Page 84 of The Amalfi Bride

Never again could she go to bed with another man without comparing him to Nico. Would she ever be able to fall in love again, to marry?

“And I wasn’t even good at sex before,” she said.

“I don’t want to know about before,” Nico said, his voice so harsh he would have frightened her if she had not felt exactly the same way.

Possessive.

Never before had she felt so completely possessive about a man. She wanted him to be hers, only hers, for the rest of her life.

But what good were such feelings when she was going home the day after tomorrow?

“I…I wish you were a gigolo!”

“No, you don’t.”

She pulled her jeans up and her shirt down. “Don’t you see, I thought I was safe with you.”

“Safe? With one of those guys?” He wasn’t smiling as he arranged his own shirt and jeans.

“I couldn’t possibly care about a gigolo. I just wanted…”

“Sex,” he finished, his voice dark. “Something simple. I know, because all I wanted was to use you to forget my wife.”

“But this is too much,” she said.

“For me, too, but it is what it is.”

His expression was growing gloomier by the second. She sensed in him a bleak determination to separate from the powerful force that had taken them both over, to separate from her. Forever. She half expected him to run down the trail.

Pain tore at her heart.

“Men always want to leave me,” she said. “My sister says it’s because I’m too bossy.”

“Believe me, I’m used to bossy.” When his lips curved in amusement, she wondered who had caused that smile. “I would never let you go if I had a choice.”

“Are you engaged or something?”

He went still as death.

“Is that it?”

He didn’t deny it.

“That’s it. Oh, my God! You’re engaged! And you’re with me! You told me about your wife to win my sympathy. The real truth is that you’re with me because you’re having second thoughts about the woman you’re about to marry.”

“No!” But he looked away. “Not exactly.”

“Yes.”

“Listen to me. I love you.”

He looked so stunned by this admission, she almost believed him.

“No, you don’t. So don’t lie. You’re going to marry somebody else.”

The pain in his eyes cut her to the soul. “I didn’t lie.”

“You say you love me, but you’re going to marry her? Is that the truth? Or not?”

He heaved in a breath. “Okay, if you’ll let me explain, I’ll tell you why.”

“I don’t need to hear any more!” She backed away from him, hating that, despite her anger, she still desired him. “You miserable, unholy skunk! You snake! And to think I was so touched by those flowers you left the saints.” She yanked the flower he’d given her out of her hair and stomped on it. “What a miserable, insufferable piece of work you are. All men are skunks. Especially you!”

He stared at the mashed flower.

“How can you do that to her? She’ll figure it out eventually. You’ll break her heart. You know that, don’t you?”

“No, I won’t. Because she doesn’t love me, either.”

“Is she rich?”

His eyes narrowed.

Of course, she was rich. “So, you’ve got your cap set for a rich girl.”

He didn’t deny that, either.

“So that’s it!”

He hung his head, his focus drifting toward the flower. “In a way you’re right, I guess, although I wouldn’t put it that way.”

“Why not call a spade a spade?”

He reached for her. “Cara, it’s not that simple.”

“Sure it is! And don’t ever touch me again! Don’t you dare touch me, do you hear? Where’s my Fiat? I want to go back to my hotel. Now!”

She would have run, but his hand snapped around her wrist. He caught her to him, his mouth closing over hers. The power of her will was no match for his desire, and again, despite everything she’d learned about him, his kisses flooded her with warm, pleasurable sensations.

She yanked free of him, and then she stopped, realizing a way she could hurt him, too.

“Why shouldn’t I have one more for the road? Correction—for the long flight home? I wanted a gigolo. You want to know something? You’re not all that different from what I thought you were. Bottom line—you’re selling yourself.”

“Shut up.” His expression was both tortured and wild. “You don’t know anything about my life, and maybe it’s best you don’t.”

“I want you—gigolo.”

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