A Prize Beyond Jewels

A Prize Beyond Jewels by Carole Mortimer Read Free Book Online

Book: A Prize Beyond Jewels by Carole Mortimer Read Free Book Online
Authors: Carole Mortimer
host fully for the first time and realised that Dmitri Palitov was sitting in a wheelchair rather than one of the cream velvet armchairs!
    ‘I trust you will understand why I do not get up to greet you, Mr D’Angelo,’ Dmitri Palitov drawled dryly as he obviously saw Rafe’s look of surprise.
    A surprise Rafe quickly masked beneath a politely bland smile as he strode across the room to shake the hand the older man held out to him. ‘No problem. And please call me Rafe,’ he invited lightly as he released his hand from the other man’s strong grip. ‘Despite being unsure as to whether or not she likes me, your daughter already calls me Rafe,’ he added softly before glancing challengingly across to where Nina stood silently watching the two men. His glance was slightly censorious, but not because of what Nina had said; Rafe would have appreciated a heads up in regard to knowing her father was in a wheelchair before actually meeting his host this evening.
    Although he acknowledged that might have been a little difficult for her to do. Nina had done as he’d asked, and left her father’s address with his assistant earlier, but Rafe admitted to going out of his way to ensure the two of them didn’t actually meet during the hours she had been at the gallery today.
    Because he was annoyed.
    With himself, not Nina.
    Nina could have no idea that his evening with Jennifer Nichols had gone so disastrously wrong for the simple reason he couldn’t stop thinking about Nina. Or, at least, his rebellious body had refused to stop thinking about Nina.
    So much so that Rafe hadn’t felt an ounce of desire to bed the beautiful actress at the end of the evening, and had instead merely kissed Jennifer on the cheek after driving her home, before then going home alone to his own apartment and his empty bed. Not to go straight to sleep, unfortunately, as a certain part of his anatomy had refused to comply, and even when he had finally slept it had been fitfully, and filled with dreams of bedding flame-haired Nina!
    Consequently Rafe hadn’t been in the best of moods all day; he’d certainly felt no inclination to actually see or talk to the woman who was causing his present lack of sexual desire to bed another woman. Something that had never happened to him before, and Rafe didn’t appreciate that it was happening to him now either.
    ‘Do not blame Nina for her earlier remark,’ his host advised ruefully. ‘What you overheard her say was merely as a result of my having just teased her.’
    Rafe wondered exactly what Dmitri Palitov had been teasing his daughter about to have elicited such a vehement response from her, and that curiosity was added to by the sudden blush that now coloured Nina’s cheeks.
    ‘Would you care to join me in a glass of whisky before dinner, Rafe?’ his host offered politely.
    ‘Thank you, Dmitri.’ Rafe nodded, watching through narrowed lids as Nina silently crossed the room to the array of drinks on the sideboard, that red hair like a living flame as it tumbled down the length of her spine as she kept her back turned towards them while she poured his whisky.
    ‘I trust your previous engagement, yesterday evening, was successful, Rafe?’
    Rafe turned back as his host spoke to him once again, knowing by the hardness of the older man’s expression that Dmitri Palitov had noticed his interest in his daughter, and wasn’t sure as to whether he approved or not.
    As the other man was also aware of exactly what—and with whom—Rafe’s previous engagement had been last night?
    The mockery in those pale green eyes looking so challengingly up into his indicated the answer to that question was a resounding yes. Dmitri Palitov knew exactly where and with whom Rafe had been the previous evening.
    ‘Really, Papa,’ Nina drawled mockingly as she crossed the room to hand Rafe his glass of whisky, her hand deliberately not coming into contact with his as she did so. ‘We really shouldn’t embarrass Rafe by

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