Never Underestimate a Caffarelli(6)

By: Melanie Milburne

Lily stared him down even though it took an enormous effort to hold that diamond-hard gaze. His anger was coming off him in waves that sent crackles of electricity through the air. She could even feel her skin tightening all over her body, as if those invisible currents were flowing over and through her. She could even feel her blood heating; it was pounding through her veins as if she had taken a shot of adrenalin. ‘You do realise if I leave now your brother will lose a considerable amount of money? There’s a no-refund clause in my contract.’

His mouth thinned in disdain. ‘Let him lose it. It’s no skin off my nose.’

Lily was shocked. Was he really prepared to forfeit an amount most people didn’t even earn in a year? And it wasn’t even his money. His assumption she would take the money and go made her all the more determined to stay. Her conscience wouldn’t allow her to take the money for nothing. He would think she was an unscrupulous gold digger and, given how high profile the Caffarelli name was, it would quite possibly tarnish the reputation of the clinic if word got out that she’d left without doing a day’s work.

Besides, she was a little intrigued by his resistance to rehabilitation. Didn’t he want to improve his mobility, or had he simply given up? Some clients found it very hard to adjust to the smallest of limitations put on them, while others coped remarkably well in spite of far worse injuries.

He was in good physical health, which was always a bonus in hoping for a positive outcome in rehabilitation, but his state of mind suggested he had not yet come to terms with what had happened to him. He reminded her of an alpha wolf who had secluded himself away to lick his wounds while no one was watching.

But then, hadn’t she done the very same thing five years ago?

Lily held his steely gaze. ‘I have no way of getting to the airport now that your brother has left.’

‘Then I’ll get one of the stableboys to drive you.’

‘I’m not leaving.’

A muscle worked in his jaw. ‘I don’t want you here.’

‘You’ve made that more than obvious,’ Lily said huffily. ‘I didn’t expect a red carpet to be rolled out or anything, but the least you could’ve done is be civil. Or does being filthy rich mean you can act like a total jerk and get away with it?’

His gaze warred with hers for a throbbing moment. ‘My brother had no right to bring you here without my permission.’

‘So you take it out on me?’ Lily tossed back. ‘How is that fair? I’ve travelled for hours and hours, I’m tired and hungry, and as soon as I set foot in the place I get my head bitten off by a boorish man who has a massive chip on his shoulder because he can’t do some of the things he used to do. At least you’ve got a roof over your head and a family who love you, not to mention loads and loads of money.’ She put a hand over her heart theatrically. ‘Oh, how my heart bleeds for you.’

His eyes were glacial as they hit hers. ‘I want you out of here by lunchtime tomorrow. Do you understand?’

Lily felt strangely exhilarated by their verbal sparring. The atmosphere was electric, the tension palpable. ‘Your loss, my gain. Well, I suppose it’s your brother’s loss, really, but still. Easy come, easy go, as they say.’

He gave her a glowering look before he turned to press an intercom button on his desk and spoke in French to his housekeeper. A fine shiver lifted the hairs on the back of Lily’s neck as she listened to the deep timbre of his voice in that most musical of languages. She wondered what his voice would sound like when he wasn’t angry. She wondered what his laugh sounded like. He was such a compelling man to look at, so dark and intense, bristling with barely suppressed emotion.

‘Dominique will show you to a guest suite,’ he said. ‘I will arrange to have you driven to the airport first thing tomorrow.’

The housekeeper appeared at the door of the library and escorted Lily to a guest suite on the third floor of the château along a long wide corridor that was lined with priceless works of art and marble statues that seemed to follow her progress with their eyes.

‘Monsieur Raoul’s suite is that one there.’ Dominique pointed to a double-door suite as they walked past. ‘He is not a good sleeper so I did not like to put you too close to him.’ She gave Lily a pained look. ‘He wasn’t like that before the accident. I blame that fiancée of his.’

Lily stopped in her tracks and frowned. ‘I didn’t realise he was engaged.’

Dominique gave her a cynical look. ‘He’s not. She broke it off while he was in hospital.’