‘And mine,’ he admitted. ‘My father got some black market videos of it from one of his clients. When I was too ill to do anything else, I would watch them over and over.’
Their eyes held and he was taken with the most powerful urge to lean over the table and scoop her into his arms.
Yesterday he’d sworn to himself that whatever was happening between them had to stop.
All he could offer her was money. He knew without having to be told that she didn’t want it.
Emily needed someone to love her—someone who could give her a family all of her own to heap her love on.
And that was the one thing he could never give her.
Despite his best intentions, he’d climbed the stairs leading up to her hut in the dead of night, exhausted after the clean-up and little sleep, and found himself rapping on her door before he’d realised his legs had taken him to her door. Even then, he’d tried to convince himself he was there to apologise, nothing else. Certainly not to make love to her again.
He needed to put some distance between them. Things were becoming too... He didn’t know what the word was to describe the growing connection between them, knew only that nothing could ever come of it. ‘I need to get going. I have a lot of work to do.’
‘I’m going to stay in here and finish this off,’ she said, picking up the bright material she’d been working on when he’d walked in. ‘And then I might take another walk to the waterfall.’
‘It will be dark soon,’ he pointed out. ‘I would prefer it if you held off until the morning.’
He was rewarded for his concern with a soft smile. ‘If it makes you feel better, I’ll wait until the morning.’
‘And I’ll hold off jumping into the pool until I can see the bottom.’
‘Very funny.’ Not even Emily would be crazy enough to jump into that pool. ‘I’ll see you later.’
He could feel her eyes following his movements all the way to his own hut.
* * *
Emily assumed she would spend the evening in her hut alone as she had the night before. The clean-up was still ongoing, with most of the staff concentrating on clearing the felled trees and other manual jobs.
When Pascha turned up at her hut not long after sundown, he looked more relaxed than she’d ever seen him, the lines around his eyes and mouth softened. Even his clothes were casual, dressed as he was in faded jeans and a white T-shirt. She would never in a million years have guessed he owned a pair of jeans. Or that they would fit so well...
‘We’re eating on the beach tonight,’ he said, not bothering with any preamble.
On the beach...
Had it really only been three days since they’d eaten on the beach, her first night on the island?
It felt a lifetime away. She felt a lifetime away.
She’d placed the dress she’d spent the afternoon making on a hanger. It wasn’t quite finished; it was missing embellishments she wanted to add to it. But...it was done. A little rough, considering there was no mannequin or model for her to use, but it was done—the only item of real colour in the room.
She was fed up of the dark.
‘Give me a minute,’ she said, yanking the dress off the hanger and diving into her bathroom. In no time at all, she’d stripped off the black vest and black shorts and donned her creation.
She turned before the mirror, staring critically at her reflection.
Deviating from her original sketch, she’d made it sleeveless, the bodice smocked and elasticated to hold it in place, the skirt flaring out into a ‘V’ that fell to her knees. She plucked out a couple of loose threads from around the hem then pulled her tortoiseshell comb loose—really, why did she bother with it? Her hair always fell out.
She dashed back into the main room of the hut. ‘Two secs,’ she said, lunging at the dressing table. Not bothering to sit down, she applied a little eyeliner, some mascara and a dash of coral lipstick.
There was no need for war paint. Pascha had seen her stripped bare, in all senses of the word. And he’d still wanted her. Just as she’d wanted him. Just as she still wanted him, more than she’d ever dreamed possible.
When she turned to face him, the grey of his eyes glittered.
Her thundering heart soared.
‘You look...’ He raised his shoulders as if to find the word he searched for. ‘Like a fire opal.’
Her voice broke. ‘Thank you.’
He edged back towards the door. ‘We need to go.’
Her skin dancing, she followed him down the steps to the beach.
The staff were already there, setting up long bench tables which were being covered with crockery, cutlery and plentiful bottles of wine and beer. Some of the felled trees and branches had been placed in an A shape to make a bonfire a little further down the beach from where they would be eating.