As she apologized Maya levered herself up so she sat on the grass.
He said nothing at first, just watched as she peered inside the basket Alma had prepared.
‘This is so lovely of her,’ Maya said. ‘Especially when I was so rude. I completely overreacted.’
His response caught her by surprise and Maya looked up as he spoke on.
‘Had I been Matteo then I’d have deserved every word. You’re right. He’s completely irresponsible.’
‘Turn On A Dime’s a very valuable horse,’ Maya said. ‘And in the wrong hands potentially a very dangerous one.’
‘I get that,’ Luka agreed. ‘I’ve chased down Matteo and my assistant has arranged somewhere more suitable. They’re just awaiting a signature and for some paperwork to be signed. Transport’s being booked for tomorrow, though I’m not sure how long he’ll be there…’ He let out a tense breath. ‘Matteo has no idea if he’s going to race or breed him.’
He watched as Maya looked over to the stables where the beautiful beast was housed and could see the shine of tears in her eyes. She loved that horse, Luka could see. Yes, she had been right to be angry. It was typical Matteo behavior to create chaos and then leave it for others to sort out. ‘You came with him from Dubai?’ Luka asked.
He was curious to know.
‘Yes.’ Maya nodded. ‘For high-end horses like this one, you fly with them. I’ve been with him every day since he was born. I’m going to miss him a lot.’
Maya didn’t want to start crying. She’d do that tomorrow when she and Turn On A Dime finally said goodbye, but for now she started to unload the food. There were warm arancini balls made of rice and stuffed with mozzarella, and fresh rolls packed with pastrami, as well as icy bottled water. ‘Join me?’
Luka hesitated. Picnics really weren’t his thing, in fact he’d never had one in his life, yet he was curious to know more about Maya.
‘Sure,’ he said and removed his jacket.
Maya watched as that tall, lean body lowered easily to the ground, and it was a most unexpected pleasure that he had agreed to have lunch with her.
They ate and chatted. The food was delicious and simple and the conversation easily flowed.
‘How long have you lived in Dubai?’ he asked.
‘Nine years. My father’s a trainer and a very good one. When I was fifteen he was offered a job running a professional racing yard in Dubai and we all moved there.’
‘Did you want to go?’
He was the first person to ever ask her. Maya could remember coming home from school one day and simply being told that the family was relocating.
‘No,’ Maya admitted. ‘But it was a done deal by the time I found out. It was such an amazing opportunity. My mother, my father, my brothers all live and breathe horses.’
There was an omission there and, of course, Luka noted it. ‘You?’
‘I love them, especially Turn On A Dime, but…’ Maya gave a helpless shrug.
‘They’re not all of your life?’ he offered.
‘At this level, they have to be.’ She looked at his hand as he filled her glass with water and his patience was soothing. ‘Horses are all I know. My father’s a very hard taskmaster. I’m up before dawn and I work seven days a week…’ She hesitated and then admitted something. ‘There’s nothing more pleasurable than riding a horse at dawn. It allows for some soul searching.’
He was about to quip that he could think of one thing more pleasurable to do at dawn but he was wary of throwing a flirting line.
There was something very different about Maya from his usual fare. There was attraction between them, Luka knew it.
She had made him smile within moments of their meeting and that rarely occurred.
And there was also something very different about their surroundings.
Unlike the upmarket clubs he frequented when he was looking for female company, the silences between them were not filled with music or the sound of others. He watched as her fingers picked at strands of grass, and there was time to think of a more appropriate response and to tread a little more warily. ‘Well, you’ve got some time off now,’ Luka pointed out. He was enjoying her company and about to suggest they do dinner. Asking women for a casual date was, for Luka, as straightforward as that. ‘What will you do with yourself for the rest of the day?’
‘Plenty!’ Maya answered, completely missing the little window he’d opened. ‘He’s fed on rocket fuel and needs a lot of exercise. I’ve had a look on my cell phone and there are some amazing riding tracks here,’ Maya said. ‘I might take him to the beach…’
‘Do you talk about anything other than horses?’
‘Not usually, although…’ Maya halted, scarcely able to believe that she’d almost revealed her secret to a virtual stranger.
She was thinking about not going back.
Log in or create an account to read the next chapter of "One Night in the Di Sione Mansion"
Every month we select a new title from one of our authors so that you can discover new stories, locations and genres for free.