The Divorce Party(9)

By: Jennifer Hayward

Now her acting role began.

Riccardo tilted his glass toward her. “To new beginnings.”

Lilly lifted the glass to her mouth and drank. Her lashes fluttered down over her cheeks as the heady, intoxicating flavor of the Chianti transported her back to the day when her life had seemed poised at the beginning of a rainbow that stretched forever.

The day she had married Riccardo.

And at that moment she knew her mistake for what it was. She had never been, and never would be, in control of her feelings for her husband. Six months wasn’t just going to be self-destructive. There was going to be collateral damage.

* * *

Riccardo poured himself a two-finger measure of Scotch and sank down in the chair by the window, his gaze on his wife, who lay sleeping in their bed. She had swayed on her feet after the toast, her hands moving to her head in a warning sign that one of those migraines that had always terrified him was about to take her out. He was fairly sure she would have hit the deck had he not slid a subtle arm around her waist and hustled her from the room.

He had left Gabe in charge of winding up the evening and, although Alex had flatly refused to leave her sister, had overridden her and sent her home with his brother. There was still some of Lilly’s migraine medication in their medicine cabinet and the key to these attacks, he knew, was to get it into her as soon as possible and put her to bed. Which he’d done—right after she’d been violently ill in their bathroom.

He took a sip of the smoky single malt blend and moved his gaze over her face. It was ghostly white and pinched even in sleep, and for a moment guilt rose up in him. He had dangled the one thing she loved more than anything else in front of her when he knew she wanted nothing to do with him. But then again, he thought, his lips twisting, she hadn’t given him any warning when she’d walked out on him. When she’d called it quits on their marriage and left without even having the guts to face him.

A fury long dormant raged to life inside him, pulsing like an untamed beast. Who did that? Who took a perfectly good marriage with a few of the usual speed bumps and just quit? Who thought so little of what she had that it was easier to turn into an ice queen and refuse him than to talk it out?

The woman who’d turned into a stranger before his very eyes. The woman who’d taken a lover—a world-renowned cardiothoracic surgeon so highly decorated for his work that he made Riccardo look like the most heartless of corporate raiders. That was who.

His fingers tightened around the glass, drawing his gaze to the fiery amber liquid. No, he wouldn’t feel any regret. His wife might have looked at him with those accusing, pain-soaked cat’s eyes of hers and begged him to let her go home. But he was through giving her time and space to come to her senses. She was back in his bed, where she belonged, and she was staying there.

Not for six months.

For good.

He lifted the glass to his lips and let the Scotch burn a path down his throat. It had been that conversation he’d overheard that had set him off. Not his father’s bullish suggestion that he repair his marriage in order to present the kind of image the De Campo board was looking for in a CEO.

The trash-talking locker room chatter he’d heard on his way out of the gym after a squash game with Gabe had amused him at first. There were things guys said in a locker room that were never repeated outside of them. He had smiled, remembering the crude conversations he and his fellow drivers had had after their races, when all the tension was gone, and then started packing up his stuff. But the conversation had turned to injuries and rehabilitation and he’d heard Lilly’s name.

He’d pulled the zipper shut on his bag and had frozen in place as the three men he’d figured must be professional athletes from their height and brawn, went on.

“She’s the best there is,” one of them had said. “Fixed my bum leg in a month.”

“Seriously hot,” added one of the others. “I bet you’d like to have more than her hands on you.”

He’d been halfway across the room before Gabe had intercepted him and shoved him bodily out the door.

“Not worth it,” his brother had muttered. “She’s your estranged wife, remember?”