Taken by a Trillionaire 1-3, Page 27Ruth Cardello
Not wanting to spook her, he kept his movements slow, and it did the trick — she wasn’t afraid when he gripped her fingers gently. She was anything but afraid, if truth be told. As he began rubbing his thumb along the back of her hand in soothing strokes, she felt heat flickering low in her stomach.
“Who are you?” she gasped, feeling a bit off balance, a sensation that grew more intense as he increased his efforts.
“You might not remember exactly who I am, but I can see in your eyes that you can feel what I am to you, Adara.” He lifted her hand to his mouth and ran his lips along her knuckles before turning the hand over and kissing her palm.
“I can feel something,” she said, and her cheeks heated.
“Don’t be shy, my love. My name is Chris, and we’re engaged to be married. We’ve often . . . shared a bed, and soon you’ll see that we have nothing to be embarrassed about around each other.”
She wanted to tell him to stop — tell him not to talk that way — but his words were wreaking havoc on her insides, making her also want him to keep on doing and saying the things he was. Strange.
“I’ve tasted you many, many times, most cherished Adara. Our love life, if I may say so, is breathtaking.” Chris moved his lips to her wrist, to the exact place where her pulse was beginning to beat out of control.
His tongue drifted out and he forged a tingling path against her skin, going up to her elbow and then back down to her wrist. She was practically moaning by the time he had finished.
“May I lie down with you, Adara? You gave me quite a scare, and I need to hold you,” he told her, making her heart thump.
“I . . . I kind of understand that we might have been in a relationship, but I’m afraid right now, really afraid, and this all feels brand-new to me. I’m not ready . . . I mean . . .” She stopped speaking, not knowing what to say to this man. She was worried that if she turned him down now, he would just go away, and though she wasn’t sure who he was, he did feel familiar to her. She couldn’t help but want him right there beside her.
“I won’t make love to you tonight, my lovely Adara. I promise you that. I just need to hold you.”
Still, he did nothing more than kiss her wrist, her fingers, her palm. He didn’t lie down, didn’t press her. And after a few moments, she felt her tension ease.
“Yes, I think I would really enjoy it if you held me,” she told him.
He stood, releasing her hand, and she nearly whimpered at the loss of his touch. He looked at her with a knowing light in his eyes. How frustrating it was not to remember this man. How could anyone forget a man like him?
He began undoing the buttons on his shirt and her mouth gaped open. His tanned chest was magnificent, solid, and defined, and beneath it were the most incredible abs she could imagine. The dark hair and tanned skin along with his bright blue eyes and firm jawline — they were all perfection. He was all perfection. Hell, dictionaries probably used him to illustrate that word.
“I . . . um . . . thought we . . .um . . . weren’t going to do anything,” she managed to stammer.
“I didn’t say we’d do nothing. I just said we wouldn’t make love,” he said, smiling broadly and showing his beautiful white teeth.
“Oh . . .” She didn’t know what else to say.
“Do you want me to touch you, Adara?” he asked as he undid the button on his trousers and began sliding them down, leaving himself standing before her in nothing but a pair of boxer briefs.
Her eyes were drawn to the only part of him now covered, and as she gazed at him, she was fascinated to watch his shorts tighten. Wow. Nature had been generous.
“If you keep looking at me with that hungry look in your eyes, I’m not going to be able to keep my promise to you,” he said as he sat back down on the bed.
She kept staring at him for a few seconds more. “I’m sorry. . . . I . . . I was just trying to figure out if I could remember . . . you know . . . um . . . us making love . . .” Adara’s face flamed deepest red.
“I assure you that you will remember, and when you do, you’ll wonder how you could have ever forgotten,” he told her. He lay down beside her and pulled her into his arms.
She was stiff against him for a moment, but as he rubbed soothingly up and down her back with one hand, she began to relax. Slowly, she moved her own hand from her side and rested it on his hard chest. And then she found herself drawing small circles around his nipples and down the solid lines of his abs.
“Ah, I could lie here all night and feel your touch. What it does to me is indescribable,” he said on a slight moan.
“I can’t remember us, but it’s almost as if I can remember doing this,” she had to admit.
“To hear you say that brings me so much pleasure,” he murmured as he turned from his back to his side so they were facing each other. Her covered breasts pushed up against his chest, and their faces were now only inches apart.
“Lying next to you feels so familiar. I wish I knew the right words to say,” she said with a hesitant laugh. Then she spoke again. “Do we often cuddle like this?” When he didn’t answer immediately, she grew concerned. “What’s wrong?”
His eyelids drifted down for a brief moment. But he opened them again and their gazes met.
“I don’t want to lie to you, Adara. It’s hard for you to speak of your emotions. You say everything with a look, with a touch, but you’re uncomfortable, it seems, with speaking from your heart. When you know me again, I hope you’ll be able to tell me more openly what you’re holding there inside that beautiful heart of yours.”
She wasn’t sure how she felt about this man, but she did know she wanted to give him almost anything he desired. She wanted to please him, to love him — and for him to love her. She didn’t have the words, but she did want to show him what she was feeling right now.
Leaning in — was this something she did often? — Adara captured Chris’s lips, and suddenly emotions filtered through her that made her press her body against his in an attempt to find relief.
He nibbled on her bottom lip before biting down a little harder, making her open up to him. Then heat overtook her as he explored the recesses of her mouth, capturing her tongue with his in a wild dance, then releasing it and tracing her lips again.
He pushed against her back and drew their bodies tightly together. He groaned against her lips, and she thrust her hips forward, needing to feel his hardness against the part of her now aching the most.
“Adara, Adara, what you do to me,” he gasped as he pulled back only the slightest bit so he could look at her.
Gazing at him through passion-filled eyes, she couldn’t imagine ever having to struggle to tell him how she felt. “You’re so beautiful.”
He chuckled. “Men rarely like to be described as beautiful, my princess.”
“Oh, but that’s the first thought that comes to my mind when I look at you. Beautiful — absolute perfection.”
He moved a hand up her side and slipped it around to her stomach before traveling upward, over the curve of her breast, and her breath whooshed in when his palm came into contact with her swollen nipple.
“You, my darling, are the one who’s beautiful. And I want to show you all night long how much I worship your beauty, but I can’t. I made a promise to you, and I intend to keep it,” he said with a deep sigh. He pulled his hand away and let it rest on her side.
“If we’ve already made love before . . .” She wasn’t quite able to tell him that she had to have him inside her right now, but she desperately wanted him to keep on with what he was doing.
“Oh, you are a temptress, and I will pay the price tonight. I predict an ice-cold shower in my near future. But I insist on waiting. I hope that it’s not too long, but I will hold off for your sake. Then, when we finally come together, it will be spectacular.”
Though her whole body was aching, Adara felt another sensation of warmth travel through her as Chris flipped onto his back, drew her against him, and whispered loving w
ords against her hair.
She still felt the desire inside her, but it was ebbing as a different warmth filled her, a warmth she was sure was telling her that she was in love with this man. Her memory had to return soon.
Stretching her arms above her head, Adara lifted her back from the bed and let out a groan of relief. She’d slept so soundly, and that was amazing, really, under the circumstances.
“Are you okay?”
She jumped and turned her head to find Chris sitting by the bed, a smile and a day’s growth of beard on his beautiful face.
“I feel pretty great, actually,” she said. “No headache today, and no . . . I don’t know. I’m just not feeling bad.” But as she woke up more fully, she suddenly felt self-conscious and pulled the covers all the way up to her chin.
“There’s no need to hide your body from me, sweetheart.” He rose and sat down on the bed, and then reached out and tugged her toward him.
“I . . . um . . . I know,” she said, shaking away the cobwebs in her poor head. “Or at least I think I know.”
“You’re just confused. The doctor said that’s to be expected for a while.”
“Why don’t you tell me how we met? What were our lives like up until the plane crash? Maybe that will help jog my memory.”
There was that hesitation again. He did that a lot. Adara wondered whether he was just thinking about where to begin.
“We’ve been together for three months,” he finally said.
“Three months? That doesn’t seem long enough to fall in love.”
“Ah, but when it’s meant to be, it can happen in no time at all. As it did in our case.”
“I . . . uh . . . I guess, but I just don’t know . . .” She pushed to get inside her battered brain, to figure out why his statement seemed off. Why didn’t she think she was the type of girl to fall head over heels in love in so short a time? But she was lost here; her synapses offered her nothing, not one clue.
“You were finishing up your master’s degree at Cornell University when we met in a bar near campus.”
“Finishing my degree? In what?” Why couldn’t she remember something so basic?
“Astronomy. You had just defended your thesis and said you were celebrating. A few more things to do and you’d officially be done.”
“What was I planning on doing after that?”
“Looking up at the stars, Adara.”
“That’s sort of lame, Chris. I’m sure I have higher aspirations than that.” She spoke with some heat now, though it didn’t quite make sense. She didn’t remember what her aspirations had been.
“But the heavens are infinite. Isn’t helping to map out the farthest reaches a noble prospect for anyone?”
“I don’t know, but as you continue to talk about it, I feel better about things. It sounds like something I definitely want to do. Did I tell you what my next plans were?”
“Not that night you didn’t. You said you were done even speaking about school for a little while, and that you were at the bar to have fun. You were absolutely radiant,” he said before lifting her chin and kissing her. “You still are.”
“Hmm,” she murmured, entranced by just his voice. How could a man who was effectively a stranger do that to her? But that had been happening a lot in the past day. “What came next?”
“We talked until the bar closed, and then we walked down by the gardens and lay in the grass and talked for a long time more. Come to think of it, I did most of the talking. And we decided right then that we were a perfect match.”
“This is so frustrating, because I absolutely can’t remember any of it. But my gut tells me I’m not the type of girl who just falls for a man, any man, and particularly a man I’ve just met.”
“I absolutely agree. You’re not that sort of woman. It took me a good week before we made love for the first time,” he said as he ran his fingers through her hair.
“A week? It only took a week?” Horrifying. She’d slept with him that quickly?
“You told me you’d been a virgin long enough.”
So it could have been worse. But she was still speechless. She’d just fallen into bed like that after a week, and with a guy she hardly knew? She had to ask him, “What sort of girl am I?”
“You’re a beautiful, fascinating, spontaneous, intelligent woman. I’ll say the word woman again. We connected in a way that night that’s so rare; most people never find it, ever. And you certainly have no reason to feel shame, shame of any sort, at what we did. I may not have realized it at the time, but my heart already belonged to yours the minute you first smiled at me with that unrestrained joy of yours.”
Was what he’d just said a little over the top? Maybe. But his words were doing the trick. She relaxed against him. She had no idea how she’d felt back then, but she had no doubt right now that lying in his arms was soothing. And more than soothing. She found her fingers grazing down along his arm as he held her close against him.
“And then we just kept seeing each other?” she asked.
“We decided just a few days ago, Adara, that we couldn’t live without each other.”
“What is that in your voice?” She tried to look at him, but he was cradling her head and she was unable to.
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“I don’t know either. But when you said that, something didn’t seem quite right,” she told him. “Something in the sound of your voice changed.”
“It’s nothing. Nothing, really. We just had a slight argument the day of the crash,” he said after hesitating yet again.
“What did we argue about?”
What was it with all these long silences? She tried once more to look up at him, but he pulled her more tightly to him, and she soon stopped fighting him.
“I hadn’t yet told you that I was a prince.”
“What? Wait! What? What? Please repeat that.”
She couldn’t have possibly heard what she thought she’d just heard. Maybe he just meant a prince of a man. But that wasn’t what he’d said.
“I don’t want to argue again,” he said.
“Then answer my questions.”
“Ah, Adara, your spirit thrills me. It’s one of the many reasons I’ve fallen in love with you.”
“Don’t think you can sweet-talk me and I’ll forget,” she told him. “Yes, much of my past life is a blank, but I remember everything from the moment I woke up.”
“I’m a prince of the island nation Rubare Collina. You didn’t receive the news the first time any better then than you have just now,” he said, and his eyes were downcast.
This time, she pushed against him, refusing to let him hold her so she couldn’t see his face. He released her and she scooted back on the bed so she was sitting up and could see into his eyes when he raised them again.
“You’re an actual prince? Royalty?” He nodded. “Why would you have hidden something like that from me, Chris? Or should I call you Your Royal Highness?”
He looked away toward the open window overlooking the sea. Then he turned back toward her.
“I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep my royal title. Being a prince means responsibility; it means that I have to do everything on someone else’s schedule. There are rules . . .”
“What does any of that have to do with me?”
“I didn’t want you to know. I didn’t want anyone to know. I just wanted to be Christopher Dante, just a normal guy from nowhere particularly important. It was nice. But then I realized I couldn’t forsake my country or my obligations to it, my duties — at some point, everyone has to grow up. I also realized that I wanted you to be by my side when I returned home.”
“And I was okay with all of this?”
She somehow doubted it — who would want to live in this way, under a constant spotlight and all the constraints of such a life? Such a complete lack of privacy. A lack of self-direction. But how was she to know for sure? And this man did seem to know her, intim
“No. Not exactly ‘okay’ with it,” he said. “But you love me, and because you love me, you knew you would forgive the deception.”
“I told you this?” she said with narrowed eyes.
“Why don’t you wait until you regain your memory to make any judgments? Then you’ll feel it.”
“I’m trying to, but I don’t know at all what I wanted,” she said, dragging her fingers in frustration through her sleep-tangled hair. “And I know when something feels wrong.”
“How do you feel while you’re lying in my arms?” he asked, pulling her back against him.
Heat shot instantly through her and her heart began pounding — why did he always have that effect on her? “It feels right,” she had to admit.
“Then trust in that feeling, Adara, because we’re meant to be together, and deep down inside you know that.”
He ended the conversation with a kiss that left even her toes tingling. She still had a lot of doubts about him and what he’d told her. But she wasn’t willing to walk away from whatever it was that they had together. Not yet.
She’d soon find herself again — get her freaking memory back — and maybe then she’d win this happily-ever-after that some prince was offering up to her.
You look as if you’re enjoying yourself.”
Adara slipped beneath the water and came up gasping for air.
“You scared me, Chris.” She swam over to the side of the pool, where he was sitting in a chaise longue.
“I’ve been watching you for more than a few minutes. You seemed deep in thought,” he said. He pulled his shirt over his head, and the sight of his chest took her breath away. And she’d already lost her breath just a few moments before.
“You should have let me know I wasn’t alone. Coughed, or something like that. It’s only fair.”
“I could watch you all day long. I can’t possibly describe what you do to me.”
He stood up and began removing his trousers, and, oh, gosh, his underwear too, and she waited. Breathless once more. They hadn’t made love yet — not since the accident, anyway, a full week ago — and she desperately wanted to. Make love to a virtual stranger. Was that weird? Was she in fact some sort of man-eater? One of those cheap tramps she read about? Or was it the opposite? Was she just repressed in some way and yearning to break out from her inhibitions, the way he’d told her that she’d done when they first met?