Wild Cat(5)

By: Christine Feehan

“Marco knows what he is doing. Always you worry,” her grandfather repeated.

“She is close to the Han Vol Dan. I feel it. My other feels it. She’s very close.”

“You saw evidence of this?”

“No evidence, just a feeling. She can’t do this, Tonio. Stop her. I’m telling you, something could go wrong. If the timing is off, if she lingers…”

“She’s a good girl. She will do as she’s told and then go to her gym where many witnesses will see her there.”

Witnesses? She is close? What did that mean. Evidence? What were they talking about?

“Tonio.” Paolo bit out the name between his teeth.

“Paolo.” Her grandfather did the same. “The subject is closed. Go find her. Tell her the wine is in her car and she must go now.”

Paolo swore in Italian, but she knew he would obey. Everyone obeyed her grandfather. He’d built an empire with his wineries and his amazing grapes. He had more money than he knew what to do with, and he’d made good friends and many enemies along the way.

The breathing helped and the wildness in her subsided. She turned away from the sitting room to make her way to the landing at the top of the stairs, acting as though she hadn’t come down already. She had no idea why she did that, but it was instinctive. She knew her grandfather and Paolo would both be upset if they knew she heard their strange conversation. The knowledge came from the tone of their voices in their whispered exchange – almost as if they were involved in a conspiracy.

“Siena.” Paolo’s voice came up the stairs. “I’d like a word with you before you go. Your grandfather wants you to get moving. He says he doesn’t want you to miss Elijah.”

She winced at that hard authority in his voice. He was becoming more and more bossy with her. When she’d been a teenager, he’d been less so. Now, he watched her all the time. She wasn’t certain why. She looked young, so he might think she was still a teenager. She’d just turned twenty-four while she was away at school, and no one, not even her grandfather, had remembered her birthday, so how could she expect Paolo to know? Still, she had studied oenology and viticulture for years and had so many degrees you would think Paolo would consider her intelligent, but he always spoke as if she were a child. Of course no one had come to her graduations – not any of them – so maybe he didn’t know that either. Maybe they all still thought she was in boarding school.

“Coming, Paolo,” she called, as she once more gripped her gym bag and began her descent. “Did Nonno have someone put the wine in my car?”

She hurried down the stairs again and immediately felt the impact of his gaze like a hard punch. He reached out and caught her arm, jerking her close to him, his fingers a vise.

The instant he touched her, the wild unfurled in the pit of her stomach. Something dangerous and scary. She heard her heart thundering in her ears. She felt the need to rake and claw at him. She stayed very still, breathing hard.

“You changed?” He growled it. “To see Lospostos, you changed your clothes?”

“I could hardly wear my workout clothes on an important call for my grandfather, Paolo,” she pointed out, keeping her voice even and calm when she uncharacteristically wanted to rake her fingernails down his face. “You’re hurting me. Let. Go.” She stared straight into his eyes. His eyes were weird. Scary. He looked as if he might kill her any moment.

“Not until you listen to the rules of this visit.” He pulled her from the staircase, away from the sitting room where her grandfather watched television and into the foyer.

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