It was an awkward drive home. I sat on one side of the limo with my arms crossed looking out the window. August sat on the other side of limo, fuming. I knew he was fuming because his left jawbone had a constant tick. I understood that he was pissed; I would have been contemplating murder. The question remained, who was he pissed at more; his cousin or his ex-fiancé?
I looked at his right hand. It was red and swollen from where he had punched Raphael. It looked pretty nasty. Having been a tomboy, I knew that he wouldn’t be able to use his hand all day tomorrow if I didn’t get ice on it. Turning a little to my right, I saw the mini-bar. I poured August a drink of whatever the brown liquor was sitting in the crystal decanter. Placing a couple of ice cubes in a linen napkin, I eased over to August. Except for the track lighting inside the limo, it was dark. Handing him the drink, I waited until he took a long hard swallow of the stuff before I put the cloth to his hand. He let out a hiss, sounding more like a wounded jungle cat than a human being, and jerking his hand trying to escape my grasp.
I kept the napkin there, knowing that pulling away at the first sign of his temper was a sign of weakness; I am not a meek mouse. He stopped huffing and puffing and let me finish taking care of his hand.
“Grazie. “ It sounded if August almost choked on the words. Has he ever told anyone thank you before? I wondered as I nodded my acceptance. I still didn’t trust myself to even speak yet.
“I suppose you want to know why I hit my own cousin?” I shook my head no. To me, it was obvious.
“Why not?” Was he that blind to himself?
“Because if I was still in love with my ex, and I saw them making out with a family member, I would have killed them both.” I said simply. I could only imagine what he was feeling. Yet, despite me thinking August was suffering from a broken heart, he started to laugh. He laughed so hard that his whole body shook. What the hell was so funny?
“Ah, il mio cuore. I am not in love with her. I never was in love with her. It was merely a convenience.” He was still smiling; I could see his teeth glimmering in the moonlight streaming in from the windows. I pressed the now wet, cold cloth against his knuckles with a little more pressure. He let out a hiss again. It served August right. I didn’t see anything funny about any of this.
“If you say so, August. So tell me why you would attack Raphael? He isn’t as big as you and your brother. If you didn’t love her, why do you care who she dates?”
“My cousin, Raphael, is quite new to the states. Sure, we are not as close, but I brought him here to get away from mi famiglia. Signore Romani had Raphael doing some questionable things, but the signore, he was tough on him. I brought Raphael here to have a better life. I gave him a job at my company. And this is what he does to me?” His question was directed at the air more than it was to me. August’s accent was inflected and deep, as if he just learned English. Funny thing was, I found myself slipping into understanding him and speaking Italian back, well, the parts of it I remembered.
“Spiacente, I’m sorry August.” I didn’t know what else to say.
He shook his head and I busied myself with dispensing the napkin. The ice was gone and I could tell his hand had gone numb. As I leaned forward to toss the napkin on the ice bucket, I felt August’s warm hand touch the small of my back. It was a tentative caress, as if he was asking a question with his hands. I didn’t cringe, but I shuddered. His fingers scorched my skin, and made my stomach do strange flip-flops.
I straightened my back and turned around to face August. He had to know that he was touching my back. Didn’t he? Yet, he just stared at me; I could catch his gaze from the yellow track lights. He was looking at me as if he was a school boy that was caught doing something naughty.
I couldn’t resist. I picked up his bruised hand and brought it to my lips. And mimicking the first time we met, I placed a soft kiss on his knuckles. He let out a moan and that is when I knew that all the touches and innuendoes were real. August was attracted to me, and I hate to say it, but I was attracted to him.
I meant the kiss on his knuckles to be comforting, motherly. Right now, I was feeling anything but motherly. I knew he was going to kiss me and from the feral gleam in his eye. I also knew that nothing was going to stop him. When he leaned in, I caught a scent of his spicy after shave, and mingled with the taste of brandy on his breath, and I became intoxicated. It started gentle enough, his soft lips pressing butterfly kisses to my lips. I felt the tip of his tongue trace the outline of my top lip and then my lower one.
“Open your mouth,” he said. As if under a spell, I parted my lips slightly and his plundering started. His fingers slid up my back and into my hair. He pressed me closer into him and then it became a blur. What was that moaning? Oh my god, that is me! He deepened the kiss and I felt my knees starting to shake and quiver. Then his deep moan into my mouth made both of our eyes pop open. I pulled away from him and just stared. This was not good. I put my hand to my lips, feeling how kiss-swollen they were. I didn’t mean for that to happen. I had no intention of ever crossing that line.
“Yvonne, I…” I held up my hand, halting August in his speech. It was the first time I ever heard him sound unsure of himself, but I didn’t want him to apologize for something that I was not sorry for.
“August don’t. Don’t apologize for something neither one of us saw coming. While it was nice, it can’t happen again.” That was hard to say, considering the fact my gaze kept dropping to his mouth. It was “nice?” If I was going to be somewhat honest with myself, it was mind-blowing, but I couldn’t let my thoughts run with that. I was in control. I thought I was at least.
“Why not bellisima?” August’s voice was hoarse, raw almost, as if that one kiss put him in pain.
“You know why not. I can give you plenty of reasons. You were engaged until a month ago. You have wined, dined and dumped your fair share of women before that. Women fall over themselves to get to you…”
“You don’t,” He barked, with a sarcastic snort. “You don’t blush, you don’t swoon when I give you a compliment. What is with you?”
“The truth is I don’t drool over you because I don’t want to. Do you make my panties wet when I see you, yes, you are too sexy for words,” at my comment he straightened and looked at me. I held my hand up, “but, you are one, something like my employer, two involved me in some form of cat and mouse game, and three, you aren’t my type.”
I heard his sharp inhale of breath, and I know that I hurt his ego. That was the biggest lie I had ever told. I was attracted to him, but he couldn’t know that. I don’t mix business and pleasure. I couldn’t cross that line. I could not get involved with this man. Not only was he my employer, but he could very easily break my heart. I don’t think so.
“Augostino, seriously, you are my employer. The emotions are just high from tonight. I mean, you knew you would see her eventually, Lucy that is, and well to see her with you cousin, and it was just a long night. Let’s just forget about it.”
Just as I said the words, we pulled up to August’s estate. I leaped out of the limo, and I think it was still moving. I just had to get away from him. He was tense and I was tense and disturbed. Who was this man? What is it about him really, and why in the world did I get the feeling I don’t know the whole story about him. I just wanted to sleep. I will get myself together in the morning, but for tonight I needed space.