A Touch of Notoriety - By Carole Mortimer



Beth looked up to smile at the handsome young man who, until a few moments ago, had been sitting at a neighbouring table enjoying a cup of coffee at the same outside café in the San Telmo area of Buenos Aires, and shooting her the occasional admiring glance from beautiful chocolate-brown eyes.

But before she could respond she saw a movement out of the corner of her eye as another man approached at a speed totally at odds with his overwhelming height and muscular build. Two seconds later one of the younger man’s arms was twisted painfully up behind his back, totally immobilising him.

‘Raphael!’ Beth muttered in embarrassed protest as she rose to her feet, very tall and slim in a black T-shirt and denims beneath her brown leather jacket.

Raphael didn’t so much as glance at her. ‘Back off,’ he ordered the startled young man coldly, not easing his grip for a second, his expression grimly detached.

‘You’re the one who should back off, Raphael!’ Beth shot him an exasperated glance. ‘In fact, you shouldn’t even be here...’ So much for believing she had managed to escape for even a short time; she should have known that Raphael Cordoba would eventually track her down and ruin her few moments of peace!

‘Is this man bothering you?’ The young Argentinian braved the other man’s wrath as he now spoke to her in heavily accented English.

Was Raphael Cordoba bothering her?

Raphael Cordoba had been ‘bothering’ Beth since the moment she first met him! And not just because she hated having him dog her footsteps day and night...

Over six feet of male perfection—dark hair framing a chiselled face dominated by piercing blue eyes that any male model would envy, broad shoulders and a leanly muscled body that not even the three-piece suits Raphael habitually wore could disguise—was apt to do that to a woman!

‘I thought only to talk to you?’ The younger man grimaced, obviously as overwhelmed by the forceful Raphael as Beth was.

‘I know.’ Beth shot Raphael a censorious glance.

‘It is safe to leave you with this man?’

‘Safer than with you, you—’

‘Raphael, please!’ Beth reproved wearily, having to admire the younger man’s persistence in the face of Raphael’s fierce displeasure. ‘It’s...complicated,’ she excused as she smiled at the other man reassuringly. ‘But it’s okay—he doesn’t have any intention of harming me.’

‘You are sure?’

‘She is sure,’ Raphael answered the younger man grimly, with a deadly expression she was also sure would be in those piercing blue eyes currently hidden behind black mirror-shaded wraparound sunglasses.

And if there was one thing Beth was very sure of, it was that Raphael Cordoba wasn’t going to harm her. The opposite, in fact; he was her bodyguard, employed by Cesar Navarro, and here to ensure that no one else harmed her. Or rather, that no one harmed Gabriela Navarro, the young woman everyone now believed Beth to be.

Except Beth herself...

Just a week ago she had been quietly going about her life in England, enjoying her new job working Monday to Friday in a London publishing house, and feeling only mildly anxious that her sister, Grace, had flown to Argentina for the weekend with her new boss, the breathtakingly handsome billionaire Cesar Navarro, in his private jet. Never in a million years could Beth ever have guessed that Grace’s stay in Buenos Aires would have such a profound effect on her own life!

But here she was only days later, also in Buenos Aires, the blood tests having convinced everyone—except Beth herself!—that she was Gabriela, the daughter of Carlos and Esther Navarro, who had been abducted twenty-one years ago.

And Raphael Cordoba, previously Cesar Navarro’s own personal bodyguard, now watched over Beth’s every move. To the point, it seemed, of attacking handsome young men who had only wanted to talk to her!

‘Let him go, Raphael,’ Beth muttered wearily, knowing her few minutes of freedom were very definitely over. ‘I’m leaving now anyway,’ she assured him heavily. ‘I think the milk has gone sour in my coffee!’ She drew some money from her shoulder bag and threw it down onto the tabletop to cover the cost of her drink before walking off without so much as a second glance at either man. Why bother, when she was never going to be allowed to sit and talk to the younger man—it was safer for him if she didn’t—and she knew if she left Raphael would only be a few steps behind her?

As he had been only a few steps behind her in the days since those