Italian Billionaire's Unwanted Quadruplets(7)

By: Sophia Lynn


“Bitch, you're all alike,” he spat, something ugly in his voice. “Men give you everything and you still think...”

“She still thinks she should be able to go where she wishes when she wishes,” said a new, cold voice. “Let her go.”

I recognize that voice, Pearl thought, and then the man who had grabbed her let out a high-pitched groan before releasing her.

She turned just in time to see the man thrust towards the woods. Like a whipped dog, he didn't even bother looking back as he skittered into the shadows where his kind lurked.

“Disgusting,” Luciano said, looking after him. There was a tension in his back and shoulders that told Pearl that he half-wished the man had wanted a fight.

Without thinking of what she was doing, she reached for his back, touching him gently as if he were a guard dog that needed calming. He relaxed at her first touch, and then he turned to her with a smile.

“I didn't expect to see you again,” he said softly.

Pearl shrugged uneasily. “I suppose I didn't expect to be seen.”

Luciano raised an eyebrow, and she realized what she had admitted. Before she could stammer out an explanation or something that sounded at least a little apologetic, he shrugged, smiling a little. It was a strangely shy and lovely thing.

“So you did run out to avoid me. And gave me a false name on top of it?”

“It's...not really a fake name,” Pearl said, oddly compelled to defend herself. “It's a name I use while touring sometimes. When I want to make sure that people remember.”

“Good,” he said, and she looked at him with surprise.

“Good?”

“I think it's good that you protect yourself. Twice today I've seen you deal with men who felt as if they were entitled to your beauty. I am afraid that I have given you the impression I was one of them.”

There was a part of Pearl's brain that told her she needed to move on from this discussion. There was nothing here that was going to serve her well, not when she felt such a strange draw to this man she didn't even know. Instead, she drifted a little closer.

“Are you not one of them?” she asked, and he smiled slightly.

“I could be very easily,” he admitted, shoving his hands deep into his pockets. “That's what I was assuming at first. Instead...well, instead I saw something that could not be bought, but only given.”

Pearl wanted to pull back, but she stayed where she was. Luciano was handsome, but it went beyond that. Men as handsome had certainly made offers to her before, often while their children were close and their wives were pretending not to look. They probably would have described themselves as princes as well, but something made Pearl hope that Luciano was not like them.

“Do you want to know my name?” she found herself asking.

“If you want to give it to me,” Luciano said with a smile. “But if you don't want to, I want you to keep it. I wonder if you have had more taken from you than you might have wanted in the past.”

The softly uttered words seemed to strike at the very core of her, and she swallowed hard. Pearl almost wanted to ask him what right he had to look so deeply into her, to see so much when others who were closer never had.

“I think I'll keep it to myself for the moment,” she said instead. “You can call me Amilla if you like.”

“I'd rather not,” Luciano said candidly. “If I cannot call you by your right name, perhaps I should simply call you my mermaid instead.”

“When did I become yours?” Pearl wanted to make it a challenge, but it came out soft, almost wistful.

Luciano looked as if he was going to say something, but then he shook his head. She started to ask him what he meant, but he took her hand. It was a startlingly gentle touch, far different from the way she had been grabbed earlier, and the moment his hand touched hers, a spark jumped between them, so bright and bold that she almost thought she could see it. Before she could cry out, he tugged her into his arms.

I've never felt this way about anyone before, she thought, and then he was slanting his mouth over hers, his lips claiming hers in a deep and perfect kiss. For several long seconds, she simply gave herself over to the kiss, wondering in the power of such a sweet touch. Then the heat in her burst fully formed into flame, and she couldn't stop herself from throwing her arms around Luciano and dragging him even closer. Her fire lit a fire in him, and the kiss grew more desperate, needier. She felt his hands roaming up and down her back, increasingly possessive and desperate.

They broke for air, looking at each other with slightly wild eyes. Pearl realized she had matched her breathing to his, as if something in that kiss had married them to one another. His breath was now hers, and vice versa. There was so much power in that thought that Pearl let out a soft cry, her hand flying up to cover her mouth. Luciano stepped closer in concern, and then he stepped back, aware of her distress.