His Ultimate Prize(7)

By: Maya Blake

I’m not here to save you...

She snorted. What a load of bull. That was exactly why she’d begged Marco to let her visit Rafael in hospital once he’d woken from his coma all those months ago. It was why she’d flown to León from London five weeks ago, after months of trying to contact Rafael and being stonily ignored by him; and why she’d begged him to let her treat him when she found out what an appalling job his carers were doing—not because they were incompetent, but because Rafael didn’t seem inclined in any way to want to get better, and they’d been too intimidated to go against his wishes. It was most definitely why she continued to suffer his inappropriate, irreverent taunts.

She wanted to make things right...wanted to take back every single word she’d said to him eight months ago, right before he’d climbed into the cockpit of his car and crashed it into a solid concrete wall minutes later.

Because it wasn’t Rafael’s fault that she hadn’t been able to curb her stupid, crazy delusional feelings until it was almost too late. It wasn’t his fault that, despite all signs that he was nothing but a carbon copy of her heartless playboy father, she hadn’t been able to stop herself from lusting after him—

No, scratch that. Not a carbon copy. Rafael was no one’s copy. He was a breed in his own right. With a smile that could slice a woman’s heart wide open, make a woman swoon with bliss even as she knew her heart was being slowly crushed. He possessed more charm in his little finger than most wannabe playboys, including her father, held in their entire bodies.

But she’d seen first-hand the devastation that charm could cause. Swarthy Spanish Lothario or a middle-aged English playboy, she knew the effect would be the same.

Her mother was broken, continued to suffer because of the very lethal thrall Raven’s father held over her.

And although she knew after five weeks in his company that Rafael’s attitude would never manifest in sexual malice, he was in no way less dangerous to her peace of mind. Truth be told, the more she suffered his blatant sexual taunts, the more certain she was that she wanted to see beneath his outwardly glossy façade.

With every atom of her being, Raven wished she’d known this on his unfortunate race day. But, tormented by her mother’s suffering, her control when it came to Rafael had slipped badly. Instead of walking away with dignified indifference, she’d lashed out. Unforgivably—

‘So deep in thought. Dare I think those thoughts are about me?’ Warm air from warmer lips washed over her right lobe.

‘Why would you think that?’ she asked, sucking in a deep, sustaining breath before she faced the man who seemed to have set up residence in her thoughts.

‘Because I’ve studied you enough to recognise your frowns. Two lines mean you’re unhappy because I’m not listening to you drone on about how many squats or abdominal crunches you expect me to perform. Three lines mean your thoughts are of a personal nature, mostly likely you’re in turmoil about our last conversation before my accident.’ He held out a glass of champagne, his blue eyes thankfully no longer charged with the frosty fury they’d held at the chapel. ‘You’re wearing a three-line frown now.’

She took the proffered drink and glanced away, unable quite to meet his gaze. ‘You think I’m that easy to read?’

‘The fact that you’re not denying what I say tells me everything I need to know. Your guilt is eating you alive. Admit it,’ he said conversationally, before taking a sip of his drink. ‘And it kills you even more that I can’t remember the accident itself but can remember every single word you said to me only minutes before it happened, doesn’t it?’

Her insides twisted with regret. ‘I...Rafael...I’m sorry...’

‘As I told you in Barcelona, I’m sorry won’t quite cut it. I need a lot more from you than mere words, mi corazon.’

Her heart flipped and dived into her stomach. ‘And I told you, I won’t debase myself like a cheap paddock bunny just to prove how sorry I am for what I said.’

‘Even though you meant every single word?’

‘Look, I know I shouldn’t have—’

‘You meant them then, and you still believe them now. So we shall continue as we are. I push, you push back; we both drown in sexual tension. We’ll see who breaks first.’

Her fingers tightened around the cold glass. ‘Is this all really a game to you?’ The man in turmoil she’d glimpsed at the chapel seemed very distant now. But she’d seen him, knew there was something else going on beneath all the sexual gloss.

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