The Italian Boss's Secret Child(9)

By: Trish Morey


Escape was at hand.

She placed her barely touched glass of champagne on the tray of a passing waiter and slid into the crowd, heading for the door. The sudden hand around her arm told her she hadn’t made the clean escape she was hoping for.

‘You’re not leaving?’

She stopped dead as the tremor passed through her, but there was no mistake.

It was him!

She’d know Damien DeLuca’s autocratic voice anywhere. But now his tone held something else—interest?—desire? She turned and gasped. Relieved her mask would hide the shock in her eyes—the admiration in her eyes—she drank him in. He looked sensational, from the overlapping metal plates at his shoulders to the carved breastplate and the slatted leather tunic ending above his knees. His arms were bare, olive-skinned and gleaming, except for some sort of wide band at his wrist. He held a helmet under one arm, a sword hung at his side.

A Roman gladiator or an emperor going off to lead his army to war? Whatever, he looked magnificent. He fitted the part, with his Italian colouring, hair lazily windswept, curling at his collar and with his chiselled cheekbones accentuated by the simple mask tied over his eyes.

If she’d thought he’d exuded masculine sex appeal in a suit, that was nothing to the sheer testosterone surge he gave off in this outfit.

She swallowed and looked back towards the door. His hand still held her arm and the heat from his grip weakened her resolve to leave.

‘Stay, Cleopatra,’ he said intently, almost reverently. ‘I’ve been waiting over two thousand years to find you again.’

She shuddered, his words going straight through her in a flush of heat that seemed to touch and awaken every last extremity of her and then bounce back, settling at her core, warm and heavy. He reached across and took her hand.

‘Surely you recognise me? Mark Antony?’

He inclined his head and for the first time she allowed herself to smile. It was Damien—really Damien—and he’d noticed her, amongst all these people. And not only had he noticed her; if she wasn’t mistaken he was coming on to her.

Her head dipped in response; she couldn’t allow herself to speak. Her brain had too much information to process to cope with making small conversation. Besides, why spoil this magic? He thought he’d found Cleopatra. Why let on just yet that she was Philly from marketing? He wouldn’t hang around two minutes if he knew. Tonight she might just stick to being Cleopatra.

‘Come,’ he said, tugging on her hand so that she came closer to his body, closer to the source of that heat, as he gestured to the dimly lit dance floor beyond. ‘Dance with me.’

She didn’t have to think about whether or not she should; her feet drifted after him of their own accord, her plan to exit all but forgotten. He led her to the dance floor and drew her into his arms, his hand at her back anchoring her close, his other hand wrapped around hers, securing it close to his shoulder, his wide shoulder, the armour enhancing his masculine form.

‘You’re beautiful,’ he said, his voice low and husky.

His words tripped her heartbeat. Beautiful. No one had told her that for a very long time. She had to remember to breathe and when she did it was with a gasp that immediately rewarded her with the scent of him—masculine, clean and enriched with the smell of leather. But not just his scent. She was sure she could just about taste him.

He started swaying to the song, taking her with him, their bodies moving in unison as the music took them away.

Heaven. This must be what heaven was like. Sheer bliss. She closed her eyes, allowing herself to be carried along by the music and by the man who held her in his arms with such strength, yet such tenderness.

Suddenly he stopped. She blinked her eyes open, the music still playing, and saw Damien’s head swivelled to the side. He was talking to someone; it looked like a geisha but the voice was unmistakably Enid’s. She caught a snatch of her words here and there—London—crisis—and Damien rattled off something in response and the geisha disappeared.

He turned his face back to hers, the line of his mouth grim, tension replacing the liquid heat she’d felt within his grasp.

‘I have to take a phone call.’

His arms continued to surround her and he stared at her as if he was wavering between the phone call and the woman in his arms. ‘I’ll be back. Ten minutes max.’ He hesitated. ‘Maybe twenty.’

She looked up at him, his face so close to her own, and she knew she would wait forever if it meant feeling like this again. Then he dipped his head and his lips brushed hers, so gently that his breath was as much a part of the kiss, as much a part of the sensation, as his lips.

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