Page 77 of The Amalfi Bride

“Right.” He eyed another little Scotch bottle and considered a third shot.

“Since you have all the experience, how could I possibly know what you’re worth?”

“For you,” he began, his voice deliberately husky as he stared into her eyes, “I’ll make a special, one-time deal. Just for you. Pay whatever you feel like. The amount doesn’t matter.”

“Now? Or later?”

“Later. How will you know what I’m worth before you’ve sampled the merchandise?”

“You really are the sweetest gigolo ever.”

“We are trained to please.”

“You went to gigolo school?”

“Stop!” He really did have to have another drink to continue this idiotic conversation.

This time he threw ice cubes into his glass. Then he opened a third little bottle, poured the shot and downed it in a single gulp.

“One more thing—”

Hell. “What now?”

“I’m sort of a health nut…”

“You want me to use a condom? No problem.”

“No…I…don’t know how to say this.”

“I’m sure you’ll figure it out.”

“I…I was wondering about Italy’s health guidelines. I mean, for gigolos.”

Oh, God.

Afraid he’d give himself away, he glanced out the window. “You may be assured…er…that I am extremely discerning about my women…er…I mean, my clients. Extremely discerning. I always use a condom. The very best grade, naturally. Then I go to the doctor every sixty days for a thorough examination. Blood tests. The works. I would go more often, if I thought it was necessary. My client list is extremely exclusive.”

He set his glass down, determined to end this ridiculous conversation. “Do you need documents, or are you satisfied?”

“Not quite yet.” She lowered her lashes and tried not to look at the bed. “But I’m sure I will be soon, now that we have all these obnoxious little business details out of the way.”

“I’ve never had a complaint,” he murmured drily.

Finally. He set down his glass and pulled her into his arms again.

She closed her eyes.

Finally.

Four

N ico liked the way a faint tremor passed through Regina’s body when his arm circled her shoulders and he cradled her close. He liked the way her pulse began to beat madly when he slipped his hand beneath her hair and pressed his mouth to her throat.

“I could still say no, pay you and call this crazy thing off,” she whispered.

“But you don’t want to do that, do you?”

“Not at all.”

He lifted her fingers to his lips and kissed them one by one as he’d done at the bar. As he gently sucked their tips, she shuddered.

He slid a fingertip inside her robe and very slowly pushed it aside a fraction of an inch. “What do you want?” he murmured against her earlobe.

His hand coaxed the thick terry off her shoulder, and she gasped.

“You mean, I get to tell you what I want?”

“You hired me, remember. That was our agreement. I mean…er…bargain. Do you like it straight…or kinky?”

“Kinky? I…I…I’m not sure I know or want to know what you mean by that.”

He laughed. “So what do you want?”

“I…I want you to undress me and then give me a massage and then maybe make love to me very, very slowly.”

“I can’t wait,” he whispered.

He heard her breath catch even before his hand found the terry-cloth tie at her waist and he unthreaded it all the way. He slid the robe off her shoulders, and it tumbled in a heap to the tile floor.

“Pink bra, pink panties, edged with black lace,” he murmured, cupping her breasts. “Nice.”

“I bought them at Illusions,” she said.

Grand-mère!

When his thumbs brushed her nipples through the black lace, her hands closed over him through his jeans.

“No, no,” he murmured. “Let me do my job. After all, I am the…”

Again, he couldn’t bring himself to use the graphic term for what she thought he was.

“Pleasure provider,” she offered. Reluctantly her fingers, which had been seeking to fondle him through the soft denim, fell away.

Gathering her to him, he led her to the wall. “Pleasure provider?”

“Professional. Whatever term you prefer.”

Her back was against the cool plaster as he knelt, at eye level with her belly. Using his hands, he spread her legs. Even before he began to kiss her navel, his tongue delving, she sighed. Then his callused palm began to stroke her from her waist to her ankle, gliding over her skin in slow caresses meant to tantalize.

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