I kept my eyes on her as she stirred in her sleep. Dawn had hardly broken so I thought she would sleep for a few more hours, but she stretched, and a corner of the blanket fell off her, revealing the delicate curves of her naked body.
She got up then, and I couldn’t pull my gaze away.
Only half-listening to Mateo, I watched her shyly and hurriedly, wrap the blanket around herself. It was such a sharp contrast from the wanton woman of last night that it made my lips curl with amusement. Without looking in my direction she began to gather her discarded clothes. She jumped when there was a knock on the door.
“Come in,” I called.
The door pushed open and Luigi came in with an envelope in his hand. If he was surprised to see me naked with a woman down here, he didn’t show it, and he was smart enough to keep his eyes well away from Skye too.
“I’m off to the greenhouse. See you later,” Skye called out as she sailed past him towards the door.
Her shoulders were exposed, her hair tousled, and she was clutching a big blanket around her naked body, but she could have been a queen for the regality with which she exited the room.
Luigi put the envelope on the desk and withdrew silently. Once the door was shut behind him an eerie silence settled over the room. Or perhaps it had always been there, but I just had never truly noticed or been bothered by it. Until now.
I pushed away the thought impatiently. I’d always loved it here on my own. My solitude was not a burden, on the contrary it was something I cherished and nurtured.
I opened the envelope. The receipt of messages about the things that could not be sent electronically was a necessity in my business, but I felt no interest in the contents. It fluttered from my hands.SkyeI could not believe I was running around that massive house naked under a blanket. Whatever had possessed me to run out of his room like that?
I kicked myself mentally, as the lift opened. The wide corridor was empty, thank God. I hurried down it, the blanket trailing. Maybe, it would be okay. I would get to my room without anyone seeing me. After all, it was still dark outside, and surely no one would be up at this time.
I was wrong.
As I was halfway down the corridor, Madam Mitterand appeared at the end of it. It was clear she saw me, but she pretended as if she hadn’t and quickly disappeared into the first door she came to. I breathed a sigh of relief. It would have been embarrassing for both of us if she had carried on down the corridor and had to pass me.
I reached my room without meeting anyone else. I wanted to keep Luca’s scent on my body so I didn’t shower. I quickly changed into a thick hoodie and a pair of skinny jeans. Then I pulled on my coat and shoes and ran down the stairs. I went into the kitchen and Madam Mitterand was now sitting in the same chair I found her in yesterday morning. She was drinking from the same cup and looking down on her notebook.
On the edge of the table closest to me were two small boxes tied up with a red ribbon.
“Oh, are those for John?” I asked, surprised.
She looked up, her face calm and expressionless. “Mini oatmeal muffins and an almond croissant,” she informed.
“Thank you, Madam. Thank you so much,” I whispered gratefully.
She nodded, and returned her attention to her notebook.
Clutching my boxes I ran to the foyer and opened the great big door. Outside it was now light, snowing softly and incredibly quiet and peaceful. With a song in my heart I began to walk to the greenhouse.
Today I was going to plant something. Something beautiful.Chapter 30LucaI went into the adjoining bathroom and showered. Then I walked through into the dressing room, pulled on a pair of jeans and turtleneck sweater, and went to sit at my desk. I tried to work, but I kept glancing at the empty rug.
After a while I leaned back in my chair and stared at the fire. It was beginning to die. The embers glowed red among the ashes.
It had never even crossed my mind to go see it since I bought this house and yet it held such a fascination for her. As I stared at the dying fire, a seed of curiosity sprouted within me. I realized I’d never ever walked across the grounds of the house. When I had first bought it the estate agent had flown me over it to show me the exact boundaries, but since then I had never bothered about it. It was extremely rare for me to take things at a slower pace even while I was on vacation, but maybe this morning I could explore the grounds of my own house.