“Sì,” he growled thickly as they broke apart to breathe, his eyes blazing into hers. “It is the most perfect thing I have ever encountered. You and me, Olivia. How we taste together. How we fit together.”
Her heart exploded in an emotion she had never felt. He was the most raw, sexual lover she could ever have imagined. But this, what they shared, was so much more than that. She closed her eyes to hide what she knew was blazing from them. To protect herself from him.
The sound of a foil wrapper being ripped open snapped her eyes wide. The way he slid the condom on the pulsing, thick length of him, his movements a sensuous caress, sent a hot wash of desire flaming back through her. She couldn’t imagine coming again after what he’d just done to her, but looking at him on his knees like that made her insides quiver.
Rocco read her expression. “Sì, bella,” he murmured, hooking a heavy thigh over her and straddling her. “That was only a warm-up. You get more.”
Her insides contracted, imagining him there, filling her. He took her mouth in a long, lingering kiss. Ran his palm down her leg to lift her thigh around his waist. “Take me inside you,” he prompted in a throaty, raspy voice, his lips against hers. “Show me how much you want me, sweet Liv.”
She reached down and wrapped her fingers around him, guiding him to her damp flesh. He eased inside of her with a gentle push, giving her time to accommodate his size and girth. She arched against him, demanding more. He pressed kisses against her mouth, told her how good she felt, giving her more and more of him until he was buried deep inside of her, and her body cried out at the fullness of it.
“Cristo. Liv.” His gaze clung to hers as he held himself still. “You are so tight.”
It was perfect. He was perfect. Her eyes told him so as he started to move. Her leg snaked tighter around his waist. The hypnotic quality of his lovemaking demanded her full and complete attention, and she gave it to him, savoring every deep drive of his body into hers.
“Tell me,” he insisted, his gaze a hot brand on her face. “Tell me how I make you feel.”
“So good,” she moaned. “Like nothing I’ve ever felt before...”
Something passed between them then, deep and irretrievable. She saw it in his eyes, watched him register it before his face went blank; he lifted himself up on his forearms and took her with a fierceness that stole her breath. The show of pure strength sent her lust into overdrive. Her body pulsed back to life as his thick hardness caressed her insides. His eyes glittered as her face telegraphed her pleasure. “Touch yourself,” he commanded. “I want to watch you make yourself come.”
She squeezed her eyes shut, that particular demand a bit much for her even at this point. But his deep strokes were promising a release that wasn’t coming, and she needed it badly. She moved her fingers between her thighs and against the hard nub of her. His low growl of approval reverberated in her ear. “That’s it, bella. That is so sexy.”
She stroked faster, harder, the deep throb of his body sending her close to a release she knew would break her. His breathing turned harsh in her ear, his strokes coming quicker, deeper, his rough encouragement in her ear spurring her on until she teetered on the edge.
“Now, Liv,” he ordered hoarsely. “Come with me.”
She sent herself over the edge with a desperate slide of her fingers against her throbbing flesh. His hoarse curse as his body swelled inside of her and he came amplified her mind-shatteringly good orgasm to make her whole body shake. He let his body cover hers, carried her through the storm until she stopped shaking and came out the other side.
They stayed like that, their bodies joined, for so long that her eyes drifted shut. The last thing she remembered before passing out from pure exhaustion was Rocco withdrawing from her, leaving the bed, then returning moments later to gather her in his arms and press her against his long, hard body. She felt safe then, safe to let go. So safe she ignored the fact that she had just given her soul away.
* * *
Rocco woke with his habitual insomnia at 2:00 a.m. This time, however, he lay with perfection in his arms. Olivia was curved into his side, fast asleep, his arm slung around her waist, her silky hair spilling across his chest.
He captured a lock of her hair in his fingers. Watched the moonlight play across its golden strands. The singularity of what they’d shared last night slammed into his head like the most potent of wake-up calls. His hand froze, tangled in the golden strands. What did he think he was doing? Did he actually even know?
Gingerly, silently, he slid out of bed and found his boxers lying on the floor. He slid them on, took a bottle of water out of the fridge and went out to the living room to settle in his favorite chair. It would be an hour or two before he found sleep again. It had been this way since he’d been a little boy. It had started after his mother had died and his father had gone out to gamble at night, leaving him and Alessandra alone in the house. Rocco had woken in the middle of the night to find his father still gone and paced the house, instinctively playing guard dog over Alessandra. Missing his mother terribly. He would stay up until he could no longer keep his eyes open or his father came home. Whichever happened first. Later when Giovanni had taken them to Villa Mondelli, he continued to wake at night. He would sit on the stone wall of the majestic house on the water and stare out at the silent, dark lake and mountains.
What a huge, dark world, he’d thought. Had his mother’s essence been swallowed up by this massive, endless lake? Or was she still there looking over him? He’d ached for her those nights. Ached to have her warm, reassuring voice soothe him to sleep, not a nanny who wasn’t the same. He’d dealt with his childish fear of the unknown by making up stories of friendly sea monsters who would come up to shore and take him to play in those dark depths, returning him before dawn.
Now in the middle of a New York night decades later, a full-grown man with the weight of the world on his shoulders, he craved the reprieve Olivia had given him last night.
In helping her to move through the darkness, to move on from the past, he had lost himself in her. He had allowed himself to take what he wanted, to hell with the consequences. And there would be consequences. His insides shifted, rearranging themselves in a foreign pattern he didn’t recognize. He wasn’t sure there was any going back from last night.
Wasn’t sure he wanted to go back.
He tipped the water into his throat, welcoming the cool rush against his overheated senses. But of course he had to. Last night he had allowed himself Olivia because she’d needed him. Because they were in this together, as he’d promised her, and this wasn’t just a deal to him anymore. But to allow himself to become more emotionally invested in a woman like Olivia, who needed someone to help her become whole again? Who needed to see her through the dark and the light? Impossible.
Even if she had the potential to be the one, he was incapable of love. “The one” didn’t exist for him. Everyone he’d ever loved had left him in some form or another. His mother and Giovanni through death. His father through extreme neglect. Needing no one was the only way he knew how to cope. And Olivia? Olivia deserved more. Someone like goddamn Guillermo Villanueva.
Whose heart she had broken. He winced inwardly as he recalled the look on the other man’s face when Olivia had walked into his arms. The guy was torn up. Olivia had that kind of an effect on a man.
He tilted his head back and took in the rough, unstructured skyline of Manhattan. He’d broken his promise to stay away from her. Perhaps that had always been inevitable, given the attraction between them. Given how emotional last night had been. He could tell himself he wouldn’t touch her again, but he knew now he couldn’t keep that promise. And maybe, he thought grimly, he’d been approaching this all wrong. Maybe he just needed to do like he did with all the other women in his life—allow himself as much as he wanted of Olivia with the knowledge that one morning he’d wake up and have had enough.
* * *
Olivia was alone in the bed when she woke, thirsty and disoriented. It came back to her in a rush. She was in New York, she had walked in Fashion Week last night and Rocco had pulled her out of the fire.
They had made love with an intensity she would never, ever be able to get out of her head.
The dark sky told her it was still the middle of the night. She put a hand out to touch the spot where Rocco had lain beside her and found it cool to the touch. He was up again. An insomniac who never seemed to sleep more than five hours a night.
She downed a glass of water, slipped on a T-shirt of Rocco’s that was lying on a chair and went in search of him. He was in the living room, reclining in his favorite chair, staring up at the sky through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
“Why don’t you sleep?”
He sat up, blinked hard as if he’d been in another world. “I’ve been this way since I was a boy. It’s not a particular skill of mine.”
He’d been minding the fort while his father had engaged in all sorts of debauchery. Protecting his sister. Giovanni had told her more than she’d ever admit to Rocco. How he had sheltered Alessandra from all the twists and turns in life and put himself last, always.