This was what he wanted. Her unrestrained reaction to him—negative and positive and the total eroticism that burst to life the second they touched. All the resistance within her transformed to passion. She burrowed closer, angrily clutching his jacket.
He lost his head in her heat. He ached to rip them free of their clothing. Have her exactly as he wanted—bared and welcoming with that fire-gilded hair tumbling free about her shoulders and her body hot and slick.
But he pulled away, brutally breaking the kiss because he had to put restraints around this. And he was damn well ensuring she had more than a quick, angry orgasm this time. He’d see her fully sated. Fully his.
Breathing hard, he held her at a distance, taking primitive pleasure in how long it took for her to regain her balance and stand on her own.
‘This cannot go on.’ He’d give in to lust, but only once.
‘What?’ she asked. Fury combusting, she shoved his hands from her shoulders.
‘It only worsens with time,’ he said quickly, before she continued to think he didn’t want to resolve this in a way they’d both appreciate. He could hardly bear to look at the luminescent need in her gleaming green eyes; he couldn’t resist her ferocity. ‘We have to work this out.’
It had only been a few days, but Bella knew what he meant. The hunger, desire, and the frustration. The emotions he roused in her were the most intense of her life.
‘So you sent your errand boy to make your booty call.’ It was anger and arousal coursing through her veins now, a heady combination that made it almost impossible to think. She felt too much.
‘I didn’t want to attract attention,’ he explained crisply. ‘It wouldn’t be good for either of us.’
‘The publicity would be good for me,’ she argued hotly, pushing forward what she knew would be his greatest objection to anything happening between them. Just because she could. ‘Make my club even more popular. I could do with that success.’
‘They would drag you through the mud and you know it. Don’t act vapid. I know you care more than that.’
‘Do you?’ How could he really know anything about her?
He cupped her chin and tilted her face to his, capturing her gaze in his steely one again. ‘I saw you. I felt you. You’re more vulnerable than you wish to admit.’
Ever so lightly he touched the tips of his fingers to the pulse beating frantically just below her jaw. Not a threat, but a caress of concern.
Her heart stuttered. ‘I don’t need your protection. I can handle anything.’ She jerked her head, forcing him to release her. ‘It’s your name you’re worried about. Having an affair with me would ruin perfect Prince Antonio’s holier-than-thou reputation.’
‘I don’t care what others think about me,’ he said softly. ‘But there are other people who would be hurt by my personal life becoming public. Discretion is necessary because it is kind.’
Silenced, she gazed up at him, her heart melting. He wanted to be kind? He wanted to protect people other than the two of them. She couldn’t help but wonder who they were.
‘And you do not want to be hunted any more than you already are.’ His gaze narrowed, penetrating. ‘You do not want to be treated the way your mother was. You do not want to have every detail of your life reported on. Invented. You do not want to have your ex-lovers paid fortunes to tell your sexual secrets. They would stop at nothing to get that information should you be known to be my lover.’
He hit precisely where she was most vulnerable. She never wanted to live the way her mother had. And yes, while she courted publicity now, it was one thing to manage her own media relations and give them enough to keep them interested but not have them hound her completely. But the way they would pry if they knew she was having an affair with Prince Antonio?
It would be unbearable.
‘Yet you’re still willing to take the risk?’ she asked.
‘I am talking only one night.’
So this would never become an affair. It would be nothing more than a one-night stand. And there wasn’t even much of this night left.
‘I don’t want to fight it any more,’ he said ruefully. ‘The last few days have been hell.’