Page 83 of The Amalfi Bride

“I don’t want your damn money.”

“I refuse to take advantage of your generous—”

“Stop it, okay?”

For another long moment he held her close, his hands stroking her hair. He seemed to be struggling with something while she clung to him. Hating his anxiety and afraid of what he would say, she held on to him in a state of stupefied tension.

“I’m not a gigolo,” he finally whispered, his low tone edgy.

She shook loose of his embrace and looked up at him. “You’re not?”

“No. There. Now you know.”

“You lied to me?”

“Yes. No!” He ran his hands through his hair. “Hell, I played along.”

“Then who are you really?”

“NicoRomano.”

“And your profession?”

“I’m…an international businessman.”

“And those older women, who kissed you?”

He hesitated. “Relatives.”

“That’s it? You’re telling the truth? The whole truth.”

That muscle in his jawline quivered. He flushed. “Last night, I wanted you so much I think I would have said anything or done anything to have you. And nothing’s changed. I still want you, maybe even more, if such a thing is possible.”

“Me, too. Oh, me, too.”

If she had an ounce of pride she would never have admitted her feelings to him so freely. Instead, she should have asked him about those older women in the fancy cars. Who exactly were they?

She’d slept with him. She had about a million questions, but when her gaze met his, his eyes burned with so much emotion she forgot everything except the simple joy of being with him now that she knew he hadn’t been acting.

He hadn’t been acting! She wasn’t disgusting to him!

His arms tightened around her, and he buried his face in her hair. Soon she was lost, utterly lost to all reality. She wanted only this moment with him. Even before his lips claimed hers, she was aware of a wildly thrilling happiness.

When he began kissing her, the sinfully delicious chips and their sandwiches and wine were forgotten. Such passion could have only one ending. In the space of two kisses, they were both breathless.

“Farmhouse,” he muttered on a ragged note.

She nodded as he began gathering their things, slinging them into his backpack, not caring that their sandwiches would be hopelessly crushed. Then he seized her hand. Together they ran stumbling, laughing back down the trail to the last deserted farmhouse.

Inside the musty-smelling building, he tossed their backpacks to the ground. Then he shoved her against the wall and leaned heavily into her. His mouth closed over hers again and devoured her lips.

Once again, the mysterious force that had drawn them together swept them up in its fierce tide. Their passion was like a wave that took charge of them, lifting them higher and higher and then shattering them against an unknown shore that was part of a strange, thrilling world they’d never known before and felt lost in.

The moist heat of his breath on her nipple through cotton made her heart skip. She was aching, dying for him as he pulled her T-shirt up and her jeans down. As eager as he was, she fumbled for his zipper. When she’d opened it and released him, her hand closed around him for a moment, every long inch of him, causing his breath to come ever more harshly. Then her hand fell away, and she stood on her tiptoes, arching herself toward him. He leaned closer, cupped her buttocks and plunged inside her.

Clinging to him, her nails dug into his back. He drove faster and faster until she began to weep. Then he shuddered and she quickly followed, and for a timeless moment they were joined in all ways, physically and emotionally.

Long seconds later, his black head slumped over hers. She felt herself falling back into herself, wondering once again what was happening to her. Sex had never been anything like this before.

“Cara, Cara….” His deep voice was infinitely tender. “If only…”

She was still gasping for every breath when he lowered his mouth to her throat and kissed the pulse beating madly there. Through her tears of exultation, she laughed a little, for she was so close to some edge, she was both happy and sad.

“I will never forget you.” Clumsily, she wiped her eyes and then touched his cheek with her damp palm.

He pulled her close, kissed her tears away, then simply held her while the balmy sea breeze rustled the leaves of the lemon trees outside the farmhouse.

“Two days. That’s all we have,” he said in a tortured voice that indicated he never wanted to let her go.

“Two nights, too.”

He began to kiss her throat again and then her lips, murmuring more Italian endearments that she didn’t understand. And, as before, their desire built until the white heat of passion melted everything away once again, except the searing fact that they’d been made for each other.

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