And, to my delight, that delicious chest is dusted with some soft, fine whorls of hair. More of that hair starts beneath his navel, leading straight into his slacks, emphasizing the jut of ridiculously sexy hipbones.
I’m on fire, just from looking at him.
What will it be like when he touches me?
Belatedly, as I drag my stare back up to his face, I realize that he hasn’t responded... and yet, the way he’s looking at me, not to mention the way the front of his pants have tented out, tells me that he’s burning for me every bit as much as I am for him.
“Matteo, it’s our wedding night.” I swallow thickly, then hold out my hand to him. “Won’t you come to bed?”
His eyes darken, and wicked intent passes over his face. My nipples tighten, and heat throbs between my legs.
How did you ever think this would be a bad idea, Riley? You idiot.
He takes one step toward me, then another. I tremble as he reaches for me, closing my eyes.
Those eyes fly open when, rather than a sensual caress, I find firm hands clasping my shoulders and gently pushing me away.
“What the hell, Matteo?” Indignant and exposed, I cross my arms over my chest and glare. “You were the one who said that since you had to be faithful to your wife that I would have to be... you know... your real wife. And you want it. I know you do. So what the hell are you doing?”
My voice cracks; I’m very close to shrieking. But this is a rather delicate situation, and after the ways in which my life has been turned upside down in the last few days, I’m feeling more than a little bit on edge.
Matteo closes his eyes, rubs his fingers against his temples. When he looks at me again, his expression is set.
“Yes, the contract states that I have to be faithful.” His stare flickers from my face to my breasts and back, and his face reddens with tension. He kinda looks like he’s going to have a heart attack. “But it does not state that we are required to... consummate... the marriage.”
Again he closes his eyes.
“Go to bed, Riley. I’ll see you in the morning.”
My mouth falls open, and I can feel mortification painting my skin pink.
Maybe I’ve misunderstood everything. Logically, I don’t think so, but here I am, almost naked, throwing myself at my husband, and he’s turning me away...
“You don’t want me. I see.” It’s the only logical conclusion. I don’t want to be the girl who cries, so I blink rapidly to hold back the tears as I turn and scurry toward the door. “I understand. I’ll be going now.”
And I do understand. I know I’m not exactly hard on the eyes—and when I looked in the mirror just moments ago, I really thought I looked pretty—but I’m not leggy, or thin, or glamorous. I don’t look like any of the women he’s used to seeing.
I don’t look anything like Emilia.
“Damn it, Riley. Get back here!”
I ignored Matteo’s shout as I run back down the hallway. His hand closes over my upper arm as I skid into my room; I try to close the door, but he’s right there, blocking the way.
“Go away.” Anger burns away the film of tears, and I glare daggers at my husband. “Go far, far away.”
I push at him, then gasp when he slams the door, then pushes me back against it. I squirm, trying to break free, but he covers me with that long, lean body, holding me in place.
The heat of his skin pressing against mine is maddening. And as I wiggle, I can feel exactly how hard he is, the length of his erection pressing into the softness of my stomach.
He wants me just as much as I want him. So what the hell?
“Let me go.” I try to sound as calm as I possibly can. I just want him to go, so I can be alone with my embarrassment and misery.
The thought of spending the next month like this does not sound appealing.
Rather than doing as I asked, fury crosses his face. I suck in a deep breath as, without warning, he grinds his rock solid pelvis against my softer frame.
“This has nothing... nothing... to do with me not wanting you, so get that out of your gorgeous head right now.” The grinding turns to a slow roll, and my head falls back as delicious sensations take me over.
I open my eyes to find him looking right at me, the same desperate need that I feel mirrored there.
His mouth is just a whisper away from my own; a thin ribbon of space is all that keeps us from devouring one another.
And yet he doesn’t make a move.
Grinding my teeth together in temper, I push away from the wall, ducking under his arm and escaping his grasp. He reaches for me, but I’ve caught him by surprise.
I scamper halfway across the luxurious room then turn. Before he can follow me, I fist my hands in the hem of my nightgown and, with a deep gulp of air for bravery, pull it over my head and throw it away.
“Oh my God.” I’m standing in front of Matteo Benenati, the most eligible man in all of Italy... and I’m naked. I want to squawk and dive under the bedcovers, but I force myself to hold absolutely still as he devours me with his eyes.
I can feel my limbs starting to shake with the strain of the unknown when a garbled sound rises from the depths of his throat.
“Fucking hell, Riley.” Matteo glares at me, his fists clenching and releasing, over and over again, The small movement makes the muscles of his chest ripple, and I can’t tear my gaze away.
When he strips off his shirt with one swift move, I hold my breath.
“I’m a man,” he says darkly, prowling – there’s no other word for it—across the room toward me.
“That fact is readily apparent.” My voice sounds faint even to my own ears. I can’t swallow the small cry when he plunges one hand into my hair, loosening my mass of braids, the other hand finding my waist, and his lips attacking my own.
I groan, long and loud, at the decadent sensation of my bare breasts rubbing against the solid planes of his chest.
“Matteo—” I’m not a begging kind of woman, but in that moment, I’m ready to do absolutely anything to get him to follow through on the promises that he is making with his kisses and his hips.
Finished with my braids, his hands cup my bottom, and he lifts me, pressing me against the firmness of his erection.
And then I’m lying on the bed, completely naked, the sensual feel of smooth satin at my back. My husband stands over me, bare-chested, like a Greek god, and finally, finally, I can see that I’ve broken through his restraint.
My mouth goes dry as he loosens the fastening of his trousers, the reaches for one of the white roses in the ornate crystal vase. Seating himself on the bed beside me, he stops me with a stern look when I reach for him.