And the slightly strange sensation of being filled up exploded into something else entirely. Something huge and wonderful and soul-changing as Laurel started to match his rhythm and then began to fragment all over again.

* * *

A virgin. He never would have guessed. Certainly hadn’t expected it. With his body still pulsing with the aftershocks of the most explosive orgasm he’d ever had, Cristiano rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling. Tried to untangle the churn of what he felt—guilt, pleasure, anger and a deep, primal pride because he’d been her first. Her only.

He gave up the task because the feelings were too tightly twined to separate. And he needed to figure out what to do now.

He glanced at Laurel, who was also staring at the ceiling, a pensive look on her face. Her body was flushed and rosy, her lips swollen, her hair spread on the pillow in a glorious, golden swirl. Looking at her made him want her all over again, even as the sweat dried on his skin and his heart still thudded.

A virgin. What was he supposed to do with that?

‘Well.’ She let out a soft, satisfied little sigh that, impossibly, made him smile. ‘I’m glad I experienced that.’

As if he were a tourist attraction, a Ferris wheel or a rather interesting museum. He didn’t know whether to be annoyed or flattered. She turned to him, her eyebrows raised, a small and endearingly uncertain smile on her face. ‘Are you?’

Was he? Most definitely. Sex with Laurel Forrester had been…mind-blowing. The best sex he’d ever had, and he’d had a lot. But she’d been a virgin. And he shouldn’t have taken advantage. She’d been having a nightmare, remembering an attack only hours earlier. And he’d just stolen her innocence.

Laurel might doubt it, but Cristiano had a code of honour and his behaviour just now—hell, his behaviour since Laurel had stumbled into his flat—violated it. That was not something he could accept.

And, as for how she’d made him feel, the places she’d reached inside him, well, that was something he could not even begin to think about.

‘It’s taking you a while to answer, so I’m guessing not.’ Laurel’s voice wobbled a little and she sat up, reaching for the T-shirt Cristiano had tossed over her head at some point. He couldn’t even remember when. The last hour felt like a golden blur of exquisite feeling. He hadn’t been in control of anything, and that was something else he couldn’t accept.

This wasn’t who he was—someone controlled by desire, motivated by lust. Unable to keep from wanting a woman. Just like his father.

‘I did enjoy it,’ he said, his voice coming out flat. ‘Obviously. But you should have told me you were a virgin earlier.’

Laurel shrugged the T-shirt on and then turned to him, one golden-brown eyebrow raised. ‘And you would have believed me?’

No, he wouldn’t have. Not in a million years. ‘Still,’ Cristiano said, because he couldn’t think of anything better and, damn it, she should have told him. He should have known.

‘I think it’s my decision whether I release that information or not,’ Laurel said a little coolly. ‘Not yours. It’s my body, after all.’

‘But I have a responsibility—’

‘No, I have a responsibility.’ Laurel cut him off. ‘To myself. And I chose to have sex with you so, guess what, Cristiano, you’re off the hook. Although why you’ve put yourself on the hook, I have no idea. You didn’t seem to be so consumed by morals earlier in the evening when you were suggesting one of your arrangements.’

He deserved that, but it still chafed. ‘This is completely different.’

‘Is it? Why? Because I’m not who you thought I was?’

He thought of the photo of her with those patients. No, she wasn’t who he thought she was. At least, it seemed she was more than that. ‘Why were you with Bavasso tonight?’ he demanded. ‘Why were you acting like…like his trollop?’ The words burst out of him unfairly, but he was jealous. And angry.

Hurt flashed across her face, then her expression shuttered and she looked away. ‘I don’t want to talk about that.’

‘I do.’

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