The Divorce Party(6)

By: Jennifer Hayward

Her jaw dropped open. “Wh-what?”

“My father feels I need to present a more grounded image to the board before they make their decision on a CEO.” He lifted his shoulders and twisted his lips in a cynical smile. “They apparently still haven’t bought my reformed image.”

Lilly came crashing back to earth with the force of a meteorite bent on destruction. Any illusions she’d harbored—and she realized now she had harbored a few—about Riccardo not wanting to divorce her because he still loved her vanished at the point of impact. Something hot and bright burned the back of her eyes.

“That’s ridiculous,” she managed huskily. “You left racing three years ago.”

He shrugged. “It is what it is. I can’t change their perception.”

Lilly almost choked on the irony of it. Everything Riccardo had ever done when they were together had been to dispel the image of himself as a reckless young racecar driver who hadn’t been committed to the family business.

She shook her head. “Our marriage fell apart because of your obsession with your job. Your single-minded fixation on becoming CEO.”

“One of any number of issues our marriage had,” he corrected grimly. “Be that as it may, my father wants us back togther. He thinks the media coverage will go a long way toward stabilizing my image with the board, and he’s made it a condition in my having his support.”

His father wanted her back in his life? She’d always believed Antonio De Campo had thought her far beneath his son, with her poor upbringing, but he had been too polite to say it.

“My father thinks you’re a good influence on me.” He gave a wry half-smile that softened those newly hardened features of his. “He’s quite likely right about that.”

“This is crazy.” Lillly shook her head and paced to the opposite end of the patio. “We aren’t even capable of pretending we’re a happily married couple.”

“You have a short memory, Lilly.”

His soft reprimand drew her gaze to his face.

“Six months. That’s all I’m asking.”

“I want a divorce,” she repeated, raising her voice as this insane conversation kept plowing forward. “What makes you think I would ever consider helping you?”

He tilted his head to one side. “What are you afraid of? That we have way more unfinished business than you care to admit?”

She squared her shoulders. “We are over, Riccardo. And this is not a good idea.”

“It’s a great idea. Six months buys you your freedom.”

“What other conditions has your father imposed?” she asked helplessly. “Are you to stop driving fast cars and dating international supermodels?”

He scowled. “Not one of those rumors are true. There’s been no one since you.”

She stiffened. “We all know there’s truth to the tabloids.”

“Not one, Lilly.”

“Riccardo,” she said desperately. “No.”

He stalked over, invading her space. “What is it, tesoro? Got plans with Harry Taylor?”

How did he know about Harry? They’d been so low-key as to be socially non-existent. “Yes,” she snapped. “I’d like to move on, and maybe you should do the same.”

He lifted his hand and took her chin in his fingers. “You forget we made a vow, amore mio. ‘For richer and poorer, in sickness and in health...’”

“That was before you broke it.”

A dangerous glimmer entered his eyes. “I never slept with Chelsea Tate. We’ve had this conversation.”

“We are never going to agree on that,” she bit out, throwing his words back at him. “Nor could we ever fake any real affection for each other. It would be laughable.”

“Oh, but I think we could,” he murmured, lowering his head to hers. “Even the thought of me spanking you turns you on.”

She pulled out of his grip. “Riccardo—”

He slid a hand into her hair and brought her back. “You went there, Lilly. And so did I.”

“No, I—”

He smothered her reply with a kiss Lilly felt down to her toes, deep and sensuous. He didn’t bother with the preliminaries. He simply took—kissing her exactly the way he knew she liked it, using every weapon at his disposal. Lilly curled her fingers into his shirt, intending to push him away, but she didn’t quite seem to be able to do it.