The Tuscan's Revenge Wedding(4)

By: Jennifer Blake

That would go over well, he was sure. She already thought him capable of enticing her to his hotel room for an afternoon of pleasure.

The elevator chimed their arrival at the suite and the door slid open. Nico let out the breath he had not realized he was holding.

He ushered Amanda Davies from the elevator. They crossed a small foyer, entering a living area furnished with comfortable sofas and a plethora of tables, lamps and original artwork. He glanced at the view of Atlanta through the floor to ceiling windows as he heard the spatter of rain against them. They had barely made it in time to escape the deluge.

The drinks tray he’d ordered before leaving for the restaurant waited on a side table. He walked toward it after seating his guest on the largest of the suite’s sofas. “Sherry?” he inquired over his shoulder. “Or would you prefer a brandy.”

“Neither one, thank you. I want — I just need to know about Jonathan.”

He poured brandy into a small snifter anyway, and carried it with him as he joined her. Setting it on the table next to her elbow, he took the seat beside her. “You are familiar with the Cinque Terre?” he began at a tangent to remedy his earlier callousness. “You perhaps know this region sometimes called the Italian Riviera?”

“No — yes, but only in a vague sort of way. Just tell me.” She clasped her hands in her lap while dark apprehension gathered in the gaze she fastened upon him.

“It has a rocky coastline with a narrow road that winds along a ledge above the sea before traveling over the mountains. Your brother’s car went off this road some miles north of Livorno.”

She drew a sharp breath as if at a blow, but did not look away from him. “Was — was he hurt?”

“He has injuries, yes. He and his passenger were taken to a medical center in Florence.”

“His passenger.”

“My sister, Carita de Frenza.”

“Dear heaven,” she whispered. Her fingers turned as white as the Carrera marble of his home region as she gripped them together.

Nico reached to take the brandy snifter and put it into her hands, wrapping her fingers around it, feeling their chill within his own warm hold. When she made no move to drink, he lifted the glass to her lips that were white-rimmed and trembling, tipping it with slow insistence.

She took a sip, though only to prevent the fiery liquid from spilling down her chin, he was sure. Her eyes watered and she swallowed with a convulsive movement in the white line of her throat. She refused to cough, however, turning her head away from him until she could breathe again.

When she looked back, a touch of color had returned to her cheekbones. Watching it, and also the sheen of anger in her eyes, Nico suspected they was caused as much by his attempt to help her as by his rather graphic description of the accident.

“Jonathan’s injuries,” she said. “Are they so bad?”

“Painful but not life-threatening according to his doctors. He has a broken leg, cracked ribs that bruised a lung, a dislocated shoulder with strained muscles and various other cuts and bruises. He is heavily sedated, or was when I saw him some hours ago.”

She closed her eyes so moisture rimmed the base of her lashes, but opened them again almost at once. “You said — your sister was with him?”

He inclined his head. “He and Carita have been seeing each other for two months or more, though I only learned of it when called back from an extended business trip because of the accident. You did not know this?”

She shook her head so her hair swung around her face, framing it in shining strands.

“You are quite sure you had not heard the De Frenza name, did not know, perhaps, that Carita was of my family?”

“I told you I’d never heard it. Jonathan is grown man with his own life and a career that often takes him abroad. I was no more aware of this — this relationship than you.”

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