“Yes, I have.”

He nodded. “You should get some rest,” he said and led her out of the den.


“I have a room for you,” he said. “Let the housekeeper know if you need anything. Her name is Trena.”

“But I thought,” she said, confused by the change of plans.

He stopped in front of a door and looked down at her. “I’ve never had to force a woman. I’m not about to start now.”

She bit her upper lip with her bottom teeth. “This is new for me. I haven’t done anything like this before.”

“Neither have I,” he said and lifted his eyebrow in a combination of amusement and irony. “Don’t count on me being patient for long. No one has ever accused me of letting the grass grow under my feet. I’ll send Trena in to check on you in a few minutes. Good night.”

Bella put her face in her hands after he closed the door. Shocked, she shook her head and glanced around the bedroom. Furnished in sea-blues and greens, the soft tones of the room immediately took her anxiety down several notches. Flanked by windows covered with airy curtains, a large comfortable-looking bed beckoned from the opposite wall. A large painting of an ocean scene hung above the bed, making her wonder if Michael enjoyed the sea as much as she did.

The bed stand held a collection of books, a small seashell lamp and a tray for a late-night snack. A long cherry bureau with a small padded chair occupied another. The room had clearly been furnished with comfort in mind.

She walked into the connecting bath and almost drooled. Marble double sinks, a large Jacuzzi tub, shower that would easily accommodate two and flowering plants. Much nicer than her one-bedroom apartment.

Don’t get used to it, she warned herself.

A knock sounded on the door and Bella opened it to a competent-looking woman dressed in black slacks and a white shirt. “Miss St. Clair. I’m Trena, one of Mr. Medici’s staff. Welcome. Please tell me what I can do to make your stay more comfortable.”

Bella glanced around. “I can’t think of anything. The room is wonderful.”

Trena nodded. “Good. There’s water, wine, beer and soda in the mini bar along with some snacks. There’s a fresh bathrobe hanging in the closet and toiletries in the bathroom.”

“Thank you. Oh, I just realized I don’t have pajamas,” Bella said. She hadn’t been sure whether she would be staying the night or not. “Perhaps a T-shirt?”

“No problem.”

“Again, thank you. I’ll just go get my change of clothing from my car.”

“If you’ll give me the keys, I can do that for you,” Trena offered.

“Oh, no,” she protested. “I can do that myself.”

Trena looked offended. “Please allow me. Mr. Medici emphasized that he wants you to relax. It’s my job and I take pride in doing a good job.”

She blinked at the woman’s firm tone. “Okay, thank you.”

“My pleasure. I’ll be back in just a moment.”

Wow, Bella thought. The woman brought service to a new level. She shouldn’t be surprised. Michael Medici would employ only the best and probably paid very well. Stifling a nervous chuckle, she envisioned Trena shaking her finger at her and saying, “You must relax.”

Just moments later, Trena returned with Bella’s tote bag of clothes she always kept in the back of her car in case she wanted to change before or after work at the restaurant. She also brought her a soft extra-large T-shirt. Staring at a painting of a pink shell on the wall, she wondered about Michael.

What kind of man would make a deal to bail out her aunt in exchange for an affair with her?

Who was she to cast stones? After all, what kind of woman would accept his offer?

She thought it would take forever to fall asleep so she picked up a book on the nightstand, a thriller. Seven hours later, she awakened to the smell of fresh-brewed coffee with the thriller on her chest.

Shaking her head, she quickly realized she wasn’t in her own bed. Her sheets weren’t this soft, her mattress not so…perfect. Scrambling out of bed, she pulled on her clothes and splashed water on her face and brushed her teeth and hair. And added lip gloss.

Calm, calm, she told herself and walked into the kitchen.

A bald, black man standing next to the coffeemaker looked up at her. “Miss St. Clair?”

She nodded. “Yes.”

His mouth stretched into a wide grin of reassurance. “Pleasure to meet you. I’m Sam. Mr. Medici instructed me to fix your breakfast. Would you like a cappuccino?”

“It’s nice to meet you, too, Sam. There’s no need for you to fix my breakfast.”

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