When the same hands that stole the life from Vince’s body caress my naked flesh, sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe. Like he’s stealing the life from me, too.

“Are you going to be okay without Adrian?”

Ordinarily Mateo would wait in the dining room for his lunch, but today I’m making it for him and he keeps me company in the kitchen, leaning against the counter the way he does his desk. I still won’t go in his study, so it’s been a while since I’ve seen that. I sort of miss it, but I don’t see myself entering his study again anytime soon. It’s too hard.

“Of course,” he murmurs, glancing up from his phone to give me a slight smirk. “I am capable of keeping myself alive, you know.”

I raise a playfully skeptical eyebrow. “Says the man who can’t cook. If we ever wanted to kill you, we could just lock you up in a house with no servants and eventually you’d starve to death.”

His attention has returned to his phone, but he responds anyway. “I would not starve to death. Just because I don’t cook doesn’t mean I can’t.”

“Can you?”

“Probably. If I tried. I’m not an idiot, I could follow a recipe.”

I can’t stifle a small smile. “You’ve seriously never cooked before? Not once? Not even, like, helping make Christmas cookies or something as a kid?”

“Who would I have made Christmas cookies with?”

It’s a sad question, but he doesn’t ask it sadly. It makes me a little sad though, for the child version of Mateo who definitely should’ve made Christmas cookies at least once. He’d probably be nicer if someone would’ve made him cream together butter and sugar for chocolate chip cookies. Damn them all.

“Well, you can help me make cookies this year,” I volunteer.

Without looking up, he says, “Pass. You can make them with Isabella if you want to.”

“And Lily. Meg and I can make a day of it.”

“There you go,” he says, nodding, eyes still on his phone as he taps out an email.

“Do you even like cookies?” I ask, since he doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth.

“I’ll eat yours,” he says, leaning in and kissing me before pushing off the counter and going to the refrigerator to grab a bottle of water.

“That wasn’t a yes,” I say mildly, putting the last touches on his lunch and picking up the plate. I take it out to the dining room for him and he follows behind me. Before I can step away, he has his hands on my hips, tugging me back against him to feel his hardened cock.

“We’re going to have to revisit that maid costume idea,” he tells me, running his hand over my ass.

He’s stirring my interest and I do not have time for a nooner. I straighten, but he hasn’t sat down, so I’m flush against his hard body. His strong arm moves around my waist, locking me against him, and his tempting mouth dips into the crook of my neck so he can kiss it.

“You know I don’t have time,” I inform him, closing my eyes as his free hand moves up the inside of my thigh. “I have to go meet Francesca.”

“Francesca ruins everything,” he states.

I smile faintly. “That’s not true at all.”

Before he can persuade me to blow off lunch with his sister, Meg comes into the dining room. Her gaze drifts to us, her perfect eyebrows rising. Mateo’s arm unlocks from around my waist, his hand drops, and he takes a seat.

“Am I interrupting?” Meg asks lightly, making her way to the head of the table and pausing to glance from him to me. “I would apologize, but we have like 8,000 bedrooms and this is the dining room, so I’m actually not sorry. Get a room, guys.”

Mateo is unruffled, but I feel myself flush. “You weren’t interrupting. I’m just about to leave anyway.”

“Oh yeah?” She glances at Mateo’s plate. “You could’ve made me a sandwich. What good is having a wife if you’re not even gonna make me a sandwich? Although, actually, I’m so hungry I need more than a sandwich. You know those 8 foot long subs? How come we don’t have 8 foot long sub buns in the pantry?” she demands of Mateo, eyebrow arched.

“An excellent question,” Mateo replies. “I’ll take it up with Maria immediately.”

“You think I’m joking.” She shakes her head, rubbing her belly. “This little parasite is freakin’ hungry.” Now she gives Mateo a smile and leans in to give him a kiss. “Good afternoon, by the way. You look especially handsome today.”

“And our little parasite is making you glow,” he says dryly.

“I’ll be nicer to it once I’m fed,” she promises. Then, batting her eyelashes at me, she adds, “How much do you love me?”

“Enough to make you a sandwich, but I can’t right now,” I tell her. “I’m having lunch with Francesca and he’s already trying to make me late.”

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