‘Well, don’t you look comfortable.’
Sarah started, blinked. The man standing on the path had appeared from
nowhere. His face was in shadow, his eyes masked by dark glasses so that
she couldn’t read his expression, but while his tone was neutral, it was
‘Am I trespassing?’ she asked, doing her best to remain calm despite the
frisson of nerves that riffled through her. He didn’t look dangerous, but
she was on her own. No one knew where she was.
is private land, signora.’
‘But there’s a footpath —’
‘There is also a gate. Hint enough, I’d have thought.’
‘It was locked.’
‘Someone held it open for me. A young man in a hurry.’ Then, ‘Hold on.’
He was speaking in English. Sexily accented as only an Italian could do
it, but English none the less. ‘How did you know?’
‘That you were here?’
‘That I’m English.’
‘Actually,’ he said, mocking her, ‘the young man, having made his escape,
spared a moment of his precious time to warn me that I had an intruder.’
‘Warn you?’ She remembered him reaching for his mobile phone as
he’d walked away, how she’d imagined him talking to some girl… ‘What on
earth did he think I was going to do?’ she demanded.
‘Shin up the drainpipe and pinch the family silver?’
Torn between annoyance and amusement, she had hoped he’d realise how
ridiculous he was being. Maybe laugh. She couldn’t see his eyes, but his
generous mouth seemed made for laughter.
He did neither.
She’d left her bag at the foot of the wall and without so much as a
by-your-leave, he picked it up and began to go through it.
‘Oi!’ she protested, as he took out her phone. The nerve of the man!
‘Didn’t your mother tell you that you must never, ever, under any
circumstances look in a lady’s handbag?’
‘First we have to establish that you are a lady,’ he replied, glancing up
from his perusal of her messages, regarding her for a moment, as if he was
considering whether to search her, too.
‘Don’t even think about it,’ she warned.
scoop-necked designer t-shirt she’d teamed with cropped Maybridge market
jeans convinced him that there wasn’t room to hide as much as a teaspoon
about her person. Or maybe he was saving that pleasure for later.
It was a thought that should have made her feel a lot more nervous than it
Whatever the reason, he returned his attention to her phone, going through
her messages, then her emails. Pausing at one, he looked over the top of
his glasses at her with a pair of ink-dark eyes.
‘Have you found him yet, Sarah
For a moment she was mesmerized by the way he said her name. The vowels
long and slow, like thick cream being poured from a jug. The man exuded
sensuality. Every movement, every syllable seemed to stroke her…
‘Him?’ she repeated, before she began to purr. No… That wasn’t right. She
was looking for Lucia…
‘The “…dark-eyed Italian lover…”?’ he prompted.
Oh, great. He’d found Lex’s email. But no one who taught a mixed class of
teenagers could afford to betray the slightest sign of embarrassment. The
first hint of a blush and you were toast.
You had to look them in the eye, stand your ground, come back with a swift
riposte that would make the class laugh with you, not at you.
‘Why?’ she asked. ‘Are you interested in the job?’
It would have been spot on if it had come out sharp and snappy as intended
but something had gone seriously wrong between her brain and her mouth.
Between concept and delivery.
It was his eyes. Dark as night but with the crackle of lightning in their
Under that gaze, sharp had lost its edge, snap had turned to a soft, gooey
fudge and apparently taking it as an invitation, he reached out, slid his
fingers through her hair, cradling her head in the palm of his hand. There
was a seemingly endless pause while she frantically tried to redial her
brain. Call for the cavalry.
Her brain was apparently engaged, busy dealing with a bombardment of
signals. The sun hot on her arms, her throat, her breasts. The sensuous
sweep of the mouth hovering above her own. The scent of warm skin,
The world seemed to have slowed down and it took forever for his lips to
reach hers. Somewhere, deep inside her brain the word “…no…” was teetering
on the brink. All she had to do was move her lips,
say it but
her butter-soft mouth seemed to belong to someone else.
When it parted, it was not to protest and as his mouth found hers a tingle
of something like recognition raced like wildfire through her blood,
blotting out reason. Her body, with nothing to guide it, softened, melted
against him, murmured, “Yes…”
It wasn’t enough and she clutched at his shoulders, fingers digging into
hard flesh as she began to fall back, leaving gravity to take them down
into the soft thick grass on the shady side of the wall.
For a moment she could feel it, was breathing in the green, sweet scent of
grass, herbs crushed beneath them. The weight of his body, the sweep of
his hand beneath the silk, lighting up her skin as it moved over her ribs.
Her nipple achingly hard in anticipation of his touch.
There was a sickening jolt, like that moment when you were on the point of
falling asleep and something dragged you back.
‘What did you say?’
Sarah opened her eyes. She was still sitting on the wall, not clinging to
this stranger but being supported by him, as if he thought that she was
about to fall.
‘Are you all right?’ His voice seemed to be coming from under water.
She was back from wherever she’d been, whoever she’d been – because
she wasn’t the kind of woman who invited total strangers to kiss her.
‘This was where they said goodbye…’
Lex had taken her photograph and kissed her and they’d made love there in
the soft thick grass of early summer one last time before he’d taken the
path down into the village. Flown away.
She turned and looked behind her to where her hat was lying in the grass.
Not the sweet and green grass of early summer—
‘Sarah!’ he said, rather more urgently.
‘It’s dry,’ she said. And little shiver ran through her. ‘The grass.’
‘Autumn?’ She shook her head, forced herself to concentrate.
‘Are you all right?’ he repeated, eyes narrowed.
‘Yes.’ Pull yourself together… ‘Yes, of course I am.’
He touched a thumb to her cheek, his hand cradling her face as he wiped
away a tear. ‘Then why the tears?’
She swiped her palm across her cheek. ‘Hay fever,’ she said, grabbing for
the first answer that came into her head.
Had he actually kissed her?
Her lips still tingled with a lingering taste of the perfect kiss but had
it been a fleeting fantasy? A phantom conjured up by the place, by old
memories, by her own loss?
She blinked, saw a tiny smear of lipstick on the corner of his mouth. Of
course he’d kissed her. She’d practically begged him to. What on earth had
There were no answers, but her brain finally picked up, answered her call
for help. Speak. Move. Get out of here…
‘I’m allergic to chrysanthemums,’ she said, sliding down from the wall,
forcing him to step back. ‘It’s hereditary.’ Her knees buckled slightly
as she hit the ground, her legs unexpectedly shaky beneath her and he
caught her elbow to steady her. ‘Great interview, by the way.’ She took a
breath, reached for her bag. She really needed to get out of here, but he
was blocking her way. And he still had her phone. ‘Leave your number with
my secretary and I’ll let you know.’
She’d made a stab for crispness but her voice could have done with longer
in the salad drawer.
He continued to look at her for a moment, as if half expecting her to
crumple at his feet.
She lifted a brow. The one guaranteed to bring a sassy fifth year into
Apparently reassured that she wasn’t about to collapse, he said, ‘Don’t
wait too long. I’m not short of offers.’ But his voice too, had lost its
edge and the accent seemed more pronounced, as if he was having a
chocolate fudge moment of his own.
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From the book
FLIRTING WITH ITALIAN by Liz Fielding
Text Copyright © 2012
by Liz Fielding
Cover Art Copyright ©
2012 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover art used by
Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved.
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