Authors: Kate Walker
Her own arms went up around his neck, fingers twisting and tangling in the black silk of his hair, keeping him still when he would have moved away. Her whole body was suffused with a heat that was more primitive, more basic, more pagan, than the simple effect of feeling the hard, hot length of him against her. She was on fire with delight, with hunger, with need, her hands moving lower, clutching, clinging, stroking. She was unable to get enough of him, unable to touch enough of him all at once.
Madre di Dio
!' Cesare muttered against her lips, snatching in a quick, raw breath as best he could without actually moving away. âOh, Megan, Meganâ¦'
âDid you know, I love the way you say my name?'
Megan's response was breathless too, shaking on an edge of near-laughter.
,' she echoed his pronunciation deliberately. âIt sounds something special, something much more
exotic and sensual than plain, ordinary Megan Ellis could ever be.'
âNo! Never say that.'
Cesare shook his dark head in reproof, laying one long finger across her lips to silence her.
âNever say the words plain and ordinary in the same sentence as your name. The two things should never be linked together. You are not plainâand you are most definitely not ordinary!'
Megan looked up at him in stunned bewilderment, hunting for the teasing, the amusement she felt sure must be gleaming in his eyes. She didn't find it. Instead she saw a very different sort of light burning in the brown depths. The sort of glow that made her think of fires and heat and the scorching, searing heat of the sun. Her heart gave a sudden, jolting shudder of excitement inside her chest, so that she gasped aloud in shock.
âa stunning, wonderful woman.'
Megan couldn't believe what she was hearing. She felt like a child who had been caught with her nose pressed up against the window of a sweetshop, only to have the owner come to the door and invite her in to help herself to anything and everything she wanted.
âYou'reâyou have to be joking! No?' she questioned, silenced once more by the rough, shake of his head.
âNo joke,' he insisted in a tone that made it plain she shouldn't allow herself even to begin to doubt that he was deadly serious. âWould I joke about something like this?'
One hand trailed softly down her hair, smoothing and caressing the bright auburn strands, lifting them and letting them coil softly around his fingers.
âAbout hair that burns like the glow of lava from a volcano in the dead of nightâ¦'
To her astonishment he bent his head and pressed his lips to the strand of hair in his hand, kissing it softly.
âEyes that have the cool, shadowy appeal of the olive grovesâ¦'
He repeated the caress, this time on her eyes, pressing her lids shut with the soft pressure of his mouth and lingering there for a moment that held her entranced, her heart seeming to stop, her breathing become so shallow it was almost non-existent.
âSkin so soft and so delicate I'm almost afraid to touch it for fear it would bruise like a ripe peachâ¦'
For a second the blunt tips of his fingers hovered over her face before gliding softly downwards, tracing the line of her cheek, her jaw, with a delicacy that made her shiver in uncontrolled response. But when his lips followed the same path then she froze in sensual delight, keeping her eyes tight shut in order to better enjoy the exquisite sensations he was creating.
Cesare's mouth moved over her skin, kissing, caressing, occasionally nipping very softly, until it reached her lips and covered them again.
âAnd a mouth,' he murmured against them, âthat is just made for kissing.'
This time his kiss was pure sensual enticement, the sort of kiss that seemed to draw her soul out of her body, making her head swim and her blood heat in her veins.
She melted against him, her body arcing as it pressed up against his, her breath catching in her throat as she felt the heated, swollen evidence of the reality of his desire for her. He might be able to choose his words, disguise his tone in order to be able to carry out whatever tormenting plan had been in his mind, if he had meant to tease her as he had
done in the past. But this was no tease. This was hard, solid, physical reality. The uncontrollable response of a man to a woman for whom he felt a desire that he was incapable of concealing.
And the same response was flooding through her own body, melting her already vulnerable heart, twisting along her nerves. Every sense throbbed in hungry reaction, sending a stinging sensation straight to the most intimate, most feminine point between her legs. Sighing her need into his mouth, Megan moved restlessly, her hands clutching at the broad strength of his shoulders as the unwary movement brought her once more up against the heat and force of his erection.
âI think we would be a little more comfortable if weâ¦'
The rest of Cesare's words were lost in another long, burning kiss, but Megan didn't need words. Half-blind, totally absorbed, she would have followed him anywhere, and so she went with him, step by sightless step as he led her towards the big, squashy settee that stood before the huge open fireplace in the centre of the library.
âSit downâ¦' he dragged his mouth from hers long enough to say.
Obediently she sank down onto the soft cushions, her clinging hands pulling him down with her. As soon as he was beside her she moved closer, taking his mouth for herself, letting her tongue play intimately with his and slide along his lips.
This time she found nothing to object to in his use of her childhood name. It was soft and tender, a seductive and a verbal caress in one. But what excited her most was the thread of total surrender in the sound, the wordless declaration of the way that he had abandoned himself totally to her lead.
The thought gave her a thrilling sense of power, one that had her reaching for his tie and tugging it loose at his throat. No sooner had she exposed the tanned skin, the strong, corded lines of his neck than the overwhelming need for more gripped her, driving her to impulsive action. Leaning forward, she pressed her lips against the point where his pulse raced, hard and strong, savouring the slightly salty taste of his flesh, the heated velvet against her mouth.
It was a groan of resignation, a sound of total abandonment. In one twisting movement he came to lie on his back on the wide settee, with Megan half at his side, half lying across the supporting strength of his body.
His hands were impatient now, tugging the white T-shirt free of her jeans at her waist, pushing it upwards over her slender ribcage, his fingers caressing the exposed skin left in its path. Megan caught her breath sharply, writhing in pure delight, her breasts hardening, pouting, pushing against the confinement of her bra in a physical mirroring of the burning arousal she had seen in Cesare himself already.
Bellissima, magnifica, squisita
â¦' Cesare had lapsed into his own language, crooning the words deep in his throat, his lyrical accent growing deeper, more musical on every word. âMegan, you always were enchanting as a child, but as a womanâ¦'
Words failed him as he lifted passion-glazed eyes to hers and for a moment it seemed as if time had frozen. For long, silent seconds, their gazes locked and it seemed to Megan that in that time there was some wordless question asked, and equally soundlessly answered.
She thought she could guess what was in Cesare's mind. He still thought of her as a child, the infuriating youngster
who had hung around him, dogging his every step until she must have driven him to distraction. And those thoughts must make him hesitate, wonder if she was ready to go further, if she was woman enough for him.
Surely the fearless, unwavering way she met that burning, questioning stare was enough of an answer for him? But just in case it wasn't, she lowered her head and took his mouth again, deliberately putting every ounce of sensuality and enticement she possessed into the kiss, using it to communicate the heated need that throbbed between her legs.
âThe answer's yes, Cesare,' she whispered unevenly, her mouth very close to his ear. âIf you want me then yes, yes,
! I'm yours right here and nowâanywhere and anyway you want me!'
His only answer was a thickly muttered and near-incoherent curse in raw Italian and a moment later Megan too was beyond thought as hot fingers slid underneath the elastic sides of her bra, not even pausing to unfasten the slip of lace at the back. Her involuntary cry as the hard warmth of his palms cupped and held the soft weight of her breasts was a primitive sound of ecstasy, her head going back, her eyes staring sightlessly ahead. And when his thumbs moved, softly, slowly encircling her nipples in a tormenting, tantalising dance of provocation she writhed in delight under his touch, sighing her pleasure.
Madre de Dios
Cesare muttered in Italian again, tugging off her clinging T-shirt and tossing it impatiently aside before coming back to take her breasts into his hands once more, holding them up and out so that all he had to do was lift his head ever so slightly from the worn velvet cushions and he could take one swollen tip into his mouth, suckling on it hard.
, you weren't lying when you said
you'd done a lot of growing up lately. When I last saw you, you were still a little girlâ¦'
A wickedly hot tongue snaked out, slid over the sensitised nipple, making her shudder violently in uncontrolled response.
âHere, as everywhere else. But you've changed, developedâ¦become all woman.'
Changed. Developed. Become all woman.
The words echoed bleakly inside Megan's head, becoming more frighteningly ominous with every repetition. And just the sound of them was a dreadful, hateful reminder, a violent death knell to all her hopes, dousing her passion in one brutal, bitterly cold rush.
It was a cry of pain, of bewilderment, of confusion, sounding high and wild in the echoing room. And it froze Cesare into immediate stillness.
It was like being slapped hard in the face. One moment she had been wild and willing, totally uninhibited in his arms. The nextâ¦
âYou don'tâyou can't mean it!'
âI can! I don't want this!'
It was softly vicious, deadly. The nagging ache of frustrated passion was doing nothing at all to help his ability to think straight or reasonably.
âYou're just teasing, youâ'
âNo! That's not it at all!'
With unexpected strength she tore herself from his restraining arms, flinging herself halfway across the polished floor towards the marble fireplace. Wrapping her arms around herself, concealing the creamy breasts his ardent
passion had newly exposed, she shook her head so violently that her russet hair flew in a wild arc around her.
âYou have to believe me! I'm not teasingâhonestly I'm not! I don't want this!'
But that was too much.
âYou “don't want”,' Cesare echoed with gentle menace. âYou
”! Oh, come now,
, stop playing games! You were up for it every bit as much as I wasâand don't try to deny it!' he snapped, seeing that she was about to refute the accusation once again. âI'm not blindâor deaf! I could see the passion in your eyesâhear it in your voice. “If you want me then,
Megan flinched as he quoted her own thoughtless words of only moments before, echoing her passionate tone with cruel accuracy.
“âI'm yoursâ¦anywhere and anyway you want me!” That
what you said, wasn't it?'
Megan could only whisper words into the hands that concealed her ashen face.
âI know I said that butâ¦'
But what? The question rang inside her head, self-reproach in every syllable.
âBut IâI wasn't thinking straight.'
She couldn't have been thinking
to let herself fall into Cesare's arms like that, to invite his kisses, caressesâ¦
For a few crazy, deluded moments, she had let herself pretend that she was still the young, innocent Megan, the adolescent with the world's biggest ever crush on Cesare Santorino. And as that Megan she had seen his sudden new interest in her as the fulfilment of her long-held dream, the reward for half a lifetime of waiting.
But she was no longer that Megan. She no longer had
the freedom to indulge in such wild and wanton behaviour. She couldn't think only of herselfâ¦as Cesare's words had reminded her. And the thought of what might have been had brought with it such a bitter sense of loss that she felt as if someone had reached into her chest and ripped out her heart without hesitation.
âAnd it doesn't matter what I said because I can'tâI can'tâ¦'
Cesare was sitting up now, dark eyes fixed on her, his breathing, and apparently his temper, at last under control. Only the way his skin was drawn tight over the forceful cheekbones betrayed the way he was feeling below the surface of apparent calm.
âMegan,' he began again when she could only shake her head weakly in mute despair. â
can't you do?'
âI can't sleep with youâor anyone. I mean, I can't have an affair with just anyoneâno matter who.'
âAnd why not?'
But that was too much. She couldn't answer that question because she knew what his reaction would be. And right now she was feeling far too lost, too vulnerable to cope with the rejection that she knew he must inevitably toss in her direction when he knew the truth.