But he’d called after her.
Even months later she heard him calling. As much as she’d tried to forget him—forget that whole afternoon—when she closed her eyes she always heard his furious demand.
She frowned as she heard banging, then an ear-splitting splintering sound. She opened her eyes in time to see the door smashed open. Abruptly she was yanked back from memory into the present. Into the bathroom at the Palacio de Secreto Real. Where she was no longer alone in the shower.
Eduardo De Santis had been hollering her name here and now—and he was incandescent.
‘What the hell have you been doing all this time?’ His chest rose and fell, his muscles bunched from the effort of breaking down the bathroom door.
He stepped right into the stall and flicked the shower lever with a sharp, vicious movement, shutting off the jets of steaming water. But it was too late. His tee shirt was already wet. So were his jeans.
Memory melded with the present moment and she was speechless. Melting. Crazy.
‘Are you unwell? Did you almost faint again?’ He towered over as he interrogated her. ‘Stella?’
Dumbfounded, she stared up at him, registering his frown, his concern, his confusion. His fury.
Once more she was fascinated. He was magnificent. Mesmerising. And so mad with her.
Suddenly she was furious too. With her situation. With him. With her stupid lust-lost self. And she was too shocked, too ripped open, too angry to do anything but answer with an honest snarl.
‘I forgot, okay? I forgot.’
‘FORGOT WHAT?’ EDUARDO PRESSED his palms hard on the wall either side of her—imprisoning her, uncaring about impropriety. But it was better than grabbing her shoulders and shaking her. He needed to see she was okay and hear her say it.
Her pale blue eyes widened. Deepened. But she didn’t answer.
His heart thundered a furious tattoo. His muscles coiled as adrenalin streamed through his veins. He’d pounded that damn bathroom door for ages, imagining her to be unconscious and drowning or worse.
Reality was no less of an attack on his system.
Her lithe body was gloriously naked. Droplets of water glistened on every inch of her, as if she’d been dipped in diamonds. Dazzling perfection, her effect on him was akin to sorcery.
He forgot everything. To breathe. To think. To move.
The dazed look in her eyes mesmerised him. When he’d parted her thighs with his and pushed into the heart of her scorching heat she’d looked at him like this.
‘Stella...’ he muttered.
Still wordlessly casting her spell, she stared back up at him, a stormy, mouthwatering mix of softness and strength, all feminine sensuality. He fought back the urge to press his lips to hers.
He’d been unable to forget her energy and demand and passion that day. But afterwards she hadn’t just left. She’d run. The only lover who had. Eduardo was the one to end any liaison—gently but efficiently.
Tendrils of doubt had wormed in after her determined, hasty departure, bringing a hint of unwanted regret. He’d damn well tried to forget, but she’d lurked in the sea of his sleep, calling like a Siren. He envisaged every intimacy, pleasuring her beyond endurance, hearing her, tasting her, claiming her, over and over again. To his extreme annoyance he’d dreamt of her every single night since that day.
Filthy, soul-scorching dreams.
Never had he dreamt of a woman the way he had of her. Yet memory had served him poorly. In reality she was more vibrant, more luminous than any fantasy. The electrifying want within him was intolerable.
‘What did you forget?’ he snapped, whipping his vocal cords into action.
‘What are you doing in here?’ She tilted her chin.
Glimmering energy arced, zinging back and forth between them—desire, shock, anger.
‘Why didn’t you answer me?’ he countered.
‘You didn’t have to break down the door.’ Her cool voice belied the heat in her eyes.
‘You didn’t answer me.’ He measured his breathing, refusing to lose control, but temptation burned, stoked by her icy defiance.
‘I didn’t hear you.’ Sharper. Hotter.
His frown deepened. That wasn’t what he’d meant. He still wanted to know what it was she’d forgotten.
‘You were worried about me?’ Disbelief sparkled in her eyes.
‘Is that such a surprise?’ An hour ago she’d looked pale and scared. She looked neither now. ‘I was bringing you a tray of food.’