The Tuscan's Revenge Wedding(6)

By: Jennifer Blake

“Bene. Let it pass. You will fly with me now to Florence. We can be at the hospital in a matter of hours.”

Her chin came up and wariness returned to her eyes. “There’s no need for that. I’ll go to Jonathan as soon as possible, tomorrow at the latest, but have things that must be done first.”

“Time is of first importance,” he said with hard precision. “It will be better to go at once.”

“But I have a job, an apartment to be looked after.”

“A leave of absence has been approved for you. An agency that monitors apartments while tenants are away has been contacted, and will send someone to water your plants and retrieve your mail. If you like, I can have your clothing packed and sent after us, though it would be more practical to buy a few things after you arrive.”

She sprang to her feet. “You went to where I work?”

“Naturally,” he answered as he stood as well, facing her in the gray dimness of the room. “Your employer was most understanding. The receptionist was kind enough to tell me where you normally lunch when both understood why I had to speak to you.”

“You know where I live, that I have plants?” Her voice climbed an octave. “You went into my apartment?”

“By no means,” he answered with an impatient gesture.

“But how can you—”

“The details were handled by my personal assistant. An investigating firm was called in as all I had was your name and city. They located your employer, discovered your address, and interviewed the superintendent of your building.”

“Just like that.”

Her voice held remnants of anger, but also a trace of bewilderment. Hearing it, he gentled his tone. “Come, this is getting us nowhere. I have a car and driver downstairs. We will stop at your apartment long enough to collect your passport and other personal belongings, but must be at the airport within the hour. Our window for takeoff is narrow and may be altered by the rain.”

“You can’t just arrange my life as you please.”

“It’s done,” he said with finality.

She searched his face for long seconds while a pucker of suspicion lingered between her brows. “Why are you doing this? Why are you going to so much trouble to take me to Italy?”

“Not for the purpose you seem to think,” he answered, while heat kindled in his veins at the idea. “To meet you was Carita’s dearest wish as she hoped to be a sister to you one day, the last words she said to nonna, our grandmother, on the morning of the accident. Nonna is no longer young and has great faith in portents. She asked that I find you, and will be greatly relieved to know you are on this return flight.” That he also wished to meet Jonathan Davies’s sister was not pertinent, nor was the fact that this fast journey gave him something to do other than prowl hospital corridors while Carita lay comatose in Critical Care.

Her features smoothed a degree, but she still shook her head, opened her lips to speak.

He responded to that negative movement before she could make a sound. “I also assumed you would wish to be with your brother. You are, so I am told, his only family, just as he is yours. If I am wrong, if you don’t want to be with him as soon as possible, you have only to say so.”

“Of course I want to see him! I intend to see him. But I’m not helpless. I can book my own flight, make my own way.”

“No doubt, but it will take time. I am here, the plane is ready, and you can be with your brother many hours sooner by putting your trust in me. Can you not do that?”

Silence descended in which he could hear the distant roar of traffic, rain against window glass and the muted ping of the elevator bell on a floor somewhere below. His nerves stretched to annoying tightness. His fingertips tingled with the urge to touch her, to soothe her distress and encourage the answer he wished as well as to test the softness of her skin. The impulse, natural as it might be for him, could have the opposite effect from the one intended. Restraining it did nothing to soothe his temper.

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