‘Shush...’

And then he moved so that he knelt between her legs, and reached to the bedside drawer for a condom, and she lay there watching as he rolled it on.

‘Raul...’ Her voice was breathless, but she should say it now—she was trying to.

‘You talk too much.’

She had said two words and both had been his name. She went to point that out but lost her thought processes as his head went down between her legs and she lay holding her breath and nervously awaiting his intimate touch.

He kissed her exactly as he had the first time.

Raul’s mouth lightly pressed there, and then there was the tease of his tongue. Slowly at first, as Lydia had been slow, for he thought she had been teasing him at the time.

‘Please...’ Lydia said, not sure if she was asking to speak, asking him to slow down or asking for more.

His jaw was rough, his mouth soft and his tongue probing. It was sublime.

His mouth worked on and she started to moan.

His tongue urged her on.

Lydia’s thighs were shaking and she fought to stay silent. And then she gave in, and he moaned in pleasure as she orgasmed. He kissed her and swallowed as she pulsed against his lips.

And then he left them.

She was heated and twitching, breathless and giddy and perfectly done as he moved over her and crushed her tense lips with his moist ones. His thigh moved between her legs and splayed her, and even coming down from a high, with the feel of him nudging and the energy of him, Lydia knew this would hurt.

‘Slowly,’ she said, but her words were muffled, so she turned her head. ‘I’ve never—’

He was about to aim for hard, fast and deep, when he heard those two words that were so unexpected.

‘Slowly,’ she said again.

He could do that.


An unseen smile stretched his lips at the thought of taking her first, practically beneath Bastiano’s nose. And then the thought of taking her first made his ardour grow.

But then, just when bliss appeared on the menu, the stars seemed to collect and become one that shone too bright. And, like a headmaster grabbing an errant student by the shoulder, he suddenly hauled himself back from the edge.

Everything went still.

All the delicious sensations, gathering tight, slowly loosened as his weight came down on her rather than within her.

And then he rolled off and onto his back and lay breathless, unsated, both turned on and angry.

He told her why. ‘I don’t do virgins.’

There was so much she could protest at about that statement.

Do?

And her response was tart, to cover up her disappointment and, yes, her embarrassment that he had brought things to a very shuddering halt.

‘What, only experienced applicants need apply?’


‘Don’t you get it?’ He ripped off the condom and tossed it aside, and ached to finish the job. ‘There’s nothing to apply for, Lydia. I like one-night stands. I like to get up in the morning and have coffee and then go about my day. It’s sex. That’s it. There are no vacant positions waiting to be filled in my life.’

‘I wasn’t expecting anything more.’

‘You say that now.’

And now Raul sulked.

He had heard it so many times before.

Raul didn’t do virgins, and with good reason—because even the most seasoned of his lovers tended to ask for more than he was prepared to give.

‘I mean it,’ Lydia insisted.

‘Do you know what, Lydia? If you’ve waited till you’re twenty-four I’m guessing there’s a reason.’

There was—she’d hardly had men beating down the door.

But a small voice was telling her that Raul, as arrogant as his words were, was actually right—making love would change things for her.

Then again, since she had met Raul everything had already changed.

‘Go to sleep,’ he said.

‘I can’t.’

‘Yes, Lydia, you can.’

His voice was sulky, and she didn’t know what he meant, but as she lay there Lydia started to understand.

She felt a little as if she was floating.

All the events of the night were dancing before her eyes, and she could watch them unfold without feeling—except for one.

‘What happened to your back?’

Her voice came from that place just before she fell asleep. Raul knew that.

Yet he wished she had not asked.

Lydia had not asked about one scar but about his whole back.

He did not want to think about that.

But now he was starting to.

CHAPTER SIX

‘IT’S YOUR MOTHER’S FUNERAL,’ the priest admonished, but only once Raul had been safely cuffed and led away.

Raul and Bastiano, the police decided, should not be in the same building, so Raul was taken to the jailhouse to cool down and Bastiano was cuffed to a stretcher and taken to the valley’s small hospital.

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