Wife By ForceBy: Caro LaFever
She took another step away.
The edge of his mouth quirked. “Do not worry, bella. I have control over myself. I will not pounce. For now.”
The old nickname twisted inside her. “Don’t call me bella. And don’t pounce.”
“Something you must remember about me—”
“I don’t want to remember anything—”
“I do not follow directions well if I don’t agree with them.” The quirk appeared once more on his mouth. “Actually, I don’t follow them at all.”
“Listen to me, Dante Casartelli.” She glared at him from several safe feet back. “I want nothing to do with you. I’m not interested in you. Leave me alone.”
Meeting her glare with a bland look, he stood silent.
“Did you hear me?”
“Si,” he murmured. “I heard you.”
“Good.” She turned and walked away without looking back.
Dante’s hand was steady as he poured the Hennessy cognac into a crystal glass.
Remarkable, since the blood in his veins beat hot against his skin and his body sizzled with leftover lust. Even hours later.
The color of the liquor brought back the memory of her eyes. Honey gold, they dominated her face. The moment when she’d looked straight at him, mere hours ago, would last in his mind for a long time. He’d anticipated, realized there would be some impact when he saw her. Still, the jolt had been harder and stronger than his expectations.
Lara had grown into her coltish legs, big eyes, pointed chin. Grown into the woman he’d known she would be. Lush, lovely and sexy. The photos and videos he’d been sent over the years by his security team had not done her justice. Convincing her father to send her to England had been easy once he’d promised his security would follow her. Little had he understood how tied he’d become to the constant stream of images passing across his computer.
Yet none of those pictures had captured the reality of Lara Derrick in the flesh.
The lust churned in his blood.
He sipped the cognac and calmly clamped down on his libido. It would not do to let himself off his long-held leash. He’d waited this long; he could wait a bit longer. The important thing was she was home at last where she belonged. He’d forced himself to keep away these last few months. Forced himself to give her some time before making his move and causing any disruption in her decision to return.
He’d been correct to do so. Apparently, she’d settled in and planned to stay.
This isn’t a holiday.
Which was all to the good. His maneuvering, his work behind the scenes during the last months—it had placed her right where he wanted her.
Where she’d always belonged even though she’d denied it, and him, ten years ago. However, he was known for his patience now, patience he’d learned one hard step at a time. Impetuous actions led only to disastrous results. The years had taught him well and he never allowed himself to slip. Now he was legendary for quite the opposite of what he’d once been.
Patient. In control. Always, always achieving the goal.
Taking another sip, he grimaced at himself. He would not pretend this was like any other objective he needed to carry out. This goal. Oh, no. This objective, this goal meant everything.
Dio, the impact she had on him.
He’d forgotten. Purposefully.
With one glance, she'd brought it all back.
The need for her had drummed in him through tonight’s long dinner. Desire had lashed him as he stood and watched her smile and laugh with his sisters. Craving had curled its way into his gut as he said goodbye to her father and noticed her ignoring him once more.
She was angry. At him. Even after all these years. Over a few blunt words.
True, he had not handled the night of her seventeenth birthday well. In his defense, she had caught him by surprise. Though surely as a grown woman she would have realized why he’d said and done what he had. He’d needed to draw a line neither of them could cross.
A piercing memory struck him. Her young face white in the night shadows. Her eyes staring at him as he talked. The way her pointed chin wobbled for a moment before she turned and walked away from him.
Exactly as she had tonight.
He pushed the thought back. He hadn’t meant to hurt her that night; still it had been necessary. If he had to do it over again, he would. And his subsequent actions, actions she knew nothing of, had been necessary to separate them before the temptation became too great. He’d also thought it would help her to broaden her horizons and spread her wings. His actions had all been for Lara’s benefit.
Not all your actions.
Ah, well. That was long ago, when he still allowed his emotions to ride him.