It could all work out, he mused. He’d had no intention of having any downtime this weekend, but he’d just hit a home run of increased turnover in the digital wing of Romano, and—even better—started some pretty interesting talks with MacIver Press. If he added them to his portfolio he would be one happy CEO.
‘I can’t let it pass—I have to…’
She had stopped suddenly on the narrow path that linked the old villa with his house. Her eyes, dark as charcoal, widened with joy as she grabbed her bag and started rummaging for her camera.
‘Honestly, if I lived here I’d get nothing done. It’s amazing!’
She stood back, checked what she’d photographed, then put the camera back to her eye and took another shot.
‘I suppose you must take it for granted, but…’
She was totally in the zone, oblivious to the world. It was always interesting to watch creatives at work, but she was so refreshingly, achingly lovely that he found himself slipping back into the trance she had begun to work him into over lunch. A trance that had him imagining kissing that wide, sensual mouth and unbuttoning the little pearl buttons that held her full, high breasts snug in that dress. Undressing her and holding her in his arms and—
She turned suddenly, beaming. ‘Isn’t it absolutely lovely?’
He smiled back. ‘Absolutely.’
She turned around, giving him another perfect view. In that sundress she was so evocative of someone. A young Sophia Loren? Maybe… Feline, but incredibly fresh.
‘You must thank God every day that you live here.’
‘All day long,’ he said.
‘Mmm, yes. How amazing to call this home.’
‘Third home,’ he corrected. ‘I live in London and Rome. But this is my favourite family retreat.’
‘Of course,’ she said, continuing to snap pictures with her camera. She turned to take one of him. ‘It’s like being on holiday in heaven.’
‘Avanti,’ he said. ‘There will be plenty time to take pictures of heaven later.’
‘Hang on. Is that Salvatore?’ She had stopped again and was pointing out to the bay.
Their yacht, Silver Spirit, was berthed some way off, tagged by the trail of a speedboat. Salvatore’s speedboat. He had stopped and was waving up at him.
‘Si. The man himself. He’ll be heading over to meet the team. Let’s go, Coral.’
She had her hand to her eyes and with the other began to wave back at Salvatore.
‘Coral,’ he said again, more sharply.
‘Sorry!’ She laughed.
As he started down the path, he struggled again to place just who it was she reminded him of. She had such an Italian look—wide-eyed, wide-mouthed, with auburn hair and creamy skin. An exotic, sensual cocktail. He couldn’t think of any famous starlet that she resembled, now or in the past, but there was something, someone that jarred in his mind.
‘Just getting some background,’ she said suddenly, jolting him out of his reverie. ‘It’s not every day you get to wander along the cliffs of Hydros.’ She grabbed up her bag and ran to catch up. ‘Does Salvatore have a third home here too?’
‘Salvatore would count here as his fifth home, I think. At a push. Kyla has plans for it. I don’t think they will be here much, though. They prefer Sydney, where she is from.’
‘You don’t like her, do you? This Kyla? I can tell. I’m getting a definite vibe that she’s not your cup of tea.’
They’d reached the paved area that marked the boundary of the old villa. He stopped, and she almost ran into the back of him.
She stumbled into his chest. He scooped his arm around her and held her against his side until she’d regained her balance. She tucked neatly under his arm, soft and warm and…
Not yet, Raffaele. Take it easy.
He let her go.
‘OK. Before we take another step—the ground rules.’
‘Right,’ she said, smoothing the wide skirt of her dress and looking up at him, those big dark eyes so earnest, so honest. Unflinching. He was used to people looking away from him, nervously avoiding eye contact. So many men were intimidated and so many women coquettish. She was unashamedly neither.
‘Professional questions only from now on. And keep your personal opinions to yourself.’
‘You don’t, do you?’
What was it with this girl? Why did she speak to him like this?
‘Coral, what I think about Kyla or anyone else is not your business and should not even enter your head. You’re here to do a job. Capisce?’
She nodded. ‘Si—capisco.’
‘No, not really. I’ve picked up a few words from films.’