She put her hand over his mouth. “Be quiet. I need to concentrate.” She turned back to the massage.

“Are you saying my talking distracts you?”

“Your voice is—” She broke off, sinking her fingers into his muscles, causing him to moan. She smiled at the sound. “Good spot?”

He nodded. “My voice is?”

“Compelling,” she said. “Well, you are compelling, but you already knew that.”

“How so?” he asked, curious because she clearly wasn’t flattering him.

“You’re insufferably confident and intelligent. You seem intent on conveying that you only make decisions based on numbers and that you’re nearly heartless. But you’re not. There’s stuff going on beneath the surface. Not exactly sure—” She dug her thumbs into the muscle above his collarbone and he winced. “Oops. Good or bad?”

“I’m okay,” he said.

She smiled. “You really need to let me know if I hurt you. If you don’t, you’re going to need to take something for your muscles later.”

He didn’t believe her. She was a small woman. He’d suffered more than a massage without needing medication. “I’m okay.”

“All righty,” she said and slid her hand over his face. “Close your eyes,” she said softly. She worked his shoulders, arms, and even his hands. After he turned over, she continued and he wondered how she kept from tiring. Her fingers played him with a soothing rhythm of increasing and decreasing intensity.

Michael relaxed in a way he couldn’t recall, feeling himself melt into the mattress. He drifted off….

Later, he awakened to the sound of the CD she’d played while she’d massaged his body. A light sheet covered him. Lifting his head, he glanced around and felt a tug of disappointment that she was gone. A bottle of water caught his eye. Sighing, he rose and grabbed it, spotting a note next to it.

Gone to check on Charlotte. Drink lots of water. Jacuzzi would be a good follow-up to the massage. Be back later.

More orders, he thought, lifting his eyebrows. Few women had tried to give him orders. Those who had hadn’t lasted long. At the moment, though, he couldn’t help feeling indulgent. Bella had taken him to a new level of relaxation. He would take them both to a new level of sexual pleasure.

He decided to follow her suggestion for a dip in the Jacuzzi. But first he should check his BlackBerry for messages. He picked up his phone from the nightstand, noting that she’d turned it off. Only he controlled his phone. He would warn her later.

Turning it on, he saw a text message from his private investigator and immediately called him.

“Sam Carson,” the man said his name. “Is this Mr. Medici?”

“Yes. You have news.”

“Yes, but you aren’t going to like it.”

Michael’s gut twisted. “What is it? Did you find his body?”

Carson sighed. “That would have been easier than what I have to tell you.”


M ichael’s house was dark when Bella let herself in just before nine o’clock. Normally she would have expected one of his staff to greet her, but this time all she heard was silence. Was he still asleep from the massage she’d given him?

Turning on a light, she walked through the hallway to the kitchen and glimpsed a flicker of light coming from the den. The gas fireplace provided the only light in the room. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust. She saw him sitting in a chair holding a squat glass half-full of liquid. Probably some kind of liquor that cost a hundred dollars an ounce.She met his gaze and glimpsed a turbulence in his gaze. Something had happened since she’d left. “What’s wrong?” she asked, moving toward him.

“Nothing I want to discuss,” he said and took a sip of his drink. “Do you want anything to drink?”

She lifted her bottle of water. “I’m good.”

“Yes, you are,” he said, seduction glinting in his eyes.

Uncertain of his mood, she stopped a few steps before him. “Are you okay?”

“I am,” he said, but his words belied her instincts.

“You really should still be drinking water,” she said. “Did you get into the Jacuzzi?”

“No more orders today, Bella. And no, I didn’t get into the hot tub. Come here.”

She moved closer, still hesitant. He extended his hand and she accepted it. He pulled her into his lap, his gaze pinning hers. “Don’t ever, ever turn off my Blackberry without my permission.”

She blinked. “You missed an important call,” she said. “I’m sorry,” she said. “Kinda,” she added. “Kinda not. You needed to relax.”