Interviewing the Italian (Chapters Four and Five)


Chapter Four

 

He never did answer that question about the gun or the Doberman. His pink lips shifted into something akin to a smile but with a dangerous edge to it.  Augostino Romani was a hard man to figure out.  Instead of answering, he stood up and offered me his hand.  I looked at his hand and then back up to his gaze. I was still sitting. Why wasn’t he answering me?  When someone avoids you like that, you don’t just blindly go with them, regardless of how handsome he was.

He took a deep breath and I could see his chest expand, stretching the material of his plum colored shirt. Does he ever wear anything that made him less appealing? I noticed he had forgone the tie today and his top button was undone.  I could not take my gaze off the furtive showing of his neck.  It was hypnotic watching him do something as simple as swallowing.  He cleared his throat and my eyes snapped to his.  His hand still outstretched, his fingers curled to a ‘come to me’ gesture.

“I’m going to take you on a tour of my offices. Everything you’ll need to know will become clear eventually.” His tone dropped to a dangerous vibrato that exuded confidence and mystery.  Swallowing and taking a fortifying breath, I nodded. . I was rarely intimidated by anything, especially not a man, but deep down I felt like August was more than just a mere man. He was a danger to my view of the world. He was powerful, true, but he didn’t try to bully me, although he could,  from the predatory way he walked, I knew August was rarely told no or denied, but there was something about him that was definitely hidden, a secret.  Most people aren’t arrogant for the fuck’s sake of being an ass.   August was no different, unfortunately for him,   I had a serious case of curiosity when it came to him.

I took his hand and allowed him to lead me out of his office.  He tucked my arm safely inside his and I felt like we were walking more like a couple than boss and employee.  As we passed his secretary’s desk, she tried to mask the look of shock on her face. I knew what she was looking at. I would be shocked to if I saw my boss linked arm and arm with one of his employees.   He didn’t seem to notice, or he  just didn’t care because he told her to cancel any appointments for today and hold all his calls, except any from Adriano.  She swallowed and her eyes narrowed as her gaze settled on me. Returning her same icy stare, I wondered if she knew just how green and jealous she looked. I have seen her type before I thought as I looked at her from head to toe, she was the unassuming secretary, but it was a strategic plan. I could tell that the simple ponytail that held her auburn curls took time to perfect. Her ‘minimal’ make up was actually a lot of make-up used to look natural. Her simple black pencil skirt had a slit up the front thigh and her top was a size too small.  Yes, I knew her type and she worried too much. I was not about to cross that line of boss and employee. She can have that role. It wasn’t in the cards for me. I didn’t let my eyes waiver from hers as August signed some papers she handed to him.  What did I have to be ashamed of? Finally, the game grew tiresome and she averted her gaze to August.  He had been staring at her as well.  I am pretty sure he did not miss the visual show down between me and “Sally Secretary.”  I knew he didn’t as he took his hand and covered my fingers that were resting in the crook of his elbow.  His heated touch shattered the icy moment between the secretary and me.  His hands were soft yet slightly calloused. Apparently he wasn’t always privileged; there was some point where he must have worked, either for fun or for a living. He kept getting more and more interesting.  August propelled me out of the door and took me on a tour of his offices. There was the accounting, human resources and so many names I couldn’t remember.  Yet, the people changed but the response to August was always the same. He was respected and feared at the same time. Was he really a tyrant to work for, or was it that he never really interacted with his employees?

As we approached a huge set of metal double doors, August finally let go of my arm. I honestly didn’t even notice that he had kept me that close during the two hour tour of his business.  He turned to look at me with a very serious stare. His eyes were a cool blue, as if he was trying to see through me.

He put his hands in his black tailored slacks and studied me for a moment. I returned his gaze evenly, even though a part of me wanted to yell ‘what?’

“This is the lab. This is where all of the new projects are housed.  Before we walk through that door, I need to know that I have total loyalty to me and that you will not even think to speak about what you have seen.”  It wasn’t phrased as a question, and I didn’t take it as one. A part of me prickled and got defensive. He did a background check on me for heaven’s sake!  As hard as it was, I pushed the defensive feeling down and attempted to sound civil. After all, this was his idea.  I latched my hands behind my back and bit my tongue so none of my my angry retorts came out of my mouth.

“Mr. Romani, please don’t show me anything if you feel as though I can’t be trusted, I won’t take it personal. I can tell you that I don’t leak, I don’t spy, and I definitely don’t steal. You, having researched me as well, should know this.” Damn, that still sounded bitchy.  I knew it when he raised that one damned eyebrow at me again. I really knew it when I saw a line in his squared jaw tick. Taking a deep breath I tried to recover my wayward bitchiness. I purposely dropped my tone to a husky breathlessness that I hoped took all edge off what I was trying to say. “What I am trying to say is that, no, I won’t say anything, but you don’t have to take my word for it. The tour can stop here if you like.”

I ventured to look into his eyes again as his hands came out of his pocket. They were clinched in tight fists.  He was still appeared agitated, because his cool blue eyes had turned into that threatening navy color again.  He walked extremely close to me and his nose was almost touching mine. I had to lift my chin just to make eye contact. I could feel the heated air coming from his flared nostrils and settling around my face. Should I apologize?

“My employees call me August. No one calls me Mr. Romani. No one.”  He said through gritted teeth. Abruptly, he turned and walked to a mirrored black surface next to the doors and pressed his hands against it. A cyan light scanned both of his large hands and the double doors slid open with a faint swoosh.

He stood to the side and with both hands motioned for me to walk through the doors. I hurried through them as if I was being chased. If I was honest to myself, I just didn’t want to be alone with the man. He was intoxicating one minute and had me scared senseless the next. All because I called him by his last name he got in my face?  That was the second time he got testy when I mentioned it. I had a feeling this was going to be a real interesting assignment.

I followed him around as he showed me various projects he was working on. I asked him questions about his timeline for launch, his other ideas and as he talked, my own excitement started building inside of me. By the time the tour of the lab had finished, I almost found myself regretting being a mere journalist instead of an engineer. His work seemed so fresh and it was hard not to get caught up in the rush of problem solving.  Walking around the lab seemed to put him at ease as well because he was no longer growling. As we rode in the elevator back to his office, I glanced at my watch. It was past six o’clock in the evening? How could I have not noticed how late it was and we missed lunch? As if on cue, my stomach let out a low growl. I sent a sidelong glance in August’s direction and I could tell he heard it. He couldn’t keep the smirk off his face if he wanted to. As embarrassing as it was, I needed to satisfy my stomach.  I knew I had some sort of pasta at my apartment.

As we walked into his office, I picked up my shoulder bag and just began talking.

“Ok, so I will meet you back here tomorrow August?”  His head bobbed up from the papers he was gathering into briefcase. His narrowed gaze halted me. What did I say now?

“What part of 24/7 didn’t you understand Yvonne?” His said, sounding even more dangerous than he did at the lab entrance.

“I’m a writer, I thought it was a figure of speech.” I know he wasn’t thinking what I prayed he wasn’t thinking!

“I don’t use ‘figures of speech’. I say exactly what I mean. When I said 24/7 I meant just that.” His tone was low, but the way he snapped his briefcase closed and took my shoulder bag from me.  Taking a firm hold on my elbow, he marched me over to his bookcase.  Pressing an unseen button, unseen because I was still in shock, I saw the bookcase slide back to reveal a private elevator. Who was he, Batman?  I was speechless as he escorted me into the elevator I stayed speechless.  He expected me really to be around him all day and night?  Apparently. He led me to a sleek black sports car. I shook off the shock long enough to notice we were in a private garage.   There were two other cars, a white formal looking Lexus and another black pick-up with alloy wheels. There was also a motorcycle. This man was constantly shocking me. Most people with his wealth would have at least had a driver.

I cleared my throat as I watched him put our bags in the back of his trunk. He shrugged off his suit coat and laid it in the trunk over our bags. August closed the trunk quickly and opened my side of the door. I slid in, almost afraid to say a word.  After he slid in the car and turned on the ignition, only then, did he explain his rude behavior.  He took a deep breath and for a moment, I thought he would apologize.

“I am a loner, and I am not used to having to explain my actions to anyone.  When I said 24/7 I thought you understood. I mean where I go, you go, always, home, work, play, you are there.” He rushed out, as he rolled up his sleeves to his elbows. Does this man have a gentle side? Hell, does he even know how to apologize? My stomach chose to pick that moment to make its emptiness known.  I was too hungry to even come up with a hot tempered reply that would satisfy me.  “Let us get you fed huh?” his tone softening, almost sounding as if he was concerned.  Yet, a part of me felt agitated and worried. Scolding myself for not thinking this through, and realizing that I really don’t know who August is, I started to fidget in the low bucket seats.   This probably wasn’t the best ‘impulsive’ thing that I have done. I haven’t even told Lena yet.   I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and began to type a quick email to Lena, vaguely explaining what was going on.  I caught him throwing me sidelong glances. I wasn’t offering up any more information.

“What are you doing?” I realized that he could have whispered as quiet as it was in the speeding sports car.  Yet, August doesn’t whisper, he either growls or stares.  There is no such thing as whispering with him. As I contemplated an answer, I saw his forearms tense waiting for my response. His veins began to bulge from the skin, and I quickly swallowed. Damn him.

“Sending out a text so everyone knows I’ve been kidnapped.”  Chew on that you controlling prick.The son of a bitch laughed at me. I am not speaking of a small chuckle. No, Augostino Romani let out a belly laugh that induced tears in his eyes.  He cast me a look quickly and averted his gaze back to the road.

“No one would believe you bellisima. I do remember some magazines have called me a playboy.” He accent became thicker the further we sped from his office. It was a melodic sound, not the over inflected Italian accents from the movies, but natural, soothing, like waves of the ocean lapping a sandy beach. I sucked in a huge breath. I have lost it. I am getting lost in his voice. I needed a mental shake. As I looked down at my phone, I see Lena’s text message in capital letters. It simply said “WHAT?”  If I knew Lena, which I do, I know she was pacing up and down trying to figure out how in the world I went from an interview to a personal journalist.  I typed back “Don’t worry, I’m fine. It was the sneakers.”

She typed back a smile face and something that I would say resembled devil horns. “Details required. Be safe.”  I fought back a smile as I slid the phone into my purse.  At least now I could rest easy, knowing that someone knew that this ‘playboy’ was commandeering my time.

He cleared his throat. I didn’t think he was the type of man used to being ignored or not commanding all the attention.  I turned and watched him drive for a moment.  His movements were sure and confident. I looked around and could tell we were outside of DC’s city limits because there were actually lawns in front of the houses we passed.

“Ok, playboy,” I could hear his growl as I let the nickname slip “I was just letting someone know that I was safe.  I wouldn’t want anyone to worry.  Now, can we get back to interviewing?”

“Si.” He gave a small nod of the head and I was back in the driver’s seat. It was the only place that I was comfortable.

“So where are you taking me?” I said.

“To my home in Maryland. It is close enough to commute, but for enough away for my privacy sake.”

“Ok. Any girlfriend’s that might find me riding in a sleek tricked out sports car with you a little objectionable?”

“The last girlfriend I had was Lucy. We dated for a while, but we broke it off about a month ago.” He still said that with a tight lip and there was a hint of a snarl.  Unfortunately I had read the gossip pages on him and Lucy, and I knew they had reportedly been engaged.

“Were you two really engaged?”  I bit my lip. Why did I always seem to stick my foot in my mouth around him?

“Yes.” Ouch, no wonder he was touchy.  One thing I’d learned that day, is that I have a habit of saying the wrong thing.   Although most journalists do.  I could tell by the way the fine hairs on my arms began to stand up, he was eyeing me with an icy glare. I had spent most of that day not talking to him, just sitting back and observing the way that he conducted himself. He was all about business, but whether he kept his tone professional or not, he said a lot more with his body language.  I could tell when there were too many questions about simple tasks when his jaw began to tick. I could tell that he was deep in thought when his eyebrows almost came together. At that moment, well, I know that I personally had ticked him off enough times to know he was angry when his voice dropped to a whisper.  I took a moment to stare out the window and noticed we were pulling up in front of a large estate, no, massive estate. As we roll in through the privacy gates, I noticed that everything was secure. I took note of several cameras positioned around the fences, it appeared to be someone on the roof and if I was not mistaken, there were several bodyguards at the door.  I think I may have been kidnapped by Bruce Wayne.

 

Chapter Five

“You won’t need a Doberman, I have ten of them.” August chuckled and I was slacked jawed.  He finally managed to answer the question and I was too speechless to give a damn. August preceded me out of the car and came to open my door. He offered his hand to me to help me out.  I took in my surroundings while one of the large men came towards August and launched into an update. August still had my hand nestled in the crook of his arm.  I tried to tune out what the guard was saying but when I heard my apartment’s address being mentioned; I whipped my head at August.

“They will drive back to your apartment tonight and pick up some clothes and things that you think you will need. Do you have a key to give them?” August said, his tone calm, as if this was an everyday occurrence.  Who knows, for him, perhaps it was. I fumbled around with my key in my purse. I snatched the clipboard from the waiting guard, and pulled the pen from behind my ear.  I wrote down instructions of what should be touched and what shouldn’t be touched.  It was still awkward, but with August smiling at me in approval, it was worth the risk.  If he was going to play his role, I was going to play mine.  My thoughts quickly turned to what type of questions I would ask, starting with his childhood and how did his brother become a detective.

Turnabout is fair play in my book and since he started to control various aspects of my life, I was going to get to know various aspects of his, intimately.   As the guard finished his report, he beckoned for two other guards to come to him. He handed them my scrawled list and my keys.  As I looked at the four men, I realized one thing. August was taller than all of them. What was the point of having security when you are taller and broader than the ones supposedly protecting you?  While I was working that thought over in my mind, I felt I was being led to the inside of the house.  When we walked into the foyer, I was so glad that he still had my arm. I would have fainted. The ceilings were high and lit with crystal chandeliers, and what looked like a rendition of the Creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel. This was too much. He wanted me to live here? I was going to get lost within thirty minutes.

“August?” I said, stopping in the middle of the floor. I needed a moment.

“Overwhelmed?” He said, his voice for once sounding human, husky, not like some caged wounded animal.

“You can say that.  Ok, it has been a long day, and perhaps I can have an expedition tomorrow, but I think I am going on overload. I need dinner.”

“I am sorry, I keep forgetting most people eat dinner well before midnight. Your rooms are down that hall. Beatrice will show you the way.” All of a sudden, a housekeeper clad in a gray uniform materialized. Is that what he means by beck and call; to appear when mentioned like magic? “Beatrice, good evening. Please show Ms. Mason her rooms and then lead her to the dining room. I think a light supper would be good.” Turning to me, he nodded his head and said, “I have a few phone calls to make. I will see you in the dining room.” With a turn, he was gone. His Armani shoes didn’t make a sound as he walked on the tile floor. Beatrice led me down a long hall and to a huge room. She reminded me of a pear with a wig. She was round and her tight curls bounced as she bounced down the hall. Even Beatrice made some noise in her sensible sneakers. They squeaked on the polished marble floor.

“Right this way Ms. Mason.” I couldn’t manage to close my mouth. There was a large four poster bed, made of oak or maybe walnut. I didn’t honestly know, all I could describe was that it was majestic. The fluffy comforter was stripped royal blue and gold.  I couldn’t resist but to fling myself onto it. The bed was soft and squishy. How I could really get a good night sleep in here? My stomach let another rumble. Right, food, and then sleep. I couldn’t help but to take another sweeping view of the room. It seemed as though the room was comprised of oak from ceiling to floor. Something about the room reminded me of August. The desk settled in the corner was an exact replica of the one in his office at Romani Enterprises.  I put down my purse. There wasn’t much I could do until my bags arrived. I noticed that Beatrice was still standing there. I looked at her and just smiled.

“Might as well get this show on the road,” I said as I kicked off my heels. I took my hair up into a hair binder I keep around my wrist, probably out of habit, and walked out. I counted the doors and made sure I knew how to get back. We walked into a large formal dining room with a huge wood table that looked like it could sit at least twenty people.  I saw August speaking rapidly into a phone in a flurry of Italian, pacing back and forth at the head of the table.  The chairs were plush and I walked as close to the pacing August as I dared. A butler, for heaven’s sake, a butler materializes and pulls out the cream and gold high backed chair. I couldn’t believe this. Security guards, butlers, maids, I was definitely not in Kansas anymore. As I sat and the butler disappeared like smoke, I focused on August’s conversation.

“Adriano…” August sighed into the receiver. “Sì farò attenzione.” My Italian was rusty, but I knew he said he would be careful. What did August need to be careful about? All of my senses screamed at me to be on alert. I could only understand certain phrases, but I couldn’t begin to untangle them as I began to officially become a nervous wreck. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I sat down, letting my analytical mind take over. If he did all that research on me, he would know that I would know some Italian and French. So he would not be speaking it to hide something from me. At least I didn’t think so.  As I waited for the conversation to end, I tried to assimilate some facts about how I went from being a simple reporter to a personal journalist that may or may not be in danger. I looked around. There were several security cameras in the dining room and who knows how many throughout the rest of the house. Engineers shouldn’t be this paranoid, or maybe August is that paranoid.  I was trying not to overreact. I took deep breaths and stared at him as he sat down, finishing the phone call with a decisive press of the end button. Was he smiling at me?  I looked down at the plate of cheese, bread and grapes.  That is right, Italians eat in courses. It was going to be a long night. There was a white wine bottle at my elbow that all my instincts were telling me not to drink, not yet. Not until I found out what was really going on, then I might need the whole bottle. He took his seat next to me, and picked up one of the small wedges of white cheese. He held it in between his thumb and forefinger, giving the cheese a good squeeze, and then, opening his pink full lips slightly, placing the wedge in his mouth. As he chewed thoughtfully I wondered if he was trying to turn me on purposely or was I just that easily turned on. It had been a long time since, well since anything.  Trying to clamp down on my raging hormones, I looked back at my plate. Taking one deep breath, I didn’t bother by looking up at him as I spoke.

“Ok, I am not going to overreact, and I am not going to pitch a fit. But are you going to tell me what that was all about, or do I need to pry?”

“That was Adriano.” He said and that was all his said. He picked up a grape and popped it into his mouth. He was the most infuriating man I had ever met.

“I know who it was,” As my top lip curled in frustration, I realized I was not going to get information from him if I seemed disturbed.   I smiled sweetly at him, and batted my lashes.  “August, look, you want me to be your personal journalist, but you keep me in the dark about a lot of things and you aren’t all that trusting. Tell me again why you want me to be under you all the time?”  I clamped my mouth shut. It didn’t take an engineer or a genius to figure out how that sounded. I risked looking at him from underneath my lashes, and as I figured, that damn eyebrow was raised again.  This time, not out of anger. He seemed amused. I looked at him fully as I finally got over my temporary embarrassment.

“That sounded really sexy…” His eyes were sparkling with laughter, my hand went for the fork.

“Don’t play with me or my time. What the hell is going on?” I said, pointing the fork at him. I had enough of games, and I was cranky from being hungry.

“If anyone else pointed a fork at me,” he drawled, his voice dipping even lower, if that was possible, and the eyebrow inched just a little higher, “you would be outside by now. But since you are my guest…” He trailed off, eyeing me, wearing me down with his infiltrating gaze.  As I put the fork down, my eyes never left his.  He picked up another piece of cheese and nodded towards my plate.  Ok I was hungry, he knew it, and my stomach knew it. Yet, my brain also knew he was stalling. Yet, what would he be stalling for? Mulling over these new developments, I finally put a wedge of the cheese in my mouth.  The smoky flavor of the cheddar burst on my tongue and I temporarily lost the will to give a damn about Augustino Romani. Why had cheese never tasted so good?  Following the cheese with a few grapes and a few apple slices, my stomach finally stopped protesting As I finished chewing a piece of Italian bread, another course of some steaming fish was laid in front of me.  Typically I was a roast beef on wheat sort of girl, and, if I wanted to get fancy, maybe some store bought soup, but this was magnificent.  August still hadn’t spoken, and kept silent as he worked off the cork to the white wine. He poured my glass half full and did the same to his in languid movements, as if each second was precious.   He set my glass down carefully and swirled the transparent cold liquid around in his glass. As we ate some of the fish, I realized he still hadn’t said one word.   Again the differences in our world showed themselves.  I was used to rowdy conversation, from either my siblings or my co-workers, and not eating in silence.  I sipped a bit of the wine, wishing it was a nice cold beer.  I pushed the plate away and  folded my hands in my lap and glanced at his face.  August was not staring at his food but his blue eyes were trained on me with an intense look.  Staring back, I studied his face. .  His jaw wasn’t ticking and for once, he seemed unsure of himself. The fire normally behind the cobalt eyes was gone, and he looked almost, normal.  For only a mere moment, I felt sorry for him. All of this luxury, and he lived in it alone. He was regarding me with a curious expression on his face, and as an interviewer, I have seen it before. It is that look of wanting to say something but can’t. That expression to me screams band-aid, and it is always best to pull it off swiftly. “Spill it.” I said, tilting my head to the side. “You are very direct. I like that about you. My plan is to catch the leak and I need your help.” I swore he was giving me puppy dog eyes.  What in the world had I gotten myself into, he wasn’t James Bond, and I wasn’t trying to be Halle Berry.  He pouted a bit but then smiled.    He smile was as stunning as his eyes.    I cleared my throat and met his gaze.

“Don’t do the pouting thing; I got a mother who can do it far better than you. Can I know what the plan is, or are you planning on keeping that to yourself?”

“Let’s finish eating first and I will tell you.”  I folded my arms. Who in the hell did he think he was, besides Augostino Romani sexy as hell software engineer? I don’t take orders from anyone except my mother, and I was on vacation from her for a few months.  August began to dig into his fish again and looked at me with a cold glare.  He pointed his fork at my plate and said it again. “Eat.”  He was finishing his meal with gusto and I took one more bite of the fish.  Licking my lips, I grabbed another piece of bread and tore a corner off and popped it into my mouth.   My eyes never faltered from his face as he chewed and swallowed more wine.  I waited until his butler arrived and cleared our dishes.  “Ok, I ate, now talk Augostino.”  I said as I watched the butler disappear behind the swinging doors.

“I would have thought eating would have made you less thorny.” He sighed as he took another sip of his wine, but his eyes were scrutinizing me from behind the rim of the glass. I could see he was in bait and catch mode again. I rolled my eyes.

“Nothing can make me less thorny, especially in all of this” I said as I waved a hand through the air, pointing at the security cameras. “I am a journalist. Everything that you have said so far makes my radar go haywire and I have a million and one questions to ask you.” I got up out of the chair and began to pace, my stocking feet not making a sound on the plush long hair carpet. Who has carpet in their dining room? The fact that I was agitated at him having carpet in a dining room made me realize that I was the one acting like a pouty child.   The thought that I was not behaving like myself pissed me off even more.  I’d always told myself that I wouldn’t let anything change who I was professionally or personally, but August seemed to seep under my skin like nothing else. . I didn’t realize that I had stopped pacing as was staring at the floor until I heard August behind me.

“Fair enough.” He said, slowly, hints of the wine drifted to my noise as I felt the moist air from his lips dance along my neck. I whirled around to face him. Damn he moved like a panther!  “I have a leak as you have heard. I think I know who this leak is.  I need you not to pose as my biographer but as now my mistress.”  I gasped. Oh, I was going to need that drink.  I walked around him and reached for the wine glass and drained it.  My mouth couldn’t keep up with all the things I was thinking.  As I set the glass down, a simple question formed in my brain and the absurdity of what he was proposing made me angry.   No one was going to believe we were a couple and I’d be a laughing stock in the journalism industry.

“How is pretending to be your new arm candy going to help you?” I shouted,  only lowering my voice after I heard the echo of it bouncing back at me. “And didn’t you just break up with someone? And who in the world is going to believe that?” I realized that I just bombarded him with several questions in one sentence and stopped abruptly.  I tend to ask questions when I am nervous, and man, dropping the word ‘mistress’ into an after dinner conversation would have made anyone nervous.

“You have a nose for sniffing things out, you are quite the observer, I’ve noticed that much. As a biographer, there will be certain functions that you cannot get into. Parties, conventions and so on. But, as my lover you can go where I go. Same thing with being my biographer, there are places that you as my biographer can go where my lover cannot.”  He was behind me again, his hands on my shoulders, kneading and massaging my tensed frame.   My body started to unwind under his warm fingers, as his thumbs circled on my neck.

“Are you telling me I am in a win-win situation?” I said trying to not sound as breathless as his massage was making me feel.    Did he really just calm me down with a touch?

“Yes, you are in a win-win situation. And no, you are not risking your life. I will be there to protect you, always. You will still get your story, I will catch the leak, and we will all be happy.”  His mouth was close to my ear, and his whispered toned made me shiver a bit.

“And how long do you think that it will take to catch the leak?”  I swallowed and cleared my throat.  His fingers traced the lines of my collar bone and I felt my heart beating rapidly in my chest.

“Do you have a problem with posing as my mistress for a while? It may take a month it may take longer. Until then, your will be my live-in lover.”  His voice was soft as he rolled the ‘r’ in lover.    Again, his lips were extremely close to my skin, and I felt myself shiver.  I could feel the tip of his nose hovering dangerously close to my neck.  I groaned and tried to put some space between us by stepping out of his embrace.

I do wish he would stop using that lover word. That implies way too much.  Every time he says lover, I get the vision of  him and me entwined in sheets.  I mean I am a female, and how could I not think of sex when this man exuded nothing but raw sensuality. Besides, being celibate for the last five years hadn’t helped much either.

“I don’t know about this. I mean, I know how the press can be. They will start asking me questions, expecting me to know answers to certain things,” I was not about to say they will expect us to kiss and so on.

“All of which I am sure you will be able to answer in time.  Our first outing is tomorrow. There is a charity gala at the Italian embassy. There is a dress for you to wear already in your closet.  Get plenty of sleep because I will need you alert.” August placed his hands on my shoulders and turned me to look at him.   Placing his warm fingers under my chin and lifting it, I allowed myself to regard him as just a man and not the man I’d placed on a pedestal.  He was attractive, but there was more to him and I wanted to get to know what else lied beneath the surface.

He bent down and he was staring at me deep into my eyes. There was a spark of desire there that I am sure I did not imagine.  Oh my god, he wanted me to play his mistress, but I am not sure exactly how much of his look was just role play.

“You will be safe with me. I will be there with you, by your side.” August said in a hushed whisper, and he gave me a small kiss on the forehead. With the kiss and a nod to me, he was gone.  As the flesh of my forehead tingled with a warm sensation of where his lips had been, I thought about his words.  My body may not come to harm being with him, but my libido may not be so safe.

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