A Stormy Spanish Summer(2)

By: Penny Jordan



‘There was no need for you to meet me,’ she told him, forcing herself to raise her head and look him in the eyes. Those eyes that had once looked at her in a way that had flayed the skin from her pride and her self-respect and left them raw and bleeding.

Her stomach churned again as she watched his far too handsome, arrogant, aristocratic male profile tighten into hauteur. His mouth curled in contemptuous disdain as he looked down at her, the late-afternoon Spanish sunlight shining on his thick dark hair. She was five feet seven, but she had to tilt her head back to meet his gaze, her own firing up from warm blue into heated violet as she met the look he was giving her.

She was hot and travel weary, and her body reacted to the unfamiliar heat as she resisted the need to lift the heavy weight of her thick, dark gold shoulder-length hair away from the back of her neck. She could already feel it starting to curl round her face in the humid heat, overcoming the effort she had made to straighten it into an immaculate elegance. Not that her appearance could ever compete with the true elegance of the smartly turned-out Spanish women around her. She favoured casual clothes, and was dressed in a pair of clean but well-washed and faded jeans, worn with a loose white cotton top. The jacket she had been wearing when she had boarded her flight in the UK was now stashed away in her roomy leather handbag.

Vidal frowned as his gaze was drawn inexorably to the windblown sensuality of her naturally honey-streaked hair, reminding him of the last time he had seen it. Her hair, like her body, had been spread against her bed, enjoying the amorous attentions of the boy who had been fondling her before Vidal and her mother had interrupted their illicit intimacy.

Angrily Vidal looked away from her. Her presence here was unwanted and unwelcome, her morals an affront to everything he believed in, but like the dark matter at the heart of a poisoned wound there was also that kernel of self-knowledge that raked his pride and refused to be locked away and forgotten.

To have looked into the wanton sensuality of her face, to have witnessed the manner in which she, at sixteen already an experienced tramp, had flaunted that sensuality mockingly in front of him, without a trace of shame, should have filled him with disgust and nothing but disgust. Only along with that disgust, like a sword plunged straight through his body, there had been that momentary pride-searing, lightning surge of desire. It had burned a brand of searing self-contempt through him, and the embers had never fully cooled.

She might be able to get under his skin, but he could never allow her back into his heart.

She shouldn’t have come here, Fliss told herself. Not knowing that she would have to confront Vidal. Not knowing what he thought about her and why. But how could she not have come? How could she have denied herself this final opportunity to know something of the man who had fathered her?

Unlike her, Vidal looked impeccably cool in the heat, his suit that shade of neutral light beige that only continental men seemed to be able to wear with confidence, the blue shirt he was wearing beneath his jacket somehow emphasising the falcon gold of his eyes. A hunter’s eyes, a predator’s eyes, cold with cruelty and menace. She knew she would never forget those eyes. They haunted her nightmares, their gaze sliding over her like ice, their chilling contempt burning her skin and her pride.

She was not going to allow Vidal to see how she felt, though. She wasn’t going to shrink away in fear beneath their incisive, lacerating focus, just as she wasn’t going to be intimidated by him. Only to herself was she prepared to admit that it had been a shock to find him waiting for her at the airport. She had not expected that—even though she had written to the lawyers informing them of her plans—plans she knew he would not like or approve of, but which she had no intention of changing. A thrill of triumph laced with adrenalin shot through her at the thought of getting the better of him.

‘You haven’t changed, Vidal,’ she told him, summoning her courage. ‘You still obviously hate the thought of me being my father’s daughter. But then you would do, wouldn’t you? After all, it was in part thanks to you that my parents were forced apart, wasn’t it? You were the one who betrayed them to your grandmother.’

‘They would never have been allowed to marry.’

Fliss knew that that was true—her mother had said so herself, with more sadness in her voice than bitterness—but Fliss wasn’t going to give up the opportunity to seize the moral high ground from Vidal so easily.

‘They might have found a way, if they’d had more time.’

Vidal looked away from her. Inside his head was a memory he didn’t want to have brought back to him: the sound of his own seven-year-old voice, naively telling his grandmother about the way in which he and his au pair had unexpectedly bumped into his adopted uncle when she had taken him on a visit to the Alhambra—not realising then that his uncle was supposed to have been in Madrid on family business, and certainly not realising the significance of that seemingly unexpected meeting.

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