To Wear His Ring Again(9)

By: Chantelle Shaw

He had given her a lift home from work. Sitting next to him in his sleek sports car, she had felt even more overwhelmed by him than she did at the office. Her position as an assistant to his PA meant that her conversations with him had been mainly work related, and she had assumed that he barely noticed her. His request as they drove across the city for her to tell him about herself had thrown her into a panic, but he was her boss so she had obediently related the unexciting details of her life growing up in a small Derbyshire village.

When he had finally parked outside her flat, he’d turned to her, and his smile had made her heart skip a beat. ‘You’re very sweet,’ he’d murmured.

His words had rankled. She hadn’t wanted him to think she was a sweet, silly girl; she’d wanted him to think of her as a woman. Perhaps her feelings had shown in her eyes, because he had given a faint sigh before he’d lowered his head and covered her mouth with his.

Her body had come alive instantly. It was as if he had pressed a switch and awoken her sensuality that had been untested until that moment. Constantin had kissed her as she had imagined a man would kiss a woman, as she had dreamed of being kissed. She had been intoxicated by his mastery, and responded to his passionate demands with a fervency that had made him groan.

‘Very soon I will make you mine, Isabella,’ he’d warned her softly.

‘How soon?’ she’d replied, not caring that her eagerness revealed her lack of sophistication.

Now Isobel was three years older, but she was trapped by Constantin’s sexual magnetism and felt as though she had flown back in time to when she had been a shy junior secretary who had been kissed senseless by the most exciting man she had ever met. Her heart jerked against her ribs as she watched his head descend, but her stomach plummeted with disappointment when he halted with his lips centimetres from hers.

‘Why did you walk out on me?’ he said harshly. ‘You didn’t even have the decency to tell me to my face that you were clearing out. All I got was an insultingly brief note to say that you had decided we should end our marriage.’

Isobel swallowed. It was impossible to think properly when his lips were tantalisingly close, and even more impossible to believe that she had heard a note of hurt in his voice. She longed to close the gap between them, to slide her hand into the silky dark hair at his nape and urge his mouth down on hers. It took all her will power to step away from him.

‘Why did you marry me?’ She countered his question with one of her own. ‘I’ve often wondered. Was it only because I was pregnant with your child? I believed our relationship was based on more than sexual attraction, but after I had the miscarriage you were so distant. I couldn’t get close to you, and you never wanted to talk about...about what had happened. Your coldness seemed to indicate that you wished I wasn’t your wife.’

Constantin had always been able to read the emotions on Isobel’s expressive features and the pain reflected in her hazel eyes caused him a pang of guilt. He knew he had not given her the support she had needed when she’d lost the baby. He’d been unable to talk about it, and had dealt with his emotions the way he always did, by burying them deep inside and concentrating on running a global business empire. He could hardly blame her for turning to her friends, but he had felt jealous of her closeness to the other members of the band, and in particular her obvious affection for the guitarist, Ryan Fellows.

The cover of the Stone Ladies’ new album was an arty black and white picture of the two most photogenic band members—Isobel and Fellows—riding a unicorn. No doubt the romantic image would appeal to the band’s thousands of fans, but when Constantin had seen the album cover he’d felt an overwhelming desire to rearrange the guitarist’s pretty-boy features with his fist.

The idea that Isobel and Fellows might be lovers evoked a corrosive acid burn in his gut. Isobel had accused him of resenting her friends, and he acknowledged it was the truth. He had been unable to control his possessive feelings, which in turn had made him afraid that he had inherited his father’s dangerous jealousy.

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