Authors: Danita Minnis
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #romance, #Fantasy & Futuristic, #historical, #Historical Romance, #Paranormal, #angels
“Hey, that’s not fair. I don’t have another shirt to change into,” Tony said.
Before she could hand him the towel, Tony shook himself, splattering the blouse she had just put on.
She gasped, holding her arms out, away from her wet blouse. She was almost as wet as he was now.
“That,” he said, “was terrible of me.” Droplets streamed from his hair and once he’d rubbed them out of his eyes, the contrite expression vanished.
She threw the towel at him. He chased her into the kitchen.
Angelina circled the butcher block, which separated the kitchen from the living room, but laughter impeded her progress. “Wait! I don’t have a shirt, but I have something else you want!”
Tony stopped and folded his arms. Chest and shoulder muscles made an interesting journey under the wet T-shirt. “I’m listening.”
She opened a drawer in the butcher block and produced a yellow sheet of notepad paper with a flourish. “I have here in my hands a recipe for Shrimp Capri!”
“Is that what you think I want?” Although Tony’s words were playful, his sudden shift into Italian was jarring because she knew what it meant. He wasn’t playing anymore.
Zio had taught her Italian when she just a little girl and now, taken off guard by the blatant hunger in Tony’s eyes, she couldn’t conjure a coherent sentence. She fidgeted with the paper, and responded in the language her sleeping brain cells preferred, English.
“Well, I know how you love to cook…”
He lifted the edges of the sopping wet shirt, pulled it off his back and aimed for the sink, where it fell with a plop! As he approached, she held her breath, staring at the rippling muscles of his abdomen.
“This will do, for now.” He stood in front of her, so close they were almost hip-to-hip.
Her bare toes curled on the floor when she wondered what would do for later.
“Hope you don’t mind, but I can’t cook wet.” Tony opened the cabinet behind her and she watched the little beads of water coursing down an olive chest.
“Quite right.” Words seemed trivial when wet, half-naked perfection stood before her.
“Where’s that big frying pan you have?” English again, he must know she needed it now. He was watching her and she realized his English words meant he wanted something.
Angelina spurred into action, bending down to the cabinet under the island to retrieve the pan. She held out the recipe.
“Put that in a safe place. I’m going to make
Shrimp Capri for you.”
She was soon sitting on a stool, sipping a glass of Chianti from the Tuscan valley.
Tony added olives, capers, and hot peppers to the frying pan and then turned the stirrer over to her.
There was something very peaceful and satisfying in this task of cooking, which would have seemed mundane to her if not for Tony. This awareness caught in her throat, and she realized how attached she was becoming to him.
Rome had been good for her, as Tony had known it would be. He knew her, what she needed. He was becoming essential. He was her confidante, her bodyguard, her study partner.
“I’ll be leaving in a few days.”
She stopped stirring the sauce, but kept her eyes on the pan.
You have no right to be disappointed
But she was, especially because he’d gotten them separate rooms at the hotel in Rome. He’d been such a gentleman. The trip had been just for fun, for her.
Tony had a life of his own, and he was just a friend who’d been very nice to show a new student around the city this past month. But it still felt as if she was losing her best friend.
“Back to Tuscany?” she asked.
He nodded. “My friend’s lease ran out, so I’ve got to leave.”
“In the middle of the semester? What about your classes?”
“I’ll have to commute to the city.”
She took a sip from her glass.
Tony would only be in Naples for three days of the week when he commuted. He didn’t have as many classes as she did. They wouldn’t be able to practice together and she would not have his company on the weekends anymore.
The naughty muse on her shoulder pointed out that he was an excellent kisser, and though his kisses were too few and far between, she would miss them very much.
She spoke before the resident of her other shoulder, the practical muse, could change her mind. “You know, there’s plenty of room here. I mean, you’re welcome to share my apartment, if you’d like.”
Tony turned on the faucet and washed his hands. “How long is your lease?”
Angelina blinked. “Well, um, for as long as I want, I guess.”
“How did you get Signor Parisi to agree to that?”
With lots of money. From the look on Tony’s face, she must have given the wrong answer.
I’m supposed to be living off a student’s allowance. How much should that be?
“Actually, it is month-to-month, yes, that’s right,” she said. “I forgot what Signor Parisi and I had agreed upon.”
Tony picked up a handful of shrimp and added it to the pan, but his eyes were on her. “Poor Franco gets kicked out of his apartment the first week of September, and here you are with Signor Parisi wrapped around your little finger.”
She added garlic to the frying pan. When he put a hand over hers to bring the stirring to a halt, she looked up.
“You would let me stay here, with you?” His eyes warmed her, like a blanket she wanted to root under.
She began to stir the sauce again. “If no one will mind.”
Tony chuckled, a deep rumble that cooked her insides. He wrapped an arm around her waist. “No one will mind, Angel. It will be just until the semester is over.” He kissed the top of her head. “Who is the savior now?”
She giggled, and kept her eyes on the pan.
Angelina picked up a wristwatch wedged between the sofa cushions.
Tony had been looking for it this morning and had finally left without it for a jog around the square.
His music sheets and schoolbooks were piled alongside hers on the coffee table in the living room, which had been transformed into his bedroom. His clothes were in the bottom drawers of her armoire and hanging up on one side of the bedroom closet.
She moved to the weights on the floor, pushing them out of the way against the living room wall. They didn’t do much for the decor, but what they did for her was worth the bruised toe on her foot. In the stillness of the early morning, she lay in her bedroom, warm and moist from listening to Tony’s low grunts and groans while he hefted those weights.
They had fallen into a routine, like an old married couple. When Tony went out to run errands, Angelina used those times to call home to check in with her parents.
She felt guilty about not telling Tony who she really was, but it was too late to mention it now. A few weeks ago, she might have been able to say that she hadn’t known him well enough and was wary of telling him about her family and who she really was. But at this point, she would appear to be a liar if she mentioned it.
Tony was not involved with anyone the way she wanted to be involved with him. But she couldn’t say the words ‘I love you’ as Angelina Natale. That seemed the biggest lie she could ever tell.
He had not yet said the words either, which might have bothered her if she wasn’t nursing a guilty conscience, but he lived them. He was a fierce protector, a patient study partner, and an inspiration to her music. There were never any awkward moments between them.
Well, almost never any awkward moments.
Tony wasn’t doing a very good job of it, but he was trying to act … brotherly towards her.
God knows I don’t need another one of those!
Tony had not kissed her since he moved in. She had a depressing suspicion that he didn’t want to take advantage of their living arrangement. There were his solemn looks of longing when he thought she didn’t notice. They told more than he would ever say. Those were the moments he let down that blasted curtain of discipline and revealed his true feelings. He wanted her.
Not knowing what else to do in those potent silences, she made him laugh with one of the silly Italian jokes her classmates told her.
He’s waiting for me.
She was at a loss what to do. At least she had stopped giggling in his presence. But she was wracking her inexperienced brain trying to figure out a way to end this stalemate, short from parading around the apartment in a towel. A really skimpy one.
* * * *
“That’s a Stradivarius, isn’t it?” Tony asked.
Angelina glanced at the violin on the coffee table. “
Angelo di Luce
, a gift from my teacher.”
“He must have been very fond of you to give you such a gift.”
Her hands slowed in the soapy water. “The Maestro started my training with complicated musical scores. He was trying to stump me. Instead of crying in frustration, I played as if my life depended on it.”
“Bad teacher.” Tony wagged a finger at the ceiling.
“That sort of dare was the basis of all the Maestro’s lessons,” Angelina said. “Somewhere along the way, the musical genius became my stern but committed companion. He was a good man.”
Tony turned down the game on television and rose from the couch. “You miss him very much.”
“I would not accept another instructor, not even when he was confined to his bed and could no longer play beside me.
“The Maestro left me his music, books, literature on musical scores, biographies of the masters—everything he’d owned that had anything at all to do with music.”
Angelina went quiet as she put the last dinner dish on the drainer to dry.
He moved around the butcher block to stand behind her. Her hair was in a topknot. Unruly strands dipped down, teasing him against the white column of her neck, the palest part of her now in the late Napoli summer.
What I wouldn’t give for a taste.
“I can’t even bring myself to open the boxes the Maestro left me,” she said. “But I’m reading his favorite book on musical composition. When I read it I feel him close by.”
“I know it must have been hard for you to lose your friend.” His lips were inches away from her neck. He picked up a white carton on the counter. “I know what will make you feel better,” he whispered in her ear.
Still holding onto the dish she’d put on the drainer, she stared at him.
He’d brought her back from the sadness that had threatened to take her away from him. Satisfied, he took her hand off the dish and led her to the sofa.
They sat in front of the television with the open box of cannolis between them.
“These are so-ooo-o good,” Angelina mumbled through a mouthful.
“Told you.” He wiped away her mustache of powdered sugar and then licked it off his finger.
Angelina stopped chewing.
He watched her tongue lick her upper lip in a slow, unconscious slide. In that moment, he knew she craved his touch as much as he wanted to sink deep inside her.
He had monitored beautiful criminals before and had always been able to keep his emotions separate. But Angelina was not what he’d expected. For her sake, he’d lived in agony these past weeks with the white-hot current running between them.
This was a rare, conscientious courtship for him. It was blurring the lines, making him forget the crime she was connected to and the reason he was staying with her in this apartment.
He wanted her so badly that he’d already done to her all that he wanted to in his mind. He was tired of taking his sexual frustrations out on the weights. He wanted to exercise with her now.
“Is it all gone?” Her eyes dropped to his lips.
“Come here, let me see.” He spread his arms wide, beckoning her to sit on his lap.
Angelina settled against his legs and smoothed the linen dress down with shaking hands. His fingers rubbed slow circles over her back, bringing her closer until she put her arms around his neck.
He loosened her hair from the topknot and the length of it fell over his hands as he massaged her scalp with his fingers. “It’s all gone, Angel.”
He cupped her head, bringing her lips closer. His chocolate kiss mingled with her vanilla. Her hands were no longer shaking as they slid into his hair.
They leisurely licked each other’s lips until that wasn’t enough, and then he slipped his tongue into her mouth.
Angelina leaned back in his arms, and he trailed soft kisses down her neck and burrowed face-first into the v-neck front of her dress. Her warm, scented skin was as sweet as the sugar-coated cannolis.
Her eyes held a need that rivaled his own and her labored breathing matched his, but still, he wanted her to be as sure of this, her first time, as he was.
“Angelina, stop me now if you’re not ready for this. I will wait for you if I have to.”
“God, haven’t we waited long enough?” She pulled him up to press her lips against his.
He scooped her up and carried her into the bedroom. With lips locked, he laid her on the bed. He pulled the dress down her slim hips and straddled her. She pulled him down.
“My beautiful Angel,” Her breasts were heavy in his hands, creamy white with rose tips. He buried his face in them, and his nostrils filled with that warm, musky scent she’d worn the night he had backed her up against the church wall.
“Tony,” Angelina gasped when he drew on one hard peak with his lips, turning the tip into a pearl.
He wanted more of her and moved lower, his hands caressing every inch of her. He licked her skin, sweeping over her abdomen, navel, and the gentle curve of her hip.
She was a smorgasbord of textures and flavors, soft to the touch, velvety in some areas, feathery silk in others, warm vanilla here, sweet butter there.
He could feel her trembling underneath him, but he wasn’t close enough to her skin yet.
He pulled off his T-shirt.
Angelina sat up to watch him, running her hand along the skin he bared. There was no fear in her eyes. This felt as right to her as it did to him.
The jeans came off and he covered her.
“Yes-sss…” Her content sigh said all that was needed. Skin on skin … how he wanted it, too.
He moved between her legs. When she opened for him, he could only groan his pleasure at the feel of her wet warmth against him.
This time when he lifted up, she protested and held his shoulders. She thought he was leaving her but he only shifted lower to cup her buttocks in his hands.
He held her up to kiss the curls between her legs. Probing the slick petals with his tongue, he gently coaxed her legs apart to settle right there in the heart of her.
Angelina gasped, and tried to close her legs, but he’d already begun to feast, delving ever deeper into her with each stroke of his tongue.
Angelina relaxed her legs and her hands came up to stroke his hair. “Tony, I want…”
She couldn’t lay still while he brought her sweet body to life. She instinctively met every thrust of his tongue. When she came, her legs trembled. He continued his assault with his lips pressed against her until her legs went limp.
“Better now?” He stroked her thighs as he moved up her body. He couldn’t stop touching her.
Her eyes were glazed, her face flushed warm against his lips, as her hand traveled down his abdomen. “Come…”
He could feel her blood humming from the powerful orgasm as he moved over her.
Angelina opened for him and he slid into her until he met her maidenhead. He felt her tight sheath grab him and bit his lip over the painful need to impale her.
“Tony…” she moaned, and he had to give her what she wanted.
With one swift thrust, he rendered the barrier keeping them apart. He was finally where he needed to be.
Angelina gasped, digging her nails into his shoulders.
“I’m sorry, cara.” Pulsing inside of her, he rested on his elbows with teeth clenched, waiting for her to adjust to this intrusion on her tender flesh.
“I’m not.” Angelina relaxed her grip on his shoulders and opened her eyes. She lifted her hips against him. “Is something wrong?”
“No, tesoro. You feel so good. Did I frighten you?”
“You have a determined look, very much like a conqueror. Will you devour me?”
His lips brushed hers. “I thought you’d never ask.”
She licked his lips and his body responded to the invitation. He slid out, teasing her with the tip of him, and he didn’t know how he would leave her.
He wouldn’t think about it now, not when he moved slowly into her, sinking in deep, again and again. Not now, when he was home. Each time he met her womb, he entered an oasis, full of the kind of life he’d never given a second thought to before.
Now it was a mystery he wanted to discover, because it was her mystery. But he would never be satisfied with the answer; this thirst would never be quenched.
He buried his face in the midnight gloss of her hair and surged on, his strokes long and sure, full of greed and every kind of want he’d ever imagined.
When she wrapped her legs around him, he cradled her in his arms and picked up the pace, ramming into her sweetness. He couldn’t get enough of her, just kept driving himself into her, mindless in his need while she writhed underneath him.
She was whimpering with need once more, crying out his name. Her muscles contracted around him, pulling him in and triggering his own release.
“Ah-h, Angel…” He pumped into her until he was spent.
They lay locked together, nuzzling each other’s lips for a time before he moved away from her sleek warmth.
He returned with a warm wet cloth. They stared at each other as he wiped away her virgin’s blood in the silence charged with possibilities. There was not a shred of shyness in her eyes, but a peaceful satisfaction that he wished to always see there.
“We should have done this long ago, mon cher,” Angelina whispered in French.
But she’d fallen into a sated sleep. Tonight, the fine lines between her alleged crime, and what they had become to one another were irreparably blurred.
* * * *
He woke first, underneath her.
Pushing hair back off her face, he just picked up where he had left off last night and started kissing her.
“Um-mm, we’re late, right?” Her husky whisper made him want to do things to her that they didn’t have time for. She propped her arms up against his chest and gave him a sleepy smile.
“Very late, ma petite.” He pulled the sheet down and lifted an eyebrow at the beautiful fullness pressing against his chest. She was a creamy contrast to his sun-warmed olive skin.
“I didn’t know that you speak French.”
“Almost as well as you do.”
She quirked her lips.
So damn sexy.
“And how do you know what my French sounds like?”
“Last night you said, ‘We should have done this long ago, mon cher.’ I think you were talking in your sleep. You do that often?”
She jabbed him in the chest. “I usually chat in French with my mum. I guess I really miss her.” She bent to his lips.
When she lifted up and saw the alarm clock on the night table, she sighed. “We definitely missed the nine o’clock class.”
He held her by the waist and she settled into what was apparently one of her favorite positions among those he’d taught her last night.
“And it feels like we’re going to miss the next one.” Her tiger’s eyes tilted up at the ends, shining through the dark shadows of her hair draped around them.
“It feels like it,” he sighed, as her hips rocked in hypnotic motion.