Never Underestimate a Caffarelli(5)

By: Melanie Milburne

She rolled her lips together to moisten them, trying to ignore the annoying jackhammer beat of her heart. ‘I think it’s worth trying some of my methods. I’ve had some success with clients with similar injuries to yours.’

‘So, what are some of your methods?’ His top lip curled mockingly. ‘Waving incense around? Chanting mantras? Reading auras? Laying on of hands?’

Lily felt a little spurt of anger shoot through her blood. She was used to people rubbishing her holistic approach but somehow his sarcastic tone got under her skin. But he would be laughing on the other side of his face if she got him back on his feet. The challenge to do so was suddenly rather more attractive than it had been before. ‘I use a combination of traditional therapies and some complementary ones. It depends.’

‘On what?’

‘On the client. I take into consideration their diet and lifestyle, their sleeping habits, their mental state and—’

‘Let me guess—you read their tarot cards or give them a zodiac reading.’

Lily pursed her mouth to stop herself from issuing a stinging riposte. He was quite possibly the rudest man she’d ever met. Arrogant, too, but she supposed that came from his privileged background. He was a spoilt, over-indulged playboy who had been handed everything on a silver platter. His surly, ‘poor me’ attitude was just typical of someone who’d never had to work for anything in his life. He had it so good compared to some of her clients. At least he had the money to set himself up. He had people to wait on him, to take care of him. He had a family who refused to give up on him. Didn’t he realise that while he was in his luxury château feeling sorry for himself, there were people out in the world who were homeless or starving with no one to care what happened to them from one day to the next?

‘I’m a Taurus, in case you’re wondering,’ he said.

She gave him an arch look. ‘That explains the bull-headedness.’

‘I can be very stubborn.’ He gave her another measuring look. ‘But I suspect you can, too.’

‘I like to call it persistence,’ Lily said. ‘I don’t believe in giving up on something until I’ve put in a decent effort.’

He drummed the fingers of his left hand on the armrest of his wheelchair, an almost absentminded movement that seemed overly loud in the silence.

Lily felt the slow, assessing sweep of his gaze again. Was he comparing her to all the women he had dated? If so, he would find her sadly lacking. She didn’t dress to impress. She didn’t wear make-up as a rule and she wore plain Jane clothes that hid her figure and her past.

‘I’m not sure what to do with you.’ He glared at her darkly. ‘It’s not like I can physically throw you out.’

Lily sent him a warning in her gaze. ‘I can assure you, Monsieur Caffarelli, I would put up a spectacular fight if you laid even a single finger on me.’

One of his brows went up in an arc. ‘Well, well, well; the seemingly demure Miss Archer has a sting in her tail. Scorpio?’

She ground her teeth. ‘Virgo.’

‘Detailed. Nit-picking. Pedantic.’

‘I prefer to think of it as thorough.’

A ghost of a smile tilted the edge of his mouth. It totally transformed his features and Lily had to remind herself to breathe.

But the half smile was gone almost as soon as it had appeared. His expression darkened again and his gaze singed hers. ‘I’ve had weeks of physical therapy, Miss Archer, and none of it has worked, as you can see. I can’t see how you could succeed where others more qualified than you have failed.’

‘It’s still early days,’ Lily said. ‘The body can take months, if not years, to recover from trauma.’

Cynicism made his eyes glitter. ‘You’re not offering your services for years, though, are you, Miss Archer? My prediction is you’ll last one or two days, three at the most, and then you’ll be off with a nice fat little wad of cash in your bank account. I’ve met your type before—you exploit people who are desperate. You’ve got nothing to offer me and we both know it.’

‘On the contrary, I think I can help you,’ Lily said. ‘You’re at a critical stage in your recovery. You should be supervised while exercising—’

‘Supervised?’ He barked the word at her. ‘I’m not a child who needs supervising while playing on the monkey bars.’

‘I didn’t say that. I just meant that you have to—’

‘I will do it my way,’ he said with indomitable force. ‘I don’t want your help. I didn’t ask for it. And I didn’t pay for it. I know what I have to do and I’m doing it, and I prefer to do it alone. Do us both a favour and catch the next flight back to London.’