“I can tell you already that it’s a wonderful break from winter, if that’s what you’re looking for,” she said.
“That,” he said. “And I always consider the investment benefit. This would be more for fun, though.”
She smiled at him. “Oh, my. I thought you weren’t interested in spending money for fun.”
He slid her a sideways glance. “I can do fun things. I just haven’t been motivated until recently.”
“And why is that?” she asked, lifting her glass of wine to her lips and taking a sip.
“I think you know it’s because of you,” he said.
“Hard for me to believe I have any influence over you.” She stared out at the ocean, drinking in the sight.
“Is that what you want? Influence over me?” he asked.
She met his gaze. “I want you to be happy.”
Something flashed in his eyes, something she couldn’t identify at first glance because it came and went so quickly. “And you think you know what would make me happy.”
“That sounds potentially arrogant, but I think I have an idea of what might help. Not that I’ll get a chance to help with that.”
“Why do you care about my happiness?” he asked. “You’re getting what you want. I’ve funded your aunt’s business. You know I’m not going to renege.”
Her stomach twisted and she frowned. “I don’t know. Maybe I’m more of a sap than I thought I was.” She met his gaze again. “Or maybe there’s more to you than I thought there was.”
“That last one would be wrong. I’m shallow,” he insisted.
“Yes,” she said. “That’s why you agreed to resuscitate my aunt’s business.”
“I benefit from that agreement in several ways.”
“It was still coloring outside your lines. You’re a liar if you disagree,” she said.
His eyes lit with amusement, but he said nothing.
“And there’s the matter of the community center,” she said.
“Anonymous could be anyone.”
“Uh-huh,” she said. “There’s another subject that reveals your tender side, but you get all touchy when I bring it up, so I won’t.”
“Thank you,” he said and nodded toward the horizon. “Don’t miss the sunset.”
She watched the orange ball sink lower and a green light followed it. “I’ve never seen that before,” she said. “What was it?”
“A green flash,” he said. “I’m not much for legends, but legend has it that seeing it means you have the ability to see into another person’s heart.”
“So, you don’t believe it,” she said.
He paused. “I didn’t say that.”
She leaned toward him. “You could have any woman. Why do you want me?”
He shook his head. “Too many reasons. Would you like dessert?”
She also shook her head. “No. I’m ready to go if you are.”
Minutes later, the driver drove them down a winding road to a gated driveway which opened after the driver punched in a code. It was a clear night, and the moonlight glowed on the stucco mansion with colored roof tiles as they drove toward it.
Bella sucked in her breath at the beauty of the building and the lush green foliage. She looked at Michael. “I must have misunderstood. I thought you were looking at a condominium.”
“The condo’s on Seven Mile beach. This one would be for personal use.” The driver pulled to a stop and they got out.
Bella looked up at the size of the mansion. “It’s lovely from the outside.”
“Let’s take a look inside,” he said and unlocked the front door. Cool marble floors and upscale island decor greeted them.
“Very nice,” she said.
He took her hand in his and wandered through the house. All the modern necessities and wants anyone could imagine were included in the home along with several views designed to make a mere mortal drool, even at night.
They stood on a deck for a moment and Bella drank in the gentle sound of the ocean against the sand. “Oh, I think we’d better leave right away,” she said.
“Because I don’t know how anyone could leave after staying here five minutes,” she said.
He laughed and tugged her hand. “Let’s go upstairs.”
Reluctantly leaving the deck, she climbed the stairs and looked at the hallways of bedrooms, another deck and finally the master suite. She followed him inside, glancing up to see the stars in the skylights which featured blinds for closing. A floor-to-ceiling window which revealed a fantastic view of the sea and the sky sat opposite the large bed. She walked through the sliding-glass door on to yet another deck with an awning, chairs and table and Jacuzzi.