His Ultimate Prize(9)

By: Maya Blake

‘I need to talk to you. You don’t mind if I borrow him for five minutes, do you, Raven?’

Relief spiked, headier than the champagne she’d barely drunk. ‘Not at all. We weren’t discussing anything important.’

Rafael’s eyes narrowed at the thin insult, his icy blue eyes promising retribution just before they cleared into their usual deceptively indolent look.

Lifting her glass in a mocking salute, she walked away, piercingly aware that he tracked her every step. Out of his intoxicating, domineering sphere, she heaved in a breath of pure relief and pasted a smile on her face as Sasha beckoned her.

* * *

Rafael turned to his brother, mild irritation prickling his skin. ‘What’s on your mind?’ He discarded his champagne and wished he had something stronger.

‘You need another hobby besides trying to rile your physiotherapist.’

His irritation grew as Raven disappeared from sight, pulled towards a group of guests by Sasha. ‘What’s it to you? And why the hell does everyone feel the need to poke their nose into my business?’

Marco shrugged away the question. ‘Consider the matter dropped. The old man’s been asking for you.’ Grey eyes bored sharply into his. ‘I think it’s time.’

Every bone in his body turned excruciatingly rigid. ‘That’s for me to decide, surely?’ And if he didn’t feel he was ready to ask for forgiveness, who was anybody to decide otherwise?

‘There’s been enough hurt all around, Rafa. It’s time to move things forward.’

He spiked tense fingers through his hair. ‘You wouldn’t be trying to save me again by any chance, would you, brother?’

An impatient look passed through Marco’s eyes. ‘From the look of things, you don’t need saving. Besides, I cut the apron strings when I realised you were driving me so nuts that I was in danger of strangling you with them.’

Rafael beckoned the waiter over and exchanged his untouched champagne for a crystal tumbler of Patrón. ‘In that case, we’re copacetic. Was there anything else?’

Marco’s gaze stayed on him for several seconds before he nodded. ‘You sent for the papers for the X1 All-Star event coming up?’

Rafael downed the drink, welcoming the warmth that coursed through his chest. ‘Unless I’m mistaken, I’m still the CEO of X1 Premier Management. The events start in three weeks. You delegated some of the event’s organisation but it’s time for me to take the reins again.’

His brother’s gaze probed, worry lurking within. ‘Are you sure you don’t want to sit this one out—?’

‘I’m sure. Don’t second-guess me, mi hermano. I understand that my racing career may be in question—’ He stopped as a chill surged through his veins, obliterating the warmth of moments before. Although he didn’t remember his accident, he’d seen pictures of the wreckage in vivid detail. He was very much aware that lucky to be alive didn’t begin to describe his condition. ‘The racing side of my career may be up for debate,’ he repeated, beating back the wave of desolation that swelled up inside his chest, ‘but my brain still functions perfectly. As for my body...’ He looked over as a flash of orange caught his eye. The resulting kick gave him a surge of satisfaction. ‘My body will be in top condition before very long.’

Marco nodded. ‘I’m happy to hear it. According to Raven, you’re on the road to complete recovery.’

‘Really?’ Rafael made a mental note to have a short, precise conversation with his physio about sharing confidential information.

‘...Dios, are you listening to me? Never mind, I think it’ll be safer for me not to know which part of your anatomy you’re thinking with right at this moment. Bueno, I’ll be in touch later in the week to discuss other business.’

‘No need to wait till next week. I can tell you now that I’m back. I own fifty per cent of our business, after all. No reason why you should continue to shoulder my responsibilities. Come to think of it, you should take a vacation with your family, let me handle things for a while.’ He glanced over to where Sasha stood chatting to Raven. As if sensing their attention, both women turned towards them. Marco’s face dissolved in a look so cheesy, Rafael barely stopped himself from making retching noises.

‘Are you sure?’ Marco asked without taking his eyes off his wife. ‘Sasha’s been on my back about taking some time off. It would be great to take the yacht to the island for a bit.’ They joint owned a three-mile island paradise in the Bahamas, a place neither of them had visited in a very long time.

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