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Or was it just his own reactions to her that were different?

It wasn’t just the utterly ridiculous level of attraction he was experiencing, it washer...Shewas different. When she was around he could not rely on the neat compartments that made his life run smoothly; nothing was contained.

He was so, so tempted to ignore the red warning signs in his head. If alcoholism ran in his family, he would have avoided alcohol; with his particular family history there were certain situations and women he avoided...and he certainly didn’t need distractions in his life at the moment, as he focused on putting the last few pieces of the Agnosti estate back together. True, his work ethic had never stopped him having sex before, the difference being—he knew full well—that he had never had sex that touched his emotions.

And she already had, without them even kissing properly...but the admission came reluctantly. It had to be the same reason it had been almosttooeasy for him to open up and tell her such intimate, long-held secrets.

He was confident hecouldstay in control and have her at the same time, he would not admit to a weakness that suggested otherwise, but he didn’t want to look at a woman when he left her, and see the shadows under her eyes and worry.

Who was he kidding? She had long-term relationship written all over her beautiful face! She would need things he didn’t have to give because he had chosen his path in life. Loneliness was an infinitely preferable option to living his life being manipulated—and humiliated—by the woman he loved.

‘I didn’t expect this.’ Maya paused, trying not to breathe in the clean masculine scent of him as she felt the warmth of his breath on her cheek. ‘I just didn’t want to be too far away from Mattio the first night we were here.’ It was at least part of the truth; actually, it continued to amaze her every time she realised how deep the baby had burrowed his way into her heart so quickly.

Logic told her that it would be foolish to grow too fond of Mattio when very soon she would be walking away from him.

He wouldn’t remember her, he was only a baby, but that didn’t matter; she would still feel guilty when she left him, and she would always remember him.

Sadness filtered into her dark eyes as they lifted just as Samuele extended the wine bottle towards her glass. Unfortunately logic did not really play a part when it came to genuine emotions.

‘No...yes,’ she stuttered, struggling to keep the sudden rush of desperation from her voice as she removed her hand from the top of the crystal glass and pressed it close to her chest instead to hide the fact it was shaking;shewas shaking.

Anyone would think you’d just made some sort of profound discovery, she mocked herself.But you just fancy the man—it’s hardly a shocking newsflash.

Having never before felt a physical attraction this strong to any man, she could now see how some people mistook lust for something much more profound. But it was not a mistake she was about to make.

‘Sorry to invade your space.’ He looked around the room. ‘Are you happy with your suite?’


‘And apologies again for the candles.’ He cast an amused glance towards the lights flickering in the candelabra and gave a light laugh. ‘I think my request to have dinner here with you was misinterpreted.’

Maya gave a laugh that she hoped sent the message that she had not for one moment misunderstood what this was. Absolutelynota date.

‘I was thinking that dinner might be a good time to debrief one another each evening—would that work for you? Though obviously, should a problem arise re Mattio, I am available at any time. His well-being is my top priority.’

It was utterly irrational, given the circumstances, to feel chagrin. ‘Of course, it is, and I have to eat,’ she said, discovering her appetite had pretty much vanished despite the mouth-watering smells wafting towards her. ‘So here’s to the evening version of a working breakfast,’ she said, raising the glass to her lips and taking a large mouthful.

She regretted now not taking the option of eating in more formal surroundings, not that the private lavish sitting room was exactly an intimate space. It was the company not the location that was the problem, she realised gloomily.

‘My reputation would not survive if you leave here a shadow of your former self.’

‘It all looks delicious,’ she said brightly. ‘But I’m afraid that there isn’t much to report as yet. Mattio took his feed and he settled into his nursery pretty well. Do you want me to sleep in his room?’ She had noticed the divan in the corner of the nursery.

No, I want you to sleep in my room.‘Of course not!’ he snapped.

‘Fine, I was only wondering—’

She stopped as his phone began to shrill, a look of annoyance crossing his face. ‘Sorry, I meant to turn it off.’

‘No problem.’

He glanced at the screen and grimaced. ‘I have to take this.’

She shrugged and nodded.

His English was so syllable perfect, his accent barely there, that she had almost forgotten that it wasn’t his first language. So when after listening for a few moments he launched into a heated diatribe in his native tongue she was jolted back to the reality of the situation.

Which was that he was Italian to his fingertips. Yes, he probably could make a shopping list sound sexy, but his sudden urgent passion as he spoke was utterly a stomach-quivering sort of way.

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