His Ultimate Prize(10)

By: Maya Blake



‘Great. Do it. I’ll handle things here,’ Rafael responded.

His brother looked sceptical.

‘This is a one-time offer, set to expire in ten seconds,’ he pressed as his sister-in-law and his physiotherapist started walking towards them. For the first time he noticed Raven’s open-toed high heels and saw the way they made her long legs go on for ever. Sasha said something to her. Her responding smile made his throat dry.

Hell, he had it bad if he was behaving like a hormonal teenager around a woman who clearly had man issues.

He barely felt it when Marco slapped his shoulder. ‘I’ll set things in motion first thing in the morning. I owe you one, brother.’

Rafael nodded, relieved that the disturbing subject of his father had been dropped.

‘What are you looking so pleased about?’ Sasha asked her husband as they drew level with them.

‘I have news that’s guaranteed to make you adore me even more than you already do.’ He kissed her soundly on the lips before leading her away.

Rafael saw Raven looking after them. ‘I do believe if they had a like button attached to their backs you would be pressing it right about now?’

Her outraged gasp made him curb a smile. He loved to rile her. Rafael didn’t hide from the fact that while he was busy riling Raven Blass, he was busy not thinking about what this place did to him, and that gained him a reprieve from the torment of his memories.

She faced him, bristling with irritation and censure. ‘Whereas if you had a like button I’d personally start a worldwide petition to have it obliterated and replaced with one that said loathe.’

He took her elbow and, despite her resistance, he led her to an exquisitely laid out buffet table. ‘We’ll discuss my various buttons later. Right now you need to eat something before you wither away. I noticed you didn’t eat any breakfast this morning.’

She glared at him. ‘I had my usual bowl of muesli and fresh fruit.’

‘Was that before or after you spent two hours on my beach contorting yourself in unthinkable shapes in the name of exercise?’

‘It’s called Krav Maga. It works the mind as well as the body.’

He let his gaze rake her from top to toe. ‘I don’t dispute the effects on the body. But I don’t think it’s quite working on the mind.’

He stopped another outraged gasp by stuffing a piece of chicken into her mouth. Her only option, other than spitting it out, was to chew, but that didn’t stop her glaring fiercely at him.

Rafael was so busy enjoying the way he got under her skin that he didn’t hear the low hum of the electric wheelchair until it was too late.

‘Buenos tardes, mi hijo. I’ve been looking for you.’ The greeting was low and deep. It didn’t hold any censure or hatred or flaying judgement. In fact it sounded just exactly as it would were a loving father greeting his beloved son.

But every nerve of Rafael’s being screeched with white-hot pain. His fist clenched around his walking stick until the metal dug excruciatingly into his palm. For the life of him, he couldn’t let go. He sucked in a breath as his vision blurred. Before the red haze completely dulled his vision, he saw Raven’s concerned look as her eyes darted between him and the wheelchair-bound figure.

‘Rafael?’

He couldn’t find the words to respond to the greeting. Nor could he find the words to stem Raven’s escalating concern.

Dios mío, he couldn’t even find the courage to turn around. Because how the hell could he explain to Raven that he and he alone was responsible for making his father a quadriplegic?





      CHAPTER THREE

‘DO YOU WANT to talk about it?’

‘The therapy in your job title pertains only to my body, not my mind. You’ll do well to remember that.’

Raven should’ve heeded the icy warning, should’ve just kept her hands on the wheel of the luxury SUV and kept driving towards the stunning glass and steel structure that was Rafael’s home on the other side of the de Cervantes estate from his brother’s villa.

But her senses jumped at the aura of acute pain that had engulfed Rafael the moment he’d turned around to face the old man in the electric wheelchair. The same pain that surrounded him now. Grey lips were pinched into a thin line, his jaw carved from stone and fingers clamped around his walking stick in a white-knuckled grip. Even his breathing had changed. His broad chest rose and fell in an uncharacteristically shallow rhythm that screamed his agitation.

She pulled over next to a tall acacia tree, one of several hundred that lined the long winding driveway and extended into the exquisitely designed landscape beyond. Behind them, the iron gates, manned by twenty-four-hour security, swung shut.

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