Authors: Karen Erickson
He blinked, shocked at her words, at the images they brought forth. He had no intention of doing any such thing. His reputation as a charming ladies’ man may have preceded him in his future wife’s eyes, but he’d had every intention of being faithful to Catalina once they were married.
“When you become my wife, you will never have to question my faithfulness,” he said solemnly.
“But I can’t count on it now? Is that what you’re implying?” Her hazel eyes blazed with fury, the little flecks of gold sparking like flames. She was good and furious and damn beautiful with it too.
She was provoking him though. Making him angry that she would write him off as a careless, thoughtless jackass like her father.
“Stop putting words in my mouth,” he bit out.
“And stop trying to force me into something I definitely don’t want to be a part of.” She bucked her hips again, her pelvis rubbing directly against his cock and her eyes widened when she realized what she’d done. “Oh.”
“Yes. ‘Oh’.” He ground against her, nice and slow, torturing himself, hopefully torturing her as well. Her legs spread wider, accommodating him as if by instinct, and he couldn’t help himself. He kissed her, hard. Thrust his tongue inside her mouth, mimicking exactly what his body wanted to do with hers.
She didn’t fight him. No, surprisingly enough, she wound her arms around his neck, burying her fingers in his hair as she pulled him in closer until he completely covered her.
Relief surged through him at her reaction. Cat wanted this. She wanted him. And before he took it too far, he needed to get the both of them out of there so he could show her that adventure, the taste of freedom she so desperately wanted.
“We’ll pack a bag for you,” he whispered in her ear before he licked it, earning a soft little moan for his efforts. “Leave your mother and sister a note. We can fly out first thing in the morning. I already contacted my sister. She could have a private plane available for us, to take us back to New York.”
“New York?” She blinked open her eyes, staring up at him. “You want me to leave the country with you?”
“You’re the one who said you wanted to see the world. I’m offering to show it to you,” he explained simply.
“I—I can’t just leave. I have responsibilities.” She shook her head, those wide eyes drinking him in. “A job, my family. What will I tell my sister? My mother? They’ll worry about me. Annalisa already knows that we ended our engagement. She’ll find it odd that I left with you.”
“Who cares what she thinks? You leave them a note and you can call once we arrive in the city. I’m sure they’ll understand.”
She frowned, rolling her eyes. “You don’t know my sister very well then, do you? She will absolutely not understand.”
No, he didn’t know her sister at all, and he was glad for it. Annalisa Campioni was a bitter little thing who studied him as if he were some sort of sick bastard she planned on taking out. For good.
“Tell me, Cat. If you had no job, no responsibilities, would you come with me then?” He needed to know the answer. If her family obligations held her back, he could understand that. He had his own responsibilities he had to take care of.
If she flat out didn’t want to go with him because she despised him, hated him on sight, whatever, then he would leave.
That he’d sneaked into her room and tried to convince her to stay with him still blew his mind. Chasing after women, climbing the walls of their parents’ house and falling into an open window so wasn’t his style. Cat had turned him into a desperate man.
He could hardly wrap his head around it.
She offered a subtle nod in answer, her eyes filled with a mixture of worry and excitement and fear. He smiled, knowing in that instant he had her.
“I can’t go with you, though, Rafe,” she said hurriedly. He wondered if she was a mind reader. “It wouldn’t be right, to abandon my family. I work at Campioni. I’ve become an integral part in the day-to-day duties. Annalisa needs me. They all need me there. I can’t just leave without an explanation.”
“So you won’t go with me?” Sadness filled him. He wanted her to go. Needed her to go.
Not that he’d ever admit it.
“I…I can’t.” Her soft voice was so full of regret he leaned in and pressed his mouth to hers in the sweetest of kisses. Felt her exhalation of breath gust against his mouth, the light press of her lips to his as she kissed him back. “What are you doing to me?” she whispered, sounding as distraught as he felt.
God, at least they were in this together. She still wanted him, this much was proven. He needed to do something drastic. Something big and bold so she couldn’t argue. A statement move, one that would explain his feelings for Cat without saying a word.
“Whatever it is, you’re doing the same thing to me,” he answered, kissing her yet again before he pulled away from her completely and hopped off the bed. Glancing about her bedroom, he eyed her closet, striding toward it so he could push open the doors and examine the contents within.
“What are you doing?” she called from where she still sat in her bed.
“Do you keep a travel bag in here?” he asked, rifling through her clothing, peering up at the full shelf above the rack of clothes.
“Why do you ask?”
“Because.” Rafe glanced at her from over his shoulder, unable to contain the grin that spread across his face. “I’m going to kidnap you.”
He was crazy. There was no other explanation for his rash decision to
his former bride-to-be and take her with him back to New York. She’d protested halfheartedly, had put up a bit of a fuss but nothing that would’ve made him walk away.
Secretly, Rafe knew she wanted to go with him. Somewhat. He was also sure that she believed him certifiably insane.
That was fine, he could deal with it. He thought he might be as well.
As promised, his sister Anastasia had sent over the Worth Luxury private jet from London to fly him and his newfound passenger back to New York City. Their mother had had a secret affair years ago with Michael Worth and the end result had been Rafe’s baby sister. They’d only discovered this fact a few years ago, after the death of Giorgio Renaldi, when the truth of Stasia’s paternity had been revealed during his will reading.
Stasia had been devastated. But then she’d picked up the pieces and forged a relationship with the three Worth brothers. Now, both families were close. His poor sister had six brothers to contend with at any given time.
Rafe could almost feel sorry for her when he thought of her situation like that. She was a strong woman, though, one who could hold her own. A smart businesswoman, a wonderful mother who’d married a man who was good for her.
His sister was in a good place. He envied her that.
“You’re lucky I found my passport so easily,” Cat murmured as they boarded the plane, sounding vaguely irritated. He followed behind her, admiring the delectable curve of her ass in the dark skinny jeans she wore, the scent of her hair, her skin driving him wild. “I wouldn’t have been able to travel without it.”
“We’re on a private plane. I would’ve made it happen regardless of you having your passport or not.” He still couldn’t believe she agreed to come with him. He’d gentled his approach, promising to take her wherever she wished to go. Even went as far to promise he wouldn’t touch her unless she wanted him to.
It would be difficult, but he would hold true as best he could.
She glared at him from over her shoulder. “Isn’t that illegal?”
He shrugged. This woman—
woman—was rather uptight. She needed to loosen up. “Who cares? A little thing like proper paperwork isn’t going to stop us from traveling together, am I right?”
“Do you always get your way?” Cat stopped short when they entered the plane and he stood behind her, watching as she drank in the luxurious interior. “This is beautiful. I must say I’ve never flown like
Gripping her shoulders, he gave them a gentle squeeze. “You’ll learn quickly I almost always get my way.” He smoothed his hands down her back before letting them fall. “And I’m glad you like it. The Worths know how to fly in style.”
The seats were covered in soft leather, with low tables in between them. Televisions rested overhead, a full spread of fruit, pastries, juice and hot coffee awaited them as their early morning breakfast. Had he even slept a wink last night? He didn’t think so. The scent of coffee certainly perked him up. “There’s a small bedroom too.”
“A bedroom?” she squeaked, moving deeper into the plane before she settled in one of the chairs. “Are you serious?”
“Yes, I am.” He shrugged, sitting in the chair next to her, his shoulder brushing against hers. “If you get tired, you can sleep in there.”
“Do you always fly in a private plane?” she asked incredulously, her eyes wide.
“No, this isn’t even my plane, remember? It belongs to Worth Luxury. I only use it in emergency situations or when it’s readily available and I need to get somewhere quick.” Emergency situations—like when he was kidnapping a beautiful woman.
Hell. He was going to pay for this dearly if this plan backfired.
“So, why were you in Italy, Rafe?”
“Work purposes. I had to visit the Milan location, as did Matteo. Then we visited with our mother, who was none too pleased that Matteo didn’t bring her grandchildren for her to dote on.” His mother spoiled Matteo’s two children rotten, not that Rafe could blame her. Matty and baby Gia were adorable. She did the same to Stasia’s child too. Claudia Renaldi was the epitome of the indulgent grandma. “She’ll be flying back to New York in a few days as well, so she can alternate the next few weeks spending her time with Paige and Matteo or Stasia and Gavin.”
“You have a very close family, don’t you?” The envious tone in her voice was unmistakable.
“We’ve become closer lately, yes. Children have a way of doing that.” Funny how tragedy and scandal could help bring them together. At one point, he’d been positive it was all going to rip them apart.
“I envy that.” She looked away from him with a little sigh, her gaze zeroing in on the food spread before them. “This looks amazing. I’m starving.”
“Then eat. We won’t take off for at least another fifteen minutes.” He watched as she eagerly picked up a croissant and bit into it, a little moan of pleasure escaping her as she chewed. Damn, she was sexy even when she ate. “Are you going to join me?” she asked after she swallowed.
He slowly shook his head. Nerves ate at his gut, rendering him unwilling to choke down anything at the moment. What if he was doing the wrong thing? Whisking her away on a private jet, taking her from her family, her job, so she could spend a little time with him in New York. Not as if she would be gone for an extended length of time. A few days, tops. He would ask her to call her sister and mother tomorrow, so she could reassure them she was fine.
Then he was going to take her around New York, show her the sights, seduce her with words and touches and kisses until she had no choice but to give in to him and agree that they belonged together.
A man could hope, at least.
“You did leave a note for your sister, right? And your mother?” He sounded like a doddering old man, but he couldn’t risk the thought of those two women discovering Cat was gone—and then doing something drastic about it. Like call the police. The very last thing he wanted was them involved. If he didn’t watch it, he could probably get arrested.
And wouldn’t that just fuck everything up? He planned on staying on the straight and narrow path as much as possible when it came to handling this delicate situation he’d created with his now ex-fiancée. So this one sudden move, taking Cat away with him was proving to be a not-so-walking-the-straight-and-narrow moment.
“I did.” She nodded, popping the last bit of the croissant in her mouth and chewing before she swallowed. “Trust me, they shouldn’t worry, not after my reassurances. We’ll only be gone a few days, so Annalisa shouldn’t be too angry.”
That she worried about her sister more than anyone else infuriated him. “I certainly hope you’re right because I don’t want anyone to worry, especially you.” Leaning in, he dropped a light kiss upon her nose, noted that her cheeks heated with most likely embarrassment. “No regrets, hmm?”
“No regrets,” she agreed with the faintest of nods. “We’ll return to Italy in a few days, right? I can’t be gone for long.”
“A few days, yes,” he promised. “Stop worrying about Annalisa. You’re a grown woman. She’s not your keeper.”
Cat glanced down at her lap, her hands clutched together, fingers twisting and turning. “She is my boss, though. She’ll be angry. I just know it.”
“Hey.” He slipped his fingers beneath her chin and tilted her face up so her eyes met his. They were filled with worry, a hint of regret, and he hated that. “I’ll make sure you return to Italy on Monday. That means you’ll be gone five days, tops, and two of them are the weekend so you wouldn’t be working anyway. Am I right?”
She offered a slight nod in answer.
“So she can’t be too terribly angry. Everyone deserves some time off. I bet you rarely take a vacation.”
“I never take a vacation,” she admitted softly.
He smiled. “Enjoy this, then. A few days in the city… We’ll do whatever you want. I’ll take you wherever you want to go. I promise.”