He wanted to tell her that his mother’s lover had been Bastiano, but that wasn’t the point he was trying to make, and he did not want to make things worse for her tonight.

‘Lydia, what I’m trying to say is you can’t prevent anyone from going under.’

‘I don’t believe that.’

‘Even if you marry him, do you really think Bastiano is going to take advice from Maurice? Do you think he will want to keep your mother and her husband in residence?’

He took out all her dark thoughts, the fears that had kept her awake at night, and forced her to examine them.

‘No.’

‘Take it from me—the only person you can ever save is yourself.’

Strong words, but clearly she didn’t take them in, because when her phone buzzed Lydia went to pick it up.

‘Leave it,’ Raul said.

‘I can’t do that,’ Lydia admitted. ‘I might turn it off.’

‘Then they’ll know you’re avoiding them. Just ignore it.’

‘I can’t.’

‘Yes, you can—because I shan’t let you hear it.’

She had thought Raul meant he would turn the ring down, but instead as the phone started to ring again he reached for her and drew her face towards him.

Nothing, Lydia was sure, could take her mind from her family tonight.

She was wrong.


His kiss was softer than the others he had delivered.

So light, in fact, that as she closed her eyes in anticipation all he gave was a light graze to her lips that had her hungry for more as his hand slid into her hair.

Kiss by soft kiss he took care of every pin, and Lydia found her lips had parted, but still he made her wait for his tongue.

She had tasted him already, and her body was hungry for more.

Yet he was cruel in attack for he gave so little.

He undid the knot of her robe with the same measured pace he had taken in dealing with her hair and then pushed it down over her arms so that she sat naked.

Lydia felt something akin to panic as contact ceased and he ran his gaze down her body. It wasn’t panic, though, she thought. It was far nicer—because as the phone buzzed by the bed she was staring down at him, watching his mouth near her breast, and she would have died rather than answer it.

‘Do you want to get that?’ Raul asked, and she could feel his breath on her breast.

‘No...’ Her voice had gone—it came out like a husk.


‘I can’t hear you,’ he said, and then he delivered his tongue in a motion too light, for she bunched the sheet with her fingers and fought not to grab his head.

‘No,’ she said, and when his mouth paused in delivering its magic, she added, ‘I don’t want to answer.’

‘Good.’

He sucked hard now, and she knew he bruised.

Raul gave one breast the deep attention that her mouth had craved, and she fought not to swear or, worse, to plead.

She should tell him that he was her first, Lydia thought as he guided her hand to his crotch and she felt his thick, hard length through the fabric.

But then her phone buzzed again and the teasing resumed, for he stood.

‘Do you want me to get that?’

‘Turn it off,’ Lydia said.

‘Oh, no.’

He slid down his zipper and the buzz of the phone dimmed in her ears when she saw him naked.

Yes, that would hurt.

Oh, she really should tell him, Lydia thought as she reached out to hold him. But then she closed her eyes at the bliss of energy beneath her fingers and the low moan that came from him as his hand closed around hers.

He moved her slender fingers more roughly than she would have. She opened her eyes at the feel of him.

She could hear their breathing, rapid and shallow, and then his free hand took her head and pushed it down, and she tasted him just a little as her tongue caressed him.

And for Raul, what should have been too slow, the touch of her tongue too light, somehow she owned the night.

The slight choking in her throat closing around him brought him close to release, so that he was grateful for the sudden buzzing and it was Raul who was briefly distracted.

Lydia wasn’t.

She was lost in the taste of him when for the second time that night—but for a very different reason—she felt a tug on her hair and looked up.

Now when she licked her lips it was to savour the taste of him.

And Raul, who did not want this to be over, put her to bed.

On top of it.

Raul was decisive in his positioning of Lydia, and her loose limbs were his to place.

He knelt astride her and put her arms above her head, held them one-handed as the other hand played with the breast he wasn’t sucking.

‘Raul...’ She was about to tell him about her virginal status, but her phone buzzed again and he thought that was her complaint.

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