His Final Bargain(8)

By: Melanie Milburne

Bringing Eliza back into his life to help with Alessandra would be a way of putting things in order once and for all. Revenge was an ugly word. He didn’t want to think along those lines. This was more of a way of drawing a line under that part of his life.

This time he would be in the driving seat. Once the month was up she could pack her bags and leave. It was a business arrangement, just like any other.

No feelings were involved.

Eliza handed him back his pen. ‘I can’t start until school finishes at the end of the week.’

Leo pocketed the pen, trying to ignore the warmth it had taken from her fingers. Trying to ignore the hot wave of lust that rumbled beneath his skin like a wild beast waking up after a long hibernation.

He had to ignore it.

He would ignore it.

‘I understand that,’ he said. ‘I will send a car to take you to the airport on Friday. The flight has already been booked.’

Her blue-green eyes widened in surprise or affront, he couldn’t be quite sure which. ‘You’re very certain of yourself, aren’t you?’

‘I’m used to getting what I want. I don’t allow minor obstacles to get in my way.’

Her chin came up a notch and her eyes took on a glittering, challenging sheen. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever been described as a “minor obstacle” before. What if I turn out to be a much bigger challenge than you bargained for?’

Leo had already factored in the danger element. It was dangerous to have her back in his life. He knew that. But in a perverse sort of way he wanted that. He was sick of his pallid life. She represented all that he had lost—the colour, the vibrancy and the passion.

The energy.

He could feel it now, zinging along his veins like an electric pulse. She did that to him. She made him feel alive again. She had done that to him four years ago. He was aware of her in a way he had never felt with any other woman. She spoke to him on a visceral level. He felt the communication in his flesh, in every pore of his skin. He could feel it now, how his body stood to attention when she was near: the blood pulsing through his veins, the urgent need already thickening beneath his clothes.

Did she feel the same need too?

She was acting all cool and composed on the surface, but now and again he caught her tugging at her lower lip with her teeth and her gaze would fall away from his. Was she remembering how wanton she had been in his arms? How he had made her scream and thrash about as she came time and time again? His flesh tingled at the memory of her hot little body clutching at him so tightly. He had felt every rippling contraction of her orgasms. Was that how she responded to her fiancé? His gut roiled at the thought of her with that nameless, faceless man she had chosen over him. ‘I think it’s pretty safe to say I can handle whatever you dish up,’ he said. ‘I’m used to women like you. I know the games you like to play.’

The defiant gleam in her eyes made them seem more green than blue. ‘If you find my company so distasteful then why are you employing me to look after your daughter?’

‘You have a good reputation with handling small children,’ Leo said. ‘I was sitting in an airport gate lounge about a year ago when I happened to read an article in one of the papers about the work you do with unprivileged children. You were given an award for teaching excellence. I recognised your name. I thought there couldn’t be two Eliza Lincolns working as primary school teachers in London. I assumed—quite rightly as it turns out—that it was you.’

Her look was more guarded now than defiant. ‘I still don’t understand why you want me to work for you, especially considering how things ended between us.’

‘Alessandra’s usual nanny has a family emergency to attend to,’ he said. ‘It’s left me in a bit of a fix. I only need someone for the summer break. Kathleen will return at the end of August. You’ll be back well in time for the resumption of school.’

‘That still doesn’t answer my question as to why me.’

Leo had only recently come to realise he was never going to be satisfied until he had drawn a line under his relationship with her. She’d had all the power the last time. This time he would take control and he would not relinquish it until he was satisfied that he could live the rest of his life without flinching whenever he thought of her. He didn’t want another disastrous relationship—like the one he’d had with Giulia—because of the baggage he was carrying around. He wanted his life in order and the only way to do that was to deal with the past and put it to rest—permanently. ‘At least I know what I’m getting with you,’ he said. ‘There will be no nasty surprises, sì?’