Despite our precarious start to things, I’d started to believe that he’d been brought into my life for a reason. Sent to me like a guardian angel to heal Becca and awaken me sexually. I’d spent two months living with him, growing close, falling for him.

I wonder now more than ever about why he never slept with me. Was it because he didn’t want to be unfaithful to his wife?

"Sophie?" Colton’s voice cuts through the one in my head. "More wine?"

I shake my head. "I’d rather just get going back to the hotel."

He checks his watch and frowns. "Okay. That should be all right."

We finish our lunch of insalata, warm bread, white wine and several bottles of sparkling water. After Colton pays for the meal, Pace and Becca rise from the table, looking slightly tipsy and eager to set off on their exploration.

Colton and I walk side by side in silence all the way back to the hotel. But there are so many new sights, sounds and smells to take in, that I hardly notice the stiff uncomfortable silence that’s settled between us. Just navigating the uneven cobblestone streets in my strappy sandals takes extra concentration.

When we reach the hotel, Colt opens the door and ushers me through, his warm palm once again settling against my spine and leaving a rush of tingles in its wake.

A young man dressed in a hotel uniform stops us in the lobby.

"A new key for you, Miss." His Italian accent caresses the words, making them sound much sexier than they are.

"I have a key." I hold it up.

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"Yes, but for your new suite. Floor seventeen." He folds the key card in my hand while simultaneously removing the old one.

I recall Colton stopping to talk in hushed voices with the concierge before we left the hotel. Is this his doing?

He raises an eyebrow and shrugs. "I just wanted you to be comfortable."

I bite my tongue to avoid pointing out that I’d been more comfortable before he appeared and started interfering, but deep down inside, I know he’s just trying to be nice, as annoying as it might be. He can’t win me back with thoughtful gestures and sweet remarks. Call me crazy, but I have a rule about dating man who are married: I don’t.

"You shouldn’t have," I bite out and turn for the elevator, punching the button repeatedly with my thumb. I notice Colton waiting beside me and I give him a pointed stare. "I guess you can wait in the lobby for Becca and Pace’s sightseeing date to end."

"You promised me we could talk," he says, his tone making clear his displeasure.

Yes, but that was before the wine and the possessive stares he treated me to all during lunch. I don’t trust myself alone in a room with him right now. "I don’t think being alone in a hotel room with a married man is proper."

He releases a low growl of frustration just as the elevator doors open and drags me inside.

Warning bells are going off inside my head. I’m about to be alone with a man who still holds power over my heart despite his unavailable relationship status.

Be strong, Sophie.

Colton

Pinning Sophie to the wall of the elevator, my hands clench into fists above her head. It’s taking every ounce of self-control I have not to push my hips into hers and claim her mouth. I know I’ve lost the right, but my body refuses to understand that.

I can see her pulse thrumming in her neck as I bend down near her ear. "Don’t push me right now. My emotions are all over the fucking place – something very new for me, I can assure you."

She shoves both hands against my chest, pushing me back several paces. "Oh, your emotions are all over the place? Try putting yourself in my shoes." Her voice rises frantically. "I was buck-naked in your goddamn pool trying to seduce you when your wife showed up." The word wife is spat from her mouth like a sour bomb.

"You ran out on me before I had the chance to explain. You wouldn’t answer my calls and now I’ve flown six thousand miles just to set the record straight with you." I take a deep breath and straighten my posture. Arguing with her won’t get me anywhere. Of course she has a right to be mad. "Listen, Soph. I needed to see you. I'm coming upstairs to talk to you."

After an intense standoff her gaze falls to the floor as she realizes further negotiation will be pointless. "What floor am I on?"

"Top floor," I answer. The best suite they have. Obviously.

Realizing we’re just standing in the stationary elevator that hasn’t yet moved from the ground level, she gingerly reaches out and presses the button. My mouth lifts up in a smile. Progress.

Per my instructions, Sophie and Becca’s luggage has been moved into the suite. There’s a moderately sized living room, two separate bedrooms, each with its own washroom and a tiny balcony overlooking the courtyard fountain. She takes a minute to navigate the rooms, lightly running her fingers along a gilded antique credenza and bending at the waist to smell the fresh arrangement of white blossoms on the coffee table.

I take every second I can to just drink her in. Even though it’s only been three days since I’ve seen her, held her in my arms, slept with her warm body next to me, it feels like much longer. The privilege to touch her has been ripped away, and my body riots in silent agony, my heart aching and my fists clenching uselessly at my sides. I fucking hate this.

We need to talk like civilized adults, but fuck if I know how to start.

"Soph…" I begin.

"Colt…" She says at the same time.