Alex had a few hours to kill before the meet-and-greet cocktail party Nico had arranged later that evening. The young man thought that Alex was making the effort to attend as a favour to him. Alex, whose motivation was far less selfless, had seen no harm in letting his young relative—and by association his older sister—think just that. It was always handy to have a favour in hand with his sibling.
Heading towards the noise on the beach, he made his way down the flower-filled terraces that led to the tree-lined walkway above the beach. Normally at this time of day it would have been dotted with parasols and supine brown bodies, but the weather meant it was almost empty except for the family group in the midst of their raucous ball game.
Alex was conscious of an uncharacteristic impatience as he anticipated the evening ahead. The tall, luscious brunette had been the best sex of his life, and he had felt nothing that had approached that level of carnal passion since. But would the incredible chemistry between them still be there?
Seeing her face had definitely aroused the dormant hunting instincts in him, and, though Alex had no intention of investing emotionally in any relationship, he had normal appetites.
He shook his head and decided he would spend the remainder of the evening running through the details of the extension project with the contractors that would double the size of the spa. He was a firm believer in multitasking; to combine business with pleasure was a pragmatism he was comfortable with, but he was considerably less comfortable with the inescapable scent of obsession attached to moving heaven and earth to engineer a meeting with a one-night stand from six years ago.
Thinking it over did not remove her face from his head. Instead, it was the ball that was hurtling towards him at great speed that did that. It would have hit him had not some sixth sense made him turn his head and, without thinking, he shot out his hand to catch it.
There was a ripple of applause to congratulate this display of lightning reflexes and natural coordination, followed by a chorus of apologies from the beach. He nodded acknowledgment and responded to the light-hearted invitation to join in the fun from the players with a negative motion of his head before he tossed the ball back and continued along the wide boulevard.
‘Go deep, go deep!’
Someone was yelling, and he turned his head and saw a figure who was doing her level best to follow the instruction. It was a figure who... He stopped dead. Alex had imagined the object of his lustful machinations sunning herself, maybe topless? Sipping a cocktail or taking advantage of the spa facilities, but not pelting across the sand barefoot in a pair of shorts and a cut-off T-shirt, her hair flying and yelling wildly.
‘I’ve got it!’
Before he had a chance to assimilate this extraordinary turn of events she caught the ball, released an exultant whoop, jumped high in the air and was promptly wrestled to the ground by one of the male players. Alex watched with distaste as they rolled around on the ground, the man’s hands seemingly everywhere. It was one of those moments when a man felt the layers of civilisation peel away, and he wasn’t aware until he had begun to walk rapidly away that his hands were clenched into fists.
* * *
Angel, hot, sweaty and deeply involved in the match, didn’t see the throw but she did see the distant figure fling the ball back with an accuracy that caused a second ripple of applause.
There were millions of tall, dark, athletically built, handsome men in the world and some of them projected an aura of authority and, well...sex. So over the years she had experienced a few heart-thudding, stomach-clenching moments of shocked recognition only to discover after all the breathless anticipation that as the object of her antipathy got nearer it was not HIM, but a pale imitation who did not possess that level of raw sensuality that she had responded to on a primal level.
But she was a mother now and her primal days were in the past. The chances she would ever meet HIM—she always thought of Jas’s father in capital letters—again were remote, and if she ever did it was not likely it would be here, she thought, tearing her eyes from the tall figure. Even though she knew it wasn’t HIM, her heart was still racing as she followed the bellowed instruction to go deep from the bowler, a ten-year-old who had a well-developed competitive streak.
When she did catch the ball a few moments later she found herself rugby tackled by the handsome husband of the woman who had invited her to join the game. When she disentangled herself and emerged triumphantly holding the ball aloft the suited figure on the broad walkway who had dredged up memories that were better left undisturbed was gone.