Bride In A Guilded Cage by Abby Green
By SMW Staff
While Rafael has never had any intention of settling down, when he sees the beautiful woman that Isobel has become, he realizes that marriage might not be such a bad prospect after all.
Isobel is caught, unable to get out of the ancient agreement without causing irreparable damage to her family. A legal contract says she must wed! But she is determined above all, to withstand Rafael’s devastating charm and stay true to herself…the only problem is that she hasn’t counted on Rafael’s slow and sensual wearing down of her defences…
A short while later, changed for the charity function, Isobel had herself rigidly in control. She was aware of Rafael flicking her glances in the back seat of the car and each one fell like a hot caress on her bared and too sensitive skin. They were on their way to a charity dinner where Bob and his wife were Rafael’s guests.
She wore a strapless cocktail dress, fitted and to the knee and her legs were primly together, slanted to the side, as far away from Rafael as possible. She was still reeling from the revelation of finding out exactly what Rafael had been working on and how wrong she’d been. It made her feel now as if a layer of protective skin had been ripped away, leaving her exposed and vulnerable. Too exposed and vulnerable to face the prospect of sleeping with Rafael that night.
She cast him a quick surreptitious glance, he was looking ahead, coolly remote and Isobel shivered. She couldn’t hide any longer.
After a short journey they pulled up outside one of Beunos Aires’ oldest and grandest hotels. Isobel’s door was opened by a liveried doorman and she stepped out to be greeted by Rafael taking her hand in a firm grip. Quashing the urge to pull away she gritted her teeth against the shooting sensations up her arm and let him lead her into the thronged and glittering function room.
Hundreds of dinner tables were set around a dance floor which was currently occupied by tables showing off the charity lots. After dinner and when the lots had been auctioned off, Rafael having spent a ludicrous amount of money, the staff started clearing the dance floor.
Despite herself, Isobel’s distaste for this superficial social scene rose up again. Rafael leant close, and it took all her restraint not to move back, his evocative scent teasing her nostrils mercilessly.
‘What is wrong with you? You look like you’ve swallowed a lemon.’
Isobel tightened her jaw. ‘I just find it hard to sit here and watch the elite throwing their money around when the charities in question probably get a bare percentage, just for the privilege of having their name mentioned in such exalted circles.’
Rafael’s voice was deep and close, lightly mocking, ‘You’re too quick to judge again.’
Isobel burned to be reminded of how quick and absolute her judgment had been.
‘It’s all a game just like everything else. The people you see here are the most powerful in the country. To a large extent you’re right in your assessment. But you’re discounting what goes on in tandem with this; for instance, the fact that I’ve donated a disgustingly large amount of money to the cancer charity which is chaired by the Marquesa Consuela Valderosa who is holding court on the table over there, means that she will now feel compelled, in the nicest possible way of course, to lend her illustrious name and support to a much less monied charity of my own choice. It’s all about getting what you want from people. You just have to know how to play the game Isobel.’
Isobel looked at him speechlessly, his eyes were dark and hypnotic and she had the strong suspicion he was talking about the games he had accused her of playing with him. She felt hot inside.
Just then Rita leant across the table and said excitedly to Isobel and Rafael, ‘They’re playing that tango music from Scent of a Woman, would you two dance for us…please?’
Isobel looked at Rafael helplessly, her belly quivering as she remembered how he’d strode across the room earlier and taken her face in his hands. He hadn’t even kissed her but when he’d turned and walked away she’d been trembling all over. She turned to Rita and started to say, ‘I’m sorry but I don’t know if —‘
Isobel felt her hand being taken and she was being urged up to meet Rafael who was looking down at her with a glint in his eye. ‘Of course we’d love to dance a tango, wouldn’t we carino.’
Isobel hissed at Rafael as he led her to the dance floor where a few couples were trying unsuccessfully to emulate the famous movie scene, ‘My dress is too tight, I won’t be able to dance properly.’
Rafael just swept a look down and bent, all Isobel heard was a faint ripping sound and when he led her forward again she gasped when she felt a breeze and looked down to see that Rafael had effortlessly ripped her dress to mid-thigh.
He brought her to the middle of the dance floor and she looked up at him, ‘What on earth do you think— ‘
But her words were cut off when Rafael expertly pulled her into his arms in a quick staccato move, forcing her weight forward and into him. His embrace was close and tight, their chests all but welded together as he started to move.
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