The Playboy of Puerto Banus(7)

By: Carol Marinelli


So Estelle held onto his arm and did her best to look suitably besotted, ignoring the occasional disapproving stare from the other guests, and she was just starting to relax and get into things when he arrived.

Till that moment Estelle had thought it would be the bride who would make an entrance, and it wasn’t the sight of a helicopter landing that had heads turning—helicopters had been landing regularly since Estelle had got there—no, it was the man who stepped out who held everyone’s attention.

‘Oh, my, the evening just got interesting,’ Gordon said as the most stunning man ducked under the blades and then walked towards the gathering.

He was tall, his thick black hair brushed back and gleaming, and his mouth was sulky and unsmiling. His Mediterranean colouring should surely mean that he’d look out of place wearing a kilt, but instead he looked as if he’d been born to wear one. Lean-hipped and long-limbed, but muscular too, he could absolutely carry it off.

He could carry me off right now, Estelle thought wildly—and wild thoughts were rare for Estelle.

She watched as he accepted whisky from a waiter and then stood still. He seemed removed and remote from everyone else. Even the women who flocked to him were quickly dismissed, as if at any minute he might simply walk off.

Then he met her eyes.

Estelle tried to flick hers away, except she found that she couldn’t.

His eyes drifted down over the gold dress, but not in the disapproving way that Veronica’s had. Although they weren’t approving either. They were merely assessing.

She felt herself burn as his eyes moved then to her sixty-four-year-old date, and she wanted to correct him—wanted to tell him that the rotund, red-faced man who was struggling with the heat in his heavy kilt and jacket was not her lover. Though of course she could not.

She wanted to, though.

‘Eyes only for me, darling,’ Gordon reminded her, perhaps picking up on the crackle of energy crossing the lawn. His glance followed Estelle’s gaze. ‘Though frankly no one would blame you a bit for looking. He’s completely divine.’

‘Who?’ Estelle tried to pretend that she hadn’t noticed the delicious stranger—Gordon was paying her good money to be here, after all—but she wasn’t fooling anyone.

‘Raúl Sanchez Fuente,’ Gordon said in a low voice. ‘Our paths cross now and then at various functions. He owns everything but morals. The bastard even looks good in a kilt. He has my heart—not that he wants it…’

Estelle couldn’t help but laugh.

* * *

Raúl’s eyes lazily worked over the guests. He was questioning now his decision to come alone. He needed distraction tonight, but when he had thought of the old flames that he might run into he had been thinking of the perky breasts and the narrow waists of yesteryear, as if the clock might have stopped on his university days. Instead the hands of time had moved on.

There was Shona. Her once long red hair was now cut too severely and she stood next to a chinless wonder. She caught his eye and then blushed unbecomingly and shot him a furious look, as if their once torrid times could be erased and forgotten by her wedding ring.

He knew, though, that she was remembering.

‘Raúl…’

He frowned when he saw Araminta walking towards him. She was wearing that slightly needy smile that Raúl recognised only too well and it made his early warning system react—because temporary distraction was his requirement tonight, not desperation.

‘How are you?’

‘Not bad,’ she said, and then proceeded to tell him about her hellish divorce, how she was now single, how she’d thought about him often since the break-up, how she’d been looking forward to seeing him tonight, how she regretted the way things had worked out for them…

‘I told you that you would at the time.’ Raúl did not do sentiment. ‘You’ll have to excuse me. I have to make a call.’

‘We’ll catch up later, though?’

He could hear the hope in her voice and it irked him.

Was he good enough for her father now? Rich enough? Established enough?

‘There’s nothing to catch up on.’

Just like that he dismissed her, his black eyes not even watching her as she gave a small sob and walked off.

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