His Ultimate Prize(4)

By: Maya Blake

Heat suffused her face. It was no use pointing out how inappropriate this conversation was. Rafael knew very well what he was doing. And the unrepentant gleam in his eyes told her so.

‘Rafa...’ Marco de Cervantes’s deep voice interrupted them.

Raven glanced up and her eyes collided with steel-grey ones which softened a touch when they lit on his brother.

Like most people who’d worked the X1 Premier circuit, she knew all about the de Cervantes brothers. Gorgeous beyond words and successful in their individual rights, they’d made scores of female hearts flutter, both on and off of the racing circuit.

Marco had been the dynamic ex-racer team boss and race car designer. And Rafael, also insanely gifted behind the wheel, had at the age of twenty-eight founded and established himself as CEO of X1 Premier Management, the multi-billion euro conglomerate that nurtured, trained and looked after racing drivers. Between them they’d won more medals and championships than any other team in the history of the sport.

The last year had changed everything for them, though. Marco had sold the team and married Sasha Fleming, the racing driver who’d won him his last Constructors’ Championship and stolen his heart in the process; and Rafael had spectacularly crashed his car, nearly lost his life and stalled his racing career.

The icy jet of guilt that shot through Raven every time she thought of his accident, and her part in it, threatened to overwhelm her. Her breath caught as she desperately tried to put the incident out of her head. This was neither the time nor the place.

But then, when had timing been her strong suit?

Over and over, she’d proven that when it came to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, she took first prize every single time. At sixteen, it was what had earned her the unwanted attention that had scarred what remained of her already battered childhood.

As a grown woman of twenty-three, foolishly believing she’d put the past behind her, she’d been proved brutally wrong again when she’d met Rafael de Cervantes.

Rafael’s mouth very close to her ear ripped her from her painful thoughts. ‘Right, I’m up, I believe. Which means, so are you.’

Her heart leapt into her throat. ‘Excuse me?’

‘I can barely stand up straight, pequeña. It’s time to do your duty and support me just in case it all gets too much and I keel over.’

‘But you’re perfectly capable—’

‘Rafa...’ Marco’s voice held a touch of impatience.

Rafael’s brow cocked and he held out his arm. With no choice but to comply or risk causing a scene, Raven stood and helped him up. As before, his arm came around her in an all-encompassing hold. And again, she felt the bounds of professionalism slip as she struggled not to feel the effortless, decidedly erotic sensations Rafael commanded so very easily in her. Sensations she’d tried her damnedest to stem and, failing that, ignore since the first moment she’d clapped eyes on the legendary racing driver last year.

What had she said to him—suck it up? She took a breath and fought to take her own advice.

They made their way to the font and Raven managed to summon a smile in answer to Sasha’s open and friendly one. But all through the remainder of the ceremony, Raven was drenched with the feeling that maybe, just maybe, in her haste to assuage her guilt and make amends, she’d made a mistake. Had she, by pushing Rafael to take her on as his personal physiotherapist, jumped from the frying fan into the proverbial fire?

* * *

Rafael repeated the words that bound the small person sleeping peacefully in the elegant but frilly Moses basket to him. He firmed lips that wanted to curl in self-derision.

Who was he to become godfather to another human being?

Everything he touched turned to dust eventually. Sooner or later he ruined everything good in his life. He’d tried to tell his brother over and over since he’d dropped the bombshell on him a month ago. Hell, as late as this morning he’d tried to get Marco to see sense and change his mind about making him godfather.

But Marco, snug in his newfound love-cocoon, had blithely ignored his request to appoint someone else his son’s godfather. Apparently, reality hath no blind spots like a man in love.

Was that a saying? If not, it needed to be.

He was no one’s hero. He was the last person any father should entrust with his child.

He gazed down into his nephew’s sweet, innocent face. How long before Jack de Cervantes recognised him for what he was? An empty shell. A heartless bastard who’d only succeeded at two things—driving fast cars and seducing fast women.

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