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The Italian's Christmas Child(8)

By:Lynne Graham

‘I have no condoms,’ Vito bit out in sudden frustration. ‘But I had a health check a few weeks ago and I’m clean.’

‘I’m on the pill,’ Holly framed shakily, belatedly jolted into rational thought by the acknowledgement that she wasn’t about to call a halt to their activities. And why was that? She had never wanted anything or anyone the way she wanted him and surely that was the way it was supposed to be? It felt right. He felt right.

Vito hauled in a shuddering breath of relief and came back down to her again, tasting her reddened mouth again with devouring appetite. Her hands smoothed over him, caressing every part of him she could reach from his wide brown shoulders to the satin-smooth expanse of his back. Desire drove her like an addictive drug. Beneath his touch she writhed, her reactions pitching her desire higher and higher until the mushroom of liquid-honey heat inside her flared up in ecstasy before spreading to every part of her. She gasped, shaken by an almost out-of-body feeling, her entire being singing with the potent rush of pleasure.

And then she felt him pushing at the heart of her, tilting her back for his entrance and she was wildly impatient, needing more, ready to try anything that he could give her. He filled her completely, thrusting deep with a slick, sure forcefulness that took her by surprise. The bite of pain was an equal surprise and she blinked back tears and sank her teeth into her lower lip, grateful that her face was against his shoulder where he couldn’t see her reaction.

‘You’re incredibly wet and tight,’ Vito growled in a roughened undertone. ‘It’s a hell of a turn-on, gioia mia.’

The pinch of discomfort evaporated as he moved and she arched up to receive him. He vented a groan of all-male satisfaction as she joined in, no longer separate in thought and behaviour. That overpowering hunger kicked back in as his fluid, insistent thrusts filled her with renewed enthusiasm. In fact the wild, sweet rhythm of his sensual possession fired a blinding, pulsing excitement inside her. Locked with his, her body was snatched up into a passionate climax that flooded her with exquisite sensation.

Coiling back from her, Vito saw the blood on her thighs. ‘Maledizione...you’re bleeding? Did I hurt you? Why didn’t you stop me?’

Brutally summoned back to reality without warning, Holly snaked back from him and hugged her knees in sudden mortification. ‘It’s all right—’

‘No, you being hurt is not all right in any way,’ Vito shot back at her grimly.

Holly could feel a beetroot-red flush start at her toes and slowly burn up over her whole body. Lifting her head, she clashed reluctantly with glittering dark eyes of angry concern. ‘I wasn’t hurt...at least not the way you mean,’ she explained grudgingly. ‘I was a virgin...and obviously there was some physical evidence of it...which I wasn’t expecting...’

‘A virgin?’ Vito exclaimed in raw disbelief. ‘You were a virgin?’

Snatching up the sweater he had taken off her, Holly pulled it over her again, struggling to slide her arms back into the sleeves. ‘Don’t make such a big deal of it,’ she urged while she was still safely submerged in the wool.

‘It is a big deal!’ Vito grated, springing upright to zip his trousers again and reach for his shirt.

Flushed and uncomfortable, Holly glanced at him unwillingly. ‘Maybe to me but I don’t see why it should bother you!’

‘Don’t you indeed?’ Vito riposted.

‘No, I don’t,’ Holly countered on a rising note of anger because his reaction was the very last thing she had expected from him and the topic mortified her.

Dark eyes flashing gold, Vito studied her. ‘You should’ve warned me. Why didn’t you?’

Holly stood her ground, her vexation stifling her embarrassment. ‘Because it was a private matter and none of your business.’

‘Nothing of that nature stays private when you’re having sex with someone!’

In discomfited retreat, Holly headed towards the shower room she had used earlier. ‘Well, I’ll take your word for that since it was my first experience.’

Vito was inflamed by her refusal to understand and chose to be blunt. ‘I feel like I took advantage of you!’ he admitted harshly.

Holly whirled back at the door. ‘That’s nonsense. I’m not a kid. My body, my choice.’

Vito snatched in a ragged breath, still reeling from the shock of her innocence. He hadn’t told her who he was or indeed anything important about himself. She didn’t, couldn’t understand that in his position he was innately suspicious of anything as unexpected as their encounter and on top of it the very tardy revelation that she was a virgin. With his experience, that revelation had smacked of a possible sting of some kind and he had immediately wondered if she had some kind of hidden agenda. Now gazing into her troubled face, belatedly recognising the hurt and sadness there, he wanted to kick himself for treating her like some sort of scam artist.

‘I’m sorry...’ Vito breathed abruptly. ‘I let my surprise push me into an overreaction, Holly. Of course, it’s your choice...’

Some of her tension evaporated but her eyes remained guarded. ‘I didn’t even think of warning you. And if I had thought of it, I probably would’ve been too embarrassed to mention it.’

‘I wrecked the moment,’ Vito groaned in acknowledgement. He moved forward to close his arms round her and somehow, even after that uneasy exchange, it felt like the best thing in the world to Holly. Her stiffness slowly ebbing, she rested against him, drinking in the heat and the comfortingly hard, masculine contours of his lean, muscular body against hers. ‘I also neglected to tell you that what we shared...it was amazing.’

‘You’re just saying that,’ she mumbled.

‘No. It was amazing, cara mia. Now let’s go upstairs and shower,’ Vito urged, easing her in a different direction, inexplicably keen to keep her close even though something in his brain was urging him to step back.

Amazing? Was that a polite lie? Just something a man said for the sake of it? He had flipped the situation on its head again and she didn’t know how he had achieved that. She blinked in surprise as the lights illuminated a much bigger bedroom than she had expected, airily furnished in stylish tones of grey.

Vito pushed open the door of a very spacious en-suite. ‘You first...unless you’d like company in the shower?’

Holly gave him a startled look. ‘I don’t think I’m ready for that yet.’

Vito laughed in appreciation and bent down to claim her swollen pink mouth with his own in a searing kiss that made every skin cell in her body sit up and take notice. ‘I’ll ask you again in the morning,’ he warned her.

Holly’s attention skated to the giant bed. ‘We’re going to share the bed?’

‘There is only one bedroom here. I was planning to take the sofa.’

‘No, I won’t banish you to the sofa,’ Holly breathed with a sudden grin as she slid past him into the en-suite while barely recognising her own thoughts or feelings. She only knew she didn’t want him to sleep downstairs on the sofa and away from her. That felt wrong.

She stood in the shower feeling astonishingly light-hearted for a woman who had strayed from values that were as ingrained in her as her usual honesty. But making love with Vito had felt right and it was hard to credit that anything that had felt so natural and right could possibly be wrong. After all, they were both single and nobody was being hurt by their being together. What harm could it possibly do for her to go with the flow for a change in a relationship instead of trying to plan everything or wait for some extraordinary special sign? And why on earth was she feeling guilty about Ritchie when he had cheated on her?

It wasn’t as though she had ever imagined that she was in love with Ritchie. She had only been seeing him for a few weeks and, even though he had been full of himself, he had been good company. Was what she felt with Vito a rebound attraction?

But how could it be? Ritchie couldn’t be compared to Vito on any level. Vito utterly overshadowed his predecessor in every way. And just like her secret fantasy, Vito had swept Holly away in the tide of passion she had always dreamt of experiencing. Of course, it wasn’t going anywhere, she reminded herself staunchly, suppressing a pang of sorrow at that acknowledgement. There would be no ongoing relationship with Vito. She didn’t need Vito to spell that out. What they had now was time out of time, separate from their normal lives and associations. Attraction had sparked purely because they were stuck together in a snowbound cottage, and she wasn’t foolish enough to try and make more of it, was she?

She wrapped a towel round herself rather than put on his sweater again and crept out of the bathroom. Clad only in his jeans, which were unbuttoned at the waistband, Vito was towelling his hair dry. He tossed aside the towel, finger-combing his black hair carelessly off his brow. ‘I used the shower downstairs.’

Holly hovered, suddenly awkward. ‘I could have done that. This is your room, after all.’

Vito saw the wary uncertainty in her blue eyes and knew he had put it there. Holly was nothing at all like the women he was accustomed to meeting. Nevertheless he had initially judged her by the cynical standards formed by years of experience with such women. Yet he sensed that she would have been very shocked by the scandal that he had been forced to leave behind him. He had wounded her by questioning her innocence yet that same innocence of hers ironically drew him like a beacon. He crossed the room and closed both arms round her, responding to the inbuilt drive to bridge the gap between them. ‘Tonight it’s our room. Let’s go to bed...’ he urged.