‘I’m perfectly well. I’m just a little tired, that’s all.’

‘You are sure that is all? You are not hiding anything from me?’

‘No, Luca. I’m not.’

Disappointed that he could not keep her right where she was, Luca bit back intense frustration and regret. ‘Then go and get some rest and I will look in on you later.’

‘You really don’t mind?’

‘Of course not! Why should I object to you going to lie down when I brought you here so that you could have all the rest you need?’

‘I’ll see you later, then.’

Rising to her feet, Katherine hurried from the terrace. The minute she had gone, and he was alone again, Luca missed her like a limb that had been severed from his body….

CHAPTER TEN

WAS Luca still in love with his wife ? When he had admitted that he had been thinking about her the night they had met, Kate’s heart had sunk with new hurt. Could his continuing sorrow over her death have driven him into Kate’s arms that night? He had asked her if she had gone to bed with him on the rebound, but what if he had made love to her purely because he’d been in need of some physical consolation and nothing else? Had she simply imagined the strong connection she was so certain she’d felt?

Her mind and body suffused with hurt and confusion, Kate crossed her arms over her chest and moved towards the open French windows in the bedroom. Even the heady, sensual scent of lillies and blossoming mimosa borne on the warm Mediterranean air could not lift her spirits right then. Staring out unseeingly, she shook her head. Luca had suggested they marry, but what hope had she for a future with him if his heart still belonged to a woman who no longer lived? she asked herself. And how would their child fare growing up in such an atmosphere?

On the terrace just now—before his housekeeper had appeared—Kate had been going to confess that she loved him, but the moment had passed and she had lost the courage to pursue it.

Moving over to the enormous bed, she picked up a satin pillow and clutched it to her chest, then dropped down onto the lush counterpane. What should she do ?

‘Katherine?’

She glanced up in astonishment to find the object of her musing at the door. Closing it behind him, Luca walked towards her. He owned the room with that walk… He would captivate any woman in any room anywhere with just the sheer magnetism of his presence, Kate was certain. There would always be a ripple of excitement…of danger…a need to discover what made such an enigmatic man tick…followed by a silent gnawing hunger to know what it would feel like to be made love to by him.

Kate knew that because they were exactly the sensations she had experienced when she had seen him for the first time. And that same dizzying leap of hunger and pleasure and bone-melting desire sizzled through her now. Practically on sight she had detected that that there was something behind that civilised Mediterranean façade of his that hinted at a certain wildness of spirit—of nature—underneath. But, although he had more than his fair share of arresting masculine attributes, there was also a grace about Gianluca De Rossi that made him even more spellbinding and unforgettable in Kate’s eyes.

‘What is it? Is something the matter?’

‘No.’ As Luca reached the side of the bed, the expression on his handsome face was both reflective and brooding as he gazed down at her. ‘Yes. As a matter of fact there is something the matter.’

Swallowing hard, Kate stared, her mind racing towards all kinds of distressing conclusions. The main one being that he didn’t want her with him after all. He was still in love with the memory of his wife.

‘I want to know what you were going to tell me just now…when we were out on the terrace. I could not relax when you left because the words you had started to say kept going round and round in my head and I will not have any peace until I know!’

Clutching the crimson cushion against her chest even more tightly, Kate widened her dark eyes as she gazed up at Luca. Backed into a corner, she could either prevaricate or simply speak the truth. She chose the latter.

‘I was going to say…don’t you know how much I love you?’

Someone exhaled…deeply. She did not know whether it was him or her. The sound brushed through the air like velvet.

‘You love me?’ he asked.

‘Yes…I do.’

Because she detected no immediate change in Luca’s serious façade, Kate was gripped by such a terrible cold fear that he was about to reject her that all her faculties seemed to suddenly freeze. But then he started to smile, and again she was struck by how hypnotic that blue-eyed gaze of his could be…how lethal to someone who had found she had no defences at all to protect herself from an expression that struck the most profound, unmatched delight in her heart and made her more vulnerable than she’d ever been in her life.

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