The Spanish Billionaire's Hired Bride(8)By: Rachel Lyndhurst
“Yes,” she said firmly. Ricardo poured her a glass of red wine from a stubby carafe. Finding it impossible to maintain eye contact with him any longer, she took a sip from her glass. “Presumably Alfonso’s moral code extends to both parties?”
“If you’re asking me if I’m married, then the answer is a definite no.” He leaned back into his chair and smiled lazily. “Would you be here if I was?”
“I don’t see why not,” Helen said brightly. “We’re only having dinner. It’s not as if anything sordid is going on between us, is it?”
“No, no it isn’t.”
For the next hour Helen enjoyed a selection of the day’s special dishes, made to order using the freshest seasonal produce from the market each day. Helen nibbled first on fragaglie, deep-fried baby fish, and they were so delicious she ate the lot as Italian opera played subtly in the background. Consequently, she struggled to finish her exquisitely charred pizza. Ricardo had no such difficulty and not only demolished his pizza, but managed to finish a steaming bowl of pasta and a whole mozzarella di bufala as well.
“Dessert?” he said as Helen dabbed her napkin to her lips.
“You’re kidding. I’m fit to burst.”
“I can see you need some practice when it comes to eating five course meals. It’s no wonder you’re so skinny.”
“Hardly!” Helen said, but was secretly pleased at the compliment. She’d never been skinny, and never would be. Her genes wouldn’t allow it.
“Okay, shall we take our coffee outside? It’s quieter and less crowded out there.” He stood and gestured for her to follow, but not before she saw Alfonso leaning out of the kitchen door, winking at Ricardo. “Ignore the old fool. He’s trying to embarrass me. He’s been doing things like that since I was a teenager.”
The tiny courtyard was surrounded by high stone walls that looked centuries old. It was illuminated by lanterns and a spot-lit fountain that trickled pleasantly in the darkness. The perfume of jasmine flowers and basil filled the night air as she followed Ricardo to a round table.
“It’s lovely.” Helen closed her eyes in appreciation. “I can’t believe we’re the only ones out here.”
“And I have seen to it that it stays that way,” Ricardo murmured.
The hairs stood up on the back of her neck as his eyes fixed her with a strange intensity. “What do you mean?”
“I have a proposition for you, and I don’t want it to be the talk of the Balearics by morning. Not until I choose it to be, anyway.”
“Go on,” she whispered, trying to hide the excitement in her voice.
“You need money, yes?”
“I’ve already told you that.”
“You didn’t tell me how much though, did you?”
Helen began to feel nervous. “It’s not any of your business.”
“It could be.”
“I’m not following you, Mr. Almanza, and I now think it’s time I went home.”
“You can’t possibly call that hovel down the street home. And the other place? The place you call home in England? You can’t go back there until you’ve put your hands on enough money to satisfy whatever squalid needs you have there. I’ve deduced that much.”
“How dare you! You know nothing about me or my circumstances.”
“Maybe not, and I’m not the least bit interested in your life in England, but you need money fast and I’ve got lots of it.”
“So? Am I supposed to be impressed?”
“Please be quiet and listen. I also need something quickly, and I think you’re the perfect person to help me out.”
Helen went to get up. She wanted to walk away from the bizarre discussion. She’d heard enough. “This conversation is over.”