He watched her for a few more moments. This was not a woman who wanted more sex, that was for certain. But that was the only thing that was certain. Because he could not understand how she could have been screaming his name, begging him to fill her, giving him that look, with those eyes that told him she was there with him in those moments. He hadn’t imagined any of that. And now she was as cold and distant and hostile as a Martian winter.
How had that happened?
It was moments like this that really pounded him in the gut. He didn’t understand women. But, then again, how could he? His childhood had been spent in boarding school or on holiday, dodging Salvatore’s emotional bullets. The few years he’d had with his mother had been shared with a nanny, basking in her sunshine only when she stopped filming for a moment.
But those rare moments had lit him up. When his mamma had hugged him close and kissed him he’d buried his face in her neck and felt flooded with love. It didn’t matter that she’d only been there in fleeting moments. She’d been his mamma and he her darling and there had been nothing in the world that would come between them.
And then she’d gone. Her life snuffed out in seconds. Wrenched from him for ever. Taking with her a piece of his heart he’d never get back.
The time had passed when the pain of not being able to reach out and touch her or hear her voice had almost made life not worth living. When the braying torments of Salvatore had forced him to hide with his comics under the bed, where he’d silently sob himself to sleep.
Those days had gone. The pain was easier to bear, but, God, how he missed what they might have been. She would have helped him with so much. Now, here, with Coral. She would have shown him how to navigate these waters, because he was way out of his depth with this one.
All he knew for sure was that he would look after Coral. She didn’t know how fragile life was. But he would keep her safe. Even if she fought him. Even if she chose to reject him while she stood there like marble under a waterfall—only a little more rocklike. A little more impenetrable.
* * *
Coral grabbed at the shampoo and squeezed it angrily into her hand. As she lathered up she saw him turn and walk away.
Good. Go away, she thought, furiously rubbing the foam into her head, feeling it soak through her fingers and down her back. Take your irresistible body and your picture-perfect face and your mouthwatering maleness and leave me alone.
Shampoo soaked into her eyes, stinging them. Furiously, she rubbed and splashed them with water.
Why on earth had she let that happen? Why had she let herself believe that he cared when all he was doing was scratching an itch and keeping her sweet because she was carrying his child. For one moment she had actually thought he might really care for her. He’d seemed genuinely interested in giving her pleasure.
He had given her the best orgasm of her life.
She stood still now under the shower, remembering as water coursed down her face and shoulders. What had he done to her? He had ruined her for ever for other men. Nothing would ever be the same again. It had been bad enough the first time. But she’d almost managed to forget what she’d felt and unlearn what he’d taught her about herself. Almost managed, while she’d been stuck in Islington with the publishing world’s doors closing in her face, no money in her purse and morning sickness that almost felled her daily.
But not now. Now it was imprinted on every nerve in her body that her son’s father was her ultimate fantasy come to life. And she’d have her own mini-Raffaele there to remind her of that for evermore.
She turned off the taps and grabbed at the towel. This anger was hers to own. She was responsible for getting herself into this situation not once but twice. She had allowed her physical desire for him to trump every last grain of common sense she had and knowingly and willingly had sex with him.
She sighed, clutched the towel against her body and pushed out of the shower. She opened the door an inch to check if he was there. No sign. Of course not. Why would he be waiting there for her? Men cared only about sex, not intimacy. They cared about physical pleasure, not emotional commitment.
He hadn’t rolled her over and asked how she was feeling after they’d had sex. He couldn’t care less that she had opened herself up and laid herself bare. He’d patted her stomach to make sure the baby was OK, then followed her into the bathroom with his erection twitching for more.
She padded across the rug, her feet sinking into the velvety pile. As expected, there was no sign of anything other than her crumpled red tunic and worn-out boots lying beside the puddle of silk sheets like so much rubbish dropped in the snow.