Authors: Demelza Watts
© 2015 by Demelza Watts
ll rights reserved
of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
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over Design by
or Max and Mimi
…this is all for you…x
Sunday evening and Amber sat on her bed, clutching her phone tightly as it continued to buzz in her hand. She stared at the caller display.
This was the fifth time in twenty-four hours that she had let it go to voicemail. Along with all his other calls over the past week. Unwittingly, her eyes filled with tears and she angrily brushed them away, throwing her phone onto her bed and roughly running her hands through her long, wavy hair. She sighed deeply and fell back against the sheets, squeezing her eyes shut tightly, willing him to disappear from her thoughts, which continually plagued her.
As usual when it came to him, her mind refused to comply and all she could picture was his perfect face inches from hers, his intense green eyes piercing into her, as if trying to touch her very soul. Heat flooded through her body as she thought about the last time she was with him, just over ten days ago. They’d had a few too many drinks celebrating the rare samples of rugs and paintings for his penthouse, which they had managed to acquire. Unable to deny their attraction any further, they passionately came together.
It was the best night of her life.
Her phone started buzzing again and shaken out of her reverie, she flipped onto her front and located her phone.
“Beth! Hi, hon. How was your flight?” Amber sat up, smiling, grateful for the distraction of her good friend.
“Hey, Ambs! Oh hon, I had the most amazing week,” she gushed. “Theo’s grandparents are just incredible.”
Amber grinned as she listened to her best friend, her happiness radiating through the call.
“I’ve got so much to tell you, but can’t really talk now. Theo’s just coming back with our baggage – are you free tomorrow for lunch?”
“Yes, of course. I’ve got the day off in anticipation of your arrival. We haven’t had girl time in forever.”
“I know, hon. I’m so sorry. These past two weeks have been a bit crazy as you know.” She broke off with a giggle.
Amber tried to giggle with her. “Don’t be silly, Beth. I want to hear everything. Text me later when you’re back home.”
“ ‘Kay, got to run. Talk soon, hon.”
“Bye, B. talk soon.”
Amber hung up the call, smiling for her friend. She was so happy for Beth and Theo – their romance was like a fairy tale come true. Now they were planning their imminent wedding, so the next few months were bound to be a whirlwind for everyone.
With their engagement, Theo insisted that Beth move in with him, leaving Amber with the prospect of searching for a new flatmate. The thought of not living with her best friend any longer made her sad although Theo had kindly insisted that he pay for Beth’s share for the remainder of her contract, so she wasn’t exactly in a hurry to replace her.
to order pizza and whilst she was waiting for delivery, she stripped off and took a quick shower. Wrapping her damp hair in a towel, she took her time applying her favourite rose scented body lotion. Then she threw on some little shorts and a loose t-shirt, not bothering with a bra. The pizza guy could grab an eyeful for all she cared, she thought, smirking to herself.
A few moments later, the buzzer went to the flat and after releasing the main door downstairs, she ran to grab her purse. She heard a rapid knock on her door and walked over to answer it, money in hand. Flinging it open, her eyes widened and her mouth dropped open. Standing there, taking up most of the space in the small hall with his full male and dominating presence, was Nico Moretti. He frowned at her appearance.
“Nico!” Feeling flustered and exposed, Amber drew her arms across her chest, slightly stumbling backwards as she felt heat spreading across her face. “What… what are you doing here?”
She took in his appearance, his dark brown hair was styled to perfection, the sides cut slightly shorter with the top longer and messy. His light five o’clock shadow and bright green eyes, which were now unashamedly raking over her body. The white t-shirt, which was clearly well cut and designer labelled, failed to conceal the outline of his muscles or the rock hard abs, which she knew existed beneath. His dark jeans skimmed his taut and muscled thighs.
“I came to check you were still alive since you don’t seem to be answering my calls.” His dry tone caused her spine to stiffen, and she gritted her teeth.
“I’m perfectly fine, thank you. There, now you’ve seen me, feel free to turn back around.” She waved her hand in the direction of the stairs, glaring at him.
Before he had a chance to retort, the buzzer went again and Amber distractedly answered the door, making a mental note to check who it was in future. They stood staring at each other, his burning eyes holding her still whilst she met his defiantly. The sound of bounding footsteps came up the stairs and the pizza delivery guy came into view.
He was clearly a teenager and immediately grinned at the sight of Amber. It wasn’t often he got lucky enough to see such an attractive girl answering the door. His eyes swept across her body, taking in her long tanned and toned legs, which were barely concealed in the tiny shorts she was wearing. Her startling blue eyes, with thick dark lashes were striking against her chestnut wavy hair that was hanging damply down over her shoulders. He almost thought he had died and gone to heaven when he noticed that she was clearly braless with her nipples protruding through the light top she was wearing and so desperately trying to cover up.
Before he could open his mouth, the pizza was snatched out of his hand and the tall, intimidating guy he almost failed to notice blocked his perfect view. Blinking a few times at the menacing look he was being given, his hand was roughly opened and a few notes placed into it.
“Keep the change and get out of here.”
Thinking it best he make a swift exit, the younger boy turned and ran down the stairs.
“Nico, thank you, but I can pay for my own food.”
“I’m sure you can, but the way that guy was staring at your chest, I thought you’d appreciate me getting rid of him.”
Amber blushed furiously, staring at her feet. Damn, she thought, wishing the ground could open up and swallow her at this moment. She hated to appear foolish around him.
“Nico, what do you want from me?” she sighed resignedly, trying her best to keep her expression impassive.
“Amber, I’d like to talk. Please, can I come in? After you ran out on me and quit my project, I’d really like to know what’s going on.” He looked at her, fleeting emotions crossing his face – from exasperation to frustration and then the momentary flash of tenderness, which ultimately broke her.
“Fine, come in.” She stepped out of the way, her eyes following him as he slowly walked past her into her flat, watching him as he quickly took in his surroundings. Catching a whiff of his cologne, a combination of citrus and spicy elements, she sucked in her breath. He smelled so good and a rush of desire flowed through her body.
Flashes of their last time together re-enacted in her mind – the feel of his hard body felt pressed against her, his mouth on hers, demanding and controlling one minute and then soft and teasing the next. He had taken her passionately against the wall in the hotel room, making her cry out with the need to be consumed by him. Then later, after realising her very limited experience, he had slowly made love to her again, worshipping every inch of her body.
Focus, dammit, she scolded herself and slightly shook her head to get herself together. By the time he placed the pizza on the dining table, she was ready.
“Excuse me for a moment. I, er, just need to get something.” Making a dash into her bedroom, she quickly retrieved a bra, slipped it on and made her way back into the front room. Nico was sitting on the sofa and turned to look questioningly at her as she entered. He smirked when he saw her, clearly understanding. Deciding to ignore him, Amber made her way into the small open plan kitchen and reached for two plates from the cupboard. Opening the fridge, she grabbed a bottle of white wine and shut the door with her hip.
“Sure, I’ll take a slice.” He got up from the sofa and took the bottle out of her hands, uncorking it while she reached for two glasses. Feeling nervous in his presence, Amber slid into the chair at the table and busied herself by opening the pizza box and serving the slices. She felt his eyes on her and wondered if he could hear the rapid beat of her heart.
Taking a large gulp from her wine glass, she finally looked at him. His pizza was also untouched. The air was thick with anticipation and unable to bear the silence anymore, she sat back in her chair.
“Nico,” she started. “I’m sorry I ran out on you the next morning after the, er, night at the hotel.” She could feel her face colouring as she stumbled upon her words. “I just didn’t feel it was right.” She risked a glance at his piercing green eyes.
“Well, Amber. I’m sorry it wasn’t right for you. I can assure you, carino mio, I’ve never had any complaints.” His eyes blazed and glowered at her, any trace of amusement suddenly leaving.
Her jaw dropped in indignation. How dare he treat her just like one of the many notches on his bedpost! She bristled in her chair, tossing her hair over her shoulder and defiantly tilting her chin.
“What? I was referring to our client relationship!”
“Ah, then we are talking at cross purposes?” He enquired, a faint light twinkling in the depths of his eyes, whilst he took a bite of his pizza.
“Certainly not. I have no intention of making that mistake again, Nico. It should never have happened in the first place. I’m sorry to have dropped your renovation project for your penthouse, but under the circumstances, I think it was the correct thing to do.” Inhaling deeply, she took a bite of pizza.
His brow furrowed, and he stood up, only to move and wedge himself next to her, his leg touching her bare thighs. His nearness was overwhelming, settling around her like a cloak. Consuming the air she needed to breathe. The sweetly intoxicating musk of his scent brought back so many memories and her heart thumped uncomfortably. His large hand took her face and held it gently.
“Nico…what are you doing?” she whispered, unable to tear her eyes from his, her breathing erratic. Slowly, he leaned forward and gently brushed her chin with his thumb, making her skin tingle.
“You had some pizza sauce…right there,” he growled, licking his thumb. His eyes held hers for a beat before he moved back to his chair.
“Oh.” Her voiced sounded breathy and she mentally told herself to get a grip. Picking up her wine glass, she gulped a few sips. They finished their pizza and managed to keep the conversation carefully steered around lighter and neutral topics. After supper, they cleared away their plates and took their wine over to the sofa. As soon as they sat down, he turned to Amber.
“Come with me to Italy next week.”
“What? Why?” She almost sputtered out the mouthful of wine.
“It’s complicated. It’s also my mother’s sixtieth birthday.”
“Nico, are you serious? Why on earth would you want me to come to your Mother’s birthday?” She threw her hands open in surprise.
“Like I said, it’s complicated.” He ran his hands through his hair, which instantly flooded her with memories of his response when she did the same to him. She was suddenly jealous of his hands.
He sighed and thought for a moment. “I have two sisters – the older one, Gabriella, is married and my younger sister, Camilla, is still forging out her career. My mother wants me to settle down and I need her to stop worrying about me.”
“Wait. So, you want me to come and
we’re together?” She used air quotes around the word ‘pretend’. “Why me, for heaven’s sake? I’m sure, like you’ve alluded to, you have plenty of women at your disposal.” She frowned and looked away, ignoring the stab of jealousy she felt at her nonchalant statement.
“No one I’d care to take home,” he murmured. “I don’t do relationships, Amber. I’m not looking to start one either. I make no promises to the women I date and most of the time, that’s how it works out. Unless of course, they start expecting more. That’s it, this is who I am.” He shrugged his shoulders and took a sip of his wine. “Besides, I think you owe me after dropping out on my project and leaving me in the lurch. Si?”
Taken back by his brutal honesty, Amber tried to keep her face impassive. Infuriated at his arrogance, she bit back her first response and took a breath to calm herself.
“I didn’t just
you, Nico. You were placed with one of the top designers in our agency.” Not to mention the huge chunk of commission she had missed out on when we walked away from the project. She shook her head at him. Clearly this man was used to getting whatever he wanted.
“Fine. But I would still like you to accompany me to Milan. No buts, Amber. I’ll do whatever it takes.”