A Stormy Spanish Summer(6)

By: Penny Jordan

She wasn’t going to let him speak to her like that. She couldn’t.

‘I’m not acting,’ she told him. ‘And it wasn’t fear. It was revulsion.’

‘You lost the right to that kind of chaste reaction a long time ago, and we both know it,’ Vidal taunted.

Anger and something else—something aching and sad and lost—tightened painfully in her chest.

Once—also a long time ago, or so it seemed now—she had been a young girl trembling on the brink of her first emotional and sensual crush on a real-life adult man, seeing in him everything her romantic heart craved, and sensing in him the potential to fulfil every innocent sensual fantasy her emerging sexuality had had aching inside her. A sensation, lightning swift and electrifying, raced down her spine, sensitising her flesh and raising the tiny hairs at the nape of her neck.

A new shudder gripped her body. Fresh panic seized her. It must be the heat that was doing this to her. It couldn’t be Vidal himself. It could not, must not be Vidal who was responsible for the sudden unnerving and wholly unwanted tremor of physical sensation that had traced a line of shockingly sensual fire down her spine. It was some kind of physical aberration, that was all—an indirect manifestation of how much she loathed him. A shudder of that loathing, surely, and not a shiver of female longing for the touch of a man who epitomised everything that it meant to be a man who could master and command a woman’s response whenever he chose to do so. After all, there was no way that she could ever want Vidal. No way at all.

The recognition that her pulse was racing and her heart hammering—with righteous anger, of course—had Fliss pausing to take a calming breath, her hostility towards Vidal momentarily forgotten as she breathed in the magical air of the city. It held her spellbound and entranced. Yes, she could smell petrol and diesel fumes, but more importantly she could also smell air heated by the sun, and infused with something of the historic scents of the East and its once all-powerful Moorish rulers: rich subtle perfumes, aromatic spices. If she closed her eyes Fliss was sure she would be able to hear the musical sound of running water—so beloved of the Moors—and see the rich shimmer of the fabrics that had travelled along the Silk Route to reach Granada.

The historic past of the city seemed to reach out and embrace her—a sigh of sweetly scented breath, a waft of richly erotic perfumes, the sensual touch of silk as fine as the lightest caress.

‘This is my car.’

The shock of Vidal’s voice intruding on her private thoughts jolted her back to reality, but not quickly enough for her to avoid the hard male hand against her back from which she had already fled. Its heat seemed to sear her skin through her clothes. So might a man such as this one impose his stamp of possession, his mark of ownership on a woman’s flesh, imprinting her with that mark for all time. Inside her head an image formed—the image of a male hand caressing the curve of a naked female back. Deliberately and erotically that male hand moved downwards to cup the soft curve of the woman’s bottom, turning her to him, his flesh dark against the moonlight paleness of hers, her breathing ragged whilst his deepened into the stalking deliberation of a hunter intent on securing its prey.

No! Her head and her heart were both pounding now as conflicting emotions seized her. She must concentrate on reality. Even knowing that, it still took her a supreme effort of will to do so.

The car he had indicated was very large, very highly polished and black—the kind of car she was used to seeing the rich and powerful being driven around in in London.

‘So you aren’t a supporter of green issues, then?’ Fliss couldn’t resist taunting Vidal as he held open the front passenger door of the car for her, taking her small case from her and putting it on the back seat.

The clunk of the door closing was the only response he gave her, before going round to the driver’s door and getting into the car himself.

Did his silence mean that she had annoyed and angered him? Fliss hoped so. She wanted to get under his skin. She wanted to be a thorn in his side—a reminder to him of what he had done to her, and a reminder to herself.

He hadn’t wanted her to come here. She knew that. He had wanted her to simply allow the lawyers to deal with everything. But she had been determined to come. To spite Vidal? No! It was her heritage she sought, not retribution.

The essence of this country ran in her own blood, after all.

Granada—home to the last of the Moorish rulers of the Emirate of Granada and home to the Alhambra, the red fortress, a complex of such great beauty that her mother’s face had shone with happiness when she had talked to Fliss about it—was part of her heritage.

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