Latin Lovers

By: Helen Bianchin

Aysha recognised each and every one of his qualities, and wondered if she was woman enough to hold him.

‘Would you care to order dessert, Miss Benini?’

The young waiter’s desire to please was almost embarrassing, and she offered him a gentle smile. ‘No, thanks, I’ll settle for coffee.’

‘You’ve made a conquest,’ Carlo drawled as the waiter retreated from their table.

Her eyes danced with latent mischief. ‘Ah, you say the nicest things.’

‘Should I appear jealous, do you think?’

She wanted to say, only if you are. And since that was unlikely, it became easy to play the game.

‘Well, he is young, and good-looking.’ She pretended to consider. ‘Probably a university student working nights to pay for his education. Which would indicate he has potential.’ She held Carlo’s dark gleaming gaze and offered him a brilliant smile. ‘Do you think he’d give up the room he probably rents, sell his wheels... a Vespa scooter at a guess... and be a kept toy-boy?’

His soft laughter sent shivers over the surface of her skin, raising fine body hairs as all her nerve-endings went haywire.

‘I think I should take you home.’

‘I came in my own car, remember?’ she reminded him, and saw his eyes darken, the gleam intensify.

‘A bid for independence, or an indication you’re not going to share my bed tonight?’

She summoned a winsome smile, and her eyes shone with wicked humour. ‘Teresa is of the opinion catering to your physical needs should definitely be my priority.’

‘And Teresa knows best?’ His voice was silky-smooth, and she wasn’t deceived for a second.

‘My mother believes in covering all the bases,’ Aysha relayed lightly.

His gaze didn’t shift, and she was almost willing to swear he could read her mind. ‘As you do?’

Her expression sobered. ‘I don’t have a hidden agenda.’ Did he know she was in love with him? Had loved him for as long as she could remember? She hoped not, for it would afford him an unfair advantage.

‘Finish your coffee,’ Carlo bade gently. ‘Then we’ll leave.’ He lifted a hand in silent summons, and the waiter appeared with the bill.

Aysha watched as Carlo signed the slip and added a generous tip, then he leaned back in his chair and surveyed her thoughtfully.

She was tense, but covered it well. His eyes narrowed faintly. ‘Do we have anything planned next weekend?’

‘Mother has something scheduled for every day until the wedding,’ she declared with unaccustomed cynicism.

‘Have Teresa reorganise her diary.’

Aysha looked at him with interest. ‘And if she won’t?’

‘Tell her I’ve surprised you with airline tickets and accommodation for a weekend on the Gold Coast.’

‘Have you?’

His smile held humour. ‘I’ll make the call the minute we reach my apartment.’

Her eyes shone, and she broke into light laughter. ‘My knight in shining armour.’

Carlo’s voice was low, husky, and held amusement. ‘Escape,’ he accorded. ‘Albeit brief.’ He stood to his feet and reached out a hand to take hold of hers. His gleaming gaze seared right through to her heart. ‘You can thank me later.’

Together they made their way through the room to the front desk.

The maître d’ was courteously solicitous. ‘I’ll arrange with the concierge to have your cars brought to the front entrance.’

Both vehicles were waiting when they reached the lobby. Carlo saw her seated behind the wheel of her Porsche, then he crossed to his Mercedes to fire the engine within seconds and ease into the line of traffic.

Aysha followed, sticking close behind him as he traversed the inner city streets heading east towards Rose Bay and his penthouse apartment.

When they reached it she drove down into the underground car park, took the space adjoining his private bay, then walked at his side towards the bank of lifts in companionable silence.

They didn’t need a house, she determined minutes later as she stepped into the plush apartment lobby.

The drapes weren’t drawn, and the view out over the harbour was magnificent. Fairy lights, she mused as she crossed the lounge to the floor-to-ceiling glass stretching across one entire wall.

City buildings, street lights, brightly coloured neon vying with tall concrete spires and an indigo sky.

Aysha heard him pick up the phone, followed by the sound of his voice as he arranged flights and accommodation for the following weekend.

‘We could have easily lived here,’ she murmured as he came to stand behind her.

‘So we could.’ He put his arms around her waist and pulled her back against him.

She felt his chin rest on the top of her head, sensed the warmth of his breath as it teased her hair, and was unable to prevent the slight shiver as his lips sought the vulnerable hollow beneath the lobe of one ear.

She almost closed her eyes and pretended it was real. That love not lust, and need not want, was Carlo’s motivation.

A silent groan rose and died in her throat as his mouth travelled to the edge of her neck and nuzzled, his tongue, his lips erotic instruments as he tantalised the rapidly beating pulse.