Black Widow Bride. Tessa Radley

Black Widow Bride - Tessa Radley

Скачать книгу
know exactly the kind of woman you are. The kind that kisses her best friend’s man, begs him to—”

      “Shut up!”

      He spun her around, pulled her close to avoid another couple. “You promise sin and desire and deliver nothing but carnal delight. I know the temptation you are. Only last night—”

      She froze in his arms and came to a sudden jarring halt.

      “I said shut up,” she huffed. “Or do you want me to cause that scene you’re so terrified of? Here, on Fliss’s big day?” Standing dead still on the dance floor, no longer able to move, she watched the realization dawn as he became aware of where they both stood, of what calamity had nearly befallen them, and watched the mantle of iron control drop into place as the next melody began.

      “I must be mad,” he bit out, his voice full of self-disgust, and he reared back as though he feared she might contaminate him.

      The sheer force of his words released Rebecca from the insanity that held her rooted to the ground. If he was mad, then she must be trapped in the same madness.

      Damon was married. Untouchable. Better she remember that. Shrugging out of his arms, she spun around and stalked away. He let her go.

      And she didn’t dare look back.


      Almost four years later

      Tuesday morning started badly. Rebecca overslept, and by the time T.J. managed to wake her, his insistent little fingers squeezing her cheeks, the dazzling almost-summer sun was already well up in the cloudless Northland sky.

      T.J. was querulous as she hurriedly dressed him. Guilt took over. Yesterday she’d stayed home, taken him to the doctor for the earache that had plagued him over the weekend. Last night he’d cried a little before finally dropping off to sleep, leaving Rebecca to toss and turn for most of the night listening out for him. But he’d slept through.

      Promising herself that she’d cut her workday short and spend the afternoon with him, Rebecca rushed him out the door and strapped him into the car seat, while he grumbled incessantly.

      The whole drive over, Rebecca tried telling herself that Dorothy—T.J.’s caregiver and a former hospice nurse—was far better qualified to look after T.J., that she wasn’t deserting her baby when he needed her most. To no avail.

      Dorothy, bless her kind heart, took one look at T.J.’s mutinous expression and opened her arms wide, promising he could watch a Thomas the Tank Engine DVD so long as he drank some juice and ate sliced mango and apple first. T.J.’s face brightened instantly and Rebecca heaved a giant sigh of relief.

      After Rebecca handed over T.J.’s medication, Dorothy fixed her with a sharp glance. “Don’t you worry yourself about this young man. He’ll be fine. You stayed with him yesterday when he needed you most. Today you can fix your attention on Chocolatique.”

      The understanding beneath the brisk words made Rebecca’s throat tighten.

      As if sensing her volatile, emotive state, Dorothy murmured, “Now, now, Rebecca, off with you, and don’t forget to bring me those almond truffles I’m so addicted to when you collect our boy.”

      “Do I ever forget?” Rebecca gave the older woman a fond smile.

      The glow of good humour that Dorothy generated stayed with Rebecca all the way to Chocolatique. There, on the threshold of her business, all remnants of pleasure evaporated and she came to a shocked, gut-wrenching halt.


      Damon Asteriades sprawled across the wing armchair nearest the door, showing total disregard for the designer suit that he wore with the casual abandon of the very wealthy. In a flash, Rebecca took in the highly polished handmade leather shoes, the open jacket and loosened tie, incongruous in Tohunga. At this time of year the town was populated by European backpackers in T-shirts, shorts and sandals. Up, up went her eyes over the finely carved mouth…up…until his chilling narrowed gaze propelled her into action.

      She crossed the threshold, apprehension parching her mouth, and croaked, “What are you doing here?”

      “The one good thing I remember about you, Rebecca, was your polish, your semblance of manners. Has living up here in the back-of-the-beyond stripped the last veneer of civilisation from you?”

      Rebecca stared into the brutally handsome face, at a total loss for words.

      He straightened. “I have a matter I need to discuss with you.”

      “With me?” Rebecca’s heart lurched. What was he doing up here in Tohunga, hundreds of kilometres north of Auckland? Had the day of reckoning, the day she’d been dreading for more than three years, finally arrived?

      Damon gestured to the empty chair across from him. “Do you see anyone else?” His dangerous pirate face was unreadable, harder than ever, new lines bracketing his full mouth, but it lacked the killing anger she’d expected.

      “What do you want with me?” And immediately wished the tense, hasty words unsaid. Don’t panic, she told herself. Keep it calm, polite. Don’t let him see the dread.

      He didn’t answer. Instead his unnerving gaze swept her from head to toe.

      “You haven’t changed.”

      It didn’t sound like a compliment.

      Rebecca knew she shouldn’t allow him to rattle her. There was nothing wrong with her appearance. The sundress was well cut and appropriate to the warm October spring morning, her long ebony hair secured in a neat French twist. Unless her emotions gave her away, he would see only a well-groomed woman in total command of herself and her surroundings.

      She took her time returning the inspection. The suit would be Italian. Armani perhaps. The unbuttoned jacket revealed a white shirt. It would be made of the finest silk, she remembered, hand tailored for him. Fitting the muscled body beneath to perfection.

      Wrenching her gaze away, she stared into cool blue eyes. “So what do you want?” Certainly not her. He’d never wanted her. But T.J.…well, T.J. was another story.

      Rebecca swallowed the bitter, coppery taste of pure terror.

      Chocolatique was her business, she reminded herself, coming closer.

      And he was the interloper.

      Yet Chocolatique, with its familiar comforting fragrance of chocolate, the warm red and amber tones of the cosy, elegant decor she had spent days selecting, failed to dispel Rebecca’s fear.

      Vaguely she registered that the shop was humming. With the exception of the one empty armchair opposite Damon, every seat in the shop was taken. Even the booths, carefully divided by screens and lush palms in pots to maximise privacy, were full. Yet the rise and fall of busy chatter failed to muffle Rebecca’s unwanted awareness of the man who watched her as though he expected her to turn tail and run.

      Oblivious to the tension, Miranda, her assistant, smiled a greeting from behind the spotless glass counter where dozens of delicacies containing chocolate in some form or another were displayed on hand-painted ceramic platters. It was still too early for the busloads of tourists who stopped in on their route to Cape Reinga for refreshments and to sample and purchase the delicately decorated chocolates several local women produced. For the sake of her regular customers who came each morning for cups of rich chocolate or mochaccino, Rebecca forced a smile.


      The rich, rough velvet of his voice caused tingles to vibrate up her spine. She shivered as every muscle in her body tightened. How did he do it? One word, and she reacted like a cat to its master’s touch.

      But she was no pet.

      She was a woman. Her own woman. Damon Asteriades no longer held any power over her. She no longer fancied herself in love with him. So she flashed him a careless smile. With deliberation, she folded her arms across the high back of the empty armchair

Скачать книгу