The Playboy of Puerto Banus(9)

By: Carol Marinelli


Turn around, Raúl thought, for he wanted to meet those eyes again.

Turn around, he willed her, watching her shoulders stiffen, watching the slight tilt of her neck as if she was aware of but resisting his silent demand.

* * *

How she was resisting.

Estelle sat rigid and then stood in the same way after the service was over, when the bride and groom were letting doves fly. They fluttered high into the sky and the crowd murmured and pointed and turned to watch them in flight.

Reluctantly she also turned, and she must look up, Estelle thought helplessly as two black liquid pools invited her to dive in. She should, like everyone else, move her gaze upwards and watch the doves fly off into the distance.

Instead she faced him.

* * *

What the hell are you doing with him? Raúl wanted to ask. What the hell are you doing with a man perhaps three times your age?

Of course he knew the answer.

Money.

And Raúl knew then what to do—knew the answer to the dilemma that had been force-fed to him at breakfast-time.

His mouth moved into a smile and he watched as her head jerked away—watched as she stared, too late, up into the sky. And he saw her pale throat as her neck arched and he wanted his mouth there.

* * *

A piper led them back to the castle. He walked in front of her and Gordon. Estelle’s heels kept sinking into the grass, but it was nothing compared to the feeling of drowning in quicksand when she had been caught in Raúl’s gaze.

His kilt was greys and lilacs, his jacket a dark purple velvet, his posture and his stride exact and sensual. She wanted to run up to him, to tap him on the shoulder and tell him to please leave her alone. Yet he had done nothing. He wasn’t even looking over his shoulder. He was just chatting with a fellow guest as they made their way back to the castle.

* * *

Very deliberately Raúl ignored her. He turned his back and chatted with Donald, asked a favour from a friend, and then flirted a little with a couple of old flames—but at all times he knew that her eyes more than occasionally searched out his.

Raúl knew exactly what he was doing and he knew exactly why.

Mixing business with pleasure had caused a few problems for Raúl in the past.

Tonight it was suddenly the solution.





      CHAPTER FOUR

‘EXCUSE ME, SIR.’

A waiter halted Estelle and Gordon as they made their way into the Grand Hall and to their table.

‘There’s been a change to the seating plan. Donald and Victoria didn’t realise that you were seated so far back. It’s all been rectified now. Please accept our apologies for the mistake.’

‘Oooh, we’re getting an upgrade,’ Gordon said as they were led nearer to the front.

Estelle flushed when she saw that the rather teary woman she had seen earlier speaking with Raúl was being quietly shuffled back to the bowels of the hall. Estelle knew even before they arrived at the new table which one it would be.

Raúl did not look up as they made their way over. Not until they were being shown into their seats.

She smiled a greeting to Veronica and James, but could not even attempt one for Raúl—both seats either side of him were empty.

He had done this.

Estelle tried to tell herself she was imagining things, or overreacting, but somehow she knew she was right. Knew that those long, lingering stares had led to this.

The chair next to him was being held out. She wanted to turn to Gordon, to ask if they could swap seats but she knew that would look ridiculous.

It was a simple change of seating, Estelle told herself.

She acknowledged to herself that she lied.

‘Gordon.’ Raúl shook his hand.

‘Raúl.’

Gordon smiled as he took the seat next to Estelle, so she was sandwiched between them, and she leant back a little as they chatted.

‘I haven’t seen you since…’ Gordon laughed. ‘Since last wedding season. This is Estelle.’

‘Estelle.’ He raised one eyebrow as she took her seat beside him. ‘In Spain you would be Estela.’

‘We’re in England.’ She was aware of her brittle response, but her defences were up—though she did try to soften it with a brief smile.

‘Of course.’ Raúl shrugged. ‘Though I must speak with my pilot. He was most insistent, when we landed, that this was Scotland.’