To Wear His Ring Again(2)

By: Chantelle Shaw



‘Damn you, Constantin,’ she muttered beneath her breath, just before the door was opened by a familiar figure.

‘Madam,’ Constantin’s butler greeted her gravely, his measured tone and imperturbable features revealing no hint of surprise at her sudden reappearance after two years.

‘Hello, Whittaker. Is my...husband...at home?’ She was annoyed by the huskiness in her voice as she stumbled over the word husband. He wouldn’t be for much longer and she would be free to move on with her life.

She had read in a newspaper that Constantin was in London to attend the opening of a new De Severino Eccellenza store—more commonly known by the company’s logo DSE—in Oxford Street, and she had planned her visit for Sunday morning because, even though he was a workaholic, it was unlikely that Constantin would have gone to the office on a Sunday.

‘The Marquis is downstairs in the gymnasium.’ The butler stepped back to allow her to enter the house. ‘I will inform him on the internal phone that you are here.’

‘No!’ Isobel stopped him. She wanted to retain the element of surprise. As Whittaker’s brow pleated in a faint frown she added quickly, ‘He...he’s expecting me.’ It was the truth of sorts, she assured herself. No doubt Constantin was waiting for her to meekly sign the divorce petition, but he probably did not expect her to deliver the document in person. She hurried along the hall towards the stairs that led down to the basement.

Constantin had had the gym installed soon after their marriage so that he could work out at home rather than stop off at his private health club after he’d spent all day at the office. Descending the stairs, Isobel could hear a rhythmic pounding noise. The door to the gym was open, and she had a clear view of him slamming his fists into a punchbag. He was totally focused on what he was doing and did not notice her.

Her mouth ran dry as she stood in the corridor and studied him. She had forgotten how big he was! He owed his six-feet-plus height to his American mother, who—on one of the rare occasions when he had spoken about his family—Constantin had told Isobel had been a successful model before she had married his father.

She guessed his slashing cheekbones and classically sculpted features were also a result of his mother’s genes, but in every other way he was pure Italian male, with exotic olive skin and dark, almost black, glossy hair that grew in luxuriant waves and refused to be completely tamed by the barber’s scissors. His shorts and gym vest revealed his powerful thigh and shoulder muscles, and the curling black hairs on his chest were damp with sweat as he powered his fists into the punchbag.

He would need to take a shower after his punishing workout, Isobel mused. An unbidden memory slid into her mind of the early days of their marriage when she had often come down to the gym to watch Constantin work out, and afterwards they had shared a shower. The two years that they had been apart melted away as she remembered running her hands over his naked, muscular thighs and stretching her fingers around his powerful erection while he smoothed a bar of soap over her breasts and continued down her quivering, shivering body until she begged him to end the torment and take her hard and fast, leaning against the wall of the shower cubicle.

Dear heaven! Scalding heat swept through her veins, and she could not repress a choked sound in her throat that immediately alerted Constantin to her presence. His head shot round, and for perhaps thirty seconds Isobel saw a stunned expression on his face before his chiselled features hardened and became unreadable. He pulled off his boxing gloves and strolled towards her.

‘Isabella!’

His deep voice was as sensuous as bittersweet chocolate, and his use of the Italian version of her name evoked a flood of molten desire in the pit of Isobel’s stomach. How could he have such a devastating effect on her after all this time? Working in the music industry, she was often in the company of good-looking men, but she’d never felt a spark of desire for anyone she’d met. She had put her lack of interest down to the fact that she was still legally married—for although she and Constantin had parted on bad terms she believed in fidelity within marriage. But with a flash of near despair she realised that no other man excited her as her husband did. For the past two years her sexual desires had lain dormant, but one look at Constantin was all it had taken to arouse her body to a fever pitch of lustful longing.

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