Home > Wild Cat (Leopard People #8)

Wild Cat (Leopard People #8)
Author: Christine Feehan

A Special Note

When I was a child growing up, my mother would tell me stories of when she was young and first married to my father. She married him never having cooked or held a baby. One day while he was gone working, she wanted to surprise him with one of his favorite meals. She burned her hands on the chilies and he came home and was very upset with her, but of course he took great care of her. I always wanted to retell that story because I loved it so much. Irma Camargo (the mother) allowed me to do so by providing me with the recipes so Elijah would have to take very good care of Siena.


1


   “SIENA, bella, come see your old nonno for a minute.”

   Siena obediently dropped her car keys on the table and hurried into the sitting room her grandfather preferred. The room was cozy and always just a little too warm. As a rule that didn’t bother her, but for some reason lately, her body seemed overheated. She was restless and edgy and hot. Very hot. Her skin ached, felt too tight, stretched over her frame. Even her jaw hurt. Her breasts felt swollen and achy, and for the first time in her life, she burned between her legs. Like crazy. It was awful.

   The condition seemed to come and go at will for no apparent reason. It had started a couple of weeks earlier and was getting significantly worse. She was grateful she had just earned her master’s of science in oenology and had come home, although being in the same room with her beloved grandfather when her body was on fire was decidedly uncomfortable.

   She needed to get out of the house—immediately. Lately, the condition had gotten so bad she was seriously thinking about visiting an adult store and getting herself a toy. A really good one. Sheesh. She’d never looked at a man like that. Well, that wasn’t strictly the truth. She’d once seen Elijah Lospostos when she was fifteen. They sat across from each other at a dinner when she’d been home from boarding school. He was at least eight years older than her. Maybe ten. It hadn’t mattered. The moment she’d laid eyes on him, something wild unfurled deep inside of her. She’d barely been able to keep her eyes off of him. He was the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen. Ever. And her grandfather employed a lot of men.

   She tried as hard as she could not to stare at him, but sometimes she’d felt his gaze on her, and every time she’d looked up, his eyes were looking at her. There was no mistake. He smiled. She didn’t. She blushed. A horrible reaction. He’d tried to engage her in conversation and she’d stammered. Blushed more. It had been horrible. She was smart. Brilliant. She was already doing college courses. And she couldn’t say a single intelligent word to him. Even the memory embarrassed her.

   “What is it, Nonno?” she asked, bending to brush a kiss along his jaw. She ruffled his hair. He still had a wild mane of hair. All silver, but thick as a cat’s pelt. His eyes, a dark chocolate, were faded, but still sharp. “I’m off to the gym.” Because she really, really needed to work out hard. Tire herself to the point of exhaustion so she could actually get some sleep. She was desperate for sleep.

   “I need a favor, bella, a small one for an old man, eh?” he coaxed.

   As if she had ever in her life turned him down when he asked her for something. She was rarely at the house. She had been in boarding school most of her life and then college, but she treasured her times at home with him. He was her only living relative. It was just Antonio Arnotto and his granddaughter. The two of them.

   “What would that be, Nonno?” she asked, trying to sound stern. She knew she failed when the laugh lines around his eyes crinkled. She sank down onto the arm of his chair and ruffled all that silver hair again.

   “I want you to take a case of my best reserve to a friend. His birthday was last week and I forgot to send a gift around. My beautiful granddaughter delivering it personally will make up for this mistake, no?”

   She laughed. “It seems you have a lot of friends with birthdays and anniversaries you forget until your granddaughter comes home.”

   He shrugged his shoulders. “I’m not getting any younger, Siena, and you might start thinking about marriage and babies. Come to think of it, Elijah isn’t married, and he’s not getting any younger. He’s quite good-looking.” He winked at her.

   She bit down on her lower lip to try to keep from blushing. Just the mere mention of Elijah’s name set her heart pounding and her stomach whooshing a slow somersault. He was good-looking. Hot. Gorgeous. And way out of her league. She wasn’t going to tell her grandfather that.

   “Stop being a matchmaker. You’ll get your babies in due time, I promise.” Maybe sooner than he wanted if her body didn’t stop with the meltdown-frantic-for-sex-now routine.

   She’d taken to looking at her grandfather’s bodyguards. And his number one man, Paolo, the man her grandfather dreamed of having her marry. Paolo watched her all the time. He always had. His gaze burned through her. He was good-looking and always very polite to her, but she knew he was a hound dog. He went through women, and word was, he wasn’t very nice about it. She’d heard rumors from some of the maids and the cook that he ruled his women with an iron fist. She wasn’t hooking up with him, even though she knew he was more than willing.

   “I’m not getting any younger,” he repeated, patting her hand. “Be a good girl and deliver the wine for me. Give Elijah my best. Tell him not to be such a stranger and to drop by once in a while to see an old man.”

   “I will, Nonnino,” she murmured and kissed the top of his head.

   The hair on the back of her neck stood up and her stomach tightened. She knew without turning her head that Paolo Riso had stepped into the room. He was all roped muscle and fluid grace, and for such a big man he moved in complete silence. She knew he was very intelligent, and her grandfather relied heavily on him. She had always gotten along with him, even liked him when she was younger, but the last few years she’d visited home, he made her very uncomfortable.

   She turned her head and forced a smile. His eyes were on her. Gleaming. Watching. Hooded. Holding secrets. Secrets she was certain involved her—none of them good. He was very close to her grandfather, and her grandfather treated him as he might a son. She wanted to love him for that alone, but instead, each time she came back home, she found herself becoming more and more uneasy around him.

   Not like her grandfather’s second-in-command. Alonzo Massi made her entire body tense, shiver even, with revulsion. The man’s body was massive with ropes of muscle, and he was just plain scary. His eyes were always following her around, and he appeared as cold as a snake. She wasn’t certain what kind of job he actually did for her grandfather, but she was fairly certain it had nothing to do with the winery.

   “Hey, Paolo.” She gave him a smile. She was very good at smiling and making it seem genuine. “How’s it going?”

   “Good, bella.” Paolo moved right to her.

   She forced air through her lungs, knowing what was coming. He was getting bolder and bolder, and always in front of her beaming grandfather, who clearly approved. He took both hands and pulled her to her feet. Pulled her into him. He leaned down, and she turned her face slightly so his lips brushed her cheek rather than her lips.

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