Playing the Billionaire (International Temptation)(7)

By: M.K. Meredith


She texted Susan.

London: Hey, do me a favor and see what you can find out on a Mateu Espasa whose family owns a local citrus orchard. I want to write an article.

Susan: You got it. Sounds sexy. I hate not being there with you. Everything okay?

London: Too sexy. :( You have enough to worry about. But I’m just fine. I’m in Barcelona…even if it is alone. :)

Susan: Stop it! You know I feel terrible.

London: As you should. LOL!

Susan: What eva! Okay, I’ll get back to you ASAP.

London: Thanks, baby doll!

Waving at the doorman, she stepped out into the heavy summer evening air. The Huntington Place grounds sat on a coveted piece of property right off the Balearic Sea and along the southern edge of Gothic Quarter—shopping. In one direction, blue waters flowed in white-capped waves for as far as the eye could see. A multitude of cityscapes reached to the trees of surrounding hillsides in the other. With the distance, it looked as if the city was horseshoed by a tiny mountain range from water’s edge to water’s edge. The most romantic force field she’d ever seen.

A sexy-as-hell pair of heels was first on her agenda. Something to help Mateu remember her when she was gone.

Gothic Quarter was packed like every other street in Barcelona, three to four people deep on every sidewalk, with the energetic hum of pre-dinner and pre-drink conversations. She passed a bakery and breathed deeply, the goodness so rich, she could almost taste the sweet dough of the pastries. Tourists checked out the sights in T-shirts and tennis shoes while locals skimmed the crowds with an inborn sophistication Americans always aspired to. Both walked the streets in a casual manner, as if the buildings didn’t rise above them like they were built from Maleficent’s very own crown. The wrought-iron-spiked windows were both menacing and sensual at the same time.

London entered the exclusive shoe boutique she’d scouted out prior to setting foot on Spanish soil and breathed in the scent of decadence and luxury. Red-soled Christian Louboutins and the classic silhouette of Manolo Blahniks lined shelves like one-of-a-kind pieces of art in Picasso’s very own gallery.

One particular pair caught her eye. A classic-shaped pump with a tall, delicate heel and a peep-toe. Her mother, Alanna, would adore them. Multiple sclerosis hadn’t diminished her mother’s love for shoes, only made the wearing of them infrequent. But you could bet your ass the woman still had a closet full. London grinned and asked the attendant for a size seven.

Taking care of her mom had never been in question, because she’d always been there for London, but the medical bills didn’t leave a lot of room for anything extra. So this trip was all about indulging. She sighed in pure bliss as she ran her fingers along the rich textures until she came to a pair that seemed to whisper her name.

These beauties would more than do the trick.

A tall sandal with an intricate ankle strap of tiny gold and silver chains wrapped around a narrow strip of nude leather was featured front and center on the CL shelf. One strap crossed the toes with the same dainty chains. The shoe was simple but so sexy, kind of like wearing nothing but a pair of nude panties and a diamond bracelet. She tested the light weight of the ankle strap with her fingers.

“They’re exquisite, no?”

London nodded. “They are.” Hell, she might just wear them around her house in nothing at all, just to make sure she gave them their proper due. “I’d like to see them in an eight and a half, please.”

“Of course.”

Slipping her freshly pedicured toes into the fine leather felt insidiously delicious. Any other day, in any other country, the price tag would have made her cry.

But these babies were the life. “I’ll take them and the black peep-toe as well, por favor.”

On the way over, she’d passed a clothing store that had a fine nude, body-skimming dress with spaghetti straps. It wouldn’t give her hips she didn’t have, but at least it would show off her endless squats in the gym. And it would be perfect with the shoes, almost as perfect as wearing them naked.

Almost.

Making her way toward the store, she couldn’t get over the cleanliness of the city and the gritty creativity found in the graffiti. The two didn’t always go hand in hand, but there they were anyway. She ran her fingers along the bright swirling colors of one addition and marveled at the artistry in the work. It should be in a gallery. But then again, what better way for people to see an artist’s story than on the streets?

With her purchases securely held in front of her, along with her cross-body bag, she made her way back to Huntington Place and up to her room, counting how many soccer T-shirts she’d seen along the way. This city was proud of its soccer—fifty-four shirts and counting.