The Playboy of Argentina(4)

By: Bella Frances


‘I knew it was you.’

She forced her eyes to his even as the low growl in his voice twisted around her.

He was still in his playing clothes, his face flushed with effort and sweat, his hair mussed and tousled. Alive and vital and male. She could hardly find the strength to stand facing him, eyeing him, but she was determined to hold her own in the face of all that man.

‘I came to see Ipanema’s mares.’

Her words were stifled and flat in the perfectly climate-controlled air. Another pony stamped and turned its head.

‘You came to see me.’

Her eyes widened in shock and she spluttered a laugh. ‘Are you joking?’

He stepped back from her, tilted his head as if she was a specimen at some livestock market and he might, just might, be tempted.

He raised an eyebrow. Shook his head—the slightest movement. ‘No.’

He was appalling, arrogant—outrageous in his ego.

‘Look, think what you like—and I’m sorry I didn’t ask permission to come to a charity match—but, really? Come to see you? When I was sixteen I had more than my fill of you.’

A rush of something dangerous, wicked and wondrous flashed over his eyes and he closed the gap between them in a single step. His fingers landed on her shoulder, strong, warm and instantly inflaming. He didn’t pull her towards him. He didn’t need to. She felt as if she was flush against him, and her body sang with delight.

‘You didn’t get your fill—not at all.’ He curled his lip for a moment. ‘But you wanted to.’

The coal-black eyes were trained right on her and she knew if she opened her mouth it would be to whimper. She clamped it shut. She would stare him out and then get the hell away from him.

But his hand moved from her shoulder, spread its warming brand up her neck.

‘Frankie … Little Frankie.’

He cupped the back of her head, held her. Just there.

She jerked away.

‘What?’

If she could have spat out the word with venom she would have, but she was lucky to get it out at all, the way he was simply staring at her.

‘All grown-up.’

He took another step. She saw the logo of his team in red silk thread: two balls, two sticks, two letters H. She saw the firm wall of muscle under his shirt—hard, wide pecs, the shadow of light chest hair framed in the V. She saw the caramel skin and the wide muscular neck, the heavy pepper of stubble and the rich wine lips. She saw his broken nose, his intensely dark eyes, his questioning brows. And she scented him. Pure man.

That hand was placed on her head—and it felt as if he was the high priest and this was some kind of healing ritual.

One she did not need to receive.

‘Yes, all grown-up. And leaving.’ She pulled away. ‘Let me past. I want to go.’

But he held her. Loosely. His eyes finally dropped to absorb every other possible detail. She could feel his appraisal of her sooty eyes too big for her face; her nose too thin; her mouth too small; her chin too pointed. But instead of stepping back he seemed to swell into the last remaining inch of space and he shook his head.

‘In a moment. Where are you staying?’

She wavered—rushed a scenario through her mind of him at her cute little hotel, in her tiny room. Filling up all the space. The picture was almost too hot to hold in her head.

‘That doesn’t matter. I’m only here for a day or so.’

He was in no hurry to move. She looked away, around, at the empty glass she somehow still clutched in her hand. Anywhere but at him.

‘I think you should stay a little longer. Catch up.’

There was nothing but him—his body and his energy. Ten years ago she had dreamed of this moment. She had wept and pined and fantasised. And now she would rather die than give him the satisfaction.

‘Catch up with what? I’ve no wish to go over old ground with you.’

‘You think we covered ground? Back then? In that tiny little bed in your farmhouse?’

His words slipped out silken and dark.

‘You have no idea, querida, how far I would have liked to have gone with you.’

He caught a handful of her bobbed hair and tugged. She flinched—not in pain, but in traitorous delight.

‘How far I would go with you now …’

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