Pregnancy of Revenge(5)

By: Jacqueline Baird

Not her sort of man at all. She had been here far too long and it was scrambling her brain. She tightened her grip or her clutch bag and with a swift sidestep put some space between them.

'Well, I wish you joy of your purchase, Mr d'Amato Nice to meet you, but now I must be leaving.' And, spinning on her heel, she dived headlong into the crowd before she made a bigger fool of herself than she already had.

Safely in the ladies' cloakroom, she studied her reflection in the mirror. Her face was flushed, her blue eyes unusually bright. She could not believe a man who was obviously from the same mould as her father could have such a startling effect on her, and it scared her witless. She had loved he dad, but only a complete idiot would willingly get entangled with a philanderer of the same ilk.

The only reason Charlotte existed was because Robert Summerville, nineteen and studying art, had got her mother pregnant, and her parents had insisted they marry. It was probably the only time in his life Robert had been coerced into anything. When he had graduated two years later he had left wife and daughter with the maternal grandparents in the Lake District and gone to find his 'true artist's soul'. Charlie and her mother hadn't seen him for three years, and only then to obtain the inevitable divorce.

Charlie suddenly thought it was quite possible Jake d'Amato was also a married man, and she had been so overwhelmed by his effect on her she had behaved like a fool. How embarrassing was that? She needed to get back to her own world, and quick. A taxi back to the apartment her friend Dave had lent her, a simple dinner and an early night were what she needed, not swooning over some man. Straightening her shoulders, she walked out of the cloakroom, and hastily left the building.

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.