His Final Bargain(9)

By: Melanie Milburne


She arched a neatly groomed eyebrow. ‘The devil you know?’

‘Indeed.’

She hugged her arms around her body once more, her eyes moving out of the range of his. ‘What are the arrangements as to my accommodation?’

‘You will stay with us at my villa in Positano. I have a couple of developments I’m working on which may involve a trip abroad, either back here to London or Paris.’

Her gaze flicked back to his. ‘Where is your daughter now? Is she here in London with you?’

Leo shook his head. ‘No, she’s with a fill-in girl from an agency. I’m keen to get back to make sure she’s all right. She gets anxious around people she doesn’t know.’ He handed her his business card. ‘Here are my contact details. I’ll send a driver to collect you from the airport in Naples. I’ll send half of the cash with an armoured guard in the next twenty-four hours. The rest I will deposit in your bank account if you give me your details.’

A little frown puckered her forehead. ‘I don’t think it’s a good idea to bring that amount of money here. I’d rather you gave it straight to the school’s bursar to deposit safely. I’ll give you his contact details.’

‘As you wish.’ He pushed his sleeve back to check his watch. ‘I have to go. I have one last meeting in the city before I fly back tonight. I’ll see you when you get to my villa on Friday.’

She followed him to the door. ‘What’s your daughter’s favourite colour?’

Leo’s hand froze on the doorknob. He slowly turned and looked at her with a frown pulling at his brow. ‘Why do you ask?’

‘I thought I’d make her a toy. I knit them for the kids at school. They appreciate it being made for them specially. I make them in their favourite colour. Would she like a puppy or a teddy or a rabbit, do you think?’

Leo thought of his little daughter in her nursery at home, surrounded by hundreds of toys of every shape and size and colour. ‘You choose.’ He blew out a breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding. ‘She’s not fussy.’

Eliza watched as he strode back down the pathway to his car. He didn’t look back at her before he drove off. It was as if he had dismissed her as soon as he walked out of her flat.

She looked at his business card in her hand. He had changed it since she had been with him four years ago. It was smoother, harder, more sophisticated.

Just like the man himself.

Why did he want her back in his life, even for a short time? It seemed a strange sort of request to ask an ex-lover to play nanny to his child by another woman. Was he doing it as an act of revenge? He couldn’t possibly know how deeply painful she would find it.

She hadn’t told him she loved him in the past. She had told him very little about herself. Their passionate time together had left little room for heart to heart outpourings. She had preferred it that way. The physicality of their relationship had been so different from anything else she had experienced before. Not that her experience was all that extensive given that she had been with Ewan since she was sixteen. She hadn’t known any different until Leo had opened up a sensual paradise to her. He had made her body hum and tingle for hours. He had been able to do it just by looking at her.

He could still do it.

She took an unsteady breath as she thought about that dark gaze holding hers so forcefully. Had he seen how much he still affected her? He hadn’t touched her. She had carefully avoided his fingers when he had handed her the paper and the pen and his card. But she had felt the warmth of where his fingers had been and her body had remembered every pulse-racing touch, as if he had flicked a switch to replay each and every erotic encounter in her brain. He had been a demanding lover, right from the word go, but then, so had she.

She had met him the evening of the day he had buried his father. He had been sitting in the bar of her hotel in Rome, taking an extraordinarily long time to drink a couple of fingers of whisky. She had been sitting in one of the leather chairs further back in the room, taking much less time working her way through a frightfully expensive cocktail she had ordered on impulse. She had felt in a reckless mood. It was her first night of freedom in so long. She was in a foreign country where no one knew who she was. That glimpse of freedom had been as heady and intoxicating as the drink she had bought. She had never in her life approached a man in a bar.

But that night was different.

Eliza had felt inexplicably drawn to him, like an iron filing being pulled into a powerful magnet’s range. He fascinated her. Why was he sitting alone? Why was he taking forever to have one drink? He didn’t look the type to be sitting by himself. He was far too good-looking for that. He was too well dressed. She wasn’t one for being able to pick designer-wear off pat, but she was pretty sure his dark suit hadn’t come off any department store rack in a marked down sale.