He ran his hand along her calf and found the muscle was a knot of tension. He worked it with deft fingers.

The muscle did not relax.


In fact it tightened.

And when her toes curled to his touch he placed her foot so that she could feel his desire for her.

She ought to tell him she was a virgin.

But she rather guessed that Raul wouldn’t find her innocence endearing.

His fingers continued to work on the tense muscle till it loosened. High in her thigh she contracted, and then he removed the sandal and lifted her naked foot.

‘Please don’t,’ she choked as he lifted it towards his mouth. ‘I’ve been walking...’

‘Dirty girl.’

He kissed the arch of her foot, and she tried again to pull away, but only because the wicked sensation his tongue delivered shot straight between her legs.

‘Raul...’ She pronounced it correctly for the first time—it simply rolled off her tongue. ‘Someone might see.’

‘They can’t see in.’

She could see, though.

For that moment Lydia felt as if she could see inside herself.

And she was...

The feeling was so unfamiliar it took a second for Lydia to recognise just what it was.

She was happy.

Just that.

‘We’re here,’ Raul said, and released her foot, and that tiny glimpse of carefree happiness was over.


Just like that.

For she saw him—Maurice—standing outside the hotel.

He was smoking a cigar and on his phone—no doubt to her mother.

‘We’ll use the side entrance.’

Raul went to the intercom to inform the driver, but her hand stopped him.

‘No.’

It was over.

The windows were dark and she knew that Maurice couldn’t see in—neither would he be expecting her to return in such a luxurious vehicle.

‘I need to face things.’

‘Tomorrow,’ Raul said.


And she looked at this man who chose not to get close enough to anyone to remember a birthday.

A man who did not live by the rules.

She did.

‘I think it would be better dealt with tonight. It might be a little more difficult to take the moral high road about Bastiano with my knickers in my purse.’

‘Lydia...’ Raul started, but then halted. He had no qualms over a one-night stand, but he conceded with a nod that she made a valid point.

‘Go and tell him to get the hell out of your life, and then come to my suite.’ He gave her the floor and the number, while knowing the night he had planned was gone. ‘Will you be okay?’

‘Of course I will.’ Lydia gave a scoffing laugh. ‘I’m twenty-four—he can hardly put me on curfew.’

‘Will you be okay?’ Raul asked again.

‘Yes.’ Lydia nodded. ‘This needs to be dealt with.’

It did.

He asked his driver to move a little way down the street, and in that space of time Raul did something he rarely did. He took out a card.

Not the one he generally gave out.

‘This is my number—you’ll get straight through to me. If there is any problem...’

‘There won’t be,’ Lydia said, but he opened her purse and put in the card.

This was it—both knew.

Though both hoped otherwise.

‘Remember what I told you this morning,’ Raul said, and she nodded.

He went to kiss her, but she moved her head to the side. It really wasn’t a turn-on, knowing that Maurice waited.

And she should never have let Raul take her shoe off, because now there was all the hassle of getting it back on.

And happiness seemed determined to elude her as she climbed out of the vehicle.

‘Where the hell have you been?’ Maurice asked as she approached.

‘Out,’ Lydia snapped.

‘Your mother is worried sick,’ Maurice said as they walked briskly through the foyer, though he waited until they were in the elevator to say any more. ‘I’m trying to save your family’s business and you walk out on the one person who could help do just that.’

‘I came for a drink.’

‘He wanted to take us both to dinner. I’ve said to Bastiano that you’ll be there tomorrow.’

‘Well, you shouldn’t have,’ Lydia retorted.

They got out of the elevator and Lydia headed for her suite. ‘I’m going to bed.’

‘Don’t you walk away from me,’ Maurice told her. ‘You’ll be there tomorrow night, with a smile on, and—’

‘Maurice, why do I need to be there?’ She pointed out what Raul had this morning. ‘I don’t hold the deeds to the castle—my mother does. And I don’t actually like the idea of turning it into a retreat. There’s absolutely no reason for me to be there.’

‘You know there is.’

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