The Divorce Party(5)

By: Jennifer Hayward

“They love baiting each other. It’ll be the highlight of their evening.”

She struggled to keep up with his long strides as he walked her up the stairs to the third floor, where the bedrooms were, nodding at the security guard stationed there. “Why are we coming up here?” she murmured, flushing at the guard’s interested gaze. “Why don’t we just talk in your study?”

He kept walking past the guest bedrooms toward the master suite. “I won’t risk being overheard. We’ll talk on the patio off our bedroom.”

“Your bedroom,” Lilly corrected. “And I don’t think—”

“Basta, Lilly.” He glared at her. “I’m your husband, not some guy trying to come on to you.”

Lilly clamped her mouth shut and followed him through the double doors of the master suite. She would not, whatever she did, look at the huge canopy bed they had shared. The scene of more erotically charged encounters than she cared to remember.

Their marriage bed. The place where she and Riccardo had always been able to communicate.

He pushed open the French doors to the large patio. The rose bushes he’d had planted for her along the edge had already started to bloom, emitting the gorgeous perfume she’d always loved.

Ugh. She shoved her sentimentality down with a determined effort and spun to face him.

“So?” she prompted, hostility edging her words. “What is it you have to say?”

His gaze darkened. “You’re not too big for me to put you over my knee, tesoro. Push me a little harder and I will.”

Lilly’s cheeks burned at that very seductive image. To her horror, her mind took her there—took her to a vision of Riccardo holding her over his muscular thighs, her naked behind squirming as he brought his hand down in a stinging reprimand.

Dear God.

A satisfied expression crossed his face. “Unnerving, isn’t it, that we only have to speak to each other in a certain way and that happens?”

“Damn you, Riccardo.” She planted her feet wide and faced him head-on. “For over a year I’ve been trying to get you to give me a divorce and you’ve flatly denied it. Then you call me out of the blue with this crazy idea of making it official with a party, and now you’re playing cat and mouse with me. What the hell are you playing at?”

He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back against the railing. “Maybe if you’d agreed to see me I wouldn’t have resorted to this.”

“Nothing good ever comes of us being together. You know that.”

His eyes glimmered as they swept over her. “That’s a big fat lie and you know it.”

She wrapped her arms around herself. “Sex is not a good basis for a marriage.”

“We had more than sex, Lilly.” His deep voice softened, taking on those velvet undertones that could make her melt in a nanosecond. “We had way, way more than that.”

“It wasn’t enough! Do you know how happy I’ve been this past year?”

He paled beneath his deep tan. “We were happy once.”

She hugged her arms tighter around herself and fought the ache in her chest that threatened to consume her. “We’re better off apart and you know it.”

“I will never agree to that.”

She lifted her chin. “I want a divorce. And if you won’t give it to me I’ll have my lawyer fight you until you do.”

His mouth flattened. “I will drag it out for years.”

“Why?” She pushed her hair out of her face and gave him a desperate look. “We’re done. We’ve hurt each other enough for a lifetime. We need to move on with our lives.”

He jammed his hands into his pockets. The fierce, fighting expression in his eyes was one she knew all too well. But he said nothing. Silence sceamed between them until she thought she’d jump out of her skin.

“All right.”

She stared at him. “All right what?”

“I will give you the divorce. On one condition.”

She knew she should leave now—get the hell out of here as fast as she could. But she couldn’t force her feet to move.

“I need you to remain my wife for six more months.”