Oh, there would be consequences, Lydia knew.
But she was prepared to bear them.
For now she was free.
She wanted the red dress and the lipstick to match. She had, Lydia acknowledged, bought them for this moment, after all.
But there just wasn’t time.
He could be gone already, Lydia thought in mild panic as she swept out through the revolving door.
When she glanced across the street she felt the crush of disappointment when she saw that Raul wasn’t there.
But then she heard him.
Lydia turned and there he was, tie loosened, tall and gorgeous, and, yes, she had made her choice.
‘For the first time in my life.’
He was going to kiss her, she was sure, but she walked on ahead.
‘Come on,’ Lydia said quickly, worried that Maurice might follow her out.
They walked briskly, or rather Lydia did, for his stride beside her seemed slow and more measured. She felt fuelled by elation as they turned into a side street.
‘Where to now?’ Raul asked, and they stopped walking and she turned.
‘You’re the expert.’
Oh, he was—because somehow she was back against the wall with his hands on either side of her head.
She put her hands up to his chest and felt him solid beneath her palms, just felt him there for a moment, and then she looked up to his eyes.
His mouth moved in close, and as it did so she stared deeper.
She could feel heat hovering between their mouths in a slow tease before they met.
Then they met.
And all that had been missing was suddenly there.
The gentle pressure his mouth exerted, though blissful, caused a mire of sensations—until the gentleness was no longer enough.
Even before the thought was formed, he delivered.
His mouth moved more insistently and seemed to stir her from within.
Raul wanted her tongue, and yet he did not prise—he never forced a door open.
No need to.
There it was.
A slight inhalation, a hitch in her breath, and her lips parted just a little and he slipped his tongue in.
The moan she made went straight to his groin.
At first taste she was his and he knew it, for her hands moved to the back of his head, and he kissed her as hard as her fingers demanded.
More so, even.
His tongue was wicked, and her fingers tightened in his thick hair, and she could feel the wall cold and hard against her shoulders.
It was the middle of the city, just after six, and even down a side street there was no real hiding from the crowds.
Lydia didn’t care.
He slid one arm around her waist to move her body away from the wall and closer to his, so that her head could fall backwards.
If there’d been a bed she would have been on it.
If there’d been a room they would have closed the door.
Yet there wasn’t, and so he halted them—but only their lips.
Their bodies were heated and close and he looked her right in the eye. His mouth was wet from hers and his hair a little mussed from her fingers.
‘What do you want to do?’ Raul asked, knowing it was a no-brainer.
It was a very early bedtime and that suited him fine.
But the thought of waltzing her past Bastiano and Maurice no longer appealed.
A side entrance, perhaps, Raul thought, and went for her neck.
* * *
She had never thought that a kiss beneath her ear could make it impossible to breathe, let alone think.
‘What do you want to do?’ he whispered to her skin, and then blew on her neck, damp from his kisses. He raised his head and met her eye. ‘Tonight I can give you anything you want.’
‘Anything?’ Lydia checked.
And if he was offering perfection, then she would take it.
‘I want to see Rome at night—with you.’
‘It’s not dark yet.’
He could suggest a guided tour of his body—a very luxurious one, of course—but then he looked into her china-blue eyes.
‘I want some romance with my one-night stand.’
‘But I don’t do romance.’
‘Try it,’ Lydia said. She didn’t want some bauble in the morning and so she named her price. ‘For one night.’
And Raul, who was usually very open to experiments, found himself reluctant to try.
Yet he had cancelled his flight for this.
And she had had the most terrible time here on her last visit, Raul knew.
The bed would always be there.
And he had invited her to state her wants.
He had known from the start that Lydia would make him work for his reward.
‘I know just the place to start,’ Raul said. ‘While it’s still light.’
THIS WAS ROME.
He would have called for a car, but she hadn’t wanted to go to the front of the hotel and risk seeing Maurice.
And so Raul found himself in his first taxi for a very long time.