The Amalfi Bride - Page 13

Not just locally, as surely she knew. “Whatever you want,” he agreed.

“Then I’ll do it. I can’t believe I’m saying this!” Her coffee-colored gaze was intense. “Three nights. And two days. Then I fly home. So, we’re settled on that?”

Again, he nodded, although he felt impatient with all this talk and ridiculous negotiating, not to mention a little concerned about how he would deal with his mother.

“And you’ll really move in here, with me?”

“As I said—whatever you want.”

“You’re being most agreeable. I appreciate that.”

“I try to please.”

“I’m sure you do. I’m beginning to think I should have done something like this for myself a long time ago. I mean, most men are thinking about how a woman can please them…instead of the other way around.”

Some painful emotion flickered in the depths of her dark eyes. She waited, as if she expected something more from him.

“How much?” she finally whispered.

He stared at her.

“I really would think you’d want to get that settled up front.”

“How much what?” he asked, puzzled.

“Don’t get me wrong. You are so sweet, so understanding about how difficult this is for me. And…and I like that. I like it a lot that you’re so discreet and polite and you aren’t pushy about the money. I mean, it’s really sweet of you, especially since I’m a first-timer, and it makes me feel special or like we’re almost friends or this is a real date or something sort of normal…instead of…what it really is. I mean, this is just one more thing about you that makes me feel so…so hot. In fact, I’ve never felt—” She stopped herself. “I’m sorry. I talk too much sometimes…when I’m nervous.”

He’d never been so drawn to a woman, either. Why else was he being so patient with this endless, ridiculous, unfathomable conversation?

His lips barely moved. “Can’t we talk later? If you feel hot and I feel hot, shouldn’t we begin—”

“No. I really do have to know what you charge.”


For a moment longer he remained baffled, completely so, and then before she said anything else, the true meaning of her words slammed into him.

His grip on her waist tightened. “You think I’m a gigolo,” he said softly.

“And, naturally, I want to know how much you charge for the sex?” Her whisper was raw, her face purple before she lowered her eyes.

She bit her lip savagely. “Do you charge by the hour?” She was fiddling with the sash of her thick robe like someone who was afraid she was in some sort of trouble. “Or do you charge for services? Do you take VISA or cash? I don’t have all that much cash, so maybe we could go to an ATM later.”

She was so embarrassed she couldn’t meet his eyes, but when he couldn’t think of any way to answer her, she continued fiddling with the sash. “I’m a lawyer, and I like to know what I’m getting into…I mean, when it comes to business.”


“So the hell do I.”

He let her go and then jerked away as if she’d slapped him. He strode to the minibar where he opened a little bottle and poured himself a Scotch and water. Studying the golden liquor in the lambent light, he opened a second bottle and splashed more Scotch into his glass. He didn’t bother with ice.

She was watching him, shaken, her dark eyes wide and frightened.

“I didn’t mean to insult you,” she whispered. “I thought you’d want to talk about this.”

“How exactly did you figure out…er…what I do for a living?”

“By watching you with those two older women. The ones who dropped you off. The way they kissed you.”

His mother? His grandmother? His glance flew to the painting his grandmother had done of him when he’d been a child, visiting her for the first time. It was on the tip of his tongue to explain who the women actually were and who he was, when she went on.

“The Ferrari. The Maserati. Really, they gave it away. Not to mention the blonde’s diamonds. I mean, her ring, it must be nine carats.”

Ten. It had been in the family three hundred years.

He swirled the Scotch in his glass.

“The way they kissed you…like they adored you.”

Did she know nothing about the Italian maternal instinct? He had always been his mother’s favorite. His older sister had been pretty sweet about accepting that, most of the time. After all, he was her favorite, too.

“Your ragged clothes compared to hers.”

He loved old, soft, worn clothes. They made him feel free, almost ordinary, not so burdened with who and what he was and all that was expected of him. Naturally, his mother wanted him in Armani.