At the Brazilian's Command(8)

By: Susan Stephens

It was time enough for his groin to tighten. ‘You’re certain you’re all right now?’ He had to remind himself that his thoughts where Danny was concerned weren’t appropriate.

‘I will be when I get back to the party,’ she assured him, glancing at the door. ‘I’m keen to get everything back to normal for Lizzie as soon as I can. I’ll just leave this here, if that’s all right with you?’ She flashed him a glance as she put the cream down on the table. ‘I’ll put it on tonight, when there’s no one else around to smell it.’

He was unreasonably glad to discover she would be on her own tonight. ‘Shall we?’ he said, offering his arm.

‘Why not?’ she replied walking past him.

* * *

She walked ahead of Tiago, and all the way down the stairs she felt the heat of his stare on her back. The fact that they were both so aware of each other was exciting, but also dangerous, and she had no intention of allowing Tiago Santos to see just how much his presence rattled her, or that the sight of him close up was all it took to unnerve her.

No man could achieve his level of success by being an angel, though she supposed he couldn’t be held responsible for the way he looked—those eyes, that mouth, the way he stood, eased onto one hip, as if life were his to survey at his leisure.

She had lived in Brazil for quite some time while she was training at Chico’s ranch, and she had come to love the Brazilian people for their warmth and exuberance. Tiago had those same qualities in abundance, though she had to remind herself of the rumours that said he was a lone wolf and dangerous.

It was almost a relief to be enveloped in the noise and exuberance of the party downstairs, where she headed straight for the top table and Lizzie.

‘Wow—you look amazing,’ Lizzie exclaimed, standing up to greet her. ‘I’m glad I picked that dress—it really suits you. Are you okay now?’ Lizzie added in a quieter tone, and then she saw the bruises. ‘Oh, Danny! Your poor face!’

‘Is it an improvement?’ Danny touched her cheek gingerly.

‘Don’t joke about it. It isn’t funny,’ Lizzie insisted. ‘Pintos is a monster. Thank God he’s locked away.’

‘Let’s not speak about him again, okay?’ Danny put her arm around Lizzie’s shoulder. ‘I don’t want anything to spoil your wedding day.’

Lizzie ignored the warning. They were both too stubborn to be curbed so easily, Danny supposed.

‘I’m just so relieved that Tiago was there to save you,’ Lizzie exclaimed, glancing round to look for the man in question. ‘Maybe he’s not as bad as they say?’

‘He’s every bit as bad,’ Danny argued as she stared at Tiago, who was talking to the groom.

‘I can’t imagine how Pintos crashed the wedding,’ Lizzie went on with concern. ‘He certainly wasn’t on my guest list. Chico said he must have been playing polo somewhere in the British Isles and made that his excuse to come to Scotland to cause trouble for you. And the security people let us down. But there’ll be no more mistakes, and Pintos won’t do anything like that again.’ Lizzie’s face softened as she stared at Danny and shook her head. ‘I feel so guilty about this.’

‘Don’t,’ Danny said firmly. ‘Pintos is evil, and I’m glad we’re all rid of him.’

Lizzie smiled with relief. ‘Thank you for coming back to the party. That took a lot of courage, Danny. I was so worried about you.’

‘You don’t need to worry about me. I can look after myself.’

‘But we’ve always looked after each other in the past, haven’t we? And I wasn’t there for you this time.’

‘Lizzie,’ Danny said in a mock-stern voice. ‘This is your wedding day.’

‘And you don’t have to put on a front for me, Danny Cameron.’

‘I’m not putting on a front. I’m letting this go. I won’t allow Carlos Pintos to colour my life, or my thinking, or anything I do.’

‘And he won’t.’ Lizzie gave her a hug. ‘But I think there’s another man who would like to...’

‘Only because you’re staring at Tiago. He thinks we’re talking about him,’ Danny pointed out, tensing as Tiago started heading their way.

She shivered as his shadow fell over them, and then was instantly annoyed with herself for reacting at all.

Tiago made a gracious bow to the bride, and then said, ‘Excuse us, Lizzie. Shall we dance?’

Danny almost looked over her shoulder, to see who he was talking to. ‘Me?’