Counterfeit Bride(71)

By: Sara Craven



Nicola's heart lifted. Teresita had been wrong about his pride. He had been ready to sacrifice even that because he loved her.

'But instead I came to you,' she said. 'And you got what you wanted.'

He grinned lazily. 'Indeed, señora, in innumerable ways. Which particular one were you thinking of?'

'You once said that you wanted to hear your name and no one else's on my lips,' she reminded him. 'Luis, can I tell you about Ewan?'

He shrugged slightly. 'If you wish, querida. He is hardly important.'

'No, but I don't want any question marks from the past cropping up in the future,' she said, knowing that the shadow of Carlota Garcia no longer lay between them. Briefly she told him of the events which had led up to her leaving Zurich. 'Those dreams I had were really of you, only I'd had this letter which my parents sent on to me. They didn't know who it was from, and neither did I until I opened it. I read it, just before you came to my room on our wedding night—and it was then I realised that I'd hardly loved him at all. That when I measured it against what I felt for you, it barely existed.' She swallowed. 'I realised too why I'd never tried to run away again, and I was frightened.'

'So that was it,’ he said softly. 'I knew there was something, although at first I decided you were merely absorbed in the music I had arranged for you.'

'And so I was. That was a lovely thought, Luis.' She paused. 'Why didn't you let those others play for us at the motel that night?'

He grimaced. 'Because I was just beginning to realise that my plans for you went further than mere seduction, querida. The serenaders thought we were lovers, which was what I had intended, and then it occurred to me that I wanted serenades for you on all kinds of occasions, and not just as a. means to get you into my bed.' He kissed her mouth. 'I have cursed myself for my scruples since, believe me.'

'Oh, I do,' she assured him, lifting a hand to stroke his cheek. 'Luis, I still have that letter. Do you want to read it?'

'Only if that is what you want, mi corazon.'

She slipped out of his arms and went across to the dressing table, retrieving the crumpled ball of paper from the back of the drawer. Very much at his ease, Luis watched her return to the bed.

'How lovely you are.' His hand stroked her body, as she settled once more into the curve of his arm. 'I shall have to invent errands for you all over the room, querida, so I can watch you.'

She pulled a mischievous face at him. 'Read the letter, or I'll get dressed!'

He kissed her, his mouth warm and searching. 'Don't count on that. I may never let you leave this room again.'

'Oh.' Nicola suddenly thought of something. 'But Luis, I must—we must. Teresita and Cliff. It's long past dinner time. They'll be wondering where we are and...’

'I think they have sufficient imagination to know where we are, amada. We will see them tomorrow. Now let me read this letter.'

He smoothed out the sheet of paper, and began to read, frowning. When he had finished, he said, 'Poor creature.'

'Ewan?' She threw him a startled glance.

'No, his wife, may her soul rest in peace.' He tore the letter in half and dropped the pieces on the floor. 'So that is the end of him. You have been spared much unhappiness with this man, amada. But as you say, no more question marks.’

'And the whole future ahead of us.' She pressed close to him, joyously aware that his caressing hand was once more causing tendrils of pleasure to curl along her nerve-endings. 'How nice that it contains tonight.'

'How nice that it contains you, love of my heart,' he said, and smiled down into her eyes. It was the look she had longed to see, and it made her catch her breath.

She said softly, 'Oh Luis -oh, Luis, I love you so. I— I can't begin to tell you...'

'Yes, you can, mi quenda.' He began to kiss her, softly at first, and then with deepening passion. 'Tell me—like this...'

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