Pregnancy of Revenge(5)

By: Jacqueline Baird

She stood on the edge of the pavement and glanced up and down the street. Not a taxi in sight. 'Damn it to hell,' she muttered.

'Now is that any way for a lady to talk? Shame on you, Charlotte,' a deep, dark voice drawled mockingly.

Charlie spun around, and found herself only inches away from a large male body. 'Mr d'Amato,' she said coolly, but she could do nothing about the surge of colour in her cheeks.

'Jake,' he corrected. 'Now what seems to be your problem, Charlotta? Maybe I can help.'

The accented way he said her name was enough to give her goose bumps. 'Most people call me Charlie, and I am trying to get a taxi back to my flat.'

'Charlie is no name for a beautiful woman and I refuse to use it,' he declared firmly. 'As for the taxi, that is no problem.' The smile accompanying his words held such devastating charm Charlie could not help smiling back. 'My car is here.' He gestured with one hand to the sleek navy blue saloon parked on double yellow lines about ten yards away. 'I'll take you wherever you want to go.'

'Oh, no, I couldn't possibly—'

'Preferably to dinner, and of course you can.'

Five minutes later she was seated in the passenger seat of a luxury car and Jake was in the driving seat, having ascertained she'd intended to eat alone, and bulldozed her into dining with him at a well-known London restaurant.

'Do you always get your own way?' Charlie asked dryly.

Jake turned slightly, his thigh brushing hers in the process. 'No, not always,' he said seriously, his dark eyes capturing hers. Reaching out, he clasped her small chin between his thumb and finger and tilted her face towards him. 'But when it is something or someone I truly want, I always succeed.'

Charlie swallowed hard and sought a witty comeback, but words failed her as his hands dropped to curve around her shoulders. He made no attempt to pull her into his arms. He didn't need to. His mouth covered hers and he coaxed her lips to part to the gentle invasion of his tongue. The steadily increasing passion of his kiss ignited a slow burning sensation deep down in her belly that was entirely new to her. Suddenly Charlie wanted him with a hunger that shocked even as it thrilled her, and instinctively her hands lifted to his broad shoulders, but she didn't reach them.

'Dio mio!' Jake exclaimed shakily, and, grasping her hands, he pulled back and pressed them to her sides. His heavy-lidded dark eyes swept over her dazed face, and lingered on her softly swollen lips.

'You are some woman,' he commented, and for a moment Charlie thought there was anger in the dark eyes that stared down at her. Then he pressed a brief kiss on the tip of her nose and added, 'I promised you dinner, the rest must wait.' He slanted her a wickedly seductive smile, before starting the car and driving off.

Charlie didn't say a word. She could hardly believe what had happened; it was so unlike her. Where had her common sense, the steely nerve she was noted for, gone? Banished into oblivion by one kiss. Her entire body thrummed with a strange excitement and she had never in her wildest dreams believed a man could make her feel so wonderfully, vibrantly alive. But what was even more unbelievable was that Jake seemed to be as captivated by her as she was with him. She had felt it in the pounding of his heart, his shaken reaction when he had ended the kiss.

Suddenly the dinner she had tried to refuse held great appeal.


IT WAS an exclusive French restaurant and at first glance appeared to be full, but within seconds of them entering the head waiter was at Jake's side, and declaring it was a great pleasure to see him again, and his charming companion. His shrewd eyes flashed an appreciative glance over Charlie as he bowed courteously and led them to a small table set for two in an intimate corner of the room.

She looked around the dining room, her blue eyes widening in awe as she recognized a couple of politicians and a few famous faces from television. 'You must have friends in high places,' she said, grinning across the table at Jake. 'I read an article about this restaurant in a Sunday supplement. But it's even better than I imagined, though I never thought I would ever eat here.' Eyes shining, she leant forward slightly. 'Apparently one has to book months in advance.'

'Obviously not in my case,' Jake said arrogantly as the waiter arrived with the menus.

Disconcerted by his cool reply, Charlotte felt her smile fade as she realised her mistake. He was a big man and every inch the dominant male. Add wealth and sophistication, and it would take a very brave man or a fool to turn him down. As for women-—she only had to recall how easily he had overcome her objections to dining with him to know the woman probably wasn't born who could say no to him.

She gratefully accepted the menu from the waiter and buried her head in it, telling herself to get a grip. Instead of spouting off like some overenthusiastic teenager, she would show Jake d'Amato she could be as sophisticated as any woman.