Font Size:  

‘You owe me an explanation, Chiara.’

Chiara felt like a nervy foal. Why had she come looking for Nico again? She cursed herself now. She could be down in the kitchen baking a cake, or checking on the herbs and vegetables. Or taking Spiro for a walk. Anything but this.

‘I told you in the note. I thought it was a mistake for us to marry.’

‘Why? You got what you married me for—keeping your life at the castello. What changed between the wedding and the morning after?’

Everything! cried a voice in her head.

And suddenly, in that moment, Chiara knew it. Somehow—pathetically—she had fallen for Nico, and she’d used the wedding night and their passionate combustion as an excuse to run. Not wanting to deal with the fact that she never would have allowed someone such intimacy, no matter what the circumstances, if she hadn’t already been falling for him.

‘I... I just changed my mind.’ It sounded pathetically weak to her ears.

‘After a night like we had? I remember how you responded, cara. What we shared is rare. Maybe it scared you a little?’

Chiara looked at Nico. He was so close to the truth that it shocked her. And it terrified her that he might realise. He was an astute man.

‘Don’t be ridiculous. I told you—I married you because I thought it would be the only way I could negotiate terms to keep access to the castello. I didn’t marry you for...’ Chiara felt breathless ‘...for what happened.’

Nico stood up, and he was so close now they were almost touching. Chiara had to tip her head back, and she was suddenly bombarded with memories of just what had happened. How good it had felt.

His eyes were intense. ‘What happened,’ he breathed, ‘was amazing. I haven’t been able to get it out of my head for the past five months. I’ve cursed you every night when I couldn’t sleep, reliving that night.’

He was echoing her thoughts like a sorcerer. ‘But you don’t want me... How can you...?’ She made a half-hearted gesture to her bump.

‘Because you’re pregnant?’

She nodded.

‘It may surprise you to know that if anything I find you even more attractive. The sight of your body...ripening with my unbelievably erotic.’

Chiara wondered dimly how she was still standing. She couldn’t feel her legs. All she could feel was an urgent spiking of delicious tension deep in her groin, where her intimate body was responding, getting hotter, damper. Aching.

‘You want me, Chiara.’

It wasn’t spoken as a question, but Chiara heard a question. She also saw something in Nico’s eyes—a hint of uncertainty. She would bet that he’d never stood in front of a woman before and felt unsure if she wanted him.

Chiara knew she could lie. She knew he wouldn’t push it if she insisted she didn’t want him. She could blame the pregnancy. Step back and break the tension. Leave. But an excitement she hadn’t felt in months was coursing through her veins, making her feel alive. She didn’t want to lie. Or leave. She wanted to experience that sublime union again.

‘Yes,’ she said simply. ‘I want you.’

A shudder seemed to go through Nico and he stepped up to Chiara, spearing his hands into her hair, tilting her face up to his.

‘I meant what I said before...about the wedding night. I’d never wanted anyone as much. I wasn’t capable of being rational. And I still want you like a fever in my blood.’

He bent his head and claimed her mouth in a kiss that showed her in no uncertain terms the truth of his words. It was heady and intoxicating to think that he’d been thinking of her, wanting her. That she’d driven him to the edge of his control.

The kiss was all-consuming, and Chiara was slipping down into a vortex of heat. She dimly wondered how she’d survived for all these months without this. The solid wall of his chest was under her hands and desperately, not even aware of what she was doing, she searched for buttons, undoing them, ripping them apart in a feverish desire to touch his bare skin.

Nico broke away from the kiss, breathing harshly. It took a second for Chiara’s eyes to focus again. His shirt was open and her hands were splayed across his pectoral muscles. One of her straps had fallen down and her breasts were straining against the bodice of her dress.

They were so sensitive it almost hurt. Now she understood what the doctor had meant with that conspiratorial smile. Chiara’s whole body felt like an erogenous zone.

Nico went over to the door and locked it and then came back, putting his hands under Chiara’s arms and manoeuvring her so that she was sitting on the edge of the desk.

His eyes were so dark they glittered like black jewels. With his hands still under her arms, touching the sides of her breasts, he said, ‘I need you now.’

She bit her lip to stop herself from sounding too eager. ‘Okay.’

Articles you may like