“I can’t let you waste your last few days and not tour the AmalfiCoast,” he’d said.
“Waste?” She’d smiled up at him dreamily. “I’m not wasting them.”
“Not if we hike. That was number one on your list.”
“You read my list?”
“While you were sleeping.” He’d smiled. “You’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t do what you came here to do.”
“Oh, but I will. I assure you.” She’d stroked his lower belly affectionately.
Room service had knocked just as he’d pulled her into his arms and had kicked off the sheets. He’d let her go, and they’d eaten and then dressed and prepared for this glorious if arduous hike.
“You were right,” she said, speaking over the sudden barking of dogs in a village somewhere below them. “This is all so beautiful. Thank you. Thank you for making me come here.”
“When you said you came here to hike the Sentieri degli Dei, I had no choice.”
“The path of gods,” she translated unnecessarily. “The guide book said it was steep, but the photographs were so extraordinary.”
“Pictures can’t really capture something like this, can they?” he said, his blue eyes on her face rather than the view. But then he’d seen it all before, she told herself. He lived here, didn’t he? And gigolos probably weren’t too keen on views.
Although she was deeply moved by the irresistible mountains and sea and had worked hard for this view, she couldn’t stop staring at him. She pulled out her camera.
“So much beauty is dangerous,” he murmured.
“Yes.” She snapped a picture of him.
“You feel like you could fly into such a view and be part of it as you might in a dream.” He brushed the tip of her nose with a fingertip and smiled.
Every moment with him had been perfect up to now. He’d served her breakfast in bed. He’d even sat on the bed, spoonfeeding her cereal with sugar and fresh raspberries. Never had she imagined that nibbling berries out of a man’s hand could be such a sensual, magical experience.
The morning was sunny and picture-perfect, too. He’d organized everything—her, the hotel. He’d even told her what to wear and had bought her sunscreen in the gift shop. He’d had the hotel pack a huge lunch after their breakfast even though she’d protested that after two cups of raspberries—they had been too good to waste—she could never eat again.
Then with him directing her, rather bossily, she’d driven them to Nocelle, where they’d left her rented Fiat so that they could walk this trail that offered the most dramatic views of the rugged coastline.
She’d read that the walk to Praiano was four and a half hours and the return would be the same, so she’d protested when she’d realized his plan.
Nine hours of hiking.
Much as she liked to hike, she hadn’t wanted to totally exhaust herself on the trail when they had so little time together.
“Don’t worry.” He’d placed the car keys under a rock behind the left, front tire. “A little genie will spirit your car to Praiano, so we can drive back from the end point of the trail.”
“But my contract says I’m the only one who can drive.”
“It will be okay.” He’d lifted his cell phone to his ear.
“It will most definitely not be okay! The road was very narrow and windy. Your genie might wreck it.”
“He is an excellent driver. Besides, this is Italy. He and I have many friends. Important people who will help. You understand, no?”
She would have argued, but he’d held up his hand. “Scusa. Massimo…” After that he’d turned away and had rattled incomprehensible Italian to this Massimo fellow.
Somehow, even though he was a gigolo, which meant technically she was the boss, she’d resisted the instinct to seize control. At the same time, she’d wondered if his many friends were rich women with important husbands, women who could pull strings for their gorgeous special pleasure provider, who made their pampered lives with dull husbands more bearable.
One night with him and Regina was feeling possessive of him, and as if she were losing control.
Good thing she was leaving Ravello in a couple of days, or he might become a permanent addiction.
“Do you want some water?” he asked, still staring at her rather than the view, his question bringing her back to the present.
When she nodded, he uncapped his water bottle and offered it. When she was through sipping, he took the bottle and drank after her, as if their sharing the same bottle was the most natural thing in the world.