To Wear His Ring Again(4)

By: Chantelle Shaw

She saw Constantin glance at her handbag. ‘From the new De Severino Eccellenza collection,’ he noted. ‘Rather ironic, seeing that you always made a fuss when I gave you DSE items while we were together. When you bought your bag I hope you explained that you are my wife, and asked for a discount.’

‘Of course I didn’t,’ Isobel said stiffly. ‘I can afford to pay the full price.’

There seemed no point trying to explain that when they had been together she had felt guilty when Constantin had given her DSE jewellery and accessories because everything in the collection was incredibly expensive, and she hadn’t wanted to seem like a gold-digger who had married him for his money.

In the last two years her successful singing career had earned her an income that was unbelievable to a girl who had grown up in an ex-colliery village in the north of England, where poverty and deprivation had sucked the life and soul out of the men who had been unemployed since the pit had closed a decade ago. She doubted Constantin would understand how good it made her feel to be able to pay for her own clothes and jewellery after the shame she’d felt as a teenager, knowing that her family relied on handouts from the state.

She glanced at his autocratic features and her heart sank. She had always been conscious of the social divide between them. Constantin was a member of the Italian aristocracy, a man of noble birth and incredible wealth and sophistication, and it was perhaps unsurprising that a miner’s daughter had struggled to fit into his exclusive lifestyle. But she was no longer plagued by the insecurities of her youth. Her successful career had given her a sense of self-assurance and pride.

‘I don’t want to rake up the past,’ she told him firmly.

His eyes narrowed appraisingly on her face, and she sensed he was surprised by her new confidence. ‘What do you want?’

Isobel’s intention had been to make it clear that she would not accept responsibility for the collapse of their marriage. But her fiery words were replaced by a different kind of fire in her belly as she watched him pick up a towel and rub it over his arms and shoulders. He pulled off his gym vest and dragged the towel across the whorls of sweat-damp dark hairs that grew thickly on his chest and arrowed down over his flat abdomen.

She jerked her eyes guiltily from where the fuzz of hairs disappeared beneath the waistband of his shorts, and clenched her hand to prevent herself from reaching out and skimming her fingers over his rock-hard abdominal muscles. She had often thought about him in the past two years, but her memory had not done him justice. He was so gorgeous he made her insides melt.

Her skin prickled as every nerve-ending on her body became acutely attuned to Constantin’s raw sex appeal. Something primitive and purely instinctive stirred in the pit of her stomach. Her brain sensed that he represented danger, but the alarm bells ringing inside her head were obliterated by the sound of her blood thundering in her ears.

Silence quivered between them like an overstretched elastic band. Constantin frowned when she failed to respond to his question, but he glimpsed the unguarded expression in her eyes and his lips curled into a predatory smile.

‘Ah, I think I understand, cara. Were you hoping we could get together for old times’ sake, before we make our separation legal?’

‘Get together?’ For a moment Isobel didn’t understand. She could not control the heat that surged through her when Constantin’s gaze lingered on her breasts, and to her horror she felt her nipples harden and prayed he could not see their jutting points outlined beneath her clingy tee shirt.

‘There were no problems with one aspect of our marriage,’ he murmured. ‘Our sex life was so explosive it was off the Richter scale.’

He was talking about sex! Her eyes clashed with his glittering gaze and her fingers itched to wipe the mockery from his face. ‘You think I came here to...proposition you? In your dreams,’ she told him furiously.

Her blood boiled. How dared Constantin suggest that the reason for her visit was because she wanted to sleep with him—for old times’ sake? But her treacherous mind responded to his provocative suggestion and she visualised them naked and writhing on the gym mat, limbs entangled and their skin damp with sweat as he drove his body into hers in a relentless rhythm.

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