The Sicilian's Marriage Arrangement(10)

By: Lucy Monroe


At first, she couldn’t think what he meant and then their conversation in the library came back to her. Option one had been a husband, she supposed. Which meant that option two was a lover. He was implying she and David were lovers.

Feeling both wary and guilty for no reason she could discern, she snatched her hand from David’s. “It’s not like that,” she said defensively before coming to the belated conclusion it wasn’t his concern regardless.

David glared down at her as if she’d mortally offended him when she let go of his hand. “I planned to take you out this evening.”

“I am sorry your plans will have to be postponed,” Luciano said, sounding anything but. He inclined his head to her. “I have apprised your tour guide that I will return you to your hotel this evening.”

“How nice, but a bit precipitous.” She didn’t bother to smile to soften the upcoming rejection. After the way he had treated her at the New Year’s Eve party, he didn’t deserve that kind of consideration. “It was kind of Grandfather to be concerned, but there is no need for you to give up your entire evening in what amounts to an unnecessary favor to him.”

“I agreed to check on you for your grandfather’s sake. I wish to spend the evening with you for my own.”

She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She refused to believe it. She glared helplessly at him. Six months ago, he had kissed her to within an inch of her life, then thrust her away as if she were contaminated. He’d left her to face hours of humiliating comments and loudly spoken asides. And…she hadn’t heard word one from him in all the intervening months.

David moved so that his body blocked her view of Luciano. “I thought I would take you to that restaurant you liked so much our first day here, honey.” The accusation in his voice implied he had exclusive rights to her time, not to mention the altogether unfamiliar inflection he gave the word honey.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

“You could have said something earlier,” she censored him.

“I wanted it to be a surprise,” he responded sullenly. “I didn’t expect some arrogant Italian guy to show up and try to spirit you away.”

The situation was getting more unreal by the minute. Men never noticed her and yet here were two battling for her company.

She was tempted to tell Luciano to take a flying leap, but part of her also wanted a chance to rake him over the coals for his callous treatment of her. An insidious curiosity about why he wanted to be with her after rejecting her so completely was also niggling at her.

It would probably be downright brainless to give in to that curiosity or her desire to get a little of her own back, however. She had the awful feeling that her stupidly impressionable heart would be only too ready to start pining for him again if she allowed herself the luxury of his company.

When did you stop pining for him? Was that before or after the ten times a day you forget what you’re doing remembering how it felt to be kissed by him? She ignored the mocking voice of her conscience, infinitely glad mind reading was not one of Luciano’s many accomplishments.

Going with Luciano would not be a bright move.

On the other hand, she was uncomfortable with the proprietary attitude David was exhibiting. It struck her suddenly that he’d been growing increasingly possessive of her time over the past days. She hadn’t minded because it meant she didn’t have to put herself forward in unfamiliar situations, but they were just friends. It bothered her that he thought he could plan her time without her input.

She chewed her bottom lip, unsure what to do.

She felt wedged between two unpleasant alternatives, neither of which was going to leave her unscathed at the end of the evening.

CHAPTER THREE

“OUR reservations are for eight-thirty. We have to be on our way, piccola mia,” Luciano said, completely ignoring David.

“Are all European men so arrogant?” David asked her in direct retaliation.

She shot a quick sideways glance to see how Luciano had taken her friend’s insolence. His expression was unreadable. “Shall we go?” he asked her.

David expelled an angry hiss.

She laid her hand on his forearm. This was getting ridiculous and if she didn’t act soon, her friend would be well on his way to making an enemy of a very powerful man. David was too young to realize the long term impact on his future business dealings such an action might have. Though she was irritated by David’s behavior, she liked him too much to let him do something so stupid.

Besides, if she went with Luciano, she hoped David would get the message she wanted his friendship, but wasn’t interested in anything more. She couldn’t be. She might want to hate Luciano, but he remained the only man she could think of in that way.