Latin LoversBy: Helen Bianchin
Table of Content
- A Convenient Bridegroom
- In the Spaniard’s Bed
- The Martinez Marriage Revenge
A Convenient Bridegroom
‘NIGHT, cara. You will be staying over, won’t you?’
Subtle, very subtle, Aysha conceded. It never ceased to amaze that her mother could state a command in the form of a suggestion, and phrase it as a question. As if Aysha had a choice.
For as long as she could remember, her life had been stage-managed. The most exclusive of private schools, extra-curricular private tuition. Holidays abroad, winter resorts. Ballet, riding school, languages ... she spoke fluent Italian and French.
Aysha Benini was a product of her parents’ upbringing. Fashioned, styled and presented as a visual attestation to family wealth and status.
Something which must be upheld at any cost.
Even her chosen career as an interior decorator added to the overall image.
Aysha crossed the room and brushed her lips to her mother’s cheek. ‘Probably.’
Teresa Benini allowed one eyebrow to form an elegant arch. ‘Your father and I won’t expect you home.’
Case closed. Aysha checked her evening purse, selected her car key, and turned towards the door. ‘See you later.’
‘Have a good time.’
What did Teresa Benini consider a good time? An exquisitely served meal eaten in a trendy restaurant with Carlo Santangelo, followed by a long night of loving in Carlo’s bed?
Aysha slid in behind the wheel of her black Porsche Carrera, fired the engine, then eased the car down the driveway, cleared the electronic gates, and traversed the quiet tree-lined street towards the main arterial road leading from suburban Vaucluse into the city.
A shaft of sunlight caught the diamond-studded gold band with its magnificent solitaire on the third finger of her left hand. Brilliantly designed, horrendously expensive, it was a befitting symbol representing the intended union of Giuseppe Benini’s daughter to Luigi Santangelo’s son.
Benini-Santangelo, Aysha mused as she joined the flow of city-bound traffic.
Two immigrants from two neighbouring properties in a northern Italian town had travelled in their late teens to Sydney, where they’d worked two jobs every day of the week, saved every cent, and set up a cement business in their mid-twenties.
Forty years on, Benini-Santangelo was a major name in Sydney’s building industry, with a huge plant and a fleet of concrete tankers.
Each man had married a suitable wife, sadly produced only one child apiece; they lived in fine homes, drove expensive cars, and had given their children the best education that money could buy.
Both families had interacted closely on a social and personal level for as long as Aysha could remember. The bond between them was strong, more than friends. Almost family.
The New South Head Road wound down towards Rose Bay, and Aysha took a moment to admire the view.
At six-thirty on a fine late summer’s evening the ocean resembled a sapphire jewel, merging with a sky clear of cloud or pollution. Prime real estate overlooked numerous coves and bays where various sailing craft lay anchored. Tall city buildings rose in differing architectural design, structured towers of glass and steel, providing a splendid backdrop to the Opera House and the wide span of the Harbour Bridge.
Traffic became more dense as she drew close to the city, and there were the inevitable delays at computer-controlled intersections.
Consequently it was almost seven when she drew into the curved entrance of the hotel and consigned her car to valet parking.
She could, should have allowed Carlo to collect her, or at least driven to his apartment. It would have been more practical, sensible.
Except tonight she didn’t feel sensible.
Aysha nodded to the concierge as she entered the lobby, and she hadn’t taken more than three steps towards the bank of sofas and single chairs when a familiar male frame rose to full height and moved forward to greet her.
Just the sight of him was enough to send her heart racing to a quickened beat. Her breath caught in her throat, and she forced herself to monitor the rise and fall of her chest.
In his late thirties, he stood three inches over six feet and possessed the broad shoulders and hard-muscled body of a man who coveted physical fitness. Sculpted raw-boned facial features highlighted planes and angles, accenting a powerful jaw, strong chin, and a sensuously moulded mouth. Well-cut thick dark brown hair was stylishly groomed, and his eyes were incredibly dark, almost black.
Aysha had no recollection of witnessing his temper. Yet there could be no doubt he possessed one, for his eyes could darken to obsidian, the mouth thin, and his voice assume the chill of an ice floe.
‘Aysha.’ He leant down and brushed his mouth against her own, lingered, then he lifted his head and caught both of her hands in his.
Dear God, he was something. The clean male smell of him teased her nostrils, combining with his subtle aftershave.
Her stomach executed a series of somersaults, and her pulse hammered heavily enough to be almost audible. Did she affect him the way he affected her?
Doubtful, she conceded, aware of precisely where she fitted in the scheme of things. Bianca had been his first love, the beautiful young girl he’d married ten years ago, only to lose her in a fatal car accident mere weeks after the honeymoon. Aysha had cried silent tears at the wedding, and wept openly at Bianca’s funeral.