Proud Revenge, Passionate WedlockBy: Janette Kenny
Allegra slipped another hanger off the rod and draped a deep blue gown with generous drapes over the red one. “In case the red one doesn’t fit.”
Must he stand so close? Must he smell so incredibly male? Must her body choose now to come out of its deep sleep?
What was she thinking by agreeing to do this?
His indecent proposal should infuriate her. It was an insult to their marriage. To her as a woman.
It reduced their marriage that had begun for her with such hope to a purely carnal level.
She should tell him to go to hell and call his bluff. But she couldn’t force the words out.
Miguel didn’t bluff. He’d drag out their divorce for years, and the emotional toil would ruin her more than the financial loss.
She couldn’t let that happen. Besides, the idea of lying in her husband’s arms again roused the primitive beast in her—a beast she’d thought she’d never witness again.
Only with Miguel, her heart warned.
She met his steady gaze with a tentative smile. “So this is it? There are no other surprises for me agreeing to do this charade?”
“None.” He held his head at an imperious angle, his eyes hooded, his broad shoulders dusted with glittering bits of white sand that she longed to brush off. “I will advise my attorney to begin divorce proceedings tomorrow, and I’ll give you fair market value for the beach house at the end of the week.”
“One week. That’s how long this fling will last?” she asked.
“Sí. Did you expect less? More?”
She shook her head, embarrassed to admit she hadn’t thought that far ahead. She’d agreed to his outrageous offer without knowing the details.
She knew what that said about her, and so did he.
“You will accompany me everywhere, querida.”
He smiled a wolf’s smile and dropped a kiss on her mouth. So fleeting. So brief she thought she’d simply imagined it.
“Day and night,” he said against her lips.
Those last words ribboned through her to tie her emotions in knots. It took every ounce of willpower to keep from leaning into his touch. Just like that and her resolve nearly shattered again.
“Cocktails are at eight,” he said, striding toward the master bedroom. “We leave in two hours. Do not be late.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” she got out as he flung his towel on the bed and strode toward the shower, shucking his swim trunks with masculine grace.
Thoughts about her inadequate figure swathed in a gown that left nothing to the imagination left her. Her gaze swept down his beautifully bronzed sculpted body, admiring his muscular back, narrow hips, tight bum and long, long legs.
Warmth spread over her like the first fingers of a new dawn cresting the horizon. Heat as thick and hot as lava flowed through her veins.
As before, Miguel was fire in her veins. She’d never lusted for a man as she had him, and she certainly hadn’t expected to feel the same charged energy course through her again, not after all they’d been through.
But it was there—stronger than before.
She bolted up the stairs to the guest room and blocked everything from her mind but getting through this night. She’d returned for closure and she’d have it. If going through the motions of marriage with Miguel was the only means to achieve it, then so be it.
She’d suffered the worst life had to hand her when her darling daughter had died. She’d managed to push past the grief and remorse.
She could certainly do what Miguel wanted of her and not lose her dignity or her pride. And if he captured her heart again?
Well, she’d been through that, too, and survived.
After a quick shower that refreshed her spirits somewhat, she stepped into the crimson gown and took an appraising look at her reflection. The style was more risqué than she’d recalled, but her weight loss was an asset to the design. She’d never aspired to have a model’s figure, but she had one now.
Fortunately the gown hid the scar marking her surgery. What would Miguel think when he saw it? Would he still want her?
She pinched her eyes shut and loosed a groan of disgust. It didn’t matter what he thought of her body. She was his paramour for one week.
Nothing more. Nothing less.
She ran the brush through her mass of hair, then twisted it into a simple chignon. A bit of makeup and she stepped back to take stock of herself. She heaved a sigh, pleased she’d donned the image of the sophisticated wife of a billionaire.
All she needed now was the courage to carry her downstairs and throw herself into the role of his wife that she’d vowed to assume until her dying day. It should be easy, since she’d discovered one vital thing hadn’t changed.
She was still in love with her husband.
MIGUEL stood by the window and stared out to sea, but still only saw the hunger in Allegra’s blue eyes when he’d tossed out his proposition. He’d thought she’d balk when she realized he’d set them up to be targets of the gossip rags. He’d expected anger at being forced to do his bidding in order to gain her freedom.
But she hadn’t hesitated long before agreeing to resume the role of his wife, leaving him to believe that she wanted out of their marriage so badly that she’d prostitute herself.