The Tuscan's Revenge Wedding(3)

By: Jennifer Blake

“I’m sure you have.” Temper heated her face as she picked up her shoulder bag and swung away from him.

“I do not invite you to an assignation, I promise you,” he called after her with warning in his voice. “It’s about your brother.”

Amanda came to a halt as if hitting an invisible wall. Icy fear crusted the edges of her heart as she turned back. “Jonathan? What about him?”

“There has been an accident.”

“What — what kind of accident?”

Nicholas de Frenza made no answer, but moved to join her. Cupping her elbow, he gestured toward the restaurant entrance with his free hand. The command was silent, but no less authoritative for it. It was also impossible to ignore.

Serious news. An accident that involved Jonathan.

Amanda could imagine any number of disasters, had endured too many to take the words lightly. Her grip on her shoulder bag strap tightened while a shudder moved over her. She turned and walked from the restaurant with the Italian.

~ ~ ~

Nico strode toward the hotel, threading through traffic and workers returning from lunch in a fever of impatience. He might have known Amanda Davies would make this as difficult as possible; she was very like her brother after all, the same coloring, same wary independence, same stiff pride.

She was definitely female; he was Italian enough to notice that without trying. Grazie a Dio, she was not his type. He preferred less cool intelligence and more fire, less prickly defiance and more smiling agreement.

Jonathan Davies’s sister was an American beauty with a trim shape marked by gently rounded breasts in excellent symmetry with the curves of her hips. Her skin was so fine it was almost translucent and touched delicately with rose across the cheekbones. Her hair, an intriguing blend of natural blond shades from pale ash brown to sun-gold, brushed her shoulders in a soft bell shape. Her eyes were the color of smoke yet as transparent as window glass, revealing her every thought. She didn’t trust him and didn’t care if he knew it.

It was maddening when time was so short. He was used to instant respect. Yes, and instant recognition as well. Being forced to identify himself, to explain and persuade where he wanted to insist, wore on his temper. That had not been in the best shape since he’d left Italy long hours ago, was strained still further as he sought his quarry in Atlanta’s muggy heat.

The sister he’d come to find wasn’t what he’d expected. Whether that was good or bad, he had yet to decide.

At the hotel, he went directly to the private elevator in a side corridor. It opened as if waiting for them. Inserting his key card as required, he pressed the button for the penthouse suite.

Amanda Davies gave him a wary glance as they rode upward. Nico ignored it. She would discover soon enough why privacy was required, also that he had no designs upon her delectable body.

“Is Jonathan all right?” she asked, her voice so low he barely heard it above the elevators quiet hum.

“He will live.”

Alarm leaped into her eyes. The color drained from her face, leaving it pale as she stepped back against the wall behind her. “What do you mean? What happened to him? Where is he?”

Nico cursed silently as he reached to take her arm again. He should not have been so brusque. The situation was fresh to her while he’d had many hours to grow used to it. It did not ease his self-blame to discover that fine shivers moved through her in waves.

From out of nowhere came the urge to take her in his arms and hold her close, whispering his mea culpa. He could almost feel her willowy form molded against him, her silky hair against his neck. His palms stung with the need to smooth down her back, to draw her close as he rocked her as he might a child. He wanted to banish the anguished dread he’d seen in the gray depths of her eyes before she shielded it from him.

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