The Tuscan's Revenge Wedding(9)

By: Jennifer Blake

Amanda’s mouth went dry. Her heartbeat quickened and her breasts tingled with the need to press against the soft mat that surely lay beneath his silk shirt. She twisted in her seat to face away from him, closing her hands slowly on the paper she held.

“You are all right? Flying isn’t a problem for you?”

“No, not at all.”

“If you are uncomfortable, don’t stand on ceremony. Take off your jacket and shoes. Relax. Nap. Whatever pleases you.”

“I’m fine,” she said tonelessly, staring at meaningless newsprint. Perhaps she would comply later, when she was sure he was no longer paying attention.

“Sleeping accommodations are in the rear of the plane if you would care to rest in privacy.”

She gave him a quick glance, but saw only the polite concern of a host in the blackness of his eyes. It seemed best to play it safe anyway. “Thank you, but I don’t think so.”

“As you prefer.” He returned to his work.

Quiet stretched with nothing except the rustle of papers and dull roar of the engines to fill it. When it threatened to become more than a little uncomfortable, Amanda moistened her lips. “How long until we arrive?”

“Nine hours, give or take,” he answered without looking up.

“You spoke to someone at the hospital while on the way to the airport, I think. What did they say?”

“There has been no change.”

She folded her paper and leaned to return it to the table. “Just that, nothing more?”


“Why didn’t you tell me anyway?”

The sudden lift of his dark eyes in full attention made her sit back in her seat. She was almost sorry she’d asked.

“I didn’t realize you were listening to my conversations or that you understood them.”

“I wasn’t, I don’t,” she said with heat rising in her face. “I just — I thought I heard the word for doctor.”

He gave a brief nod. “Dottore, yes. But there was no news about your brother, so no reason to disturb you by making you think of the accident again. Had there been anything to report, I would have told you at once.”

How very autocratic, she thought, studying his stern yet incredibly well-arranged features. Still, she was fair-minded enough to recognize that he’d been considerate in his way.

“No change in your sister’s condition, either?” she asked after a moment.

“None.” With that single clipped word, he returned to his paperwork again, effectively ending the conversation.

Autocratic, indeed.

She should have picked up the novel she’d been reading, she thought, tucking it into her carryon as she left her apartment. She needed something to occupy her thoughts. Still, it might not have served the purpose. She was too unsettled to turn on the small television built into the arm of the chair where she sat, and she had no interest in a movie or whatever else might be available. She had exhausted the possibilities of the newspaper, and the magazines beside it were in Italian.

She eyed that table while wondering just how comfortable its height might be. After a moment, she slipped out of her plain pumps with their low heels and lifted her feet to the cool surface. Crossing them at the ankle, she let out a soft sigh of relief. She leaned her head back and allowed her eyes to close while listening to the soothing drone of the plane.

The tears came from deep inside, making it difficult to breathe. Jonathan, oh, Jonathan, she thought, so like the father he’d idolized in death, even to becoming a highly paid race car driver whose face stared out from motor oil bottles and cereal boxes. Every daredevil adventure, every trophy won at the track was a forlorn search for the love and acceptance he’d never had from his famous parent. And now he’d taken a young woman with him on one of his skilled yet too-fast rides. How could he? How could he?

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