“So, you worked up an appetite.”
“Why don’t you be a good boy, Your Highness, and call room service? I want some of those delicious strawberries again and an omelet and more of those fabulous croissants with the gooey chocolate inside them. Can you see if they have hot chocolate, too?”
“Bossy. It’s getting harder and harder to remember who’s the blue blood.”
He grabbed a towel off the rack, whipped it around his waist and wandered off to do her bidding, so that, at last, she could put on her lipstick and dress in peace.
She smiled when she heard his deep voice on the phone ordering coffee, omelets, berries, fresh orange juice and croissants.
“You’re forgetting the hot chocolate,” she yelled.
He laughed and ordered it for her.
How easy it was to imagine he would be with her every morning for the rest of her life.
The next few moments were filled with bliss and peace. He asked her what she wanted to do for the day. She handed him one of the long lists she’d made of the various possibilities.
He laughed. “We’d need two weeks.”
“You pick,” she whispered.
“I see you listed a sightseeing boat to view the coast. I’ll take you out on Simonetta. You’ll save money, and I’ll have you all to myself.”
She put a new smart card in her camera and snapped dozens of pictures of him wearing only a towel, and then, when he was dressed, more shots of him out on her balcony with the gulf and the mountains behind him.
He stole her camera and photographed her, too. Then she set the camera up on the railing and made the necessary adjustments so that it would photograph them together. But every time she tried to pose or get him to pose for the camera, he’d cup her breast or buttock and kiss her lips in such a way that the picture probably looked like she was swallowing his tongue.
“I’m not going to be able to show anyone my X-rated pictures.”
“I want you to remember me.” His mouth stretched lazily into a grin. “Like this!”
The flash went off as he put his mouth to her breast again.
When the expected knock sounded at the door, she jumped away from him like a startled wild thing. Not wanting the hotel waiter to see her erect nipple or the telltale damp spot on her sundress, she turned and began to rearrange her hair and the folds of her full skirt and let Nico stride to the door.
When he threw it open, she heard men, yelling questions.
“Prince Nico, who is she—”
When she turned, a dozen flashes whitened Nico’s chiseled, tanned face.
He swore vividly in Italian or, at least, she imagined the harsh, rapid-fire bursts to be colorful curses.
With a little cry, she ran to him, hoping to protect him from the horde and their cameras, not realizing that her sudden appearance would energize the demons.
Like a spark set to gasoline, their roar was an explosion.
“Get back, you little fool!” Jumping in front of her, Nico slammed the door.
“Are you all right?” he demanded distractedly.
She placed her hand gently on his arm.
Furious, he jerked free of her and strode to the phone and rang security.
“Paparazzi! Get someone up here! Fast! Get rid of them!”
T he hot chocolate and omelets never came and were forgotten. Regina had lost her appetite, so what did it matter? Nothing mattered except that the paparazzi had found them and that Nico was upset.
If only he would stop pacing back and forth.
“Grab your things. I’ve got to get you out of here before these jackals swarm the gates.”
“Haven’t they already?”
“This is nothing,” he said.
Too agitated to fold clothes and pack them with tissue, she opened drawers and dumped the contents into her suitcase.
“No,” he said, pausing in the middle of the room. “On second thought, I’ll send Massimo up to do this. We need to get you out of this mess, if we can.”
When she tried to pick up one small suitcase, his hand covered hers, and he forced her to put it down.
“Trust me. I’ll take care of you. Massimo is on the family payroll.”
Nico rang someone and rattled more high-speed, impatient Italian. She could catch only a word here and there, but she surmised, by his friendlier tone, that he’d called his cousin Massimo.
What had happened to the romantic mood after their shower? Suddenly her beloved Nico was not only a prince but a furious stranger.
She’d known him—what? All of two days.
He was an Italian prince who’d been indiscreet with a young woman. This probably wasn’t the first time.
Why hadn’t she thought of this before? What she felt for him was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But how many times had this happened to him? How many other women had lost their hearts to him?