Home > Sweet Temptation(11)

Sweet Temptation(11)
Author: Cora Reilly

Wine glass still clutched in her hand, she allowed me to lead her away. Again, we didn’t talk. I considered saying something reassuring, but the truth was there was nothing to say, and I wasn’t a man for those kinds of words anyway.

Giulia took a sip of her wine. She was on her fifth glass—at least.

“What did your mother say?” I asked to fill the tense silence between us as we took the elevator up to our suite for the night. The door slid open, and we stepped out.

Another sip. I stopped and took the glass from her. If she was intoxicated, I’d have to fake those fucking bloodstains after all. “That’s enough.”

“It’s ginger ale.”

I took a sip from the glass, surprised.

Giulia fumbled with the tiny white purse slung over her shoulder. “I only had one glass of sparkling wine at the reception. I didn’t want to be drunk.” Those big blue eyes hit me.

“What did your mother say?” I asked again, leading her the rest of the way to the suite. I unlocked the door.

Giulia pursed her lips. “That I should please you and try to mask my inexperience.” She let out a huff. “Right now, I’m just trying not to pass out from fear.”

Her eyes widened.

I opened the door and motioned for Giulia to go in. I followed and then we were alone in our suite. The living area was vast with two sofas and a dining table, where I set down her glass. It wasn’t a room we’d use, but it was custom to take the biggest suite of the hotel even if all we required was a bedroom. I looked down at my young wife, who’d just been vulnerably honest with me.

“You don’t have to be afraid, Giulia. We have all night.”

Giulia glanced around, her eyes lingering on the door to the left leading to our bedroom. “Do you think drawing it out will make it better?”

I wasn’t sure what would help Giulia. “Tell me what would help ease your fears.”

She considered that. “If it felt like I had a choice.”

“You have a choice,” I said, stepping close to her.

“Do I?” she whispered, peering up at me. “Will you really allow me a choice?”

I wanted her to have a choice. But I wouldn’t show weakness, not in front of Luca, not after I’d already displayed such during our meeting. He wouldn’t have reason to doubt me. Not even my wife’s pretty face and her cute smile could soften my resolve. But a nonexistent choice could still feel like a choice.

“I know what’s expected, Cassio. I know what it would mean for you and my father if we don’t present sheets in the morning.” She swallowed.

I touched her arm, feeling her warmth seep through the thin fabric. “Then make it your choice.”

She searched my eyes. “Okay,” she said quietly.

Relief filled me at her reasonability. At least that distinguished her from my late wife. She surprised me when she headed to the bedroom without prompting. I followed a couple of steps behind her. For the first time, I allowed myself to see her as a woman—something I’d avoided at all costs until now but was a necessity for tonight.

The dress accentuated her narrow waist and the beautiful curve of her hips and butt. Arriving in the bedroom, Giulia stopped and glanced over her shoulder. Despite her obvious nerves, she smiled before she set her purse down on the bench in front of the king-sized bed. Her eyes rested on it for a moment, her blush deepening, then she cleared her throat.

I moved closer to her. Her strawberry scent wafted into my nose, making me wonder if she’d taste just as sweet as her choice in perfume suggested. I took in the intricate lace of her long-sleeved bodice, lingering on the swell of her breasts.

“I have to cut you out of your dress,” I said as I unsheathed my knife from the holster at my chest. Another tradition we couldn’t evade.

She regarded the blade with a small frown before she nodded. Turning around, she tilted her head to the side so her hair wasn’t covering the lace top of her back. Her throat was long and elegant, perfectly unblemished, and I had to resist the urge to press my mouth to it and mark her as mine. Sparing her had appeared easier when we hadn’t been married yet. That I had ever considered it an option seemed ludicrous now. She shifted her face and peered up at me through long lashes, nerves in her eyes.

“Everything okay?” she asked quietly.

“Of course,” I clipped, my voice harsher than intended because I was annoyed at myself. She averted her eyes and stiffened.

An apology teased the tip of my tongue. It never passed. I slid my finger below the lace to lift it off her skin. Goose bumps pimpled every inch of her body when I touched her soft skin. I brought the knife down and cut through the undoubtedly expensive fabric. The resulting hiss made Giulia jump. I stepped back the moment the knife reached her skirt.

Giulia pulled her dress down slowly, her back to me, and I couldn’t look away as she revealed inch over inch of her smooth back. She was topless and only wearing a very skimpy white lace thong. My eyes rested on her perfect ass cheeks, round globes I wanted to sink my teeth into and bury my cock in, a cock that was growing hard watching her.

“Is it okay if I freshen up?”

Her voice tore through my rising arousal. “Of course.”

The gruffness in my voice made Giulia risk a glance up at my face. Then she hurried into the bathroom. Terrifying my young wife before I had to claim her was a fucking stupid thing to do.

Loosening my tie, I walked over to the bench and sank down. My wedding ring, similar to my last one, seemed to mock me. I set my tie down beside me, listening to the sound of running water. Giulia would need patience and care. I had never had much of either to begin with. Since the mess with Gaia, even less than before. I propped my arms up on my thighs, trying to reach a state of mind that would allow me to treat my young wife right. I didn’t want her to resent me.

The door opened, drawing my attention to it and Giulia. She wore a dark blue silk nightgown that reached her knees and hugged her slender frame. Her hair fell down her shoulders in soft brown curls, freed of the too-cute sunflowers. Giulia didn’t move from her spot in the doorframe and nervously smoothed out her bangs then traced the floor with her bare foot.

“What now?”

I met her gaze. She looked to me for guidance, and that was the one thing I had no trouble giving her. I straightened to my full height and held out my hand. “Come here.”

Taking a visible breath, she moved closer until she stood right in front of me. Without her heels, she only reached my chest. Her strawberry scent was more prominent than before, and even though I’d never been a man for the sweet things in life, I suddenly craved it.

I reached up and cupped her head. She held her breath. For a moment, I regarded her pretty face before I leaned down and pressed a simple kiss to her mouth to see how she’d react. She stayed still. Running my thumb over her cheekbone, I repeated the motion. She softened against me.

“Why are you still wearing a jacket?” she asked after the third simple kiss.

Pulling back, I shrugged out of my jacket and flung it over the bench. Giulia’s eyes took me in.

“And the vest?”

Stifling a smile, I started unbuttoning the vest. She didn’t act how I’d feared, not how Gaia had acted. The last button gave me trouble, but before my frustration could rise, Giulia pushed my hand away and opened it with her elegant fingers. I dropped the vest to the bench as well.

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