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She’s close, I can tell. Hell, I am too, just from giving this to her. But this is about her, not me, so I push away my own rising need, concentrating on what brings her pleasure.

Slowly, so slowly, I slide a finger inside. Her wet heat closes around me, and for a fleeting moment I wonder if I’m about to lose control like a teenager. She’s hot, and tight, and I want more than anything to bury myself inside of her.

Think about someone other than yourself, Matteo.

My arms tremble with restraint as I push inside of her, pull out, push in again. On either side of where I kneel, her thighs start to tremble; her cries become faster, louder, until one keening cry rises about the rest, and her heat clenches down on my hand so tightly that I see stars.

I’m not quite sure what to do after that... I’ve never in my life been in this situation. So I lie down beside her, pull the duvet over her naked body, and pull her in close. I wonder if she’s going to want more once she’s thinking straight again—and after watching her come undone, I don’t know that I have the strength left to resist.

But instead she nuzzles in, falls asleep with her head on my chest. For the longest time I lie there, watching her innocent face as her chest rises and falls with the slow, deep breaths of sleep.

She deserves so much better than me. But I no longer know if I can resist.

RILEY

When I wake up, I’m alone. I sit straight up in bed as the events of last night come flooding back through my consciousness.

“Oh my God.”

Holding up my left hand, I study the diamond encrusted eternity band that has joined the massive engagement ring that I barely had a chance to get used to. They both flash in the early morning sunlight, reinforcing that this is not a dream. I’m married. To Matteo Benenati.

And despite our agreement, he won’t have sex with me.

I can feel my skin heating, partly with embarrassment, partly because, well, wow, when I shift on the bed, wincing at the slight pinch between my legs.

Last night wound up being some kind of magical. I fully believe Matteo now when he says he wants me.

If nothing else, I saw the evidence of that quite plainly last night, felt it pressed against the small of my back as I fell asleep.

I won’t take from you what I don’t deserve to have.

“Screw that.” I shove away the covers, stretching. Despite almost getting thrown in jail two days ago, and despite the stitches that have started to itch like crazy, I feel better than I have in... well, ever.

Though it makes my inner feminist wince, it’s amazing, not having to worry about money. People may sniff at that notion, but let me tell you, when you’ve never gone a single day in your life without counting pennies, that kind of freedom is mind blowing.

Add in the feelings that are growing towards Matteo... and I’m excited to get up and face the day.

An entire day in which to bring him around to my way of thinking.

Grinning, I rifle through my bag. I consider several options before snipping the tags off of a siren red scrap of a bathing suit and a white and red floral sundress. The bathing suit isn’t something that I would ever have even considered wearing before.

But Matteo has made it clear that he likes the way I look, and I’m going to use that to my advantage.

He’s going down.

Dressed in the skimpy bathing suit and the little sundress, skin slathered with sunscreen, I wander out of my room in bare feet. The hallway is dim and empty, but I can hear voices, so I follow the sound up to the deck of the yacht.

I stop short the second I’m through the doorway. I remember thinking last night that the yacht was big... but with brilliant water in every shade of blue and green stretching out as far as I can see in every direction, the sensation that we are just a tiny speck in a massive world is nearly overwhelming.

It’s humbling and awe-inspiring in its beauty, and I find myself frozen in place, just enjoying the rhythmic beat of the waves slapping against the side of the boat.

The sound of utensils rattling brings me back to myself. I turn to find Matteo seated at a small table set for two, those dark eyes of his watching me intently.

“Good morning.” His face is expressionless. A hint of fear shoots through me—has he changed his mind about me yet again?

But I’m getting to know him well enough that I can just barely discern the fine lines of tension that bracket his mouth.

Well, isn’t that interesting.

“Did you sleep well?” I ask sweetly, pulling out a chair. A crew member rushes over to assist me but I’m seated before he can reach me.

He’s cute, with dark hair, olive skin, and bright green eyes. The name Dante is stitched onto the pocket of his crisp polo shirt. I smile brightly at him, and he winks back, pouring me a cup of steaming caffè e latte.

I’m not interested in him, or in anyone but Matteo, but his appreciative glance buoys my spirits a bit. Especially when I look over the rim of my cup to find Matteo scowling at the poor boy.

“Be nice,” I say mildly, eyeing the plate that he shoves my way, a frown still marring his face.

“Eat.” To demonstrate, he selects a cookie, bites into it with more force than is strictly necessary. I stifle a grin.

“I’ll never get used to eating cookies for breakfast.” Studying the plate, I choose a piece of fette biscottate, a cookie-like hard bread that I’ve learned from experience is slightly less sweet than the other traditional breakfast offerings in Italy.

When I bite into it and lick at my lips to catch the crumbs, Matteo’s eyes follow me, and unbidden, heat settles in the aching place between my legs.

Now, though, now it’s my turn for restraint. He’s not getting anything more from me unless he’s willing to give me everything.

I munch on my bread, admiring the view, though from the corner of my eye I can see Matteo stewing. I know he’s thinking on how to broach what happened between us last night, but I don’t intend to help him.

“I hope you understand about last night.” Matteo finally breaks the silence, pulling his sunglasses down to cover his eyes. Like any good college graduate, I’ve taken Psych 101, and know that this is basic defensive body language.

Good. He’ll need his defenses.

“I absolutely understand.” Finished with my bread, I push away from the table and stand. When relief washes over his face I can’t help but smirk.

Catching the hem of my sundress in my hands, I lift it up and over my head, revealing my skimpy red bikini.

The coffee that Matteo has just sipped comes flying right back out of his mouth as he sputters. “What the hell are you doing, you pazzo woman?”

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