By the time I went back to the house it was already lunchtime and feeling ravenous I headed straight to the orangery. Mary Jane was waiting for me there. She smiled at me. “Shall I serve lunch now?”
I ate an exquisite meal. There was freshly baked bread with cold butter and a shank of lamb that Mary Jane said the Chef was famous for. It was so tender you didn’t need a knife to eat it. All you had to do was pick it up from one end and shake it gently and the meat would fall off the bone. I tried it and she was right. The flesh simply slid off the bone. I tucked into it hungrily. It was delicious. Then I polished off a small bowl of crème brulee and tried to call the number Luca had given me the first night we met, but the phone appeared to be turned off. I couldn’t imagine his phone was off, so I guessed he must have more than one phone.
“Is there a way I can reach the Don?” I asked Mary Jane, as I sipped my coffee.
“I have no idea.” Her tone was laced with incredulity at the very suggestion. “I told you I don’t even—”
“Know what he looks like,” I finished for her.
And then I felt bad because it was not my intention to mock her. It was just the way everyone spoke of him made him seem like he was a god or a ghost. I smiled at her. “It’s okay. I’ll ask him when I eventually see him.”
Once lunch was over I went back to my room, flung my coat on the bed and collapsed next to it.
Immediately, thoughts of our night together flowed into my head. I blushed to think of the way I had sucked him. As if he was the most delicious lollipop I’d ever tasted. The things we had done to each other in the dark seemed unutterably sensual in the daylight. My fingers moved to the crotch of my jeans, but I pulled my hand away. I had to stop it. I was on the way to becoming a sex addict.
With a sigh I pulled my phone out of my coat. First I called my father and made sure all was well with him and his tests, then I called Katie, but she was busy at work and promised to call me later. With nothing to do I began to research all I could about the kinds of flowers I would be able to grow given the season.
I was filled with excitement as I went through countless photos of seedlings and read up on all that I could about growing vegetables in greenhouses. Mary Jane knocked on my door to ask if I would like some tea and cakes. I said yes and went down to the orangery again. There were scones with thick cream and jam; egg and cress finger sandwiches; and some kind of French cake which looked like a tower or flaky pastry layered with custard and fresh fruit.
Afterwards I wandered into the vast library. There must have been tens of thousands of books in there. I stood in the middle of the room and marveled at all the books lined up on the walls all the way up to the lofty ceiling. I guessed the contents of the library must have come with the house too, because I couldn’t for the life of me imagine Luca choosing these books. It must have taken years to make this collection.
They were all old books and as I walked along I noted the categories. Ancient European architecture, philosophy, anthropology, medicine, alchemy, and a whole section on esoteric and occult knowledge. I pulled out several and looked inside them. The pages of the books were all yellow with age, and the language used was archaic and difficult to understand.
It was a strange thing, but I liked being in that library. It was like I had gone back in time. Any moment the door would open and a man or a woman wearing clothes from times gone by would walk in. To my surprise I actually found an old book with a lot of illustrations about growing exotic plants in cold climates. I would have loved to have stayed in the library and read the book there, but the fireplace was not lit and it was too cold.
I returned to the large living room that faced the front of the house. Its walls were painted a sunny yellow and a fire had been lit in the elaborate marble fireplace. I curled up on the sofa next to it and opened The Intrepid Gardener by Samuel J Snowden.
Luca was not expected for dinner so I ate a solitary meal in the great dining room. It felt strange and lonely without him. The noises I made with my knife and fork seemed to echo all around me. I wondered where he was, if he even thought of me. Of course not, a little voice taunted. I knew the voice was not wrong. I was just a plaything for an obscenely rich man. The fact that he didn’t even bother to turn up on the second night told me everything I needed to know. He was not desperate for my flesh like I was for his.