He breathed in the sea air and pulled Cara closer. With her, he felt the possibility of discovery of a new kind of life. Which was absurd, of course.
He’d known from the first that their brief idyll couldn’t last. He’d known his title and its responsibilities would be an insurmountable barrier. When the paparazzi discovered his yacht offshore, they’d start hounding him and thereby discover her, too.
Not wanting to dwell on the negatives, he motored to a sea cave where they removed their clothes and made love. Then he took her back to the marina. There he got his red Alpha Romeo, and they raced along a curving black ribbon of asphalt up to an exclusive nightclub on a mountaintop terrace, where he was known but would not be bothered. They danced and, in between dances, they held hands and sipped Pinot Grigio at a corner table in the moonlight.
“You can hear the traffic even up here,” she marveled.
“Sound carries in the hills.”
“You should have told me that when we were in that abandoned farmhouse.”
Laughing, he caught her hand fiercely and kissed it. Under the big, quiet night at their private little table, they talked and talked, opening their souls and hearts so wide he wondered if he could ever close himself off to all emotion again.
“I could talk to you forever,” he said.
“Why? Why is this happening?”
“You think everything happens for a reason? Not knowing the answer to that question is one of life’s great mysteries.”
She was a mystery he wanted to solve. He wanted to do everything with her in the short time they had left together. But of course, all too soon it was three in the morning and she was yawning.
“I’m boring you,” he said.
“No, it’s the wine. It makes me sleepy.”
Taking her hand, he led her to the Alpha Romeo and drove her back to her hotel.
“I had a wonderful time,” she said, as he helped her out of the car.
She seemed all right. Then a sob caught in her throat.
“What’s wrong?” he whispered.
“Why do I need you so much?” she whispered.
His breath left his lungs on a shudder.
“I’m not usually such a crybaby.” She brushed at her damp cheeks.
Then she was in his arms. He had no idea how she got there, only that she belonged.
“I need to pack. But I—I need you more.” She traced the shape of his face with loving fingertips. “How am I ever—”
When her hand trailed across his lips, he kissed them one by one.
She stared up at him for a long moment. Then she shut her eyes as if memorizing his features. He shut his eyes, too, and saw her lovely face behind his lids, every detail was perfect.
“I’m glad you took so many pictures,” he said.
“Me, too.” She spoke through more tears.
Even before she sprang forward a little and pressed her soft curves more tightly against his body, clinging to him, his arms clenched around her waist.
He remembered wishing he could bring Simonetta back to life. Wishing for a second chance. Wishing that he could hold her just one more time.
How much harder would it be to let Cara go when he knew she was still alive in this world?
He pushed his hands under the straps of her sundress so violently a strap tore. He wanted to hold her, to bury himself in her warm flesh, to possess her so completely she could never bear to leave him.
“Not here,” she pleaded in a soft, urgent voice.
His mouth found hers anyway.
“Someone might see,” she insisted.
“Must you always take charge?” He kissed her hard.
She laughed a little. “You keep asking me that.”
“And?” His own voice was rough.
“Only sometimes.” She snuggled closer.
He buried his mouth against her breast and sucked at her nipple, tasting warm, salty-sweet woman, as well as wet, cotton sundress.
“Stop…before we can’t,” she pleaded. “Security might find us.”
Or worse, the paparazzi.
Gulping in a savage breath, he set her aside. He raked his hair with his hands. Then he adjusted his collar and tucked his shirt back inside his jeans. He stepped back a few inches.
She straightened and stood a little stiffly, as if wary of him, too. When she turned and marched toward the hotel, her head held high, he tagged along behind her, his attention on the sexy sway of her cute butt.
When she went to the desk for her key, he waited by the elevator. She was coy and sedate and studiously proper in the lobby. When the elevator doors closed, whisking them upstairs, she stood as far from him as the small golden box with glass sides would allow. But when the doors opened on her floor, she gave a wild cry and chased him down the hall.
The moment they were inside her room, she shot the bolt and ran into his arms. Catching her, he cupped her chin and lifted her mouth to his.