The camera crews parted. There, striding towards her was the man she'd expected never to see again: Domenico Volpe, shouldering through the rabble, eyes locked on her. He seemed oblivious to the snapping shutters as the cameras went into overdrive and newsmen gabbled into microphones.
He wore a grey suit with the slightest sheen, as if it were woven from black pearls. His shirt was pure white, his tie perfection in dark silk.
He looked the epitome of Italian wealth and breeding. Not a wrinkle marred his clothes or the elegant lines of his face. Only his eyes, boring into hers, spoke of something less than cool control.
A spike of heat plunged right through her belly as she held his eyes.
He stopped before her and Lucy had to force herself not to crane her head to look up at him. Instead she focused on the hand he held out to her.
The paper crackled as she took it.
Come with me. The words were in slashing black ink on a page from a pocketbook. I can get you away from this. You'll be safe.
Her head jerked up.
'Safe?' With him?
He nodded. 'Yes.'
Around them journalists craned to hear. One tried to snatch the note from Lucy's hand. She crumpled it in her fist.
It was mad. Bizarre. He couldn't want to help her. Yet she wasn't fool enough to think she could stay here. Trouble was brewing and she'd be at the centre of it.
Still she hesitated. This close, Lucy was aware of the strength in those broad shoulders, in that tall frame and his square olive-skinned hands. Once that blatant male power had left her breathless. Now it threatened.
But if he'd wanted to harm her physically he'd have found a way long before this.
He leaned forward. She stiffened as his whispered words caressed her cheek. 'Word of a Volpe.'
He withdrew, but only far enough to look her in the eye. He stood in her personal space, his lean body warming her and sending ripples of a tension through her.
She knew he was proud. Haughty. Loyal. A powerful man. A dangerously clever one. But everything she'd read, and she'd read plenty, indicated he was a man of his word. He wouldn't sully his ancient family name or his pride by lying.
Jerkily she nodded.
'Va bene.' He eased the case from her white-knuckled grip and turned, propelling her through the crowd with his palm at her back, its heat searing through her clothes.
Questions rang out but Domenico Volpe ignored them. With his support Lucy rallied and managed not to stumble. Then suddenly there was blissful space, a cordon of security men, the open limousine door.
This time Lucy needed no urging. She scrambled in and settled herself on the far side of the wide rear seat.
The door shut behind him and the car accelerated away before she'd gathered herself.
'It's in the boot. Quite safe.'
Safe. There it was again. The word she'd never associated with Domenico Volpe.
Slowly Lucy turned. She was exhausted, weary beyond imagining after less than an hour at the mercy of the paparazzi, but she couldn't relax, even in this decadently luxurious vehicle.
Deep-set grey eyes met hers. This time they looked stormy rather than glacial. Lucy was under no illusions he wanted her here, with him. Despite the nonchalant stretch of his long legs, crossed at the ankles, there was tightness in his shoulders and jaw.
'What do you want?'
'To rescue you from the press.'
Lucy shook her head. 'No.'
'No?' One dark eyebrow shot up towards his hairline. 'You call me a liar?'
'If you'd been interested in rescuing me you'd have done it years ago when it mattered. But you dropped me like a hot potato.'
Her words sucked the oxygen from the limousine, leaving a heavy, clogging atmosphere of raw emotion. Lucy drew a deep breath, uncaring that he noted the agitated rise and fall of her breasts as she struggled for air.
'You're talking about two different things.' His tone was cool.
'You think?' She paused. 'You're playing semantics. The last thing you want is to rescue me.'
'Then let us say merely that your interests and mine coincide this time.'
'How?' She leaned forward, as if a closer view would reveal the secrets he kept behind that patrician faÃƒÂ§ade of calm. 'I can't see what we have in common.'
He shook his head, turning more fully. Lucy became intensely aware of the strength hidden behind that tailored suit as his shoulders blocked her view of the street.
A jitter of curious sensation sped down her backbone and curled deep within. It disturbed her.
'Then you have an enviably short memory, Ms Knight. Even you can't deny we're linked by a tie that binds us forever, however much I wish it otherwise.'
'In the past?' His lip curled in a travesty of a smile. 'Yet it's a truth I live with every day.' His eyes glowed, luminous with emotions she'd once thought him too cold to feel. His voice deepened to a low, bone-melting hum. 'Nothing will ever take away the fact that you killed my brotherReviews Behind the Book Return