She waited a few moments before knocking again, louder.
Unless Christian had left without telling anyone, he was in there. The dim light seeping under the door testified to this. She’d casually asked Stefan and Zayed where their fellow musketeer had escaped to. She could only hope she’d imagined the suspicious but pitying look in Stefan’s eyes when he’d told her Christian had gone to bed.
Please, God, let him be alone in there.
What were the chances?
She’d been nothing special, just another notch on a bedpost crammed with notches.
Christian Markos travelled with a trail of broken hearts attached to him ranging from Hong Kong to London. Some sold their stories to the tabloids, tales of short-lived lust before being discarded. Some spoke with bitterness. Most spoke with longing. Most wanted him to break their hearts all over again.
It took an age before the handle turned and the door opened.
Christian stood clad in a pair of jeans. And nothing else.
He blinked narrowing eyes. ‘What are you doing here?’
‘I need to talk to you. Can I come in?’
His bronzed throat rose. ‘That’s not a good idea.’
His firm lips, usually quirked in an easy smile, clamped together. He shifted past her, looking both directions down the wide corridor before ushering her in and swiftly closing the door.
His room was tidy, his tuxedo hanging neatly on the door of the wardrobe. The bed was rumpled; a tablet was on the bedside table next to a half-full bottle of bourbon and an empty glass.
‘Are you drunk?’ she challenged. This was a conversation she needed to have when he was sober.
‘No.’ He strode to the window and closed the heavy curtains. ‘Believe me, I’ve been trying to reach that state.’
If only she were in a position to reach that state herself.
‘Today went well,’ she said, sitting gingerly on the corner chair. She could really do with a shot of that bourbon. It would make what was coming next easier to cope with, of that she was certain. ‘Rocco and Liv looked really happy.’
Their obvious happiness had had the dual effect of making her heart lighten for her brother’s sake and sink at the knowledge it was something she could never have for herself.
Christian propped himself against the wall by the window and crossed his arms over his broad chest. She hadn’t really had the opportunity to study his torso in her apartment, and now she could look at it properly she felt the heat she’d experienced that night bloom anew.
Years of rowing and track had honed his physique, his form strong and athletic, his shoulders broad. Fine hair dusted across his bronzed chest and she felt an almost unbearable compulsion to hurtle herself into his arms and take solace in his strength.
Making love to him had been an experience she would never forget. The single best experience of her life.
Try as she had to expel the memories from her head, they’d stayed with her, tantalising her, taunting her with the knowledge it was an experience that could never be repeated.
The simple remembrance of his smooth skin flush against her nakedness made her feel as if her insides were being liquidised.
‘What did you want to talk to me about?’ he asked, cutting the preamble and pulling her back to the present. While he wasn’t being unfriendly, there was none of the easy-going Christian she knew. She didn’t have to be psychic to know he wanted her gone from his room.
His regret and self-loathing were obvious.
Her heart hammered beneath her ribs, her stomach roiling with nerves that threatened to overwhelm her.
This was all her fault...
THE SILENCE THAT FOLLOWED Alessandra’s stark statement was total.
Christian seemed to deflate before her eyes, as if he’d suffered a body blow.
Which no doubt her news was, she thought miserably.
How she’d kept herself together throughout the day she would never know, her only thought having been that she mustn’t ruin Rocco and Olivia’s special day. She mustn’t.