She gasped. Then she bristled with all sorts of self-righteous indignation that he’d so aptly pointed out she had no right to feel.
“When the hell are you going to figure out neither one of us is in control here?” he said, his tone gentler, his eyes softer. “This thing has us.”
When he pulled her close, she shuddered, willing herself to resist him. But, as always, she was weak and needy, so she let him hold her. At the thought of their impossible relationship, her mood grew unbearably sad—and angry, too.
This was all his fault! It had to be!
Or was it? Somehow her needs and emotions were all mixed up. How could this have happened in such a short time? She’d left Austin to sort out her life, not for confusion like this.
“You’re a bastard,” she whispered. “A royal bastard.”
“You don’t know how right you are,” he muttered.
She’d been right to want to control things, too. Leaving him, even though she knew he was marrying another woman for money, was going to break her as nothing else ever had.
“You’re a bastard!” she repeated. “How can you look so sick at heart when I know you’re slime? I want you out of my life—gone! I don’t want to ever think about you again!”
“You think you have all the answers, don’t you? Well, you don’t! Before you go back to Austin, there’s something I’ve got to show you!”
“Nothing you could say or do or show me could change the way I feel about you!”
“We’ll see then, won’t we?”
“Y ou can’t drive my car. You’re not on the contract.”
Regina was in lawyer mode. Translation: she was in the mood to argue about anything.
Nico shot her a look before he unlocked the passenger door for her.
She glared at him and refused to get in.
“Suit yourself,” he said. “It’s a long walk back to Ravello.” He strode around the front of the Fiat.
“You can’t just drive off in my car and leave me here.”
“Watch me.” He got in and slammed his door hard. “I’m a bastard, remember!”
When he started the car, she jumped in and slammed hers, too, harder.
He adjusted the mirror and the seat, so that he had more leg room. “The road is dangerous. I know it and you don’t.”
She was about to protest when he shifted into reverse. Tires whirred in the dirt, spitting gravel.
“You scared the hell out of me this morning when you backed up and we nearly got rear-ended. And it was so early, the road was almost empty.”
“I had to back up for that bus,” she muttered.
“One bus. There’ll be traffic now. Besides, like I said, even with the road empty, you scared the hell out of me.”
She’d scared the hell out of herself. Was it her fault that the road was so narrow two cars couldn’t really fit side by side, not to mention trucks and buses?
“Besides, you grind the gears,” he said.
Without another word, she buckled her seat belt. If only they hadn’t quarreled. If only she didn’t feel achingly heartbroken, she might have enjoyed the lovely views and sparkling afternoon.
By the way he drove, she knew he was as enraged as she was. He ignored the scenery, whipped around hairpin curves, tires screaming. He passed a motorcycle with mere inches to spare on her side where a three-foot stone wall was the only thing separating them from a sheer drop to the sea.
Amber sunshine in the trees and deepening shadows made the mountainside a sparkling fairy wonderland. Not that she could enjoy it as cafés, trucks, villas and other cars raced by them at a sickening speed. Far below, fishing boats seemed as small as children’s toys, bobbing in secluded coves.
She stole a glance at Nico’s hard, silent profile. How could she have ever thought he was a gigolo? He looked more like a warrior.
“Stop! Now! And let me drive before you smash us into the mountain!” she cried.
“You’re driving like a maniac.”
“I know what I’m doing.” He spoke between clenched teeth.
He did seem to be skirting danger closely, not recklessly seeking it. She decided he knew what he was doing.
“If you have a wreck, my insurance won’t pay,” she told him.
“Right. With your rich wife’s money.”
His eyes narrowed on the road. “You’re wrong about that.”
He slammed his foot on the accelerator and drove even faster. She covered her eyes with her hands when the whirl of mountains, blue sea, and their mad race on the winding drive carved on the verge of an abyss was more than she could bear. She was, however, peering through her fingers when he whipped past the sign that pointed to the high road that wound up to Ravello.