The Vengeful Husband(5)

By: Lynne Graham



Darcy winced as the doorbell shrilled. Karen bolted to answer it. Bolted—-yes, that was the only possible word for her friend's indecent eagerness to reach the front door. Face wooden and set, Darcy positioned herself by the fireplace. So he was attractive. Attractive men had huge egos. She grimaced. All she wanted was someone ordinary and un¬obtrusive, but what she wanted she wouldn't necessarily get.

'Signorina Darcy?' she heard an accented drawl question in a tone of what sounded like polite surprise.

'No...she's, er, through here, waiting for you,' Karen stammered with a dismayingly girlish giggle, and the lounge door was thrust wide.

Blinking rapidly, Darcy was already glued to the spot, a deep frown-line bisecting her brow. That beautiful voice had struck such an eerie chord of familiarity she was trans¬fixed, heart beating so fast she was convinced it might burst. And then mercifully she understood the source of that strange familiarity and shivered, thoroughly spooked. Dear heaven, he was Italian! It was that lyrical accent she had recognised, not the voice.

A very tall, dark male, sporting sunglasses and sheathed in motorbike leathers, strode into the small room. Involuntarily Darcy simply gaped at him, her every expec¬tation shattered. Black leather accentuated impossibly wide shoulders, narrow hips and long, lean powerful thighs. Indeed the fidelity of fit left little of that overpoweringly masculine physique to the imagination. And the sunglasses lent his dark features an intimidating lack of expression. And yet.. .and yet as Darcy surveyed him with startled eyes she realised that he shared more than an accent with Zia's father. He had also been very tall and well-built.

So what? an irritated voice screeched through her blitzed brain. So you're meeting another tall, dark Italian...big deal! The silver-tongued sophisticate who had got her preg¬nant wouldn't have been caught dead in such clothing. And if she hadn't had such a guilt complex about her wanton behaviour in Venice, she wouldn't be feeling this incredibly foolish sense of threatening familiarity, she told herself in complete exasperation.
'Please excuse me for continuing to wear my sunglasses. I have been suffering from eye strain...the light, it hurts my eyes,' he informed her in a deep, dark drawl that was both well-modulated and unexpectedly quiet.

'Won't you sit down?' Darcy invited, with an unchar¬acteristically weak motion of one hand as she forced herself almost clumsily down into a seat.

But then Darcy was in shock. She had hoped he would be either sensible and serious or weak and biddable. Instead she had been presented with a rampantly macho male who roared up on a motorbike and wore trousers so tight she marvelled that he could stand in them, never mind sit down. With what she believed was termed designer stubble on his aggressive jawline, he looked about as domesticated and well-behaved as a sabre-toothed tiger.

'If you will forgive me for saying so...you look at me rather strangely,' he remarked, further disconcerting her as he lowered himself down with indolent grace onto the small sofa opposite her.

'Do I remind you of someone, signorina’

Darcy stiffened even more with nervous tension, and she was already sitting rigid-backed in the seat. 'Not at all,' she asserted with deflating conviction. 'Now, since I'm afraid I couldn't read your signature...what is your full name?'

'Let us leave it at Luca for now. The wording of your ad suggested that the employment on offer could be of a somewhat unusual nature,' he drawled softly. 'I would like some details before we go any further.'

Darcy bristled like a cat stroked the wrong way. She was supposed to be interviewing him, not the other way round!

'After all, you have not given me your real name either,' he pointed out in offensively smooth continuance.

Darcy's eyes opened to their fullest extent. 'I beg your pardon?'
'Before I came down here, I checked you out. Your sur¬name is Fielding, not Darcy, and you do not live here in this cottage; you live in the huge mansion at the top of the driveway,' he enumerated with unabashed cool. 'You have gone to some trouble to conceal your own identity. Naturally that is a source of concern to me.'

Stunned by that little speech, Darcy sprang upright and stared down at him in shaken disbelief, her angry bewil¬derment unconcealed. 'You checked me out?'

He lifted a casual brown hand and slowly removed the sunglasses. 'The light is dim enough in here...'

He studied her with a curiously expectant quality of in¬tensity.

And without warning Darcy found herself staring down into lustrous dark eyes fringed by glossy, spiky black lashes. He had the sort of eyes that packed a powerful punch. Gorgeous, she thought in helpless reaction, brilliant and dark as night, impenetrably deep and unreadable. With the sunglasses on he had looked as if he might be pretty good-looking, without them he zoomed up the scale to stun-ningly handsome, in spite of the fact that he badly needed a shave. And she now quite understood that hint of expec¬tancy he betrayed. This was a guy accustomed to basking in female double takes, appreciative stares and inviting smiles.

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