His Ultimate Prize(8)

By: Maya Blake

‘Of course it is. How else do you expect me to pass the time?’

‘Your racing career may be stalled for the moment but, for a man of your wealth and power, there are a thousand ways you can find fulfilment.’

A dull look entered his eyes but disappeared a split second later. ‘Fulfilment...how New Age. Next you’ll be recommending I practise Transcendental Meditation to get in touch with my chakra.’

‘Meditation isn’t such a bad thing. I could teach you...’

His mocking laugh stopped her in her tracks. ‘Will we braid each other’s hair too? Maybe share a joint or two while we’re at it?’

She tried to hide her irritation and cocked her head. ‘You know something? I have no idea what all those girls see in you. You’re cocky, arrogant and dismissive of things you know nothing about.’

‘I don’t waste my time learning things that hold no interest for me. Women hold my interest so I make it a point to study them. And I know plenty about women like you.’

She stiffened. ‘What do you mean, women like me?’

‘You take pleasure in hiding behind affront, you take everything so personally and pretend to get all twisted up by the slightest hint of a challenge. It’s obvious you’ve had a...traumatic experience in the past—’

‘That’s like a psychic predicting someone’s been hurt in the past. By virtue of sheer coincidence and indisputable reality, half of relationships end badly, so it stands to reason that most people have had traumatic experiences. If you’re thinking of taking up clairvoyance, you’ll need to do better than that.’

His bared teeth held the predatory smile of one who knew he had his prey cornered. ‘Claro, let’s do it this way. I’ll make a psychic prediction. If I’m wrong, feel free to throw that glass of vintage champagne in my face.’

‘I’d never make a scene like that, especially not at your nephew’s christening.’

The reminder of where they were made him stiffen slightly but it didn’t stop him moving closer until his broad shoulders and streamlined body blocked out the rest of the party. Breath catching, Raven could see nothing but him, smell nothing but the heady, spicy scent that clung to his skin and seemed to weave around her every time she came within touching distance.

As if he knew his effect on her, his smile widened. ‘No one will see my humiliation if I get it wrong.’

Afraid of what he’d uncover, she started to shake her head, but Rafael was already speaking.

‘You’ve been hurt by a man, someone you really wanted to depend on, someone you wanted to be there for you.’ He waited, his eyes moving to the fingers clenched around her glass. When she didn’t move he leaned in closer. ‘Since that relationship ended, you’ve decided to take the tired all men are bastards route. You’d like nothing more than to find yourself a nice, safe man, someone who understands you.’ His gaze moved to her face, his incisive stare probing so deep Raven wanted to take a step back. With sheer strength of will, she stood her ground. ‘You hate yourself for being attracted to me but, deep inside, you enjoy our little skirmishes because the challenge of sparring with me makes your heart beat just that little bit faster.’ His gaze traced her hopefully impassive face down to her throat.

For a blind moment, Raven wished she’d worn her hair down because even she could feel the wild tattoo of her pulse surging underneath the skin at her throat.

She tried to speak but the accuracy of his prediction had frozen her tongue.

‘Since my face is still dry, I’ll take it Psychic Rafa is accurate on all accounts?’

His arrogance finally loosened her tongue. ‘Don’t flatter yourself. I told you when you started playing these games that I wouldn’t participate. I know you’re challenged by any woman who doesn’t fall for your charms, but not everyone subscribes to the OMG-Rafael de Cervantes-makes-my-knickers-wet Fan Club.’

Rafael’s smile was blinding, but it held a speculation that made her hackles rise. ‘Piqueña, since there’s only one way to test that you’re not a member, I now have something to look forward to. And just like that, my days suddenly seem brighter.’

Heat punched its way through her pelvis but, before Raven could answer, a deep throat cleared behind them.

Marco de Cervantes was as tall as his brother and just as visually stunning to look at but he wore his good looks with a smouldering grace where Rafael wholeheartedly embraced his irreverent playboy status.

Marco nodded to Raven, and glanced at his brother.

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