‘You must meet my wife. I will never have peace if she does not speak to you.’
Thane almost groaned aloud. They would be here all day and Luciana would be subjected to God knows what.
‘Pietro? I don’t think we have time. Luciana wishes to explore—isn’t that right, angel?’
The wide-eyed gleam she launched his way was anything but angelic. It was positively devious and it made his blood hum. She wanted to hear more, he realised.
‘We have plenty of time…darling.’ She emphasised that endearment—the very one that made his heart lurch—with a swift kick to his shin as she peered up at the other man all guile and innocence. ‘I think that’s a wonderful idea, Pietro. I would love to meet her.’
Relishing Thane’s discomfort, she flashed her teeth at him, all saccharine sweetness. The dark look he volleyed back said she would pay highly for it. Later.
Then again, Pietro had wandered off—so why wait?
Easing forward in his seat, he slid wicked fingers over the delicate curve of her knee beneath the table, then made small teasing circles as they ascended higher and higher up her inner thigh.
The light flush that coloured her cheeks made a gradual descent across her chest, down over her breasts, and the glass of freshly squeezed orange juice in her fist rippled as she clamped her thighs together, imprisoning his hand.
‘See that knife?’ she whispered in a rush, motioning to the lethal blade on the table-top. ‘I won’t hesitate to chop those fingers off.’
‘Ah, you won’t do that, Luciana.’
‘I wouldn’t be so sure, if I were you. Don’t underestimate me, Romeo.’
Flipping his hand, he forcibly nudged her legs apart. ‘While I have no intention of underestimating you, I believe you’ll soon see sense. Because what will I pleasure you with then?’
Her breathing became short and shallow, making her deep cleavage taunt him with a subtle quivering heave, and he had the sinful urge to ramp up her erotic want higher still. So he stroked one finger over the lace of her panties and ran his tongue along his bottom lip suggestively.
‘Actually…who needs fingers? I can think of various other ways to torment you.’
And he would use every one to lure her in. No matter what it took, by the weekend both Luciana and the throne would be his.
* * *
She was going to murder him. Wrap her hands around his throat and send him to meet his maker—the devil himself. That was if she didn’t choke on the uncut testosterone in the air first. Arrogant and downright debauched—that was what he was.
She couldn’t move or whimper a sound, since Pietro was still fiddling with a coffee pot at the far end of the deck—and of course the shameless reprobate just loved that…the possibility of them getting caught likely got him off. It certainly didn’t excite her blood. A woman of her gentility and refinement should be appalled at his sybaritic behaviour. And she was. Utterly.
Squirming, she tried to dislodge his hand and alleviate the dark pulse that throbbed in her pelvis. She wanted them back on topic. Wanted to hear every word that wasn’t being said. It was that stuff that interested her—far more than his wandering lasciviousness.
She felt like an insect that had inadvertently strayed into a spider’s web, her every move ensuring greater entrapment, but right now she didn’t care. Entangled as she was, there was far more going on here than met the eye.
Pietro vanished around the corner and she smacked Thane’s arm away as she spun on him, eyes narrowed.
‘Your uncle runs Galancia in a dictatorship, does he not? No government, no parliament to speak for the people, all the power coming from the man at the top. The state owns every acre of land, therefore every piece of brick and mortar too.’
That did it.
He flung himself back in his seat, taking his wicked fingers with him. It was if he’d found a state of mindless pleasure and was put out at her stopping his fun. Tough.
‘I am sure you know he does, princesa.’
‘So by giving Pietro his own land you’re breaking your own rules?’
He picked up his espresso and downed the treble shot. ‘They are not mine.’
‘No? Are you saying you don’t agree with them?’
His nonchalant shrug belied the curious tension in his menacingly hard frame. ‘I don’t think it’s fair that the people can’t reap the benefits of their hard work, that’s all.’