She cried out, and he went still beneath her. “Okay?”

She tried to speak, but in the end nodded. He smiled, then flexed his hips, his eyes remaining fixed on her face. He moved slowly at first, then faster as the urgency increased. Lia felt his body moving under her, the sensations concentrated on that place between her thighs.

Stroke by stroke the feelings built within her, flickers of flame licking out from the point where his body joined with hers, until she was consumed by fire. Still it burned brighter until at last she exploded in a surge of sensation that pulsated through her whole body. She cried out as he continued to thrust within her, wringing more pleasure from her than she had thought possible. Finally, when she thought she could take no more, he stiffened, then cried out as his own climax overtook him.

Lia sank down against his chest, limp, sated. Breathing in the hot masculine scent of musk and sweat, she listened to the sound of his heart as its heavy beating slowed. His arms came around her and he held her close, wrapping her against him, neither of them moving for a long time.

The sun had vanished by the time Luc pulled her to her feet and brushed her down.

“I did warn you about the sand,” he said laughing slightly.

“It doesn’t matter.”

“I know the perfect way to clean you up.”

Lifting her easily in his strong arms, he strolled to the water’s edge, then waded in until the water lapped at her, washing the clinging sand from her body.

“What was it like in prison?” Lia asked. They were sitting entwined on one of the loungers by the pool, having come up in search of food. Night had fallen, but the moon had yet to rise.


“You don’t want to know, cara.”

“Yes, I do. I want to understand what you went through.”

He swirled the drink in his glass for a moment, staring at it. “I thought I was tough,” he said at last. “Then the cell doors closed that night, and I knew I wasn’t tough enough.”

Lia felt the tears spill over.

“You are so soft, cara,” he murmured, running the ball of his thumb down her cheek. “How did you ever get so soft?”

“I’m not soft.” She sniffed. “I can’t bear the thought of you in a place like that. You were only a boy.”

He smiled. “At eighteen, I hadn’t been a boy for years. Still, I would have been in trouble except for your old friend Harley.”


He stroked the scar that ran down his cheek. “A lot of accidents can happen inside, and the man that put me there wanted me dead. I would have been if not for Harley. He was in doing a stretch at the time, GBH I think.”

“GBH? What’s that?”

He grinned. “Grievous bodily harm. Anyway, he looked out for me. And no, cara, I did not repay him in kind.”

Lia blushed, “I wasn’t…”

He cast her a look of disbelief and Lia smiled.

“You bought him the club.”

“Who told you that?”


He visibly relaxed. “I might have guessed.”

“And you set her up in business. You’re a nice man.”

Luc snorted in amusement. “No cara, I am not a nice man.”

“Well, I think you are.”

He put down his drink, plucked her glass from her fingers, and placed it next to his own. Wrapping his arms around her, he pulled her down so she lay beneath him. Then he kissed her.

Chapter Sixteen

“Would you like to go to the races, Lia?”

They were lying in bed. Luc had made love to her, and her body felt languid and replete. She thought about the question.

“Where? When? Why?”

He laughed. “In Rome. Today. And because I have a horse running.”

“A horse? You have a horse?”

“I have several. I inherited them from my grandfather. Now I keep them because I like to go to the races.”

She pulled herself up, dragging the sheet over her breasts. “Is it okay for us to go out?”

“I would think so. And much as I would like to, we can’t stay in seclusion forever.”

They had been on the island for over a week. Lia experienced the occasional pang of guilt when she thought about her job, but she thrust it to the back of her mind. She was falling in love. She accepted it now. She didn’t know what the future held, but she was certain that Luc felt something for her, and for the moment that had to be enough.

They took a helicopter ride to the racetrack. Lia had dressed in another of the outfits Maggie had chosen for her and she knew she looked good. Luc had even told her so. He was dressed in a perfectly cut silver-gray suit with a white silk shirt open at the throat, and he looked so damn hot. He touched her all the time, his hand at her waist as they walked or his arm around her shoulder as if he couldn’t bear to have her away from him. The day was warm and sunny, and Lia couldn’t conceive of anything going wrong. Many people approached them, but Luc dismissed them all politely but efficiently.

Luc’s horse won its race and they celebrated with champagne and strawberries. Everything was perfect, until Lia heard Luc swear softly. She glanced across to see a man approaching them. He came to a halt in front of Luc, and Lia studied him curiously. He appeared to be somewhere in his fifties, and he would have been handsome but for the furious scowl marring his features.

He spoke to Luc in rapid Italian that Lia had no hope of following. Luc had been teaching her, but this was too fast. Luc snapped a curt answer, and the man replied with another torrent of Italian.

Luc’s eyes were blank, but she could sense that he was on the point of losing his own temper. He waited until the man had finished, then replied in clipped tones. He finally nodded, slipped his arm around Lia’s waist, and led her away.

“Who was that?” Lia peeked over her shoulder to see the man still watching them through narrowed eyes.

“My mother’s husband.”

“He’s your stepfather?”

“Yes.” He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “She married him after she returned to Italy, but we really don’t have that sort of relationship. He was the lawyer she hired to get me out of prison. He overturned the case, but he never approved of me.”

“He seemed angry. What was he saying?”


“It didn’t sound like nothing.”

“It was nothing important. Nothing that should bother you. Come on, we’re leaving.”

He smiled at her, but for Lia the day was spoiled. She didn’t understand what was going on, and the fact that Luc wouldn’t explain increased her misgivings. Why had Luc’s stepfather been so angry? She knew they had been talking about her.

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