She was sitting at breakfast, imagining those very fingers in the filthiest of thoughts, and she dared not look up at him for she felt he could read her mind.
‘So what are your plans for today?’ Raul asked.
His voice seemed to be coming from a distance, and yet he was so prominent in her mind.
She could take his hand, Lydia was certain, and be led to his bed.
Oh, what was happening to her?
‘I told you—sightseeing, and then I’m shopping for a dress.’
‘I wish I could be there to see that.’
‘I thought men didn’t like shopping.’
‘I don’t, usually.’
His eyes flicked to the row of buttons at the front of her dress and then to the thick nipples that ached, just ached for his touch, for his mouth. And then they moved back to her face.
‘I have to go,’ Raul told her, and she sat still as he stood. With good reason: her legs simply refused to move. Standing would be difficult...walking back over to the hotel would prove a completely impossible feat.
Please go, Lydia thought, because she felt drunk on lust and was trying not to let him see.
He summoned the waiter, and though he spoke in Italian he spoke slowly enough that she could just make out what was being said.
Hold this table for tonight at six.
And then he turned to where she sat, now with her back to him, and lowered his head. For a moment she thought he was going to kiss her.
He did not.
His breath was warm on her cheek and his scent was like a delicious invasion. His glossy black hair was so close that she fought not to reach out and feel it, fought not to turn and lick his face.
And then he spoke.
‘Hold that thought till six.’
Lydia blinked and tried to pretend that she still felt normal, that this was simply breakfast and she was somehow in control.
‘I already told you—I can’t make it tonight.’
Then he offered but one word.
WHAT THE HELL was happening to her?
Lydia watched him walk across the street and then disappear inside the hotel.
He did not turn around. He didn’t walk with haste.
She wanted him to hurry, to disappear, just so that she could clear her mind—because in fact she wanted him to turn around.
One crook of his finger and she knew she would rise and run to him—and that was so not her. She kept her distance from people—not just physically but emotionally too.
Her father’s death had rocked every aspect of her world, and the aftermath had been hell. Watching her mother selling off heirlooms and precious memories one by one, in a permanent attempt to keep up appearances, and then marrying that frightful man. Finding her friends had all been fair-weather ones had also hurt Lydia to the core. And so she held back—from family, from friends and, yes, from men.
She was guarded, and possibly the assumption made by others that she was cold was a correct one.
But not now—not this morning.
She felt as if she had been scalded, as if every nerve was heated and raw, and all he had done was buy her breakfast.
She sat alone at the table. There was nothing to indicate romance—no candles or champagne—and no favourable dusk to soften the view. Just the brightness of morning.
There had been no romance.
Raul had offered her one night and a present the following morning. She should have damn well slapped him for the insult!
Yet he’d left her on a slightly giddy high that she couldn’t quite come down from.
* * *
Sightseeing as such didn’t happen.
When she should have been sorting out what to do about tonight she wandered around, thinking about this morning.
But finally she shopped, and accepted the assistant’s advice, and stood in the changing room with various options.
The black did not match her mood.
The caramel felt rather safe.
But as for the red!
The rich fabric caressed her skin and gave curves where she had few. It was ruched across her stomach and her hand went to smooth it before she realised that was the desired effect—it drew the eye lower.
Lydia slipped on the heels that stood in the corner and looked at her reflection from behind. And then she looked from the front.
She felt sexy, and for the first time beautiful and just a touch wild as she lifted her hair and imagined it piled up in curls. And his reaction.
It wasn’t Bastiano’s reaction she was envisaging—it was the reaction of the man who had invited her out this evening.
Only that wasn’t quite right.
He hadn’t asked her out on a date.
Raul had invited her to a night in his bed.
Lydia spun around as the assistant came in, and her cheeks matched the fabric as if she had been caught stealing.
‘That dress is perfect on you...’ the assistant said.