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Authors: Abby Green

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BOOK: Exquisite Revenge
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He came back out, hands on hips, expression thunderous. ‘You’ve removed any means of internet communication—I take it the landline too?’

Jesse nodded slowly. She’d locked everything securely into the villa’s safe. She had her own phone, of course, but that was safely tucked away where Sanchis couldn’t find it.

He came close to Jesse and she fought to hold her ground—even when he came so close that all she could smell was his scent and she had to tip her head back to look at him.

‘You
will
pay for this, Jesse … you know that, don’t you? I’ll do whatever it takes to get off this island.’

CHAPTER FOUR

T
HE
threat in Luc’s voice was explicit, but disturbingly all Jesse felt was a coil of tension low down in her belly at hearing him use her name for the first time. It made her want to squirm.

She refused to acknowledge that physical reaction, or let him intimidate her, and said, ‘I know that my actions will have consequences, and I don’t care.’

Because all she did care about was making sure that her father faced up to the consequences of
his
actions and was rendered impotent. Finally.

Luc looked so deeply into Jesse’s eyes for such a long moment that she literally started to feel dizzy, and then finally he stepped back. She breathed out. Abruptly he turned and started to stalk away from her, clearly looking for something else. After a moment Jesse hurried after him again.

She found him in the kitchen at the back of the villa, which had French doors opening out onto a terraced area and a lush garden, where a pool and pool house were tucked away behind artful foliage. It was stupendously idyllic, but unfortunately completely wasted on Jesse and her very reluctant guest.

Luc was opening and closing doors and cupboards. He acknowledged her presence without turning around. ‘There’s enough food here for an army.’

Weakly, because she couldn’t seem to take her eyes off the
way his trousers were stretched across hard buttocks, Jesse said, ‘It’s enough to last about two weeks, actually.’

He straightened up and turned around and Jesse averted her gaze upwards guiltily.

Luc placed his hands on the island in the centre of the kitchen. ‘Two weeks?’

Jesse swallowed. ‘Just in case of any unforeseen eventualities.’

‘What kind of
eventualities
, Jesse?’

Jesse’s insides felt funny again at hearing him say her name. In a rush she said, ‘Like a storm, or something out of our control, extending our stay longer than I’d planned.’

Luc turned away again with a muttered curse. He started taking things out of the fridge and cupboards, laying them out on the counter.

A little redundantly Jesse asked, ‘What are you doing?’

‘Making myself something to eat—as if it wasn’t glaringly obvious.’

His sarcasm bounced off Jesse. She was more than surprised to see how dextrous he was at whipping up a delicious-looking sandwich in minutes. He pulled a bottle of water from the fridge, and then after a second reached in again and took out a chilled bottle of wine. With an economy of movement he pulled the cork from the bottle with a corkscrew, and then put the water under his arm and the wine and sandwich in respective hands.

He completely ignored Jesse and made his way back out of the kitchen and up the stairs to the bedrooms.

Jesse followed him and asked, ‘Where are you going?’

Luc stopped at the top of the stairs and sighed. He turned around. ‘I’m going to my room to eat and drink and get away from
you
—which seems to be about the only thing I
can
do at the moment.’

Jesse saw one very large hand clamped around the wine bottle and her throat felt dry. ‘Don’t you need a glass?’

‘No,’ came the curt reply, ‘I don’t need a glass.’

And with that he turned and disappeared. A couple of seconds later she winced as she heard the slamming of a door.

Jesse turned around and sank down onto the bottom stair. The enormity of everything that had happened hit her then, and she lifted a hand to her head. It was trembling from the adrenalin. The main front door was still open, and she looked out blankly at the benignly beautiful view.

She had managed to incarcerate Luc Sanchis on this island. She was now alone, for the next ten days at least, with one of the world’s most powerful men and a potentially lethal enemy. She recalled how he’d turned on the stairs, his entire body moving with innately masculine grace, and heat pooled in her lower belly. He was six feet four of hard, muscle-packed, angry testosterone, and the look in his eyes just now had been murderous.

Luc sat in a chair on his private balcony. The Mediterranean stretched out as far as the eye could see, with not another piece of land or a boat in sight. The threat of a storm appeared to have passed for the moment and the glorious view mocked him. His hand was still wrapped around the neck of the wine bottle and he lifted it to his mouth and took another healthy slug, noting that he’d managed to demolish half of it already.

Disgusted, because he was usually more than abstemious when it came to alcohol, he slammed it down on the table beside him, alongside the half-eaten sandwich. He’d taken the wine from the fridge on a whim and had relished Jesse’s wide-eyed response to him pulling it out.

Damn her anyway, this pixie-sized, short-haired witch.

He still couldn’t quite believe what she’d managed to do to him—and with such ease. That perhaps was worst of all,
when he thought of it. How he’d happily walked right into her trap. The modern-day communications that everyone took so much for granted had allowed her to rearrange his schedule with no questions asked. He grimaced. It was all thanks to the fact that she was effectively a computer nerd. Although when he pictured a nerd he saw a twenty-year-old weedy guy in glasses. Not a petite and annoyingly vulnerable-looking blonde-haired elf. He snorted.
Vulnerable?
As if.

Luc grabbed the wine bottle again almost rebelliously; the more wine he drank, the more her image in his head grew blurry, so he took another gulp.

He sat forward with the bottle dangling from his fingers, completely unaware of the rakish image he presented, with his shirt buttons ripped apart, exposing the top of his chest.

He could almost laugh. But it wasn’t funny in the slightest. Only last week his secretary had enquired solicitously as to whether he’d thought about scheduling any holiday time for the rest of the year. She’d probably be assuming right now that he’d taken her concern as advice. And he knew she wouldn’t question his
apparent
change of direction when it came to the O’Brien deal, because she was used to him changing his mind and not explaining why. It rankled bitterly now. He didn’t know Jesse Moriarty from Adam and yet she seemed to have read him like a book.

And the two people in the world who cared about him most were currently at sea on a two-week cruise. Only this morning he’d told his mother and sister with affectionate mock severity that he didn’t want to hear from them unless there was a serious life-or-death crisis.

He smiled mirthlessly at the irony. In normal circumstances his mother started panicking if she didn’t get her habitual daily phone call—even though she’d become much more relaxed since marrying her second husband, George, the previous year.

For the first time since Luc could remember his mother and sister didn’t
need
him in quite the same all-encompassing way, and he wasn’t sure how comfortable he was with that. Responsibility for them was so ingrained in him that it had pervaded outwards to every facet of his life, influencing every decision because what he did affected them.

Ever since his father had died when he was twelve, he’d been inured with a hyper-awareness of his duty. He could still remember the way people had looked at him sadly at his father’s funeral and told him that he was the man of the family now.

Coupled with that later betrayal, which had cemented cynical distrust onto his psyche, Luc had become accustomed to being surprised by little. But he
was
surprised now. And he was angry. Because Jesse Moriarty was thwarting long-cherished plans to—

Luc heard a sound and the cacophony of thoughts in his head stopped abruptly. It had come from below him, out on the terrace which led down to the idyllic pool just visible through the trees.

He rested the wine bottle on the ground beside him and stood up, putting his hands on the railing surrounding his balcony. And then he saw her, walking onto the grass and down towards the trees.

She was wearing a short robe, and his eyes were drawn to slender but shapely pale legs. She carried a towel in one hand and disappeared into the trees. Her purpose became apparent when Luc heard the faint sound of a splash, and he could just make out the movement of arms scissoring in and out of the water through the greenery.

His hands curled tight around the railing and a coil of tension came into his belly. With a growl of disgust, because he found himself wondering if she was wearing a bikini or a
one-piece, and how she might fill it out with that petite, lithe form, Luc turned back into his room, away from the view.

He paced back and forth, anger rising in him like a tide at witnessing her acting so unaffected—taking a nonchalant swim as if she
hadn’t
just kidnapped him! What the hell was he doing, wondering what she was wearing, when he didn’t even find her attractive? He ignored the betraying heat in his blood that contradicted him.

He recalled the way her face had tightened and she’d shut down in his office when he’d asked her about her reasons for wanting to save O’Brien. Clearly conversation wasn’t going to be an option now, if she hadn’t revealed her reasons then.

Think, man, think
, he remonstrated with himself, cursing the mild fog of wine now. So far she’d executed his kidnap with the minimum of fuss and fanfare. It had been utterly simple but so effective—which made it galling. Luc would have almost preferred it if he’d been hit over the back of the head and knocked unconscious. At least that way he’d feel less culpable …

He shook his head. He had to deal with the fact that he was here now, and he needed to get off this island as soon as possible.

His mind skipped over everything and kept returning a big fat blank. He could overpower her easily, of course, but Luc’s insides recoiled at that scenario. And what would that serve? She obviously had some means of communication with the outside world, but he didn’t doubt that it would be well hidden—and that could be anywhere in this vast villa. And he had the sneaking suspicion that even if he did find whatever device she had it would be password-protected and impossible for him to break into.

She hadn’t seemed intimidated by the fact that she could go to gaol for this, and when he’d threatened her with ruination it had brokered a very blasé response. Clearly being the
one to secure JP O’Brien’s survival was far more important to her than anything he could threaten her with … and that thought made bile rise from his gut.

Luc realised that he couldn’t hear the sound of water splashing any more and paced back to the balcony. The light was falling now, and dusk was bathing the island in a mauve glow. Jesse suddenly appeared from the trees, rubbing her hair with a towel, once again in that short robe. Luc instinctively ducked back into the shadows, but as if she sensed his eyes on her her head came up sharply, and she looked up in the direction of his room.

Luc saw the tension in her frame, in the way her hand tightened on the towel. Her hair was sticking up in little tufts on her head, and he had the sudden urge to curl his hand around the delicate stem of her neck and …
throttle her
, he told himself angrily, watching as she ducked her head and hurried out of view again.

He cursed himself volubly and denied with every breath in his body that for a moment he’d wanted to be standing in front of her, so he could bring her head closer and tip it up so that he could taste just how soft her lips were.

Luc went into the bathroom and turned on the shower. He stripped and stood under the pounding spray. With fists clenched he placed his hands on the tiled walls, his whole body taut with anger, tension … and something much more insidious.

He had no option but to ensure he got off this island before the ten days were up, and he would do whatever it took to achieve that outcome. But, short of torturing Jesse Moriarty to force her to hand over her phone or to communicate with the outside world for him, Luc couldn’t see a solution.

And then it came to him—sneaking into his consciousness with a wicked wink. He’d seen the tiny telltale physical
response Jesse had shown to his proximity earlier. It could have been just nerves … or it could have been something else.

A form of torture might not be so beyond the realms of possibility after all—but this would be a very
sensual
form of torture. Designed to sneak past every prickly defence he’d seen so far and uncover the beating heart of the woman, and in so doing render her completely helpless to him.

Jesse was sitting in a chair at the kitchen table, having just eaten a bowl of cereal. The Kouros housekeeper had left the fridge and larder stocked to the gills,
enough for an army
, as Luc had said.

Jesse grimaced; unfortunately it would appear that the housekeeper had expected gourmands, because nothing was ready-made and she cursed that oversight now.

Jesse had to admit that unless Luc Sanchis displayed a skill for making something more complicated than a sandwich they might well starve. She couldn’t boil an egg without burning both it and the water.

She was coiled tighter than a spring, waiting for some sign of Luc Sanchis, figuring he’d have to eat again at some stage. He was a big man, and unlikely to find enough nourishment in a sandwich. But to her knowledge he was still in his room and hadn’t left it since he’d gone there earlier.

Hating how on edge she was, she got up to wash her things in the sink. From where she stood she could see out to where the pool house was just visible through the trees, gleaming whitely in the dusk. The calming effect of her swim earlier had lasted only until she’d looked up to Luc Sanchis’s balcony, because she’d thought she’d seen a movement, but it had only been the gently billowing curtain. Nevertheless his image had been immediate in her mind’s eye. His tall and well-built frame. Those dark, angry eyes.

She’d hurried back into the villa and straight to her room,
where she’d dressed in her habitual casual uniform of jeans and a loose top. Usually she was barely aware of the clothes she wore, but as she’d pulled on the jeans she’d felt an alien sense of yearning for something
softer
.

BOOK: Exquisite Revenge
8.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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