The elevator was covered with floor-to-ceiling mirrors that perfectly reflected the passionate kisses they shared. They eased into each other’s bodies once more, relishing the privacy of the four walls. Lisa lifted her tongue to his, slipping it along his lip, and sighing deeply. She had never been held so tight.
The elevator dinged and the doors slid open to reveal the penthouse suite—the place Francesco called home during his New York visits. The moment the view registered, Lisa’s jaw dropped. The stark contrast of this place to her one-bedroom apartment gave her momentary pause.
But Francesco gave her a coaxing smile and placed his fingers at the small of her back, nudging her forward. “Make yourself at home.”
Lisa giggled as she entered, slipping her shoes from her feet and trotting toward the broad windows, which gave a stunning view of the city below. Lights sparkled; countless windows, all across the city.
She and the Prince were tucked away in their own little world, safe from the autumn wind.
“What do you think?” Francesco asked, appearing at her side. “I had the place decorated by a famous Aluzzian designer.”
The living room was a perfect marriage of modernity and tradition, offering sleek furniture and bright, bold, Mediterranean colors. Tapestries hung on the walls, along with several Roman-looking paintings, which complimented the trendy lamps and modern coffee tables strewn throughout. She felt breathless, unable to put her impression into words.
“Wow,” she finally breathed, feeling foolish. “I’ve never seen anything so—”
Francesco nodded, cupping her chin with his hands. “I knew you’d like it. You, with your artistic eye.”
He leaned toward her, then, and kissed her once more, wrapping her close. Lisa’s vision of the oranges and bright reds of his apartment fled from her eyes. She didn’t need them any longer.
He lifted her, drawing her legs up over his arms, and carried her to his bedroom, with its California king-sized bed, its lamps with their soft, romantic glow. He laid her upon the comforter, gazing lustfully at her, before diving into her neck and kissing her, tracing his finger over her shoulders and down the length of her torso.
They undressed each other. They fell into each other’s arms and made love beneath the sheets, there in that room. Trust mixed with sexual passion. In Lisa’s mind, the emotion edged dangerously close to love.
And, as Lisa’s eyelids fluttered, and she drifted toward sleep, all thoughts of Rocco and of ruining this intelligent, beautiful man for the sake of a few bucks, fled from her. Francesco’s breath came easily as he inhaled and exhaled, leaving her alone with her thoughts. She couldn’t have dreamed of a better day of her life.
And despite Francesco’s very different upbringing, his sense of the world was rather similar to her own. They were soldiers, fighting through expectations and resentments. But together, they were allowed moments of sheer pleasure. And that was beautiful.
Sunlight draped in the wide window in the Prince’s bedroom, highlighting the gleam of Lisa’s blond hair and articulating the strong, Roman nose of Francesco, who snored ever so slightly in his sleep. Lisa’s eyes opened easily, hopeful in the brightness of this new morning and new reality. Despite having only had a few hours of sleep, she felt strong, sensual, and ready to take on the world.
As she shifted beneath the covers, Francesco awoke and turned toward her, the warmth of him folding over her. She wrapped her arms around his chest and pressed herself into him, kissing him hungrily. The moment she broke away from him, she wrapped her legs around his waist, whispering to him.
“I can’t believe I met you.”
“I feel the same way.”
“I never want to leave your bed,” she whispered.
“Then don’t. I’ll mandate it. I’m a prince, after all.”
“And your power extends to the United States?” she asked.
“If I say it does,” he said playfully, kissing her nose. “Why not?”
“You pompous Aluzzians,” she said, laughing. “I can’t trust you as far as I can throw you. Which isn’t far. Look at these hulking muscles.”
She strapped her fingers over his bicep, unable to wrap her hand around it. She squeezed as he flexed, giggling. “It’s almost like you have the power to go all night long. And maybe all day, if you feel like it.” She peered into his eyes, daring him to forget that the rest of the world existed, for just a few hours longer.
“What else would I do today?” he asked. “If not assess every single inch of your body? I need to make sure that you’re fit for travel. I want to take you all over the world, to show you some of the most beautiful sights. Have you been to Fiji?”
“Fiji?” Lisa laughed. “I haven’t left the East Coast since I got here. Just the occasional drive back to Detroit, when I can scrape the funds together.”
“Would I like Detroit?” the Prince asked her. “Are there more people like you there?”
“Sorry, sir. There’s no one else quite like me,” Lisa said, her voice faux-cocky. She lifted from him, then, stretching languidly. “I don’t even know what day it is. Or what time.”
“You’re back at the Matador later?” he asked her.
Lisa blinked rapidly, trying to remember what in the world the “Matador” was. In a moment, the memory trickled back: her pretending to be a waitress, meeting the Prince, diving into a night of raucous pleasure with him, and imagining it would never end. Was this the ending? Was this question—an affirmation of the distance between them—the final straw?
But no. It wasn’t.
As she sat, nestling into him, she heard her phone, blaring from her coat pocket. She shifted nervously, panicking.
“You can let that go,” Francesco said, kissing her ear. “Remember. I mandate it.”