His Ultimate Prize(6)

By: Maya Blake

She’d gone out of her way to hammer her rejection home...right at the time when he’d been in no state to be rejected...

His jaw tightened. ‘How I choose to treat my physiotherapist is really none of your business, Sasha.’

A hint of sadness flitted through her eyes before she looked down at her son. ‘Despite what you might think, I’m still your friend, so stop trying to push me away because, in case you need reminding, I push back.’ She glanced back at him with a look of steely determination.

He sighed. ‘I’d forgotten how stubborn you are.’

‘It’s okay. I’m happy to remind you when you need reminding. Your equally demanding godson demands your presence at the villa, so we’ll see you both there in half an hour. No excuses.’

‘If we must,’ Rafael responded in a bored drawl.

Sasha’s lips firmed. ‘You must. Or I’ll have to leave my guests and come and fetch you personally. And Marco wouldn’t like that at all.’

‘I stopped being terrified of my big brother long before I lost my baby teeth, piqueña.’

‘Yes, but I know you wouldn’t want to disappoint him. Also, don’t forget about Raven.’

He glanced over his shoulder at the woman in question, who now stood with her head bent as she spoke to one of the altar boys. Her namesake hair fell forward as she nodded in response to something the boy said. From the close contact necessitated by her profession, Rafael knew exactly how silky and luxuriant her hair felt against his skin. He’d long stopped resenting the kick in his groin when he looked at her. In fact he welcomed it. He’d lost a lot after his accident, not just a percentage of his physical mobility. With each groin kick, he ferociously celebrated the return of his libido.

‘What about Raven?’ he asked.

‘I’ve seen her in action during her training sessions. She’s been known to reduce grown men to tears. I bet I can convince her to hog-tie you to the SUV and deliver you to the villa if you carry on being difficult.’

Rafael loosened his grip on his walking stick and gave a grim smile. ‘Dios, did someone hack into my temporary Internet files and discover I have a thing for dominatrixes? Because you two seem bent on pushing that hot, sweet button.’

Sasha’s smile widened. ‘I see you haven’t lost your dirty sense of humour. That’s something to celebrate, at least. See you at the villa.’

Without waiting for an answer, she marched off towards Marco, who was shaking hands with the priest. His brother’s arm enfolded her immediately. Rafael gritted his teeth against the disconcerting pang and accompanying guilt that niggled him.

He’d robbed his family of so much...

‘So, which is it to be—compliance without question or physical restraints?’ Raven strolled towards him, her gaze cool and collected.

The mental picture that flashed into his mind made his heart beat just that little bit faster. Nerves which his doctors had advised him might never heal again stirred, as they’d been stirring for several days now. The very male satisfaction the sensation brought sent a shaft of fire through his veins. ‘You heard?’

‘It was difficult not to. You don’t revere your surroundings enough to keep your voice down when you air your...peccadilloes.’

The laughter that ripped from his throat felt surprisingly great. He’d had nothing to laugh about for far longer than he cared to remember. Several heads turned to watch him but he didn’t care. He was more intrigued by the blush that spread over Raven’s face. He leaned in close. ‘Do you think the angels are about to strike me down? Will you save me if they do?’ he asked sotto voce.

‘No, Rafael. I think, based on your debauched past and irreverent present, all the saints will agree by now you’re beyond redemption. No one can save you.’

Despite his bitter self-condemnation moments ago, hearing the words repeated so starkly caused Rafael’s chest to tighten. All traces of mirth were stripped from his soul as he recalled similar words, uttered by the same voice, this same woman eight months ago. And then, as now, he felt the black chasm of despair yawn before him, growing ever-wider, sucking at his empty soul until only darkness remained. Because knowingly or unknowingly, she’d struck a very large, very raw nerve.

‘Then tell me, Raven, if I’m beyond redemption, what the hell are you doing here?’


I’M NOT HERE to save you, if that’s what you think.

The words hovered like heat striations in Raven’s brain an hour later as she stood on the large sun-baked terrace of Marco and Sasha’s home. This time the rich surroundings of the architecturally stunning Casa León failed to awe her as they usually did.

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