Never Gamble with a Caffarelli

By: Melanie Milburne

Keep cool? Who was he kidding? He didn’t feel cool. He’d never had to think so fast on his feet in his life. Pretending she was his fiancée had just popped into his head. And it still might not be enough to get them over the line.

‘I’m not marrying you!’ She flashed him a livid, blue-lightning look. ‘I’d rather die!’

‘Yes, well, you just might get that choice,’ he said. ‘We’re not in France, Italy or England right now. Didn’t you check out the Smart Traveller website before you came?’

Her throat rose and fell. ‘I didn’t think. I just...’

‘Not thinking is something you do remarkably well.’ Remy gave her a dressing-down look. ‘You’ve made a lifetime’s work of it.’

Her small hands clenched into tight fists and her eyes gave him another deadly glare. ‘I thought you were best friends with the Crown Prince. Can’t he do something?’

‘Afraid not.’ Remy had already had this debate with his friend during university. ‘The royal family have a lot of power but not enough to overrule laws of the elder tribesmen of the province.’

‘But that’s ridiculous!’

Remy gave her a cautionary look. ‘If you’re going to stand there spluttering insults like a Roman candle firecracker, I’m not going to lay down my life for you.’

She opened and closed her mouth, seemingly lost for words. Not that it would last. He knew how quick and sharp her tongue could be. She always tried to get the last word.

He was the only person in her life who wouldn’t let her have it.

‘Monsieur Caffarelli?’ The official stepped forward. ‘We must leave now to make the necessary arrangements to conduct the ceremony first thing in the morning. We will arrange alternative accommodation for your fiancée. You will understand that she is not permitted to spend the night in your room.’

‘But of course.’ Remy gave him another charming smile. I don’t want her here in any case. ‘I understand completely. I sincerely apologise for my fiancée’s impulsive behaviour. She is a little wilful and headstrong at times, but once we are married she will soon learn to toe the line. I’ll make absolutely sure of it.’

Remy smiled to himself when he saw the two red-hot spots of colour pooling in Angelique’s cheeks. She was standing rock-steady but he knew her well enough to know she was beyond livid with him. He could see it in her stormy eyes and in the clenched posture of her jaw. Too bad they had to have a chaperone. He would have quite liked to see what that anger looked like when it was finally unleashed.

Angelique turned to look at the senior official, her expression now meek and demure, those thick, impossibly long eyelashes batting up and down for good measure. ‘Please may I have a private word with my, er, fiancé? Perhaps you could chaperone us from the lounge. We’ll leave the door open here. Would that be acceptable?’

The official gave a formal nod and indicated with a jerk of his head for his sidekick to follow him out to the lounge area.

Remy got the full, fiery force of Angelique’s gaze as she swung around to face him once the officials had gone. ‘There’s no point glaring at me like that,’ he said before she could let fly. ‘You’re the one who brought this about.’

She visibly shook with rage. It reminded him of the shuddering of a small two-stroke engine on the back of a dingy.

‘Fiancée?’ She sounded like she was choking on the word. ‘Why couldn’t you have said I was your sister or...or even your cousin?’

‘Because the whole world knows I’m one of three brothers who were orphaned when we were young. And since both of my parents were only children, I don’t have any cousins.’

Her eyes fired another round of hatred at him. ‘Did you have to make that comment about controlling me as if I’m some sort of waspish virago? You did it deliberately, didn’t you? You just can’t help yourself. Any chance you get, you like to thrust home the chauvinist dagger.’

Right now that wasn’t the only thing Remy wanted to thrust home. He had always tried to ignore the sexual attraction he felt for her. In the past she had always been banned by his family or too involved with someone else. But it was hard to ignore the tingling that was stirring in his loins right now.

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