Lisa Pennington will do anything to help her family--even if that means accepting an indecent proposal from the man who broke her heart! For five years Diego Raffacani has thought of nothing but Lisa--and revenge! He's sure that she will come to his bed, if only for her family's sake.
But he soon realizes that he has underestimated her--and the strength of their passion. Now the only way to right the wrongs of the past is to make her his bride. But will Lisa yield to the Spaniard's seduction?
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A Spanish Vengeance
By Diana Hamilton
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA deeply unsettling mixture of frazzled nerve ends and sizzling excitement was making Lisa Pennington feel decidedly queasy.
Long fingers fumbled in her envelope purse, searching for a tissue to mop the perspiration from her face. She was sweating like a foundry worker. She tried to convince herself it was down to the heat of the Spanish evening sun and told herself to snap out of it. She'd end up looking a real soggy mess if she didn't pull herself together. And that mustn't happen.
She had to look good, cool and calm, if only to counteract Ben's reaction. So she'd pulled out all the stops, and dug out her make-up bag. The creamy foundation toned down the tan she'd acquired during the last eight weeks, while silvery eye-shadow emphasised the size and shape of her inky-blue eyes, and scarlet lipstick gave her the illusion of courage.
She'd slopped around in shorts and cool cotton tops all through this holiday but this evening she was wearing a dress in silvery-green silk, sleek and hopefully sophisticated. She couldn't be seen in the newest, smartest hotel in the whole of Marbella wearing any old rag.
Tomorrow she, Ben and Sophie would be returning to England. By tomorrow everyone would know what Diego's intentions were. She quivered, assailed by a fresh onslaught of nervous tension.
Diego. Oh, how she loved him - she couldn't describe how much! In the last seven weeks he had become her whole world, the focus of every thought, of every breath she drew. And he loved her; she knew he did. The knowledge was pure magic. Tonight he would make his intentions plain. Why else would he have suggested he meet with her and her holiday companions in the disco bar of the exclusive hotel? He knew how close Ben and Sophie were to her, twin offspring of her father's business partner. The three of them had always been mates, especially after the death of her mother four years ago when they had taken her under their loving, protective wings.
Lisa crossed her fingers, praying that the coming meeting would go smoothly, that Ben wouldn't come out with something Diego's Spanish pride would never let him forgive. It would be unbearable if the three people she loved best in the world were at daggers drawn.
Straightening her shoulders, feeling the long silky fall of her silver-blonde hair brush against the bare skin of her back, she risked a sideways glance. Ben, strolling at her side, was seemingly intent on watching the expensive cars cruising the elegant sea front. He wasn't looking at her but she knew his bluntly good looking features would be clenched with displeasure if he did turn in her direction.
At twenty years of age he was only two years her senior yet he sometimes acted as if he were her grandfather! Lisa sighed, remembering his stinging comments when, in order to explain why she'd spent little time with him and Sophie, she'd had to confess that she'd met someone.
Flushed with the wonder of finding the love of her life here in Spain when she hadn't really wanted to be here at all, when she had intended spending her gap year back-packing around Europe, she had given his name, "Diego Raffacani," adding unnecessarily, "He's Spanish." Holding the fact that he was the most gorgeous-looking human being ever to walk the planet very close to her madly beating heart.
Ben had shot her the underbrow look that told her she was in for a lecture. "How old is this guy? And I presume that, as you spend every day together, he's out of work?"
"Then you presume wrong!" Lisa's pointed chin shot up defensively. "Diego works most evenings in one of the hotel restaurants down in Marbella - that's why he's free to spend his days with me! And, if you're really interested, he's twenty-two."
Only four years her senior and so darkly handsome, so lithe and physically perfect that her heart ached just to look at him.
"So you've been picked up by a Spanish waiter," Ben delivered drily. "What a cliché!"
Unforgivably, Lisa giggled because, technically, Ben was spot on. She'd thought back to that day over three weeks ago. She'd spent the first week here dutifully tagging along with her friends. Descending from the hills where their rented ex-farmhouse holiday home was situated in the hired four-by-four. Doing what Ben and Sophie enjoyed. Playing golf, window-shopping, sipping coffee outside one of the trendy cafés, exploring what they could of the exclusive and highly fashionable nearby Puerto Banus area.
That particular day she'd cried off, the glitz beginning to pall, preferring to spend some time exploring the surrounding hilly back country on foot, comfortably clad in shorts and a matching acid-yellow T-shirt and sensible trainers. The buzzing of a motor scooter - a Vespino, Diego called it - was a warning that came too late. They had met on a bend in the steep, narrow track. Lisa had fallen backwards on to a carpet of wild herbs and the handsome young Spaniard had braked the scooter to a stone-spitting, slithering sideways halt.
Leaping across the narrow space, he'd gently helped her to her feet. So yes, he had quite literally picked her up! Looking into the concerned dark eyes, the proud, almost unnerving, aristocratic-looking features, at the tall bronzed perfection of a sensationally honed male clad just in patched cut-off denims that clipped the hard, narrow jut of his hips and a black vest top that had faded to grey, she had been utterly transfixed, her heart jumping up into her throat then spiralling down again to play havoc in the region of her stomach.
Their eyes had held as he assured himself she was unhurt - his questions couched in soft, only slightly accented English - gleaming black fringed with heavy thick lashes sending unspoken heady messages to wide inky-blue, the strong, steadying hands that curved around her slim shoulders transmitting a sensation that was a slow, unbearably sweet aching deep inside her.
That was how it had begun. And she would never again pour scorn on the idea of falling in love at first sight.
Ben had heaved a worried sigh, watching her as she made the morning coffee and Sophie, putting freshly picked peaches on a dish precisely in the centre of the breakfast table, had said lightly, "Every girl's entitled to a holiday romance once in her life - provided things don't get out of hand."
"They haven't, have they?" Ben put in quickly, his frown deepening.
Excerpted from A Spanish Vengeance by Diana Hamilton Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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