“Do you like your brandy?” Duncan interrupted her thoughts. She looked down into her glass to see that she’d almost finished, which was strange as she could not remember the taste.

She nodded her head giving him back the glass.

“You don’t like the room, do you?” His mocking smile and question caught her unawares.

Tess rubbed her arms. “Erm, it’s different from all your other rooms. No, I don’t like it. With the other rooms I saw your love and passion, but this room feels cold,” she said.

He chuckled. “I’m not keen on this room either. I rarely come into it,” he said, looking around the room as he did so.

“Why don’t you change it?” she asked, watching frown lines appear on his face at her suggestion. “Never mind.”

“I’ve never really thought about changing it. It’s something I don’t think about. It was the last room I decorated. Something happened that made any love towards this room disappear.”

She didn’t press him for more information.

“Why didn’t you get your decorator or interior designer who did your apartment to travel here to do something with this room?” she asked.

Duncan turned away from her to refill his glass.

“Her contract ran out, and she doesn’t like going overseas.” His evasive response answered Tess’s question immediately. Duncan had been sleeping with his interior designer. Tess felt a piercing ache in her chest at the thought of Duncan with another woman. She handed her empty glass over, surprised again to see that her hand was steady and excused herself to her room.

“I’m sorry,” he said as she got to the door.

Tess turned to see him staring at her. “Don’t be sorry, Duncan. I know you had a life before me. You’re older than I am, and I certainly didn’t expect you to live like a monk. I’m tired. I’ll see you in the morning,” she said, turning away and walking up to her room.

The moment between them had been lost. She wanted to be alone.

Once she was tucked into her bed, wearing nothing as it was too hot to wear anything, she began to think about her marriage. The meal she had just shared with Duncan would be forever cemented in her memories. It was the first meal she could remember enjoying in some time. Then she thought about his relationship with his interior designer. She felt extreme amounts of jealousy at the thought of another woman spending time with Duncan, let alone in his bed as a sexual partner.

She rolled over to look out of her window, up at the moon hoping to find some way to explain her feelings.

Minutes rolled by and still no answer.

She decided she would not think about it and just enjoy her time in Italy with Duncan, and whatever happens would happen, and whatever wouldn’t, wouldn’t. Once she had decided that she drifted off to a rather peaceful sleep.


Duncan watched her leave his sitting room. The moment they’d been sharing was lost. He turned away to fill his glass up. How could he tell his current wife about his volatile relationship with the interior designer? Yvonne, the woman he’d been fucking prior to his marriage, would tear Tess apart if he gave her a chance.

Mentioning Yvonne’s name in his mind made him suddenly remember that he still had not broken off ties with his current mistress. He silently cursed himself. How could he have forgotten his current mistress? The last two weeks had been a blur to him. His mind had been preoccupied with Tess and his father’s will. He brushed it out of his mind like a hand moving over the whole problem making it look invisible.

He took a seat in one of the chairs hoping to forget about everything bad in his life. Listening to Tess during dinner had made him want her in ways he’d never wanted a woman.

She was slowly and surely getting under his skin.

Duncan began to examine his own feelings towards Tess. He enjoyed her company and found her interesting. He’d never found any other woman interesting before, unless he was wining and dining them to get into his bed. Once the novelty wore off he would soon grow bored and find another to satisfy his appetites.

He had never felt guilty. However, tonight thinking about his previous encounters left him feeling guilty and shallow, especially since he’d found out the hard way about Tess’s virginity. He had nothing like that to offer her. In his time he’d had an abundance of women, none of them virgins.

The only thing he had to offer was his money. Duncan got up out of the chair. He went to the spirits and poured himself a generous brandy to try to help himself deal with his problems. He knew he needed to get in touch with Yvonne in order to tell her their relationship was no longer going on. Having Yvonne in the background wouldn’t be right for Tess. He wanted to concentrate on nothing but his wife.

He wanted to make her happy. Duncan was willing to do anything to make that happen. Starting tomorrow, he would be taking her for a shopping trip in Milan. Women loved shopping, and with no expense spared, he was sure to woo her.

He gulped down his brandy and went to his bed, which happened to be next door to Tess. He opened the adjoining door to check to make sure she was all right. Her body encased in moonlight gave him the perfect view of her. The night goddess with all of her womanly curves lay in the centre of his bed. He felt his body respond to her beauty. Duncan shut the door so he would not disturb her, then went to his own bed.

His dreams were filled with a dark-haired, fair-skinned curvy woman seducing him. Tess, in his dreams, took him to new heights that no other female had ever done, claiming not only his body but his heart as well.

Chapter Seventeen

Tess sat at the counter drinking a cup of coffee. Sofia had left a list of instructions on how to work the machines. Tess had taken her coffee with cream and sugar. For breakfast she’d rummaged in the fridge and settled for toast with a side of exotic fruits. Tess ate most of the fruits. After the dinner last night she needed something light to balance it all out.

She knew Duncan was already up as she’d heard him moving around in his office as she passed. The house didn’t feel the same without the older woman. Tess missed her company. She got up and began exploring the kitchen. There was more than enough food to last a week.

Checking her watch she wondered how long Duncan would be. She didn’t want to barge into his office if he was working. The honeymoon couldn’t take place without him. She wanted to go out exploring. Tess knew it would be better to go with him than try to figure out a map or anything. She poured herself another coffee then took a seat.

She ran her fingers through her hair then began plaiting the length to try to keep it at bay.

Duncan walked into the kitchen ten minutes later.

“I thought you’d let me know you were up. I figured you were still sleeping,” he said. He poured himself a cup of coffee then added his own cream and sugar. He lifted the note Sofia had left. She saw him smiling as he walked towards her.

“Sofia likes you. Not many women get a note offering her services and help,” Duncan said to her as he sat down beside her.

“I like her, too.” Sofia was an easy topic to talk about. There was no one who could hate that woman.

“I can tell. You probably remind her off her own daughter,” he said, sipping his coffee. Tess’s gaze wandered down to where his shirt gaped at his chest. He wore another pair of jeans and a light blue shirt.

“She never mentioned a daughter to me,” Tess said.

“She doesn’t like to talk about her daughter. She died of cancer when Sofia and her husband had not long married.”

“How horrible.” Her heart and sympathy went to the woman.

“It was a sad time. They got over it with time and had a few more children. I remember Giada. She was a little spitfire.” Duncan smiled.

“How old would she have been?” Tess asked.

“The same age as me. Giada and I grew up together. Sofia use to work for my mother and father.”

“Now she works for you?”

“My parents’ marriage didn’t work out.”

“I’m sorry. It must have been awful to have lost someone so young.”

“It was. Giada was amazing. I adored her. She was the first girl I fell for. At eight years old I hadn’t seen much of the world.”

“You don’t strike me as very Italian.”

He took a sip of coffee. “I’m not Italian. I mean, my father was half-Italian, and he owned a villa not far from here. There is a lot of history, but I don’t want to bore you with the details.”

They sat in silence, neither speaking.

Tess didn’t push him for more. “I never knew my mother,” she said.


“My dad wouldn’t tell me anything about her. I don’t know what she looks like or who she was. When friends at school asked about her, I never knew what to say.” She glanced down at her fingers, not knowing why she was sharing such a private part of herself with him.

Tags: Sam Crescent Billionaire Romance
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