The Vengeful Husband(10)

By: Lynne Graham



Vicar.'

'Gianluca. Gianluca  Fabrizio.'

'I think you'd better spell all of it.' She took down his birthdate. Raffacani, she was thinking. Why did she have the curious sense that she had come across that name some¬where before? She shook her head. For all she knew Raffacani was as common a name in Italy as Smith was in England.

'Right,' she said then. 'I'll contact my solicitor, Mr Stevens. He's based in Penzance, so you can sign the pre-nuptial contract as soon as you like. Those references you offered...?'

From the inside of his jacket he withdrew a somewhat creased envelope. Struggling to keep up a businesslike at¬titude when she really just wanted to sing and dance round the kitchen with relief,

Darcy withdrew the documents. There were two, one with a very impressive letterhead, but both were written in Italian. 'I'll hang onto these and study them,' she told him, thinking of the old set of foreign lan¬guage dictionaries in the library. 'But I'm sure they'll be fine.'

'How soon do you envisage the marriage ceremony tak¬ing place?'
Luca Raffacani enquired.

'Hopefully in about three weeks. It'll be a very quiet wedding,' Darcy explained rather stiffly, fixing her atten¬tion to the scarred surface of the table, her face turning pale and set. 'But as my father died this year that won't surprise anyone. It wouldn't be quite the thing to have a big splash.'

'You're not inviting many guests?'

'Actually...' Darcy breathed in deep, plunged into dis¬mal recall of the huge misfired wedding which her father had insisted on staging three years earlier. 'Well, actually, I wasn't planning on inviting anybody,' she admitted tightly as she rose restively to her feet again. 'I'll show you where you'll be staying when you move in, shall I?'

At an infinitely more graceful and leisurely pace, Luca slid upright and straightened. Darcy watched in helpless fascination. His every movement had such...such style, an unhurried  cool  that caught the eye.  He  was  so self-possessed, so contained. He was also very reserved. He gave nothing away. Well, would she have preferred a gar¬rulous extrovert who asked a lot of awkward questions? Irritated by her own growing curiosity, Darcy left him to follow her out of the kitchen and tried to concentrate on more important things.

'What did you mean when you said you were the next best thing to a man around here?' Luca enquired on the way up the grand oak staircase.

'My father wanted a son, not a daughter—at least...not the kind of daughter I turned out to be.' As she spoke, Darcy was comparing herself to her stepsister. Morton Fielding had been utterly charmed by his second wife's beautiful daughter, Nina. Darcy had looked on in amaze¬ment as Nina twisted her cold and censorious parent round her little finger with ease.

'Your mother?'

'She died when I was six. I hardly remember her,' Darcy confided ruefully. 'My father remarried a few years later. He was desperate to have a male heir but I'm afraid it didn't happen.'

She cast open the door of a big dark oak-panelled bed¬room, dominated by a giant Elizabethan four-poster. "This will be your room. The bathroom's through that door. I'm afraid we'll have to share it. There isn't another one on this side of the house.'

As he glanced round the sparsely furnished and decid¬edly dusty room, which might have figured in a Tudor time warp, Darcy found herself studying him again. That stun¬ningly male profile, the hard, sleek lines of his muscular length.

A tiny frisson of sexual heat tightened her stomach muscles. He strolled with the grace of a leopard over to the high casement window to look out. Sunlight gleamed over his luxuriant black hair. Unexpectedly he turned,, dark eyes with the dramatic impact of gold resting on her in cool enquiry.

Caught watching him again, Darcy blushed as hotly as an embarrassed schoolgirl. She was appalled by her own outrageous physical awareness of him, could not compre¬hend what madness was dredging such responses from her. Whirling round, she walked swiftly back into the corridor.

As he drew level with her she snatched in a deep, sus¬taining breath and started towards the stairs again. 'I'm afraid there are very few modern comforts in the Folly, and locally, well, there's even fewer social outlets...' She hes¬itated uneasily before continuing, 'What I'm really trying to say is that if you feel the need to take off for the odd day in search of amusement, I'll understand—'

'Amusement?' Luca prompted grimly, as if such a con¬cept had never come his way before.

Darcy nodded, staring stonily ahead. 'I'm one of these people who always says exactly what's on their mind. I live very quietly but I can't reasonably expect you to do the same thing for an entire six months. I'm sure you'll maybe want to go up to London occasionally and—'

'Amuse myself?' Luca slotted in very drily.

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