Which Raul did not want.
But their mouths made a fever—a fever neither wanted to break—and anyway he didn’t believe in legends.
They pulled their mouths apart as the gondolier turned them around, but their foreheads were still touching.
Lydia was breathless and flushed, and though Raul had made so many plans for her perfect Venetian night he could wait no more.
They should be stopping soon for champagne, and then a canalside dinner at his favourite restaurant. Except his hand was back between them, stroking her nipple through velvet, and her tongue was more knowing.
His best-laid plans were fading.
Lydia pulled her mouth back, but he kissed her cheek and moved his lips towards her ear, and his jaw was rough and delicious, and his hand on her breast had her suddenly desperate.
‘Raul...’ Lydia said.
Oh, she said his name so easily now.
And he knew her so much more, because there was a slight plea in her voice and it matched the way he felt.
He pulled back his own mouth, only enough to deliver the gondolier an instruction.
The sky was darker as they kissed through the night, and soon they were gliding back towards the Grand Canal, and now Raul wished for an engine and the speed of his own boat.
The gondolier came to a stop at a water door and said something. It took a moment for Lydia to register that they had stopped and so had the kiss. Realising that she was being spoken to, she looked around breathlessly, staring up at yet another palazzo and trying to take in her surroundings.
‘It’s beautiful!’ Lydia said, trying to be a good tourist while wishing they could get back to kissing.
Raul smiled at her attempt to be polite when she was throbbing between the legs.
‘It’s even more beautiful inside,’ Raul told her. ‘This is my home.’
Lydia almost wept in relief.
He got out first and took her by the hand, and then pushed open the dark door.
She entered his home an innocent.
Lydia would not be leaving it the same.
THROUGH THE ENTRANCE and into an internal elevator they went, but Lydia prayed there would be no fire in the night, for she did not take in her surroundings at all—their kisses were frantic and urgent now.
His body was hard against hers, and his hands were a little rough as Raul fought with himself not to hitch up her dress.
The jolt of the old elevator was barely noted—there was just relief that they could get out.
They almost ran.
Raul took her hand and led her with haste through a long corridor lined with ancient mirrors and lit with white pillar candles.
And at the end, as if she were looking through a keyhole, there was the reward of open wooden doors that revealed a vast bed.
She would wake up soon, Lydia was sure.
She would wake up from this sensual dream.
Yet she did not.
There were colours that rained on the walls and the bed, yet she was too into Raul to look for their source.
And was she scared?
Not a bit.
Raul stripped, and then no words were needed, no instruction required, as naked, erect, he dealt with her dress.
Lydia held up her hair as he unzipped her.
She shook as he removed the dress, then her bra.
And she moaned as he knelt to remove first her shoes and then the final garment between them.
Raul slid the silk down and probed her with his tongue. Lydia stood and knotted her fingers in his hair, and as Raul gently eased in two fingers, though it hurt, it was bliss.
She parted her legs as he licked and stretched her, and ensured she was oiled at the same time.
He turned away from her then, reaching for the bedside table.
‘You’re on the Pill?’
Lydia nodded, a touch frantic. She wanted no pause for she needed him inside her.
Lydia had the rest of her life to be sensible and behave.
Just this night.
He took her to his bed and they knelt upon it, kissing and caressing each other. Gliding their hands over each other’s body. His muscled and taut...hers softer. They recreated the scene from earlier, at the glassblower’s, because it had felt at the time as if they were watching themselves.
‘Since we met...’ Raul said, and kissed her arched neck.
And her breasts ached for him, but not as much as between her legs.
His erection was pressed against her stomach, nudging, promising, and he wanted to take her kneeling but was aware that it was her first time, and he had felt how tight she was with his fingers.
Raul tried to kiss her into lying down so that he could take things slowly.
And he was glad that she did.
He raised her higher, hooked her leg around him and held himself. And she rested her arms over his shoulders and then lowered herself.
It hurt, but it was the best hurt.
Raul’s eyes were open, and they were both barely breathing, just focused on the bliss they felt.