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Authors: C. C. MacKenzie

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BOOK: Reckless Nights in Rome
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Her breath
caught in her throat.

“What ...?”

Stunned, she
realised it was a private sitting room, a room which used to be her
father's library.

Nico’s dark
eyes, watchful and intense, met hers.

It was one
thing to flirt openly with him over dinner in a public place, quite
another to be alone with him in a room that held so many happy
memories. She went very still as needles of tension prickled her
spine. Then she raised her brows in silent question.

“I thought it
would be more private for us to have dinner here.”

His accent
seemed stronger, he appeared even bigger now she was alone with him
and Bronte reminded herself that she had no idea who this man was
or what he was thinking.

What was she
doing?

He took her
hand in a comfortable friendly manner.

His eyes held
hers so intimately; she shivered as he kissed each finger. A
sensation of the room spinning reminded her to breathe. A feeling
of being pulled by an invisible force towards him almost
overwhelmed her. Whatever this was, whether it was chemistry or a
fatal attraction, her instincts told her to take care.

“This is
nice.”

To give herself
space to kick-start her brain, Bronte drew back and wandered about
the room, amazed at the transformation.

All the time
she was deliciously aware of dark eyes following her as she
absorbed the changes this man had made to her home.

The same
imposing stone fireplace with a roaring fire in the hearth, along
with the high, arched windows were all that was familiar.

In the old
days, this room would be heavy with the scent of her father's
cigars and comfortable leather sofas the colour of ripe
blackberries.

Now heavy silk
brocade curtains flowed onto the floor like a golden waterfall,
held back by brass holders the size of a dinner plate.

Three spacious
sofas upholstered in a rich fabric the colour of autumn leaves
hugged a polished oak coffee table the size of a family car. And on
the stone floor were dark rugs in matching muted tones.

Huge antique
mirrors hung above serving tables which held clear glass vases
overflowing with royal red arum lilies.

A dining table,
lit with candles was set for two and sat in a small alcove. It was
dressed with crystal glasses, white china plates and silver
cutlery. It all looked quite lovely. She realised he’d organised a
small buffet for them too. Obviously Nico didn’t want to be
disturbed.

She turned to
him as he stood perfectly still watching her.

Bronte sent him
a nervous smile.

“This is
fabulous.” After another attempt at a smile she found herself
wondering why he didn’t say anything. “You must be pleased with the
renovations.”

He still hadn’t
answered, just kept looking at her with that dead on stare and the
heat of it was scorching her skin.

Bronte looked
at him for an endless moment. She couldn’t breathe at the
expression in those eyes.

Nico walked
towards her. And the jittery nerves in her stomach went crazy.

His eyes,
filled with aroused desire, mesmerised her.

He reached out,
stroked her cheek. Fingertips, almost feather light, traced her
chin, the pulse thundering below her ear, then down the front of
her throat towards her breasts.

“Nico, what are
you doing?” Her voice sounded too breathy.

“If you need to
ask I’m doing something wrong.”

He held her
hand, those eyes still watching her carefully. She couldn’t read
his expression. This was moving too fast in one way and not fast
enough in another. Not for the first time, she felt he could read
her mind.

He brought her
fingers to his mouth and nuzzled the tips.

“I am making
you nervous,
cara
. But I can’t seem to stop staring at you
in that amazing dress. Would you like a drink?”

She shook her
head and he held her gently, his hands stroked her bare shoulders
and down her arms.

Slowly he
tangled his hand in her hair pulling her head back.

Nerves dried up
her throat. Why wouldn’t her brain function?

“Nico, I don’t
think this ...”

Those eyes,
dark with desire, studied the pulse thundering under her ear and he
touched his fingertip to the spot.

“You think too
much,” he murmured and lowered his head.

He was going to
kiss her, thank God.

His mouth
stopped a whisper from hers.

Those eyes
asked a silent question as they stared into hers.

And she knew it
was up to her to take the next irrevocable step.

Bronte swayed
and her mouth found his. Her heart was battering against her ribs,
resounding in her ears, while his lips gently tasted her. Slowly he
took them both, sinking, into a deep drugging kiss. She had no idea
it would be like this. It was all there, the power and the
strength. She opened her mouth and he tasted her with thoroughness,
so seductive, she almost wept. Swaying together, his fingers
explored her neck, moved into her hair, gently tipping her head
back to deepen the angle of the kiss. She’d heard of lights
flashing before a person’s eyes, but had never experienced the
phenomenon until now.

Nico tasted of
pure sin and she loved it. Bronte pressed her body against his,
tunnelling her fingers through his hair.

Nico caught her
bottom lip between his teeth and she groaned into his mouth.

Through
narrowed eyes he watched her eyes mist and go dark. A spear of hot
and heedless lust shot straight to his loins. Hard and demanding
now, his mouth plundered.

Even as she dropped
away towards surrender, Bronte’s fingers gripped his hair and held
fast.

She heard him
groan in his throat, but the sound was muted by the roar of her
frantically beating heart. His body was so hard and powerful, his
mouth, so hot and potent. Heat flooded and scorched her body from
that one point of contact. His hands explored every inch of her
naked back and she gave herself up to the sensations pulsing into
her breasts and trembling low in her belly. The need to feed and
feed warred with the need to give and give.

Her fingertips
constantly explored his silky black hair. God, he felt fabulous.
Her breath mingled with his, rasping in her throat and those hands
drove her out of her mind as they slid under the fabric of her
dress, skimmed under her breasts, teasing and torturing, never
touching her aching nipples.

Bronte trembled
on the brink of the abyss, ready to leap. A voice screamed in her
head demanding to know what she was doing. She didn’t even know
this man.

Tearing her
mouth from his, she gulped in a breath as her world lurched and
tipped her out.

“No, Nico
...”

Chest heaving, his
heart jack-hammering, Nico laid his forehead on hers.

He’d never
meant for it to go so far so fast.

He’d only
intended to taste, to enjoy the moment, but it had gone beyond good
intentions into something quite, quite different. The silken heat
of her mouth, the taste was so sweet; he could have feasted on
it.

He closed his
eyes shutting out the sight of her, but there was no way to close
off his senses, the smell, the taste, or the softness of her silky
skin. She was inside him.

A kiss was not
nearly enough he realised with dismay as his heart threatened to
burst through his ribs. What was supposed to be a light,
exploratory kiss designed to lower her defences had turned on him.
He’d been ready to prepare her for a long and mutually fulfilling
seduction where he set the pace and the tempo. Not this clawing
hunger in his loins.

The need to
strip her, toss her on the sofa and plunge into her, shocked, even
terrified him. He never lost control. Alarm uncoiled in his gut and
finally entered his brain.

What was he
doing?

Then he lifted
his head and looked into her eyes dark and smoky with desire. And
he didn’t care what he was doing. He kept his fingers on her face,
stroking that soft, soft skin.

“You taste so
sweet, even better than I imagined.” His voice sounded harsh and he
cleared his throat to catch his breath. Those fabulous green eyes
were huge, dazed with confused arousal and God help him, they
almost brought him to his knees. She made him weak. The sensation
was a unique experience and Nico found he didn’t care for it.

He took a step
back.

Bronte’s nails dug into
the palms of her hands as she fought to control the deep ache of
brutal arousal pulsing through her body.

Dizzy, she
tried not to be disappointed he’d pulled back.

It was what she
wanted wasn’t it?

“Nico? I
...”

And she caught
her breath as he caught her fingers and brought them to his lips,
she realised the shutters had come down over his eyes, they were
cooler now.

“As I told you
this afternoon, you are full of surprises. Do not look at me like
that,
cara
, or I will take you right here, right now on the
floor.” He pressed his pelvis into her soft belly in a purely
physical move that jerked her emotional antennae to high alert.
“See what you do to me?”

He studied her
thoroughly as her face burned then the heat drained away.

“Yes,” she
whispered appalled by what she’d nearly let him do to her. And
appalled that she did want him to take her right here and right
now. “But, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to let you ... I mean,
I don’t have sex with men I don’t know.”

“I would say we
know each other very well.”

“But, that’s
just a ... a physical reaction.”

“Damn right it
is.” Again he kissed her, this time hard and hot and impatient.

It made her
head spin.

“I can’t think
straight.”

“I must admit,
Bronte, I am having difficulty thinking myself.” He drew back.
Holding her hand as his thumb gently rubbed the sensitive skin of
her palm winding her body even tighter. “So, what are we going to
do about this? Wait until we are both half crazy with lust?”

The Italian
lilt in his voice was more pronounced, but the tone whipped over
her heightened senses like a lash. Trying not to cringe at the hot
edge of frustration in his eyes and voice, she lifted her chin.

“Why should I
apologise for not leaping into bed with you? If I prefer to think
about it then you should respect my feelings.”

“Trust me, I
respect your feelings.” He rammed his hands in his pockets and
paced to the fire and back again. “Why can’t you yell at me or
throw something? We’d have a good healthy fight and end up on the
floor.”

“I never yell
or throw things.”

He gave a soft
laugh and she breathed a sigh of relief he wasn’t angry. But it did
nothing for her raging hormones. Part of her wished she could get
angry with him, be like Rosie and let it all out.

“Come, I hope
you are hungry.

 


CHAPTER TEN

Bronte was hungry all
right and it wasn’t for food.

Her brain
refused to compute.

She moved like
an automaton as he led her to the table, sat her in a chair and
poured her champagne.

He sat opposite
and gazed as if fascinated into her eyes.

“Tell me about
your life, your hopes and dreams, Bronte.”

She simply
stared at him.

Marshalling her
thoughts from a brain still buzzing with the toxic mix of arousal
and disappointment, she wondered how on earth she was going to
handle this man. What on earth had she been thinking? She hadn’t
been thinking that was the trouble. Her hormones and a complex,
attractive man had got the better of her.

Those dark eyes
studied her over the rim of his glass and Bronte felt like an
insect pinned to a specimen board.

The selection
of food; smoked salmon, tender loin of lamb and vegetables looked
wonderful and she was sure it must taste wonderful too. In her
mouth it tasted of sawdust. If only she was more experienced and a
woman of the world who could handle a man like Nico. If only she
was a little more street-wise instead of a provincial fool
completely out of her depth and behaving like an unsophisticated
moron.

“I am surprised
you are not married.”

The question
brought her head up. Okay he wanted to chat; she could do that, no
problem.

“I had a narrow
escape.”

Nico speared a
pepper and drew back to study her face.

“What
happened?”

“Things didn’t
work out.”

“Why?”

Carefully
Bronte set down her knife and fork. She didn’t want to do this with
this man, not now, not ever. What business was it of his? Anger and
frustration curled in her stomach.

“He’s moved
on.” Her eyes stayed on his. “These days I feel a certain amount of
ambivalence about marriage. Anyway, what about you? Any
family?”

She caught his
surprise, the flash of pain and realised she’d touched a nerve.

His gaze
clouded.

“I have no
family.” The words were spoken as a challenge. “We are talking
about you.”

The look in his
eye warned her to step back. He couldn’t have it all his own way.
It simply wasn’t healthy. Someone needed to take a stand against
his incredible will.

She ploughed
right on.

“No, you are
talking about me. I’m talking about you. No mother, father,
siblings?”

He shot her a
look of smouldering impatience mixed with something dark she
couldn’t identify.

“My mother died
when I was ten. I never knew who my father was.”

Immediately
contrite, her hand found his. Easy sympathy for him flooded her
heart; she knew exactly how it felt not to know her biological
father.

“Oh, Nico, I am
so sorry. What happened?”

BOOK: Reckless Nights in Rome
12.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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