'

Alex pressed her towards the door. 'He wasn't...'

'H-honestly?' she stammered in disbelief.

'You think I'd be here if it wasn't true?'

He guided her out through the buzzing reception area. Her blitzed brain was endeavouring to absorb what he had confirmed. AlexRossini wanted her. He found her desirable. What would have threatened and appalled her a mere twelve hours earlier now, for some reason, fascinated her. 'You were so kind this afternoon—'

'And I wouldn't be kind without a hidden agenda?'

'No,' she said without even thinking about it.

A chauffeur was standing by the door of a silver limousine. Sara climbed in, slid along the richly upholstered leather seat. Her luxurious surroundings made no impression on her at all. Don't think about Brian, don't think about Brian, she urged herself feverishly. 'Why didn't you...? I mean, you never showed—'

'Sara, I'm not a lovesick teenager. I find you physically very attractive. That is chemistry.'

'Sex.'

'Sex,' Alex agreed drily.

Was that the way Brian wanted Antonia? Did it matter whether it was love or infatuation or simply lust which had motivated him? Would love hurt any more than the way she was already feeling? Had it only been guilt which had made him chase out of the flat in her wake? Stop it...stop it a little voice shrieked inside her. It's over, Sara. Accept it. Alex was right. You could never trust Brian again.

'You think I'm very naive,' Sara muttered, closing out the seething turmoil threatening her again.

'No. I don't think this is the time for this conversation.'

'I don't believe in love any more.' For hadn't Brian done all the right things? Romantic cards, constant phone calls. Last night he had been with her, holding hands, smiling.. .the consummate actor, and she had been the blind fool, for she had noticed nothing different.

'How would you like to sink into an alcoholic stupor and have a nice long sleep?' Alex enquired with unconcealed hope.

'Very, very much,' she whispered painfully.

The silence pulsed with undertones that she didn't understand.

'I really didn't know your feelings went this deep.' A grim laugh splintered from him.

She didn't show her feelings. She had learnt that young. But today she had been brutally wrenched out of her protective shell. 'How could you know?'

'I thought you were more in love with the bridal trappings ... not to mention the wallpaper books, fabric swatches and paint-cards,' Alex enumerated with sardonic bite.

'I wanted a home that was really mine. Easy to mock what you've always had, Alex.' Sara shot him a look of angry intensity that challenged him and then tore her gaze away again, but he stayed etched in her mind's eye. The gleaming black hair, the slashing brows, the hard, arrogant slant of his mouth and nose. Hard—that was the definitive word. He might be possessed of a quite intoxicating masculine beauty but the raw stamp of power and fierce force of will overlaid those spectacular dark good looks like bonded steel.

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