When he turned back, she slid the transparent robe off her shoulders and let it fall in a swish of silk to the stone floor.
“No!” he yelled. “Don’t!”
“You’d better come up here then before I strip for the whole world to see! Even the paparazzi!”
He was running toward the palazzo even before she tore off her nightgown and flung it at him.
N ico raced toward the red rooms like a wild man.
What had she thought? Tearing off that filmy thing with the light behind her? Anyone could have seen her. Photographed her. Why didn’t she care that the paparazzi were everywhere?
The mere memory of her slim body, so clearly revealed, made his heart pound faster. He felt like a beast, driven by a savage hunger.
When he banged on the doors to the red suite, and she didn’t answer, he kicked the door open and strode inside. Alone in the silent, dark room, all he heard was the harsh rasping of his own breathing.
Then she glided out of the shadows into the moonlight. Except for the gardenia in her hair, she was naked. Slim and curvaceous, she was more beautiful than a goddess from some ancient myth.
He closed his eyes, clenched his fists, fighting the all-consuming fire burning inside him.
“Nico?” she said softly. “I wanted you to come. I waited and waited.”
“Were you going to show yourself to the whole world? You’re mine. Only mine.”
He moved toward her with the swiftness of a jungle beast. Seizing her, he picked her up and carried her to the bed.
“Mine,” he said fiercely.
“Always and forever, Nico, my darling.”
Her eyes were blazing as he stripped, flinging his formal clothes to the floor without a care.
She was staring at his erection. “I know.”
She smiled up at him. Then she tried to speak again, but his mouth covered hers in a hard, punishing kiss. His hands and lips roamed her silky limbs. Then her body began to twist and writhe beneath his, and nothing mattered, not even his anger. Nothing mattered except being inside her, claiming her for all time.
He made love to her in different positions, in the bed, on the floor, against the wall. And every time, she gave herself to him utterly, and her sweetness and eagerness obliterated every dark emotion and left only love.
Who was she really? The upstart his mother believed her to be, the American who’d ensnared him with her sexual powers because she preferred a prince to a sperm donor? Did he care?
When he had rested, she crawled on top of him and began to eat him with her tongue. He hadn’t thought things could get any wilder or any sweeter than the first time, but they did.
Sex was like death, he would think later, when he could think. He couldn’t sleep with her and remain whole. Every time he exploded inside her, she stole another piece of his soul. Soon there would be nothing left of him that wasn’t hers.
A year. He’d told the upstart he’d believed her to be she had to stay a year. He’d been furious at her in Austin; out of his mind with rage, totally unreasonable and unable to listen to what she’d said in her own defense.
No matter who she was, or what she was, he wanted her forever.
But he loved her too much to force her to stay.
He rolled off the bed and stood up, feeling weary, despising himself for having forced her to marry him.
He dressed hurriedly and walked out onto her balcony.
Regina didn’t know what to do when she woke up and Nico was gone. She couldn’t believe she’d done the things she’d done, and yet she could. She’d wanted him so much.
Still, she felt hot with embarrassment every time she thought about it. Was he disgusted with the commoner he’d married? It was terrible of her, but thinking about how her tongue and lips had made love to him, especially that huge part, only made her begin to tremble with fresh need.
Where was he? Why had he left her? Had she totally displeased him?
Oh, why had she flung off her robe outside? He probably found that cheap and low-class. Was he angry about it or ashamed of her?
She arose from the bed and, when she couldn’t find her nightgown in the dark, she dragged the heavy satin spread around herself. Trailing red, she was on her way to the bathroom when she saw him slumped on the chair outside, his face white as he stared at the moonlit garden.
He jumped at the sound of her voice but didn’t turn.
Did he hate her that much?
“I’m sorry,” he said, his low tone filled with loathing.
Suddenly she was truly afraid. “I don’t understand.”
“I was out of control. Not myself. I never meant for all that to happen.”
“You didn’t want to make love to me?”
“I didn’t say that.”