Leandro worked hard at not laughing at that inept admission. ‘I have a spare. I’ll order breakfast. I have something I would very much like to discuss with you.’

All Molly wanted just then was a magic wand to wave that would whisk her from being naked in his bed back to the sanctuary of her own bedroom. Her clothes were scattered on the polished wood floor. I’m a slut, she thought wretchedly, a total slut.

Leandro was talking on the bedside phone in Spanish at a great rate. He sounded like someone accustomed to rapping out instructions. But what did she know about him? He was amazingly good-looking? Chivalrous towards humble waitresses? Fantastic in bed? Averse to the cold? A widower? Well, these days that last fact did tell her something about his character, she reasoned. He had been prepared to commit to a future with someone and had got married at a reasonably early age, which was unusual.

‘I’ll use the bathroom next door,’ he told her lazily.

To his list of attributes, Molly added a plus for tact. Without turning her head, however, she waited until she heard the door snap shut on his departure before she scrambled out of bed, gathered up the clothes she had been wearing the night before and raced into the en-suite bathroom clutching them.

Her curls looked as though she had stuck a finger in an electric socket. She groaned out loud and rifled the drawers of the vanity unit for the toothbrush she had been promised. The corner shower was digitally operated so she couldn’t work out how to use it and made do with washing at the sink as best she could. As she dressed she was conscious that her body ached even worse than it had after the charity mini-marathon she had done with Jez the previous year.

She had a dim erotic memory of wakening during the night and making love with Leandro again. She had made the approach, which had resulted in his long, achingly slow and spellbinding seduction that had made her cry out his name at the top of her voice. She cringed at the recollection of her audacity while she fiddled with her hair, struggling to tame her wild curls into some semblance of order without the aid of her usual weapons. Only when she no longer had any excuse to linger did she emerge from the bedroom. She only knew one thing: had she had the chance to go back to the previous night she would still have chosen to stay with him and experience what had followed.

The dining room enjoyed a stunning view of the Thames. A waiter was there presiding over a trolley stacked with a wide selection of food and Molly was astonished by the concept of anyone buying in breakfast for two complete with service. But her wide eyes still swivelled straight across to Leandro, who was poised by the window. He commanded the scene, sheathed in a superbly tailored black pinstripe suit that was the very epitome of banking chic. He looked sinfully beautiful but cool and remote. Her tummy gave an uneasy lurch as if she were under threat. She didn’t know how to behave or what to say to him.

With an authoritative nod, Leandro told the waiter he could leave because they would serve themselves. Her face flushed as she carefully avoided a direct meeting with his thickly lashed dark eyes, Molly wiped damp palms down the sides of her fitted black skirt. It was obvious to her that ordering people around came very naturally indeed to Leandro. She had never been more conscious of her lowly status than when she was standing there still garbed in her work clothes while he summarily dismissed the waiter from his duties.

Conscious her tummy was rumbling, she lifted a small box of cereal and put it in a bowl before taking a seat. The apartment was even more opulent than she had initially appreciated and she felt more like a fish out of water than ever.

‘Last night…’ Leandro hesitated, searching for the right words with which to outline his offer as he helped himself to fresh fruit. ‘It was fantastic.’

‘Hmm.’ Molly nodded, her mouth too full to speak and even if it hadn’t been she had no idea what she might have replied to that surprisingly intimate comment. Clothed and in daylight, Leandro was horrendously intimidating. She could barely credit that she had spent the night in his arms.

Leandro breathed in deep. ‘In fact it was so incredible that I want to hang onto you, querida.’

Molly almost choked on her cereal. ‘Hang onto me?’ she parroted without comprehension.

‘I lead a very busy existence in which I rarely have time to lighten up, which is one very good reason why I would like you to become a part of my life. I like your cheerful attitude and I need to relax more,’ Leandro imparted levelly. ‘We both have something that the other needs. It would be an exchange of mutual benefit. You would enjoy the financial security to indulge your ambition to be an artisan potter and I would be happy to make that possible.’

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