Italian billionaire's black love (bwwm interracial romance)

 

Italian Billionaire’s Black Love

BWWM Pregnancy Romance

 

By:

Mya Black & Nicki J.

 

 

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Table Of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

 

Chapter One

“Carla there’s no way on God’s green earth I’m ever letting you set me up again.” Eve had a smile on her full lips to soften the sting of her words.

Carla’s laugh echoed through the restaurant and other patrons turned in their direction. “Come on, girl, you can’t hold Terrence against me. How was I supposed to know he was into,” she leaned over the table so no one else could hear and whispered, “baby stuff.”

Eve felt her skin heat with the flush of embarrassment. “Calling it ‘baby stuff’ is kind of an understatement, Carla. The guy was wearing a diaper and asked me to go to the bathroom with him to change him.” She sat back and took a sip of her Chablis.

“Yeah, but he was hot. I bet the sex would’ve been off the charts.”

Eve narrowed her eyes at her friend. “The only time I plan to have sex with someone in diapers is when I’m in diapers.” The women looked at each other for a moment before bursting into laughter. She loved her best friend, she truly did, but she had the worst taste in men. Not that Eve had such great taste, either; she’d chosen the worst men possible. An abuser, a scam artist, and an aspiring actor were among those on the list.

“You can’t stay single forever, Eve.”

She arched one perfect copper eyebrow at her friend. “And why not? Is there a law somewhere saying I have to be part of a couple?”

Carla took in a deep breath and let out her frustration before she spoke. “No, but be honest Eve. You’re not going to be single forever. Are you?”

She shrugged. “Maybe. I don’t know. I have rechargeable batteries to take care of my needs, and honestly, I’m too busy to deal with what one has to deal with when it comes to men.” She was definitely too busy. She’d just opened up her fifth hair salon, this one in Beverly Hills, and she barely had time to sleep. She needed to hire a manager for the new location and approve plans for the sixth location in Diamond Bar. A man would bitch about not being her top priority, about her not making dinner every night, and about her utilitarian approach to sex. She definitely didn’t need the headache right now.

“Well, a hair salon isn’t gonna keep you warm at night, is it?” Carla knew her friend had gone through some bad relationships and had witnessed too many horrible ones in her childhood, but she had her life together now and a good man would only add to it. She stared pensively at her beautiful friend. She had long copper waves that she, despite owning a half dozen hair salons, always wore in a bun she called a chignon. Her eyes were an amber color like honey, flecked with gold so it was easy to get lost in them and her lips were oddly symmetrical and kissable. She’d seen both men and women hit on her petite friend and they were all shot down with that same forked tongue and sharp wit.

“A hair salon will pay the bills so I can stay warm at night. Besides, who needs warmth when you have four hundred thread count sheets?” Her laugh was flippant because she was tired of this conversation even though she knew Carla was just trying to help.

Drink finished, Carla summoned the waiter for another bottle of wine and smiled. “I love you, Eve, I really do. But I hope your batteries die on you at the most inopportune moment.” She stuck her tongue out and laughed just as the waiter approached.

Eve frowned. “You bite your tongue, Carla! That’s an awful thing to say to the woman who does your hair.” She raised a challenging eyebrow at her friend, daring her to respond tothat.

Carla sat back with her arms crossed. “Hairdressers in L.A. are a dime a dozen,” she shrugged, but it was uneasy. “Besides, I’m hoping you’ll be too busy withAlessandroto do my hair.” Her smile was big and bright, making it hard for Eve to get upset.

She shook her head again. “Nope. No way. You say he’s a real estate developer and I hear ‘slum lord.’” She refilled both glasses as she continued, “Besides, how did you meet an alleged billionaire?”

This made Carla grin, and she went on to explain how she was supposed to be meeting a client to show him the office building she thought would be perfect for his new business.. “Alessandro owns the building and he just so happened to be there making sure all the recent repairs were done correctly.”

“So, he’s obscenely rich, gorgeous, and hilarious, but you want to give him to me? No, I’m not buying it,” she said skeptically.

Carla hid a sheepish smile behind her wine glass. “Well…”

“Give it up, girl. You know I’ll find out eventually.”

“Okay fine,” she huffed. “He’s a little serious for my taste, but I figured you could be serious together.” She shrugged innocently.

Eve could tell by those guileless blue eyes that her friend was hiding something. “And,” she prompted, nearly out of patience.

“And, he has a younger brother, Valentino,” she blushed at his name, “who is just as mouth-watering, and incredibly charming with a killer smile. He flirted with me the whole time and we’re going out tonight.”

Eve smiled at her friend’s exuberance. She loved that nothing could keep Carla down, no matter how devastating. Ever since her fiancé died in a car accident five years ago, Carla was on a mission to find true love. She never found it, but it hadn’t slowed her down one bit. “So, is this a double date?”

Carla shook her black curls. “Oh hell no, Valentino is all mine tonight. But I do want you to meet Alessandro. He’s incredibly sexy, successful, and independent. Sound familiar?” When she shrugged, Carla threw her head back and laughed. “Come on, Eve. You guys could be great together. He’s hot, you’re hot. He’s super successful and so are you.”

“He’s abillionaire,Carla. It’s not exactly the same thing.” Eve knew she could be considering nothing but a success. At thirty-two, she owned five successful hair salons with a sixth opening later this year. Her net worth was in the millions and she owned a modest home in the Hollywood Hills. She had made her own way in the world after growing up in abject poverty in the projects of Chicago’s south side. She didn’t know her father and her mother was barely around, spending most of her time with her latest boyfriend who always resembled a Lifetime movie villain.

When Eve was fifteen, her mother had just stopped coming home, but life went on. She went to school every day, picked up leftovers from her fast food job or the soup kitchen, and did her best to keep the lights on. At seventeen, she graduated from high school and headed west to use her scholarship to Stanford. She owned her success, but she was no match for a billionaire.

 “If you want to be alone forever, then as your best friend, I guess I’ll just have to sit back and let you.” Carla sighed heavily, one hand to her head for comedic effect.

“Oh, shut up, girl!”

***

Eve rushed through the door, eager to plug her phone into the charger. She’d been stuck in traffic for two hours and she had several calls she needed to make before it got too late.

She kicked off her stilettos and reached into the fridge for the bottle of Bordeaux she recently bought at a wine tasting. She hit play on her messages and tipped the bottle into her glass when she heard her best friend’s voice.

“Hey, Eve, it’s me. Look, don’t kill me, but I told Alessandro you couldn’t wait to meet him and he’s eager to meet you, too. So, I told him you’d meet him.” She hesitated. “Tomorrow at eight, Nobu. Don’t hate me. Love you. Bye!”

The wine glass stopped halfway to her mouth as the message sank in. “Carla!”Oh, I’m going to hit that woman so hard!Eve sat her glass down and picked up the phone to call her alleged best friend.Voicemail, of course.

She knew exactly what Carla was doing by not answering her phone. There was no way Eve could simplynotshow up without turning down the invitation, so she had no choice. No choice, but to go to one of her favorite restaurants with a handsome billionaire.

Sometimes life was so unfair.

Chapter Two

Eve was still grumbling to herself as she stepped out of her car and took the ticket from the valet. She still hadn’t been able to get in touch with Carla to curse her out, and now she was at Nobu waiting to meet the mysterious Alessandro. At least, she looked good in the sapphire dress that hugged her figure to perfection and her thick hair cascading down her back in waves. She hadn’t worn much jewelry, either, just the diamond studs she always wore and the matching necklace and bracelet. She felt sexy and confident, and she was ready for something she hadn’t really had in a good long while: fun. She needed fun and she would try to have some fun tonight, even if it was only G-rated.

“I’m meeting Alessandro for an eight o’clock reservation,” she told the stunning blonde hostess. Eve smoothed the dress against her curves and looked around for a heart-stoppingly gorgeous Italian property developer.

The hostess smiled brightly. “He’s already here, ma’am, follow me.”

Eve scanned every table she passed taking in the features of every dark haired man until the hostess stepped aside and her eyes rested on a man so hot her knees almost buckled. As he stood to greet her, she noticed he was tall,verytall, especially next to her five foot nothing stature. And, did she mention he was gorgeous? He stood well over six feet with mahogany waves, dark brown eyes, and deep dimples bracketing his breathtaking smile.

“Eve, hello, I’m Alessandro.”

She smiled up at him and extended her hand. “Hi, Alessandro, nice to meet you.” He smiled and dimples appeared, making her heart stutter.Damn.

“You look very gorgeous, Eve,” he said smoothly as he pulled her chair out for her.

She felt her nipples stiffen at his words. “You’re looking pretty sexy yourself.” His deep laugh rumbled and made her smile, this one relaxed and ready for fun. When he sat, she kept her gazed trained on him. “So, Alessandro, tell me about yourself.”

Alessandro raised an eyebrow at her question. “You don’t know who I am?” If she was acting coy, she was doing a damn good job of it.

She shrugged. “Carla told me you were hot as hell and a property developer. The end.” She took a sip of water. “Why, are you someone I should know?”

His look was incredulous. “And, you didn’t ask my last name?”

“Well, I didn’t agree to this date. Carla did, and then she stopped answering her phone. So, if you’re a serial killer, she knows who you are and where I am.”

Alessandro almost choked on his water as the waiter came to take their order. They agreed on a red wine, and he turned his attention back to the intriguing woman. “You didn’t want to go out with me?”

She shook her head. “Don’t get me wrong, Alessandro,” she said as she scrutinized him carefully, “you have it going on in the looks department, but I’m not really in the market for a man right now.”

If someone had told Alessandro he’d be having this conversation, he wouldn’t have believed it. She didn’t want to be here. The hottest damn woman he’d seen in forever was here reluctantly and she seemed to have no clue who he was.

“So, why are you here, then?” he asked.

“Like I said, Carla left a message with the details and then refused to answer my calls. I didn’t want to stand you up, so here I am.” She sipped the red the waiter poured and waited.

Alessandro didn’t seem to believe her, not that she cared, but she couldn’t figure it out. “Now, you tell me something.”

“What would you like to know?”

“Who the hell are you that I should know you?”

She had surprised him yet again. No woman had ever talked to him in such a way, and he found he liked it. “I am Alessandro Scotti, but my development company A.C. Scotti is quite familiar to most people.” He saw her eyes lift in surprise and knew she really had no idea.It’s refreshing, he thought as he sipped his wine, but he would reserve judgment until he saw how she acted now that she knew who he was and what he was worth.


Page 2

“Impressive.” She picked up the menu and scanned the items, even though she already knew what she wanted. She just needed a moment to get herself under control. Between his sexy mouth and flirtatious grin and the arrogance coming off him in waves, she didn’t know if she wanted to jump him or strangle him.

Impressive, that’s it?He wouldn’t believe it. She was too cool after finding out he was a billionaire, especially when he saw the desire in her eyes when they first met. “I think so,” he muttered and picked up his own menu.

She bit her lip to keep from laughing. “That’s obvious,” she muttered before she sat her menu down and looked at him again. “So, what’s the deal, Alessandro? Am I supposed to be so bowled over by your face and your wealth that I fall at your feet and jump in your bed?”

He shrugged. “It has been known to happen.” He flashed his dimpled smile and waited for her to return it. She didn’t. “I know you were thinking about it.”

Her eyes narrowed in his direction.The arrogance of this sexy bastard!Eve sat back with her arms crossed and she noticed the moment his gaze shot to her cleavage. “Honestly, Alessandro, I was thinking about taking you for a ride, but you opened your mouth and ruined it.”

Alessandro stared at Eve, intrigued by that one fiery curl that curved into her cleavage as she rifled through her purse. He knew she was playing hard to get. The smarter women always did, but eventually they all surrendered for a night or more in his bed. She would be no different and that was a shame – he had enjoyed the date so far. “I guess it’s a good thing we have this entire meal so I can change your mind.” She stood and stared down at him, fire burning in her eyes and not of the lustful variety.

“Sorry, lover boy, this,” she waved between their bodies, “isn’t gonna happen.” She slapped a one hundred dollar bill on the table and walked away.

Alessandro was surprised, to say the least. He couldn’t remember the last time a woman had lefthimat all, never mind before he’d had the chance to spend some money on her. He laughed at the most shocking part of all, she’d left money for the wine! Women usually made a move as if they were going to pitch in on the bill, but they never did. Yet Eve not only just paid, she’d actually left enough for the wine and a tip. It was too entertaining, and she was too feisty for Alessandro to be upset at how the date had turned out. Of course, he would have rather the date had ended with him buried deep between her legs, but that could wait for another time because therewouldbe another time.

I want you, Eve, and I always get what I want.

***

“Carla, the man was an ass. He was arrogant as hell, and he acted like I should be grateful and fawning to be out with him.” She was still shocked by Alessandro’s arrogance days later. But now that it was over and she didn’t have to worry about seeing him again, she could laugh.

“Yeah, but he was totally smokin’ hot, right?”

Eve smiled. “Yes, Carla, he was very fuckable. I even thoughtfor a brief momentabout ending the night with a bang, but he opened his mouth and that thought went with the way of finger waves.”

“Seriously? He was so charming and nice when we met.”

Eve snorted. “Yeah, well, apparently he’s only nice to women he thinks aren’t after his money and apparent fame. Which by the way, Carla, you could haveAlessandro,”she mimicked the way her friend said his name, “was actually A.C. Scotti.”

“I didn’t want you to hold it against him.”

Eve rolled her eyes, even though her friend couldn’t see it. “Well, I didn’t have to, he made an ass of himself all on his own.” She finished her glass of wine and removed her lasagna from the oven. “And, if you ever do that to me again, Carla, I will make sure you leave my chair bald.”

Carla cracked up at her friend. “You keep threatening me and I’ll have to tell people you don’t know how to do hair anymore.” She knew it was an empty threat because the only hair Eve did these days was her own and Carla’s.

“No one would believe it, especially since I got that mention inPeoplemagazine.” Now that Carla was over her matchmaking for the moment, Eve was relieved she could get back to what was important: her business.

“Does this mean you’re not up for dinner with Valentino and me?”

“Is Alessandro going to be there?” The silence told her everything she needed to know. “Sorry, I’m busy that day.”

Carla chuckled. “But I haven’t told you the date yet, Eve.”

Her sigh was dramatic. “Well, I’m pretty busy all of the days.” Carla’s laugh was contagious even through the phone. Her doorbell rang. “Hang on, Carla, someone is at my door.”

“Don’t open it if you can’t see their face, I saw this thing onDateline…”

“Char,” she warned as she opened the door. “Unbelievable,” she muttered.

“What? Is he trying to force his way in? Should I call 911?”

Eve laughed. “No, Carla, my goodness! It was a delivery guy with a gigantic bouquet of stargazer lilies and white roses.”

Carla squealed. “Oh my goodness, that’s so romantic! They’re from Alessandro, right? I mean,of coursethey are, who else would be sending you flowers? Your favorite flowers, at that.”

“Yeah, Carla, how would anyone know my favorite flowers?”

Carla ignored her and kept rambling, “Is there a card? What does the card say?”

“Carla!” When her friend finally calmed down, she read the card. “There is a card and all it says is‘This isn’t over. –Alessandro.’”

“Wow! Girl, I’m over here fanning myself because that is so hot! Are you sure nothing else happened between you guys?” She paused and Eve could hear the ice clinking in her glass. “What isn’t over, Eve? Tell me?”

She sighed in frustration. “It’s nothing, Carla. I’m sure this is just because no other woman has ever turned him down or bought him an expensive bottle of wine.” She knew that’s all this was about,his ego.

“Maybe,” Carla hedged, “but it could be like the romance novels where the billionaire always falls for the different girl who’s impervious to his charms. That girl could be you!”

Eve shook her head in amusement. She loved Carla’s optimism. “I don’t need some billionaire to storm into my life and sweep me off my feet. I’m fine.”

“Yeah, but wouldn’t it be great if hedidsweep you off your feet?”

“Not even a little bit.”

“You are a love Scrooge.”

“I think you mean a realist.” Her doorbell chimed again.

“Whatever, Eve. Stop being so cynical and just enjoy this. And go answer your door, dammit. I want to know what else you’re going to get.”

“Whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll be over the top and crazy expensive, just like the flowers.” She pulled open the door and a shocked gasp escaped.

“What, Eve? What is it? Tell me.”

“Nothing, Carla,” she answered, barely above a whisper.

“I told you this wasn’t over,amore mio,” Alessandro’s deep voice echoed in the hall. “Not by a long shot.”

Chapter Three

Alessandro wasn’t accustomed to chasing down a woman; he usually had the opposite problem. Women flocked to him and were willing to do whatever he wanted for a chance to become his lover because it was very well known that Alessandro Scotti had no plans to marry. Yet here he was being driven to a house in the Hollywood Hills because of the enchanting woman who walked out on him.Him!

He knew women, however, and he was sure she’d be so taken with the obscene bouquet he’d sent, Eve would be more than eager to go out with him. It was one thing to say you were a billionaire, it was quite another to prove it by spending the cash and Alessandro wasn’t afraid to spend. It was only money.

She would agree to go out with him and prove herself like all the rest. Alessandro would take her to bed a few times and this ridiculous obsession would be over. He relaxed now that he had a plan to follow. Things always went smoothly when there was a plan.Bed and forget.

“Sir, we’re here,” his driver interrupted his thoughts.

Without waiting, Alessandro stepped from the sleek black luxury sedan and looked around. The neighborhood was decent, but Eve could afford to live in an area far nicer than this. “Cal, park in the driveway, I won’t be very long.”

“Very good, sir.”

With long confident strides, Alessandro climbed the stairs, rang the bell, and waited. He could hear her voice on the other side of the bright red door.Probably gushing over her bouquet, he thought cynically. When the door opened to reveal Eve with all her sweet caramel skin on display in a sports bra and yoga pants, he suddenly felt a very different kind of frustration. And, when she told the person on the phone he was “nothing,” he shook himself from his stupor. “I told you this wasn’t over,amore mio,” Alessandro’s deep voice echoed in the hall. “Not by a long shot.”

She slammed the door and hung up the phone. “What the hell are you doing here?”

Alessandro strode down the hall and into the living room. His eyes swept over the solitary glass and bottle of wine on the counter and he boldly opened her cabinets until he found a second glass. “This isn’t bad. It isn’t the good stuff I drink, but it’s drinkable.”

“So glad you approve.” Her arms were crossed over her chest, enhancing the brown cleavage he couldn’t help but notice. “Alessandro, I’ll ask you one more time, what the hell are you doing here? I didn’t invite you over, and I certainly didn’t invite your opinion about my wine.”

Damn, she looked incredible with her amber eyes alight with anger. Her chest heaved and that proud pose made a man want to do dirty things to her sexy body. “I already told you why I’m here, Eve. I want you.”

“But I don’t want you.”Liar,her inner realist told her. He was gorgeous as sin and she actually wouldn’t mind a tumble between the sheets with him, but he was demanding and she didn’t have time for a complicated tryst.

His mouth kicked up in a lazy grin that said he knew all her secrets. “Oh, but you do, Eve. There’s no need to deny it. We’re both adults.” He took a slow sip of his wine, letting the dry liquid slide down his throat. “Besides, I can take care of you – in bed and out.”

She scoffed. “You assume I need you to take care of me. I don’t. I take care of my needs.Allof them.”

Damn if that thought didn’t cause all kinds of dirty thoughts to flash in his mind. Eve spread out on her bed, legs wide as her fingers plunged in and out of her sweet pink slick, her eyes closed in ecstasy as she screamed out his name. He took a long fortifying sip to expel those thoughts. “Well, as much as that thought turns me on, I’d like to be the one seeing to your needs.”

She finished off her glass. “No thanks.”

Alessandro sat forward, his arms resting on powerful legs. “Why are you being so difficult, Eve? I know you want me as much as I want you, so what is it?”

She sighed heavily as though the weight of the world was on her shoulders. Some days, it felt like that was the case. “Look, Alessandro, it’s nothing personal, but I’m not interested in whatever you’re offering. You’re too needy, and I just don’t have time for that.” She really,reallywished she had time for his brand of needy.

His gaze connected with hers for a long moment and he did something he hadn’t done in quite a while. He laughed. “That was just what I needed today, Eve. Oh goodness, you’re a funny woman.” He laughed harder when she narrowed her gaze in his direction. “I’m not needy, I just want you. Is that so bad?”

She shook her head and went to retrieve the wine bottle. She looked at him as she poured. “It’s not bad or good Alessandro, it just doesn’t matter. You’ll expect me to be at your beck and call, flat on my back whenever you want me, and that’s not going to happen.”

“You don’t have to be flat on your back,” he gave her a cheeky smile and laughed when she mumbled something about billionaire bastards. “Is it because I’m white?”

Now it was Eve’s turn to laugh. And laugh. “Don’t be an idiot, Alessandro. Carla wouldn’t have hooked us up if that was an issue.” She leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs, taking notice of the flare of desire that lit his brown eyes. “Alessandro, just stop. You’re too used to having your way and this, it isn’t even about me. It’s about you and your giant ego.”

He stood and looked his fill for several minutes, taking in the details of her beautiful face and that shapely figure. He couldn’t wait to get her naked and underneath him. “My ego is just fine. I just want you, plain and simple. I’ll go for now, but let me tell you, Eve, this isn’t over.”

She heard his lazy walk and the click of the front door closing behind him and sagged in relief. “That man could test the patience of a saint.”

***

“You got a delivery, boss lady.” Marcus poked his head in her office with a curious smile on his face. “This is the third delivery this week, Miss Eve. Does someone have a secret admirer?”

She pasted a plain smile on her face. “No, I have a stalker.” She waved off his concern and accepted the large box he tried to hide. The black and silver box was almost the size of her desk and she was reluctant to open it. Alessandro had sent her increasingly extravagant gifts all week, keeping his promise that it wasn’t over. First, he sent her a pair of outrageous stilettos with diamonds all over them and then, it was the sexiest lingerie she had ever seen. Sheer white bra and thong, lace topped stockings and garter belt. It was sexy as hell and awful presumptuous.Damn arrogant man with his gorgeous face. Today, she had a good idea what was in the box.

“Open it up, girl, I’m dying over here!”

Marcus was giddier than she was, but she couldn’t disappoint him. “Oh, alright.” She lifted the box and removed the tissue paper, gasping at the sight of the evening gown as she lifted it. “Wow.”

“Oh, Miss Thang! Whatever kind of stalker you have, find out if he has a brother for me because that dress is to die for.”


Page 3

Marcus was right, the dresswasto die for. The black bodice was covered in diamonds and lace and the full skirt was practically sheer underneath the layers. It was a little bit naughty and a little bit nice. And, there was a note.

Seven thirty tomorrow night, ma cherié. I can’t wait to see you in this dress, and I can’t wait to take it off your delectable body. -Alessandro

Well, damn.If his words alone could leave her in knees wobbly and her panties moistening, she would be in deep trouble alone with this man for any length of time.

“Woman, is that Cavalli? Oh, any man who gives you a Cavalli deserves the dirtiest version of you!” He was looking at the card over her shoulder.

She ignored Marcus’ squealing, her gaze locked on the gorgeous dress. “I can’t keep this. It’s too much.”

“Well, what are you going to wear out with him tomorrow night?”

She cocked an eyebrow at him. “Who said I was going?”

“Bitch, please. We both know you’re going, and webothknow your panties and that dress will wind up on the floor of some swanky downtown hotel.” He twirled and sashayed out of her office with his usual flair.

She sat back in her chair and realized she had been well and truly manipulated. All the gifts he’d sent this week were for the date tomorrow night. The shoes, the lingerie, and now the dress. “Well played, Alessandro, well played.”

***

Alessandro was feeling something he had never felt before when it came to a woman. He was nervous. Cal weaved through L.A. traffic as the limo climbed the bumpy hills, and Alessandro had sweaty palms because he didn’t know if Eve would show for their date. He wouldn’t put it past her to open the door in yoga gear or to not be home altogether. It was her feistiness that made him keep chasing her. She was refreshing and didn’t seem to worry about pleasing him, which oddlydidplease him.

She wouldn’t be an easy catch, but he would catch her. He always did. Eventually.

He didn’t need Cal to tell him they had arrived because he’d been staring out the window hoping she’d be waiting eagerly on the porch. Of course, she wasn’t. He’d consider it a win if she opened the door wearing the gown. If not, he’d be happy to help her put it on.

He took several deep breaths and rang the bell. Seconds later, the door swung open and Alessandro felt his entire body erupt in arousal. Heart pounding, blood rushing through his veins, and head spinning he took in the sight she made – a foxy rock star with curves for days. The way her breasts spilled over the top of that bodice had him aching to run his tongue along her swells. “Good God, you are fucking magnificent.”

His smile widened when a blush stole over her chest and face. “Thank you, Alessandro. You look damn good, yourself.”

“This old thing,” he smoothed the lapels in an exaggerated way.

“Yeah that old perfectly tailored tuxedo,” she scoffed with a smile. “I can practically smell the moth balls from here.”

“You are good for my ego, lovely Eve.” He couldn’t take his eyes off of her; she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. Her lips were blush pink with a hint of a sparkle and the gold shimmer on her lids enhanced the entrancing color of her eyes. He should look away and get his obvious arousal under control, but he just couldn’t turn away from the picture she made.

“Ready?” she asked, reaching for a see-through wrap and the tiniest purse known to womankind.

“Is there even anything in that purse?”

She laughed and he felt like he’d achieved something big. “Yes. But it’s just the basics: lipstick, lip balm, cash, a compact, and a condom.”

Alessandro began coughing as her words caught him off guard. “A condom?”

She nodded innocently. “It doesn’t have to be used, Alessandro, but it’s better to be prepared than going hot and heavy,” her voice got breathy when she said the words, “and have to stop at an inopportune moment.” That mischievous smile set him even further on edge.

“You’re killing me, Eve. But you know that don’t you?”

She nodded with a confident smile.

“But you know what happens when you play with fire, don’t you?”

The look he gave her was so smoldering, she was pretty sure her lacy thong burst into flames and turned to ash. “You get burned,” she said in a dismissive manner.

“No. I’ll make you so hot you burn for me.” His finger played with one of the ringlets falling free from her complicated updo and his other hand cupped her face. “Burn, baby, burn,” he grunted and captured her mouth in a heated kiss.

Eve was powerless to fight against the sexual onslaught his kiss was causing. His mouth was strong and his tongue tasted like citrus as it invaded her mouth, sweeping over her teeth and tangling with her tongue. His mouth tasted and explored every inch and dark corner of her mouth. She weaved her fingers through his hair and she heard a moan – it was her. She pulled back. “Alessandro,” she panted and fought to keep her breathing under control. His lust-addled gaze stirred a war within her – she should lean in and take more of the kiss he offered or pull back and get through the evening with her lingerie still on?

“You taste even better than I thought you would. Sweet, a hint of spice and cinnamon, and something that’s uniquely Eve.” His smile was that of a man confident he’d be satisfied before the night was out. “I can’t wait for a longer taste of you, ma cherié.”

“Who says I’ll let you have another taste, Mr. Scotti?”

He laughed, loving that haughty voice she took on to keep him at a distance. “I do, of course. You enjoyed that kiss as much as I did, maybe more judging by that moan I heard.”

She sucked in a breath. “You didnotjust go there!”

His hand rested on her thigh and slowly climbed higher. “Oh, I plan to go further,deeperlater tonight.”

Even though her body wanted everything his eyes were promising, she had enough sense to swipe his hand away. “Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll get a kiss better than that one at the end of the night.”

He leaned in until their breath mingled and nipped her bottom lip. “A man can hope.”

***

Eve had been so shaken and so turned on by that kiss she forgot to ask where they were going until it was too late to turn back. She hated these pseudo highbrow galas where rich people patted themselves on the back for wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars under the pretense of helping the underprivileged. It was disgusting and she was well and truly stuck.

“We’re going to the STEM Gala for Girls. My company has a table and I’m a major benefactor,” he said with more than a bit of pride in his voice.

“Of course, you do,” she grumbled, less than thrilled about the abrupt change in her feelings. She should have known he wouldn’t take her on a real date. All billionaires did was network, schmooze, and make deals. He didn’t have time to date and this proved it. “Let’s get this over with, then.” She straightened her dress and her posture, grabbed his arm, and walked the red carpet with Alessandro Scotti.

His brows furrowed at the swift change in demeanor. “Is everything alright?” he asked through a smile, hundreds of cameras taking their image from just a few feet away.

Eve’s smile was dim and absolutely fake as she answered, “I’m fine. Just peachy.” At least, she would be when this night was over.

With a hand on her lower back, Alessandro guided her up the carpet and into a large ballroom dripping with wealth and luxury. “Obviously, you’re not fine. Tell me what it is.”

She turned to him with a tight smile. “It doesn’t matter now. Let’s do this. Okay?”

Alessandro wanted to fight her, but he knew she could be stubborn and he guessed if he tried to push, she would bolt. “Fine.”

“Great.” She snagged a flute of champagne from a passing waiter and scanned the room. The women were draped in diamonds and the finest fabrics money could buy. The men were huddled in circles bragging about business deals and trying to top each other with outrageous purchases and trophy wives. She stiffened when Alessandro grabbed her elbow and guided her to his table. At the front, of course.

Alessandro made introductions at the table, but he couldn’t take his eyes off Eve. Something was eating at her and he didn’t like it. He hated that he even cared whether or not she was happy. She was smiling, but it was tight and forced, nothing like the lively smile that lit up her beautiful face. He would get to the bottom of it later, but now he needed to put his game face on. “I need to make the rounds,” he told her and disappeared into the crowd.

And there he goes, folks, off to rule more of the world. She sat back in her chair and got comfortable as the couples at the table either made their way to the dance floor or talked shop. They had just arrived, yet she was already bored as hell.

“And what is it that you do, Eve?” The question came from a pretty blonde with a too large nose.

“I own a chain of beauty salons.” She watched the woman try to figure out what to say in response, a blank stare on her face.

“How nice.”

She said condescendingly,Eve narrated to herself. “Yes. I think so.”

“How do you know Mr. Scotti?”

The woman leaned forward, too interested in the answer, so Eve gave her the answer she wanted. “He stalked me until I agreed to go out with him.” That was enough to make blondie rejoin another conversation.Thank goodness.

Then, Eve had to endure three separate attempts to pick her up. One man was genuinely interested and nearly as handsome as Alessandro, but his attendance here made her question the quality of his person. The other two were just out looking to score with Alessandro Scotti’s sloppy seconds or after fucking a black chick. Either way, she wasn’t interested and excused herself to go to the bathroom.

Even the bathrooms were nicer than her apartment, so she took her time, using the thick lotion offered and retouching her makeup. She could stay in here all night, and she probably would have if a gaggle of stick figures with collagen lips hadn’t paraded in a cloud of cloying perfume and ruined her quiet moment. One woman,the brave one, Eve named her decided to ask the question everyone wanted to know. “Aren’t you here with Alessandro?”

She nodded and continued to touch up her lips, uninterested in the woman or her silly questions.

“I guess you’re his newflava,” she said, looking around her circle of friends for the giggles she desired.

“And, I guess you’re not.” More giggles came from the friends and were met with an icy stare.

“You won’t be for long.” She crossed her arms defensively.

“And, you still won’t be the flavor he wants. It gets you, doesn’t it?” She turned around to face the group. “I’ll bet he’s been with a few of your friends over there and still not you.” The group quickly quieted. “I’m guessing the brunette and the redhead, they have the assets Alessandro seems toenjoy.” She dropped the lipstick into her clutch. “As fun as it’s been to talk about why Alessandro will never fuck you, it’s time I got back out there.” She pulled the door and said, “Maybe if you were less bitchy and ate a steak once in a while, he might be willing to give you an audition.” She heard the gasp mixed in with the giggles as she exited the bathroom.Women giggling. Seriously.She shook her head in disgust.

Out in the ballroom, she quickly spotted Alessandro in the middle of yet another group of tuxedos and shook her head. He would probably spend most of the night networking and she understood it was important for all businesses. But this was supposed to be a date. A date he’d worn her down to accept.

Suddenly, the anger she tried to keep a lid on all night bubbled to the surface and she took a few steps in his direction and stopped. No, she would not make a scene. It wasn’t worth it. This was their first and only date, so a scene wouldn’t be appropriate, and Eve didn’tdoscenes. She just moved on and she never looked back. She pivoted on her heels and walked slowly so no one would notice until she was through the ballroom doors, through the hotel doors, and out on the street where several cabs sat waiting. “Hollywood Hills, please.”

She couldn’t get home fast enough.

Chapter Four

There was nothing Alessandro hated more than these balls and galas he was forced to attend. It was important to keep A.C. Scotti in the press, especially good, philanthropic press, so he donned his tailored tuxedo and played the game. Most of the time, he was at the center of one group or another, tossing out advice and quips to keep the vultures entertained. Tonight, he wanted nothing more than to go to the woman he’d brought with him and hold her tight against him on the dance floor.

The last time he spotted her, she looked bored to tears, and he was pretty sure she was still angry. At what, he had no idea, but he would before the night was over.

“Hey, boss,” his assistant Jared interrupted another golf swing story and pulled him aside. “Your pretty little date seems to have disappeared.” He looked around nervously, unwilling to be the bearer of bad news.

“What do you mean she disappeared?” He knew, but he needed to hear it.

“Well, the doorman says she caught a cab about an hour ago, so I guess it would be more accurate to say she left.”

An hour?He couldn’t believe so much time had gone by and he’d left her alone all that time. No wonder she went home. “Dammit!” Alessandro knew Eve would be beyond pissed at him, and she probably wouldn’t want to see him ever again. “I need to get out of here, to go to her.”

Jared hesitated, but he was on the job. “Sorry, boss, but you have to give the keynote speech tonight and it starts,” he paused and looked at the clock on his phone, “in about thirty minutes.”

Alessandro’s shoulders slumped in defeat. Alessandro Scotti didn’tdodefeat and he wouldn’t do it now. He would sulk for a moment into a smooth glass of whiskey and give his damn speech. Then, he would regroup and make Eve his. “Let’s go get a drink, Jared.”


Page 4

Three excruciating hours later and it was finally safe for him to leave, but it was too late to head to the Hollywood Hills. Besides, he was sure to be met with an angry stare and a slap to the face, if Eve answered the door at all. Now, he would have to start over from scratch.

He knew just what to do.

***

Eve hadn’t heard from Alessandro all week and she was okay with it. She really was, even if at times she was a little disappointed that he hadn’t even bothered to apologize for his neglect. Then again, he just confirmed pretty much everything she thought about him. He was a billionaire businessman and that was it. He wasn’t boyfriend or date material. He made money and made women come, end of story.

Sure, she might have been interested in being one of the women who got to experience his sexual prowess, but she wasn’t interested enough to play his game. Unfortunately, despite his radio silence, Alessandro was not to be forgotten or ignored. Every day, a delivery man arrived with a delicious meal for lunch for the entire salon. It didn’t matter that she wasn’t always at the same salon, he somehow knew where she would be and was determined to feed her.

Eve ate the food and smiled as her employees tried to figure out who the mysterious benefactor was, but she ignored basic etiquette and refused to call or thank him by text. Nope, he could make all the grand and not so grand gestures he wanted. She was done. She had plenty of things on her plate, including setting up the new salon, hiring employees, and renovating her deck. Yep, plenty of things to keep her busy without worrying about some sultry-eyed billionaire playing mind games.

Since she couldn’t get any work done with all thenotthinking about Alessandro, she packed up and decided to go home. “I’m heading out for the day, Samantha. Can you lock up for me?” She looked around when there was no answer and found the entire salon staring at her. “What?”

“There’s a big, tall drink of sexy waiting for you at your car,” answered Leah, one of the salon’s regular clients. “If you don’t want him, tell him Leah will treat him right.”

The salon exploded in laughter and Eve smiled as she walked out the door. Out on the sidewalk, she took a moment to let the sun sink into her skin and warm it through. She was not prepared to deal with him again. Not. At. All.

“You can’t ignore me forever, you know.”

Her teeth clenched, fists balled as she tried to reign in her temper. “I can sure as hell try.” She kept her eyes closed, knowing that one glance of his handsome face with the dancing eyes and one look at his perfectly tailored suits hugging his big body and she would be little more than a pile of goo on the sidewalk.

“I’ll be right here whenever you decide you need to leave.” Amusement rang clear in his voice.

“Ugh fine, whatever!” She dug out her sunglasses and they were on her face before she turned to face him. Of course, the shades did nothing to shield her from the power of his good looks.Damn him!Keys in her hand she stopped far enough away so he couldn’t reach out and touch her. “Okay, so say whatever it is you have to say.”

Alessandro pushed his weight from the car and reached out to her, but she stepped back. “I’m sorry, Eve. Really fucking sorry.” His hand raked through his hair several times.

She could see the sincerity in his eyes and hear it in his voice, but dammit, she wanted to stay angry with him. It was easier. Anger would let her keep her distance from him. So, she pushed down the anger until she couldn’t reach it and pasted on a smile. “Thanks for that, Alessandro. Apology accepted.”

“Dammit, Eve, I’m trying to apologize! Why are you making it so difficult?”

Inside, she smiled at his frustration. “I’ve already accepted your apology, Alessandro. What more do you want?”

When he smiled, she knew she’d walked into his well laid trap. “Another chance.”

“No, thank you.”

His shoulders fell as disappointment wafted over him. “Why?”

“We’re not suited, Alessandro, and I think you’re too blinded by lust to see it. You regularly go to shindigs like that gala and Ihatethem. Not to mention my idea of a good date is not sitting alone at a table full of rabid women who want to rip you apart and abscond with your date, while young rich guys with a black girl fetish hit on me.”

He stared at her so long she wondered if he would ever speak again. “God, I’m so sorry, Eve. I had no idea.”

She crossed her arms. “Yeah, that’s kind of my point. If you had been a proper date, you would have known.” She skirted around him and tossed her purse in the car and lowered the windows. “Our ideas of a good time greatly differ, so I don’t think another date will accomplish anything.”

“It will allow us to get to know one another. But that’s exactly the problem, isn’t it? We get to know each other and we like each other and you have to find a million other reasons why we can’t be together.”

She shrugged as though it didn’t matter, when even she knew it did. “I don’t need tofindreasons, Alessandro. They’re just there. You assumed I was a gold digger after your money when we first met and then you showed up at my house uninvited. Let’s not even talk about that ridiculous gala that spent more than those STEM girls will ever get.” She raised an eyebrow at him as if saying,are those enough reasons for you?

Shit.What he could say to combat any of that? It was all true, but it still didn’t feel right. “So that’s it, you don’t even want to try again, even those that kiss between us was scorching?”

She groaned loudly. “Is that what this is about, Alessandro? You still want to fuck me?” She closed the gap between them and laid her hands on his chest. “That’s the one part of your plan I’m down with. So you can come over Friday and we’ll take care of you and little Alessandro. Okay?” She started her car and drove away, giving him a little wave as she turned onto the street.

***

Alessandro was pretty sure he was losing his mind. The fact that a smoking hot woman wanted to have sex with him was causing him to freak out like a teenage girl. The fact that the only thing saidsexy womanwanted from him was sex should have him swinging from the rafters and shouting for joy. Instead, he was sitting in his downtown office staring at the bleak concrete nothingness of Los Angeles and sulking. Yep, he was officially a pussy.

Did that mean he wasn’t going to show up tomorrow night? Hell no! He would be there scrubbed clean and ready to rock her world until she wanted nothing more than to spend night after night wrapped around his body. He was definitely going to fuck her until she couldn’t walk and couldn’t talk from screaming his name all over the Hollywood Hills.

She didn’t want to date him, but tomorrow night that’s exactly what she would do. He would bring the date to her and show her they could have a great time together. He could see now how badly he’d probably come across to her. Despite his good looks and his wealth, Eve was not impressed by what she knew of him so far. He respected that about her, even if it also frustrated the hell out of him.

Alessandro smiled to himself, pleased with his new plan of action. Eve wouldn’t know what hit her.

Chapter Five

“Are you seriously doing this tonight?” Carla sat on Eve’s bed, watching as she tried on clothes for her evening with Alessandro.

“Why wouldn’t I?” she asked, looking herself over the full-length mirror, pleased by the pink chiffon confection she was currently wearing. “What do you think? Is this Sandra Dee and not enough Rizzo?”

“Did you seriously just ask me that? What are you, 50?” Carla laughed loudly at her friend and she laughed even harder when a peach chiffon nightie landed on her face. “Seriously, you want more bad girl than good girl if you’re trying to convince yourselves this is just sex.”

Eve narrowed her gaze at her friend in the mirror. “Itisjust sex.”

“Girl, please. Lie to yourself all you want, but don’t lie to me. Alessandro Scotti doesn’t chance women. Period. He’s been chasing you for weeks and you’re finally giving him a taste of your brown sugar. If you think that means this is just sex, I feel sorry for you.”

Her shoulders slumped, and she could barely bring herself to look at the teal lace teddy she wore. “So, what you’re saying is I should cancel? You’re right, I should.”

“That’s the one. Wear that one.” She reached for a black robe with teal piping around the edges and handed it to her friend. “Even if you do cancel, wear that because trust me, he will show up.”

“But why me, Carla? Why is he so interested in me?” That was the part she couldn’t figure out and it was bothering the hell out of her. What would a handsome billionaire want with a small time businesswoman? She didn’t have anything he could possibly want and she wasn’t after anything he was offering.

“Why not you? You’re hotter than shit, smarter than anyone I know, and you’re not impressed by him.”

She turned and held her hair up and then down in a silent question. “So, this is all just a game?”

“Goodness, woman, no! I’m saying that you’re not impressed by the things women are typically impressed by, which means you don’t want him for his money or his connections.”

“I could just be really good at faking it.”

“Honey, no one is that good. He bought you an outfit worth almost a half million dollars and you still walked out on him. You can’t fake that.”

She touched up her waves and turned for the final okay from her friend. “Whatever, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to sleep with him all night, get him out of my system, and go on with my life. Easy. Simple.”

Carla laughed. “Are you trying to convince me or yourself?”

“Carla,” she warned.

“Fine,” she said, lifting her arms in surrender. “I’m not saying another word. Other than this: have fun and be safe.” She kissed her cheek and flew out of her bedroom and front door before Eve could protest.

She gave herself another once over in the mirror, spritzed herself with a lavender and bergamot perfume, and went to double check the rest of the house. Her bed was made, the floor was vacuumed, and the pillows were perfectly fluffed and lined up in the living room. With less than ten minutes until Alessandro was scheduled to arrive, she put on some low gritty music and poured a glass of wine.

She was relaxed, more relaxed than she’d been since Alessandro entered her life. The wine lulled her further into a state of deep relaxation. Her eyes closed and she rested her head on the cushions, anticipating the night ahead. She had no doubt Alessandro would be a fantastic lover or that she would enjoy him all night and into the wee hours of the morning.

It was the morning after that had her worried.

The doorbell pealed. “It’s show time,” she muttered as she stood to let him in.

***

Alessandro nearly swallowed his tongue when the red door to Eve’s apartment swung open. She stood before him, a vision in some sort of barely there blue green lace and silk…confection. The bodice lifted her gorgeous butterscotch breasts up and pushed them together until he was staring at a mound of creamy flesh begging to be licked, sucked, and fondled. Her toned legs were on display all the way up, just inches away from her sweet spot. He swallowed hard. “You are breathtaking.”

She blushed at the reverence she heard in his voice. Her confidence was buoyed by the blatant desire in his eyes. “Thank you,” she said quietly and stepped back so he could enter.

“No, Eve, thankyou. So much.”

She chuckled and followed him down her hall. “What’s in the bags?” she asked, even though she could already smell the aroma of rosemary and tomatoes.

“Dinner,” he said simply.

She crossed her arms and counted to twenty and then back to zero. She didn’t like his strong arm tactics and didn’t see why they couldn’t just have casual sex like normal people without all the fuss. “Dinner,” she repeated in a voice devoid of emotion.

“Yeah, you know the meal people eat after lunch, before sex? Dinner.” He kept his back to her and unloaded the food. He figured if he didn’t anticipate her anger, it might die down on its own.

“So, what is this, fuel so you can rock my world?”

He chuckled at her attempt to bring humor into a situation she was obviously not happy about. But it also told him she was trying to keep the peace because she wanted him tonight.Just for tonight, he reminded himself. “Honey, I plan to knock your world off its axis. The food will give you enough energy to right your world when I’m done.”

“Well, in that case, serve it up!” She pulled another glass from the cupboard and poured him a glass while he put the food on plates for them. “Smells good, what is it?”

“Have you ever been to Emma’s BBQ Hut?”

She raised her eyebrow suspiciously. “Have you?”

He turned the bag so she could see it. “Obviously.”

“Hmph,” she said and then, “What kind of game are you playing here Alessandro?”

“Look, I had a long day and I wanted to eat before we got down to the sex. Is that alright with you?”

“I call bullshit, but fine, let’s eat.” She turned and sat at the table, waiting for him to set her plate down. He did and she dug right in to the pasta and the taste of fresh tomatoes and herbs. She looked up at him and said, “Eat up.”

A wide smile crossed his face. “Oh I plan to.”

***

“So, you really eat simple foods like barbecue and wings?” she asked, her voice laced with skepticism.

“Yep, but I also enjoy gourmet foods, too.” He scooted closer to her on the couch. “You know these things aren’t mutually exclusive, don’t you?”

“Of courseIdo, but people like you often forget that. Your friends at that gala couldn’t care less that they were being served tap water in real crystal or that the overcooked salmon and chicken were bought at the Ralph’s a few miles from here.”

“Let’s get one thing straight,” he said as he held her chin between his thumb and forefinger. “Those people arenotmy friends. Some are business associates and others are acquaintances. I have very few friends and none of them were at the gala.” He leaned in and quickly took her lips in a passionate kiss that quickly lowered her defenses, as evidenced by the way she leaned into his body and the moan that sounded in the silent room. “Got it?”


Page 5

She nodded. “And, now I want some more.” The gold in her eyes was so prominent that when she smiled, they glowed and she looked like a tigress. She smiled at him like he was her prey and pounced on his lap. “This is happening now, Alessandro.” Before he could answer, she was taking charge of the kiss. Taking possession of his tongue and his lips, her body began to move back and forth against his growing arousal.

Alessandro was so absorbed into her, the only thing he could do was hold on to her hips and enjoy the ride. At least, until his brain started functioning again. Eve’s tongue was masterful as it swept in and out of his mouth, teasing and taunting. She kept him on edge, guessing what she would do next until he was so out of his mind with lust, he stood with her body wrapped around his. “Bedroom,” he rasped out. His voice was thick with his desire.

“Down the hall,” she said and licked his neck. “Last door on the right.” She licked the other side and punctuated it with a hard bite. “Go,” she panted and took his mouth again.

Inside the bedroom, Alessandro tossed her on the bed. “Remove the robe,” he grunted and watched as she revealed even more delicious skin to his view. “Keep the rest on.”

She looked up at him with a raised eyebrow. “Bossy. I like it.” She spread her legs just a bit wider so he could see through the dampness she felt growing.

“Eve,” he groaned a warning before sliding up her body. “You are so beautiful.” His hands traced over her body from her hips up until he cupped her head and took a rough passionate kiss from her. “So fucking sweet, too.”

Her hands coasted over his chest and tried in vain to open his buttons. “Fuck it,” she whispered roughly and tore the shirt open. “Much better,” she said once his smooth golden muscles were finally revealed to her. “I knew you’d be beautiful,” she spoke softly, unwilling to break the spell.

Alessandro groaned at her words and the look in her eyes. He ripped his shirt off and then her panties. “Take this thing off,” he commanded and she quickly obeyed. He took in her naked body – her dark red nipples topping the most perfect tear-shaped breasts he’d ever seen. Her waist was small, but her hips, her ass, and her thighs were strong and soft. He leaned down and took one of the dark berries in his mouth and swirled his tongue around until she writhed underneath him. He bit down and she cried out.

“Alessandro, yes!” It was sweet torture when he moved back and forth between her sensitive buds. It felt good, but it wasn’t enough. She needed more. “Alessandro,” she pleaded.

He looked up, his brown eyes nearly black with desire. “Tell me what you want. What you need.” He kissed and licked down her stomach, his eyes never leaving hers as he sank lower and lower.

“I want you, Alessandro, to suck my pussy.”

He groaned at her words. Her words turned him on and he was eager to get out of his jeans. “Gladly,” he smirked before his face disappeared between her legs. He lapped at her clit and pulled her lips into his mouth with loud sucking noises that vibrated her entire body.

“Alessandro, so good.” She knew her words were incoherent, but who needed to be understood when a fine man like Alessandro was working her over like he was born to do it? Certainly not Eve. “Oh!” she screamed when his tongue slipped inside her and pulled out, over and over until she felt chills wash over her. “Alessandro,” she whispered, as though his name were a prayer.

“You have such a pretty pussy, ma cherié.” Now was not the time forpleaseandthank you. He licked the length of her sex and then sucked her clit deep into his mouth until she squirmed under him and clamped her legs tight against his head. Two fingers plunged in and out, in and out, until a low keening noise sounded and her body tightened like a bow. Convulsions rocked her body as she floated on a cloud of lust back to earth. She was falling down when he took her in his mouth again, ratcheting up her arousal all over again.

“Alessandro, I need you. Need you inside me. Now. Please.”

It was the please that did it. That made him rear up and shuck off his pants and underwear and crawl up the length of her, enjoying every inch along the way. “Taste how good you are.” He stuck out his tongue and felt himself harden when she sucked it into her own mouth. She moaned and he bucked against her, making her moan. “I like the taste of us together,” she said with a sated smile on her face.

Rearing up on his knees, Alessandro used her juices to lubricate his cock. She was so hot and slick he wasn’t sure how long he could last. “You feel incredible,” he grunted as his tip breached her opening. He exhaled a hiss when he was fully seated, looking down into her sparkling golden gaze. “Okay?”

“I will be if you move,” she complained, still sassy.

“As you wish,” he replied and pulled nearly all the way out before slamming deep inside of her.

His strokes started off long and slow, torturing her until she wanted to flip him over and ride him to completion, as if she could. She lifted her legs until they rested just below his ribs, changing the angle for deeper penetration. “Oh yes,” she rasped out when he hit that special spot that caused temporary blindness. “Faster,” she urged, using her feet to nudge him deeper.

“You’re so fucking wet,” he growled and picked up the pace. The new angle gave him deeper access and made her wetter. His inner animal was unleashed. “Ah,” he grunted and pulled almost all the way out before he hammered into her. Faster and faster he pounded until Eve was scoring his back and screaming his name. He felt the sweat trickle down his back, between her breasts, and he knew. She was close. Her walls squeezed him tight, so damn tight he saw spots swirling around his vision.

“I’m coming, Alessandro,” she shouted just moments before her vice squeezed so tight he was only capable of short, hard strokes that quickly sent him right over the edge with her. She cried and screamed as her body shook uncontrollably for long minutes before she was able to gain some sense of control. “Wow.”

He pumped into her one final time and shook as his seed poured into her body. “Oh, oh. Oh!” He collapsed on top of her, kissing her neck as his breathing slowed.

“It’s a good thing you brought a double helping of fuel,” she chuckled while he was still deep in her and he groaned. She laughed harder.

Chapter Six

Eve was in trouble. Deep trouble. What was supposed to be one night of incredibly hot, mind blowing sex had turned into…more. Specifically, it had turned into twenty-one nights of world-rocking bliss. He came to her place after work, most nights with dinner, and proceeded to treat her body to the most delicious form of torture imaginable. That part was great.

The problem was that it was more than just sex. They spent time talking about their day and about his businesses and hers. They shared bad relationship stories, ugly childhood photos, and even random likes and dislikes. She smiled reluctantly at a recent game of “either or” where she learned he preferred pie to cake – blasphemous – and tacos to burritos. It was weird to her, but he gave her a very naughty thank you after she made fish tacos for him.

The fact that she cooked for a man was what troubled her most. The last man she’d cooked for had left her high and dry before cleaning out her bank account. She needed to put an end to this. Today. Tonight. After dinner. Yep, after dinner she would tell Alessandro they had burned out their desire and could no longer see each other.

With that settled, Eve changed into her simple silk nightgown that barely skimmed her thighs. It was a cream color that highlighted her skin and he loved white on her. “One last night,” she whispered more to strengthen her resolve than as a reminder. Who was she kidding? She was freaking out. She picked up her phone and waited. “Carla.”

Carla heard the needy whimper in her best friend’s voice right away. “What’s wrong, sweetie?”

Eve took in a deep breath and she explained everything on one long exhale. She told Carla that Alessandro had slept at her place for the past three weeks, that she hadcookedfor him, and that she was developing more than carnal feelings for him.

“That doesn’t sound so bad, Eve.”

“Seriously, Carla?”

“What? I think it’s great you’ve finally found a man to scale those mile high walls you put up to protect yourself.” Carla smiled to herself. Her friend was finally in love and when she realized it, she wasn’t going to take it well.

“That’s the problem. I don’t want anyone scaling or breaching my walls. I put them there for a reason.”

Carla sighed in frustration. “Okay, well, what do you want to do?”

“I want to end it of course!”Liar,her heart chimed in.

“Then do it.”

“You know it isn’t that simple. Alessandro won’t take no for answer, and I’m not strong enough to resist him.” The last part sounded almost like a cry even to her own ears.

“You love him,” Carla told her – better to just rip off the Band-Aid.

“What? No, I can’t.”

“Why not,” Carla prodded.

“Why not? Because it’s too soon. We don’t really know each other. I can’t be.”

Carla heard the panic in her friend’s voice and tried to soothe her. “Well, I’m pretty sure you’re capable of the emotion.”

“Maybe I am, Carla, but I don’tdolove.”

“Obviously, you do, sweetie.”

Eve hated the pity she heard in her friend’s voice. “It doesn’t matter. I can’t love him. It won’t end well for me, it never does.” Her resolve was strengthening. “I don’t have time for a broken heart right now, so enough about this. I can’t love Alessandro.”

“Can’t doesn’t mean you don’t already.”

“Goodbye, Carla.”

“Bye, sweetie. Good luck.”

She hung up. “Yeah, I’ll need it.”

***

Alessandro tiptoed back to the front door and quietly opened it before slamming it loud enough for Eve to hear. The conversation he’d heard had left him gutted. His heart hurt and his vision was starting to blur. The words ran around in his head on an endless loop. She was in love with him, and she didn’t want to be.

A bitter smile crossed his face. Eve would forever be the woman who did the unexpected. She never asked him to stay the night, it just happened. She didn’t begrudge him going out with his two closest friends for their secret billionaire boys meeting, just told him to have a good time. She had even made him fish tacos – he smiled thinking of how he’d thanked her that night. She never asked for anything other than her pleasure in the bedroom.

Until this moment, he didn’t even realize how little she asked of him. She was independent as hell and would never use his connections or money to help herself. Shit, how hadn’t he seen it before? Somehow, they had found themselves in a relationship. A real, solid, and functional relationship.Incredible.

He hadn’t been looking for anything more than a few nights and fun, and Eve had only wanted one night. They’d had twenty-two, including the first night and she had fallen in love with him, albeit reluctantly.

“Hey, Alessandro, how’s it going?” The false cheer in her voice was like a kick in the stomach.

“It’s going okay,” he said reluctantly. “A long day. There were problems with the building in Macao.”

“You need to pay off more locals or are there real problems?”

He wanted to bang his head against the wall. This woman was perfect, but more importantly, she was perfect for him. He came up behind her in the kitchen. “Everything is fine, but the locals know a cash cow when they see one. The quicker this building is built, the better it will be.”

“I’m sure you’ll figure out a way to get it done ahead of schedule.”

The words were right, but something was off. “Hey, are you okay?”

Her smile was watery as she shook her head. “I’m fine, just feeling a bit stressed.”

He knew it wasn’t a lie, just as he knew she would never tell him the reason for her stress. He kissed her neck. “Let me run you a bath.” He escaped to the bathroom and poured lavender and basil salts and let the hot water run over it. She needed to relax, to get out of her head and stop worrying about the future.

He wanted a future with her, but it wasn’t possible. Not now. That’s why he kept his relationships simple and based on sex. He couldn’t explain it to her, she wouldn’t understand. So, he would have to step back.

Even if it killed him.

***

It was over. Eve could feel Alessandro pulling back, even if neither of them had the courage to say the words. He’d spent thirty five days straight sleeping in her bed, loving her body. And, on the thirty-sixth day he had gone home. He came over for dinner and stayed for sex, but he rarely stayed the night. In fact, he’d only stayed the night three times in the past two weeks, so yeah, it was safe to say they were over.

She was fine with it, or she would be if they could just have a clean break. She didn’t want a lingering death that would be painful during the months it faded away and then the time it would take to heal her heart again. The next time she saw him, she would tell him not to bother coming back. And, she would mean it. She was feeling under the weather, so she would text time to go home, not that he planned to see her today, anyway. He had business in Seattle and would be gone for a few days. She needed this break. Hell, they both did. When he came back, she would have his things packed and waiting and he could just have his assistant mail her few items to one of her salons.

It would be easy. She could handle this. Affairs ended all the time. There was no reason her life should fall apart simply because she was dumb enough to fall. She sent him a message and of course, he immediately called back.

“What’s wrong?” his voice was frantic with worry.

She coughed so he could hear it. “Nothing is wrong, I just have a bug. You have to travel, so you should just stay at your place tonight.”

He was silent for a moment, and she could imagine his stern face looking for a loophole before he said, “I’ll see you when I get back, then.”

“I’ll let you know,” she said and hung up. When she was feeling better, she would handle him and their relationship. Until then, life would be all about her.


Page 6

Chapter Seven

A week later, Alessandro was still in Seattle. The problems at the hospital were taking longer to resolve than he’d anticipated and his presence was required. He’d spent so much of the past two days scraping his fingers through his hair that it stood up like he’d been electrocuted.

Worst of all, he missed Eve something fierce and she hadn’t returned his calls in three days. He knew something was wrong even before he boarded the J.C. Scotti jet. The nights he spent in her bed had dwindled and their conversations had grown stilted. The easy conversation was gone and the only thing that remained was passion. It was normal for his relationships, but this time it left him cold.

He needed to see her, dammit – to talk to her and hold her in his arms. He wanted to tell her his secrets, all of them, so they could be together properly. So he could stop breaking her heart. He knew he was, even if she never said a word. He saw it in the sadness lurking in her eyes and heard it in the soft defeated sound of her voice. He felt it when she gave him every ounce of herself in the bedroom.

His time with Eve were singularly the most satisfying and most excruciating moments of his life. And, he couldn’t wait to experience it again and again – for as long as she would have him.

He picked up and dialed her number.Voicemail. He listened, like a lovesick puppy, to the cheery message that no longer matched the woman. He hung up before the tone, unwilling to leave a message and let her hear his weak, pleading voice.

“Sir, you can go in now.”

He nodded at the pretty nurse and stood, stretched his limbs from the hours spent sitting. Then, he slipped into the room, mostly unnoticed.

***

Sleep did not come easy to Eve over the past week and she knew at least part of the reason. She had been avoiding Alessandro and his constant calls. They both knew where this was heading, so there was no reason to drag it out. He was still in Seattle and she was still sick, so talking now would only prolong the agony.

Her dreams were littered with thoughts, images, and scents of Alessandro. He was everywhere she turned, from her salons to her dry cleaners and even her gynecologist. Escaping him was impossible, even in slumber. But last night’s dream had tortured her the most.

Alessandro walked into the bedroom, fire burning in his eyes, but he said nothing. He strode to the bed where she lay naked under the sheet, eagerly anticipating his touch. When he leaned over, he kissed her lips so softly tears sprang from her eyes. His touch was feather light everywhere – on her breasts, her stomach, and the backs of her knees. He tortured her with faint kisses that increased her passion and her need for him.

She reached out to him and took a step back with a smile. “This is for you,” he told her.

“But touching you is for you and for me,” she pleaded as his hands roamed down her thighs and back up, whispering over the soft hairs of her mound. ”Alessandro,” she called to him softly.

“Yes, my love,” he answered, and his tongue left a cool wet trail up the inside of her thigh and slipped inside her slick heat. Even his tongue was gentle as it coaxed her towards her a climax so long and powerful, she’d passed out for a moment. When she came to, those big brown eyes shone down on her with love and affection.

“You’re here.”

“You sound surprised.”

“I thought you were just a dream.”

“No, sweetheart, you’re the dream. My dream.” He plunged deep inside her on the sweetest words she’d ever heard. They soothed her soul the way his body soothed hers. The long slow strokes he favored were used over and over again, until they were both sweating and panting and crying out. Her hand rested over his hammering heart and she’d never felt closer as they floated up into the heavens together. It was only them and their love keeping them bound in the atmosphere. And, it was his strength that guided them slowly back to earth.

She woke to sweat slicked sheets, tears in her eyes, and a blaring alarm clock.

Sometimes, life was just so unfair.So what else is new, the snarky voice that recently took up residence in her cynical heart asked.

***

Two weeks after he left for Seattle, Alessandro returned to Los Angeles. His business there was still unsettled, but he felt better about it, and now, he couldn’t wait to see Eve. He stopped home and showered after the short flight, picking up an overnight bag, flowers, and wine for their sweet reunion.

He was so giddy about seeing her again, he’d driven his Tesla and gave Cal the night off. He wouldn’t be beholden to anyone’s clock but his own. His plan was to spend the next two days in bed and then get to the bottom of whatever was bothering her. He was surprising his woman with a night of good greasy Chinese takeout, vintage wine, and as much sex as her magnificent little body could handle.

Skipping up the stairs, he knocked gently and waited. She didn’t answer, so he used his key and entered the unusually dark house. “Eve,” he called out, taking note of the magazines cluttered on the counter and the layer of dust that covered everything. “Eve, where are you?” Then he heard it, a quiet sobbing coming from the back of the house. Sitting down his bags he jogged to the bathroom and found Eve with red rimmed eyes and sobbing, hugging the toilet.

“Alessandro,” she cried. “Hospital,” she forced out before passing out on the floor.

The next few hours were the most stressful of Alessandro’s life. Seeing Eve passed out on her bathroom floor shaved about a decade off his life. Holding her still body for long moments while he figured out what to do – call an ambulance or rush her to the hospital himself – shaved off a few more years. Ultimately, he decided to get her there himself. He didn’t want something awful to happen while the ambulance battled traffic.

Once he reached the hospital, the emergency doctors had swept her away and out of sight. Here in the hospital, his billions meant nothing. They wouldn’t get him the answers he needed. They wouldn’t get him in the room with Eve. All theyhadgotten him was a stack of papers asking for information he didn’t know. “Carla!” He needed to get in touch with her best friend. Eve would want her here, and she could probably fill out the information the hospital required.

An hour later, Alessandro spotted the determined walk and bounce of black curls that made Carla unique. “Alessandro! There you are, thank God. What happened?”

He gave her brief rundown of how he’d found her and the condition she’d been in. “And, that’s all I know. They won’t tell me anything because I’m not family.”

She shook her head and mumbled something aboutidiotic men. “You could have told them she was your fiancé, but I guess that’d be too close to actual commitment, right?” Carla turned away and went to the nurse’s desk. She talked quietly with the woman with long gray braids down her back, the same woman who wouldn’t give him the time of day. She walked back and took the clipboard from him. “She’s fine. They’re running tests right now, but they think she’s dehydrated.”

Alessandro took in the tense set of Carla’s shoulders and he knew there was more she was holding back. “And,” he prompted, annoyance weighed heavy in that one word.

She sighed heavily and looked at him. “And, they won’t know more until they can do more tests, which they can’t do without these forms.” She held his gaze a moment before returning to the paperwork and Alessandro got the feeling Carla found him lacking in some way.

“What’s the problem, Carla?” He was tired of her side looks and snide remarks.

“I’m just curious what, after two weeks of radio silence, were you even doing at Eve’s place?”

“Is that the story she’s been telling? I’ve called. Constantly. It seems that whenever I call, she’s mysteriously unavailable and I’m forced to talk to her voicemail.”

“Well, it sure made things easy for you, didn’t it?”

Before Alessandro could respond, a nurse approached. “Carla Macklin?”

“That’s me,” she stood, casting one last dirty look Alessandro’s way.

“Eve would like to see you now. She’s a little dehydrated, but we’re going to keep her here for at least another day. Follow me, please.”

Carla cast a pitying look at Alessandro. “Don’t worry, I’ll be back with an update and I’ll let her know you’re here.”

He frowned. “You will? Why?”

She smiled at him. “I’m disgusted with you because you hurt my friend, but if she didn’t care about you, there’s no way you could hurt her. Got it?”

Strangely, he did. “Got it.”

Chapter Eight

Eve spent most of her first night in the hospital pretending to sleep so the nurses would leave her alone. How anyone was supposed to sleep in a hospital was beyond her. Every hour, someone came in to poke her, prod her, and ask her how she was feeling. She was feeling like a tired dehydrated mess, but saying that would be rude.

So when a nurse came in, she’d close her eyes and feign sleep, answering the questions in a groggy way to appease them. Finally, daybreak arrived and she could sit up and stare at the wall just below the TV. “How are we doing today?” a plump nurse with kind eyes asked.

“I’ve been better.” Even to her own ears, her voice sounded depressed and tired.

“I’m sure that’s true, dear, but there’s a handsome man threatening to buy the hospital and fire everybody if he can’t see you,” she said with a smile. “So, are you going to help an old woman keep her job?” Her smile softened her defensive stance with her hands on her hips.

Alessandro.“I suppose I owe you for keeping me alive,” she deadpanned and sighed. “Let him in.”

The nurse sighed. “Poor you. Young and gorgeous with a fine young man who cares about you. Life must be tough.”

If only she knew, thought Eve with a bitter smile. “He’s only here because he came to my house to break up with me and I was deathly ill.” She turned her head away from the door.

“If that’s what you need to tell yourself, honey.” With that, the nurse exited the room and Alessandro quickly entered.

“What’s wrong, Eve? Tell me. I need to know.” He wrapped his arms tightly around her body, his head buried in her midsection. “Are you okay?” He patted her shoulders and arms looking for injuries and looked in her eyes, cupping her face. “You scared the shit out of me.”

“I’m fine.” Looking at his handsome face brought tears to her eyes. She would miss him and those fathomless dark brown eyes, now shining with concern and affection. “You didn’t have to stay.”

His brows crinkled in confusion and his eyes sparked with anger. “I didn’t have to stay? Where the hell else would I be when my girlfriend is sick to death in the hospital?”

Her breath caught at the sincere look in his eyes.No, he couldn’t mean it. He’d been gone for two weeks, allegedly at work. “It’s okay, Alessandro. You don’t have to say this because I’m in the hospital. I know you were coming by to end things with us.”

He stared deep into her eyes for a short moment and then barked out a laugh. “You crazy damn woman. Why would you think that?” He shook his head. “Do you think I come whistling into the house with an overnight bag when I intend to call it quits?”

She gave him a blank stare because she didn’t know what else to do. His words made sense, but was she reading into it what she wanted to hear? He’d been distant and unavailable for the past two weeks. She hadn’t imagined that. “Why have you been so distant?”

“I’ve just had a lot to deal with. Several projects going at once and problems with nearly all of them.”

She didn’t doubt there were problems, developing large commercial properties came with a lot of complications. But she could also tell by the way he failed to look her right in the eyes that he was still hiding something. “Sure. I’m tired.” She snuggled into the scratchy hospital linens and feigned sleep until she heard him leave. Then she let herself cry.

***

A week had passed since Eve left the hospital and she was no more broken up with Alessandro than she had been before. He still came over every night after work, usually with dinner, and they talked about their days. Her shop was close to completion and ready to open and his Macao deal with smoothed out considerably.

Their nights together were spent watching TV or making love, sometimes a combination of both. Despite her recovery from the severe dehydration, Eve still felt immeasurably tired and rarely up for going out. Alessandro didn’t seem to mind, but she often caught him looking at her with worry in his eyes. Things weren’t back to normal with them, but they were no worse, either. She just tried to enjoy every day she had with him, always preparing herself for heartbreak. Alessandro, it seemed, was content with the exclusive casual dating arrangement they had but never spoke of.

She had accepted that she was in love with him. But she’d already decided she wouldn’t tell him. Couldn’t tell him. Alessandro didn’t want anything serious and he never spoke of their future together beyond a few weeks, so she kept it to herself. Soon enough, their relationship would run its course and she could work on putting the walls back up around her heart.

She would have to break it off soon if he didn’t. She felt increasingly tired lately, couldn’t stay awake most nights past nine or ten, her appetite had taken a nosedive, and in general she felt like crap. She knew what it was. She had watched as her grandmother withered away and died from it, same as two aunts and an uncle. Eve was certain, as she sat in the doctor’s office, that she was about to get news that would change her life. Her stomach clenched as she thought about chemo treatments, wigs, and home health workers. She couldn’t ask Carla to abandon her lucrative real estate business for her and with no other family, she was on her own. A heavy sigh escaped just as Dr. Walcott entered his office.

“How are you today, Eve?” His smile was gentle as he sat behind the desk and folded his hands.

“Still tired every second of the day, Dr. Walcott, so please, just tell me where it is.”

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