‘So we are.’
There was nothing chirpy about Luiz’s voice. The low, seductive rasp sent her stomach muscles into violent quivering mode.
Standing there, one thumb hooked into the belt of his jeans, the breeze tugging at his dark hair, he looked totally relaxed until you reached his eyes. They were not relaxed, they were dark, smouldering with a raw, undisguised hunger.
The air between them shimmered thick with unspoken dark, smoky desires. Heat swirled through Nell as a violent stab of sexual longing nailed her to the spot, drawing the air from her lungs in one gasping breath, and she said the first thing that came into her head.
‘Why didn’t you tell me the cottage was your home? Yours and your wife’s.’
‘It did not seem relevant.’
Nell wasn’t convinced by the careless shrug. ‘It was the first time you’d gone back there.’ She imagined him walking from room to room recalling the special memories they held and felt depressed. ‘It’s special to you.’
‘It’s a place.’ Luiz was surprised to find he could say it and mean it. In a sense returning there had been liberating, it was something that he now knew he ought to have done years before.
‘A special place.’
Her persistence began to visibly annoy him. ‘What I did or felt before we met does not concern you, Nell.’
Nell blinked. Was Luiz saying that what he did and felt now did concern her? It was only the sound of someone clearing his throat that stopped her blurting out the question on the tip of her tongue.
Nell jumped at the sound, embarrassment swirling through her as she looked away. Talk about saved by the bell! She was guilty of reading far too much into his most casual remark—a case of hearing what she wanted to?
‘Ramon?’ Luiz struggled to hide his frustration and impatience as he turned to the other man.
Ramon slid a glance towards Nell and nodded, his manner pleasant and not, to her relief, particularly curious. The curiosity factor increased dramatically when his eyes brushed her ring. They jumped, startled, back to her face—you could almost hear him thinking, Odd choice for the man who could have anyone.
Oh, God, she was really going to have to get this thing off, she thought, tugging at it surreptitiously with more hope than expectation of feeling it loosen.
It stayed where it was.
‘If I could have a word, Luiz?’
Luiz nodded to Nell and said, ‘This won’t take long.’
It couldn’t. The journey here had been sheer hell. He’d barely been able to concentrate on the road ahead; his mind had kept drifting off and always in the direction that involved her skin, her softness, her mouth, on him, under him, around him.
Nell watched the men talk. She couldn’t hear what they were saying. Had something happened to Luiz’s grandmother? Had her condition taken a turn for the worse?
Luiz gave her no time to enquire when he returned, he just said abruptly, ‘Go with Ramon. I will be with you later.’ Then he was gone. Nell didn’t even have a chance to challenge his assumption she would be waiting.
‘Miss Frost.’ The man with the warm eyes from yesterday explained that he was the estate manager and he would, he said, escort her to Luiz’s private apartments.
Nell, feeling awkward, nodded and said, ‘Call me Nell, please.’
‘It is this way.’ He stood to one side to allow her to join him on the path that went in the opposite direction to the one that Luiz had taken. ‘The castillo can be confusing until you get your bearings.’
Following him through the maze of corridors, Nell doubted that the day would ever come that she got her bearings even if she spent the rest of her life here, which she very obviously wouldn’t.
This wasn’t really happening; it was a dream. A defiant light entered her eyes. It was a dream she wanted to cram as much fantasy as possible into before she woke up. It wasn’t that she was actively seeking a replay of last night’s wild passion, it was just, if it happened—well, she wasn’t going to actively resist it. She was going to go with the flow.
Do you want uncomplicated sex? Can you even do uncomplicated sex? asked the doubtful, disapproving voice in her head.
Nell accepted Ramon’s invitation to step through the door into Luiz’s private apartment. When the choice was uncomplicated sex or no sex at all the decision was easy to make because the truth was where Luiz Santoro was concerned she had no pride and even less common sense.
Bringing the internal debate to a halt, she said the necessary polite things to Ramon before he left her alone.
Alone meant the doubts really started creeping in; after a couple of nervous circuits of the sitting room she searched out a bathroom.