Unexpected – Full short story – now free to you


As my gift to my loyal readers and fans…. The short story, Unexpected (Originally published by Shara Azod and edited by Katerina Knights) is now yours free to say Happy Halloween!

Enjoy!

Arnold Edinborough wrote, “Curiosity is the very basis of education and if you tell me that curiosity killed the cat, I say only that the cat died nobly.”
Well, Dinah Jacobs was thinking she was about to be one dead cat. The footsteps were coming closer. Hiding under a desk in her neighbor’s home, she knew she’d ventured into the wrong house. She didn’t even know what had possessed her to scale his seven-foot wooden fence into the man’s yard, let alone slip through the open patio door, through his kitchen, and into his home. She should have stopped at the yard because even his plush Kentucky bluegrass lawn had felt incredibly eerie, the way she sank into it like it was quicksand.

She kept telling herself she was merely a boring freelance travel writer with a cat that seemed to like the neighbor’s backyard, and that there was nothing strange about the way the mist of the night coiled and hung on the grass. Mentally, she blamed the stray Siamese she’d named Doll for everything that was going on at this moment. The cat showed up on her doorstep about the time Mr. Mysterious moved in. She had fed the cat, but it always seemed to go to his yard at night. During the day, it was at her house. So it was the cat that killed the cat, perhaps?

The footsteps had stopped. She tried to get her story straight in her head. I came home from shopping and Doll was on my patio. I’d bought a flea collar and was trying to put it on her when she took off running. I got to the fence and she wiggled her way through. I followed in pursuit. Yeah, that sounded like a good alibi in her head. She just hoped the owner would buy it.

“You can come out from under the desk now.” Light flooded the room. The voice seemed to vibrate off the walls and seep into her skin. It wasn’t husky, and it wasn’t deep—deep was too mundane a word. It was subterranean, and should have been illegal. She gulped and put her hand to her throat. Had her voice left? “I know you’re there, so you might as well come out. I can smell your fear.” She jumped and banged her head on the heavy oak desk.

“Son of a bitch,” she hissed, sliding out from under the desk and rubbing the back of her head.

“I didn’t realize you were acquainted with my mother.” The steel-edged voice didn’t seem amused.

As she crawled from under the desk on her hands and knees, she barely remembered how she even got this far into his house. He wasn’t going to buy her excuse—she looked like a damn thief. She was wearing black slacks, and they showed the grass stains on her bottom from falling off the fence. Luckily her turtleneck was also black and was hiding the scrape she’d gotten shouldering open the heavy wooden door to the den. She hadn’t yet gotten off her hands and knees before she started rambling into her alibi.

“Look, I am so sorry. I don’t know why I hid under your desk. I was trying to put this flea collar on Doll and she ran in here and I thought…” She finally got herself turned around and faced the source of the voice. She stopped mid-rant.

What she was staring at was the most surreal-looking human being she’d ever laid eyes on. She’d seen the sculptures at the Louvre in Paris, and this man was nothing near comparable. His skin was pale like the marble of those statues, but the statues didn’t glow like his skin did. She shook her head. That was impossible. People didn’t glow. She looked at his square, firm jaw-line, back to his face and swallowed. No, his flesh was glowing. It reminded her of staring at the moon after a fall rain. His inky black hair shone like wet tar, striking a sinister yet appealing contrast to his porcelain-like skin. It looked soft, and she felt immediately drawn to it, her hands itched to touch it. Yet, it was his eyes that made her lose her knack for babbling. They were a strange shade of blue, a hue stuck somewhere between midnight and dawn. Dinah had a master’s degree in English, and made a living off having a way with her words, and just his presence had robbed her of speech and thought. She only stared at him, wide eyed, because all her language skills had left.

His dark brows knitted together, and she swore she could feel his anger. This man had an aura of authority and anger. She started to inch around the desk, glancing at the door and judging the distance she’d have to make up. I’m going to make a run for it. Ten feet to the door and damn the cat.

“Don’t even think about running until you tell me why you’re here. Then I might let you leave.”

Let me leave? If her skin weren’t mocha colored, she probably would have looked as pale as he was. Fear hit first, quickly followed by anger. Did he think he could keep her here? Not without a fight, Mr. Dark and Morose. I’m a six-foot Amazon and proud of it. I haven’t met a man yet I couldn’t challenge and beat. She quirked an eyebrow, assessing if he was armed by letting her gaze wander over his body. No, the only weapon he had was those eyes, which were assessing her as she was assessing him.

She put her hands up, palms up and open, as if calling a truce. He just quirked his eyebrow and folded his arms across his broad chest.

“Hey, look, like I was saying. I followed Doll, the cat, from my backyard to yours. She snuck in the house through the patio door. I thought I would just get her out of here.”

Was he smiling? He’d just threatened her life, and he was smiling. He was a sick bastard. Gorgeous man but a sick bastard.

“Is this Doll a Siamese cat as big as a small dog?” Again, his voice seemed to be coming from around the room, not just from his mouth. It had to be the heavy, wood-paneled walls. She noticed, looking around the room, that everything was heavy wood. The door, the bookshelves, the coffee table. Everything except for the huge burgundy leather chair. It looked like it was fresh from the seventeenth century.

“Yes, that’s Doll. Have you seen her?” she said even as her feet slowly took her toward the door. Keep him talking and just back out the door.
“She is a he, and his name is Phantom. He is my cat.”

She gasped and stopped. All this time, it wasn’t a stray cat! She never felt so duped. And by a damn cat. At least it wasn’t a boyfriend this time. She shook her head, damn her rambling, even mentally she couldn’t stop. She started to move toward the door again.

“Look, uh, sorry, it was just that she…uh, it…he, uh, Phantom has been coming to the house in the morning and staying until night. I came to think of him as a stray and, well, mine. Sorry again. I don’t mind feeding him. It isn’t cat food, just leftover tuna and beef sometimes…” She was back to babbling. She managed to slide to the door and took a backward step over the threshold. Somehow, he was in front of her and staring into her eyes before she even knew he’d moved.

“If you ever darken my doorstep again…”

She didn’t give him a chance to finish. She turned and fled down the hall. The patio door was still cracked the way she’d left it, and she slid out of it sideways. She didn’t look back. Vaulting over the fence by leaping on his outdoor table, Dinah had run into her house before she dared to breathe. She closed her own patio door with a thud and turned the lock, the click of the deadbolt making her feel secure.

Walking around her kitchen and rubbing her arms, she couldn’t shake the feeling of dread she’d experienced. Seven damn words, but the way he said it made her blood run cold. She poured herself a large glass of red wine and took a fortifying swallow. She wasn’t a drinker, but something about that encounter had left her shaken to the point of almost being afraid. She felt like she needed something stiffer, like a whisky sour, but wine would have to do. She tried to rationalize the last four minutes of her life.

“Sure, I committed a small crime of breaking and entering. I’ve been busted for trespassing before, amongst a few other petty misdemeanors…” She realized she was talking to herself. She’d never done that, but there was something frightening about her next-door neighbor that left her feeling nothing like herself.

“I have that affect on people.”

She whirled around, her eyes bulging as she looked at the face of the man in question. How did he get in? How did I not hear him? And why am I paying for an alarm system that obviously doesn’t work? She took one step back and, feeling behind her, grabbed a large carving knife from the butcher’s block on her center island. I’m not going to run in my own domain. I have a right to protect myself in my own home.

“So you mean I could have killed you in my home and everything would be fair?”
She looked up at him, meeting his steady gaze. She was positive hadn’t said that out loud. Then again, I was talking to myself just a moment ago, she thought, as she continued to stare at him. She thought her nerves were fried, but standing here, listening to a man who she didn’t know about death and killing. Shit. I’m going crazy. This is a dream. A nightmare.

“I’ve been called worse than a nightmare cherie. The look on your face is obvious. You haven’t spoken a word yet.” He kept still, his hands in the pockets of his black slacks. Dinah knew they looked like a formidable picture. They were both dressed in all black, both of them with jet-black hair, except she had bangs and looked more like a beatnik as opposed to his assassin look.
Clutching the knife, she willed herself to breathe.

“Look, I explained to you why I was in your place. Why are you here?” She risked taking her eyes off him to look at the patio door behind him. It was still closed and locked. He took a step closer, although it seemed more like he glided. She looked down at his feet and realized her wore a pair of dress shoes most men would only wear at funerals or christenings. And yet he hadn’t made a sound on her hardwood floor. She started to clutch the knife so tightly, she felt her nails begin to break through the skin of her palm.

“I believe you left this.” He tossed the forgotten flea collar onto the center island. She barely glanced at it as it skidded to a halt on the black, granite-top counter. She kept her eyes focused on him. She saw a hint of a smile playing at his lips, which seemed to be rather pink against his pale skin.

“Keep it—it’s your cat.” Looking at him with narrowed eyes, she wondered if he liked to scare people.

He rolled his eyes as if he could hear her thoughts. In her mind, she was trying to be fair, while maintaining her calm. She thought he could have found her frustrating as all hell. She did break into his house, hijacked his cat and left a flea collar behind. She’d been told she was stubborn and troublesome. Maybe he thought the same thing.

He looked down at the hand that was still clutching the knife. His eyes refocused on hers, his gaze locking on to her. She didn’t know why, but she felt compelled to put the knife down. Placing the knife on the counter, and fearing for her life the second she did, she folded her arms under her breasts and stared at him. She didn’t know his name, but the fact she had no idea who he was seemed to kick her libido into overdrive. She obviously needed to date more since the idea of making passionate love to this stranger seemed to be the only thing she could think about.

“Galien,” he said, although it seemed like his lips barely moved. “Galien Le’Coure.” Even his name put her on edge, the sound of his French accent making her shiver. Since he didn’t hold his hand out to shake, she kept hers folded and her fists balled.

“Dinah Jacobs, Galien Le’Coure. Boy, they don’t name ’em like that anymore.”

“I’m very—how would you put it? Ah, ‘old school’ is the term, I think.” She quirked an eyebrow at him. He didn’t seem like he belonged in her modern kitchen, and his slight French accent didn’t make him appear old school as much as old century.
Her writer’s mind took over as she began to analyze his look. He overtook her six-foot frame by at least eight inches. His narrow waist wasn’t hidden by the form-fitting sweater, but the sweater seemed to tighten around his broad shoulders and his deep, barrel chest. Despite the long sleeves of the sweater, she could see he had powerful arms. He could probably snap a neck with one hand.

She realized she was staring as soon as her eyes met his again. The pureness of the cerulean hue in his eyes made her breath catch. She stumbled backwards, beginning to cough. His hands were on her back, patting her soundly, before she realized he’d even moved.

Jumping away from his hands, she realized his touch was cold. It was almost sixty degrees out, which was warm for this time of year, but he was freezing. Maybe that was why he looked pale—his blood was cold.

“It can be. Right now, my blood is hot.” His voice boomed in her kitchen. How did he do that? One minute he was in her head and the next, his voice took over the whole space.

“What?” she said and inched away from him, her eyes darting back to the discarded knife.

“You don’t want that.” His gaze shifted to the knife. “What you want is me.”
Dinah gasped. It wasn’t that he had the audacity to say she wanted him. It was the fact that it was true. She did want him. She was afraid and still wanted him.

“I think you should go.” She finally found her voice, but the words were halfhearted and came out breathless.

“I don’t think I will.” His self-assured manner did nothing but make her want him more. Dinah was trying to get her mind around the fact that this man could be a psychopath, but neither her hormones nor her libido seemed to give a fuck.

“Why are you here?”

“To give your collar back,” he said as his eyes zeroed in on her throat. Her hands flew to her neck.

“Dude, you could have trashed it. Why are you really here?”

“You didn’t let me finish what I was saying.”

“Finish what? You said all you needed to say.” She honestly didn’t want to hear anymore. His presence was enough to turn her knees into jelly, and her heartbeat was racing. She was sure he could hear it thudding in her chest.

“I could hear your heartbeat as soon as I moved in next door,” he said as his lips parted into a smile. His look reminded her of the old saying—the smile of the cat who ate the canary. It was satisfied yet sinister. She shuddered, but then her mind snapped out of the fog it had been in since she’d encountered the man. Everything she thought, he responded to without her voicing it. It didn’t help that it was close to Halloween and she’d been jumping at shadows all month.

“Are you a mind reader? I know I didn’t say that out loud,” she finally said after her thoughts finally screeched to a halt.

“I’m much more than a mind reader. I’m what scares little children at night.”

“I’m not a little child.” She murmured, although his presence made her feel very much like one.

“No, you aren’t a little child. You’re very much a woman. A smart, chocolate woman I want to taste.” He came closer to her and bared a smile. As she watched, transfixed by his stunning white teeth, his incisors began to descend. His teeth are growing! The pointed ends seemed to shine in the dimly lit kitchen. He leaned in closer, his breath cold on her ear. “Can you imagine the ways I want to taste you? I want to bite you, then suck you, then bite you some more.” She shivered. Her heart was racing. But she couldn’t stop staring. She couldn’t stop looking at his teeth. “Do you want to know what I was going to say before you ran away?”

He was standing dangerously close to her, his breath cool on her neck. He pressed his body into hers and smiled, his fangs fully descended and fully visible. Her voice was breathy when she finally responded.

“Wha-what… What were you going to say?” she stuttered.

“I was going to say, if you ever darken my doorstep again, I will show you what you do to a man, even a dead one.”

“No,” she whispered although it wasn’t in protest. The images of Galien—a vampire—and her entwined in sheets, her face contorted in pleasure sped through her brain. Her whispered plea was one of denial. Vampires didn’t exist, they certainly didn’t, and there wasn’t one standing in her kitchen. Any minute now she was going to wake up.

“You aren’t dreaming.” His voice was gruff, and he finally had her pinned, his strong arms on either side of her, trapping her against the countertop. “You are very much awake. Let me show you how awake you are.”

His head dropped to her neck, and she felt his tongue caress her skin. It sent a shiver through her, and her whole body tensed. He licked from her earlobe to under her chin, his fingers pulling the turtleneck sweater down from her neck. She gasped. Was he going to bite her? He chuckled.

“Not yet, but I will.” His promise made her shudder in anticipation. He grabbed the sides of her face with his calloused hands. It felt so different than anything she’d ever experienced. His head angled toward hers and she felt his mouth on hers, his fangs nipping at her bottom lip as his mouth moved over hers. His kiss was expert, moving over her top lip then her bottom, nipping until her mouth opened. His tongue slipped inside her mouth, and it felt like electricity ran down her spine.
She tried to push at his chest. The realization of what he was danced at the edge of her logic, defied everything she knew, and he was kissing her and she liked it. Finally, she tore her mouth from his, gasping for breath.

“You’re, you’re…a…vampire,” she said, proud she could finally voice her thoughts.

“I am.” He grabbed her chin between his thumb and forefinger, tilting her face until she was looking into his eyes. She realized why his eyes looked so strange. Where most people had flecks of different shades surrounding their pupils, his were pure cerulean, unmarred by anything but his black pupil.

“Am I under a spell or trance?” She felt like she should be scared, but she wasn’t. That fact alone convinced her she was in some sort of vampiric, hypnotic spell where she lost all common sense. He chuckled as he stroked her cheek with his thumb.

“No. You’re not under any spell or trance. Earlier, I made you put the knife down, but that is the extent of it. You aren’t scared because you want me. I feel your true desire, no gimmicks.” His matter-of-fact way of saying things made her stomach flip and twist into knots.

“You keep saying that. What makes you think—” He put his mouth to her lips, tsking at her.

“I may be a demon, but let’s not lie to each other, mon chéri. I know you want me.”
Her eyes went wide. He was either arrogant or… Who the fuck was she kidding? She’d just let him kiss her senseless. He chuckled again, his teeth gleaming.
“Are you going to kill me?” she whispered. Galien was right. She wanted him, but she didn’t want to die for desire. Nothing was worth that.

“You’ve been to France, oui?”

She could only nod.

“Then you know what le petit mort means.”

She nodded again.

“And…?” he said, his fingers tracing a line under her jaw to her earlobe.

“It means the little death, or orgasm,” she said, her voice sounding small, helpless, breathless, and completely in need.

“Then, oui, I’m going to kill you over and over and over again.” His smile was sweet, his tone sincere, and his eyes shone with lust, promise, and confidence.

“That…” She didn’t finish her sentence; his lips were on hers again, this time aggressive, commanding, and unyielding in their onslaught on her mouth.
His lips were surprisingly soft, and she let go of the counter, willing her hands to touch him, to feel if he was indeed real. She pressed her hand against his abdomen, pulling his sweater up, her fingers grazing his muscled torso. He hissed into her mouth, deepening the kiss.
She was definitely crazy.

Chapter Two

She doesn’t know the definition of crazy, Galien thought as his tongue played against hers. Crazy was the stage he’d been in the first week he’d moved into the old riverfront-manor-style home. He’d picked the house because he had easy access to a river, it was at the end of a cul de sac, and no one would bother him. Then, he’d smelled her. Her blood was so sweet, it reminded him 0f the crème brûlée he’d adored when he still ate food. He could taste it on his tongue.

Insane—he’d approached that point a month ago. His cat, the traitorous beast, would come home, his fur smelling of her, enticing him to the point of no control. Tonight, finding her in his home, he thought finally he’d earned some sort of reward for the involuntary vow of celibacy, a limp cock, and no desire to fuck or feed.
It was true. He’d been cursed by a witch who couldn’t take the hint. He didn’t do relationships—he didn’t do more than one night. He was over four hundred years old, and the need to feed on human blood was few and far between, but the need to have sex—ahhh, but he was still a man. Human women couldn’t handle him for more than a night or two. The sexy witch, he thought, could at least handle a week of what he called his sword.

Then she had to say the infamous Where is this going line, and his honest response was to bed and not an inch farther. He’d been honest. He’d been a French noble, one of the last powerful ones before unrest and le Revolution began to spring forth, and honesty was one of his traits. Noble, on the other hand? Some women would disagree.

The witch had been wrong. She said he wouldn’t get another erection until he experienced what it was like to want someone as badly as she’d wanted him. The spinster sorceress assumed that meant he’d want her. No, the witch been absolutely wrong. Dinah was what he wanted, the smell of her made his mouth water. The curse had been broken as soon as he’d moved in to the empty house next door. He’d gone to into his day slumber with Dinah’s name on his lips, visions of her brown skin disturbing his sleep of the dead. Now, she was here in his arms, and his erection was painful.

After Dinah had fled down his hall, he wouldn’t let their first meeting end there. The smell of her lavender vanilla perfume had stayed in the air, spurring him into action. He closed his eyes, and thought of being in her home, his supernatural powers taking him inside of her house in the blink of an eye. He’d beaten her home, cloaked himself in the shadows and, listened to her talk to herself. She was so innocent, he almost couldn’t stand it. Toying with her by answering her thoughts, well, he’d only meant to put her off guard, but he found disorienting her turned him on immensely. Now, feeling her fingers explore his body in wonder, he stopped reading her mind for a moment. It was an unfair advantage anyway, but he found it difficult to concentrate on her thoughts when her touch had his thoughts coming and going.

He pressed his body into hers, the feeling warm and inviting. Relishing in the sensation of his hard cock pressed into her stomach, he allowed himself to just feel her, and to hear the beating of her heart. It was beating fast, but strong.

“You have on too many clothes,” he whispered against her mouth. His hands gripped the neck of her sweater, and, without flinching or a guilty thought, he ripped the garment from her body, tearing it in two. Her breasts sat high in a black lace bra, and he felt like he’d never seen anything so artistically perfect. Her skin was so chocolate in color, he had memories of the flavor. He groaned deep in his throat, so much he could feel the vibration through his body. Her forgotten wine began to shake in its glass—he could hear the stem of the flute quiver gently. Easy, Galien. Kissing Dinah made him forget what he was, forget the demon inside him and he thought like a man. He licked the top of one orb, circling his tongue, enjoying the sensation of her leaping pulse on his tongue. It was like being shocked over and over again.

He moved to her other breast, the one closest to her heart. The steady rhythm of her breathing combined with the soft melodic thuds of her beating heart sounded like a symphony in his preternatural ears. He brushed her tattered sweater from her shoulders. Her skin was so hot beneath his cold fingers. Never before had the contrast been a turn-on for him before, but now, with her skin beginning to glow with arousal, he savored it. Nuzzling his nose into her supple breasts, he let his fingers touch wherever he pleased.
His hands roamed over the black silk lace of her bra and pulled the lace down, exposing an erect nipple.

“You’re delicious,” he murmured as he sucked the tip into his mouth, circling his tongue over her until the nipple felt like a blackberry on his tongue. He raised his head and blew, knowing his breath would be like an ice cube on her wet and heated flesh. As he’d wanted, she gasped, her back arching up and her mouth forming an O. He couldn’t resist—the temptation was too much. He let his incisor graze her stiff nipple, not cutting her, just enough to scratch a bit. The shudder he felt course through her body was exhilarating.

“You make me use all of my senses, mon chéri,” he whispered in the valley of her breasts as he moved to the other nipple.

“Is that a good thing?” Her voice seemed far away, breathless, but amused. He liked that.

“Let me show you how good it is.” He loathed to do it, but he took a step back from her. He had to or their clothes would be mangled shreds if he had his true desire. She might not want to lose another piece of clothing. He smiled at his own joke and pulled his sweater over his head. Even in the dark, he could see her eyes glowing with amusement.

“Thank you for allowing me the option to take my own pants off instead of you ripping them off.”

At that he did laugh as he watched her unbutton her pants and kick off her shoes. Again, she’d made him feel like a man with just a simple statement. He quickly kicked off his shoes and pulled down his slacks, no shame in his stiff cock jutting at the ceiling.

“Phew, take it easy on me with that, okay?” she said, her eyes zeroed in on his cock. That made it swell harder, as if it was putting on a proud show. He couldn’t take any more. Before he could finish the thought, he was towering over her, grabbing her by the waist, and hoisting her onto her counter. He sank to his knees and opened her legs, breathing in her aroused scent. His mouth watered for her; he needed to taste what he could smell.

Pushing her knees over his shoulders, Galien inhaled before he dove in. He might not be able to eat food, but he was going to dine on Dinah all night long. Nothing was going to stop him from doing so. The initial sensation of her wet pussy on his tongue made him moan. The taste of her wetness in his mouth made his eyes roll back in his head.

She moaned, her fingers sinking into his hair, her nails scraping his scalp. She didn’t know what she was doing—she couldn’t. Inflicting the tiniest bit of pain on him was highly arousing. It would cause… Hell, he didn’t even know what it would cause. No one had ever dared try.

“Dinah,” he murmured into her pussy. “Mon chéri, don’t do that, I can’t think…”

“Do this?” she said as she traced a firm line with her nail behind his ear. His mouth clamped down on her pussy, his tongue lashing at her clit like a whip. Her hips bucked, and she was no match for his strength, but her endeavor was cute. He held her in place, suckling her clit until it swelled. Her thrashing and bucking only excited him more.

Then she did the unthinkable. Her hands moved from his head to his biceps, her nails skimming a light line on his arm. He growled this time, delving his tongue deeper inside her pussy in warning, and, if he were honest with himself, as a dare. He braced, knowing she would do it. She sank her thumbnail deep into his flesh, actually breaking the skin. He watched her face as she watched his arm, her eyes wide in wonder and arousal. His blood only pooled for a moment, then stopped. Her thumb swiped across the mark she’d made, his blood deep crimson on the cappuccino color of the pad of her thumb. The wound was gone—nothing lay underneath. Her eyes flickered to her thumb for a moment. He heard her thought even as he watched her hand move toward her mouth.

I wonder what he tastes like. He grabbed her wrist with one hand, stopping her.

“Do you know what you are doing?”

“Not really.” Her voice was husky but her eyes were fixated on his blood.

“You lick mine, chéri and I will lick yours, make no mistake about it.”

Her lips curved into a smile. “Deal,” she murmured as she slipped her thumb into her mouth. He felt like she sucked his soul into her body, if he still had one. The sight of her taking his blood on her pink tongue made him salivate.

“So, tell me how I taste. No one has ever told me that.”

“You taste like cinnamon candy—spicy, sweet, hot, like fire on my tongue followed by cool honey.”

He moaned and stood, wrapping her legs around his waist. He pressed his cock against her slick opening, rubbing his glans against the moist folds. Pressing the tip of his dick against her clit, he began to grind his pelvis against hers. The things she said and thought drove him into a frenzy. He needed to hear her beg for him more than he needed anything.
He rubbed his cock up and down her slit, teasing the entrance to her pussy with just his head. His hands clamped on to her waist, forcing her hips to match his pace. Her eyes rolled back, and he could feel her getting wetter.

“Tell me you want me.”

“You know I do, Galien.” She sighed, her hands clutching his shoulders.

“I want to hear you say it out loud, so I can hear your voice.”

“I want you, Galien.”

“Tell me more.” He pressed harder against her opening, still not entering her.

“I want you inside me, Galien.” Her voice was so husky, he bit his lip. He slid the head of his rigid dick only an inch into her pussy and let it sit, throbbing inside her.

“More, tell me more, my precious mortal.” He gritted his teeth, biting his bottom lip to keep him from pushing farther into her heat.
He wants it as bad as I do. How astute she was, but that still wouldn’t make him budge.

“I want to feel your cock deep inside my walls, Galien. I want to feel what you feel like filling me. I want to know all of you, Galien. Give it to me.” Her arms slid up his arms and locked around his neck.

“As you wish,” he said, looking down at her mouth before catching her lips in a deep kiss. Her pussy was so wet, his cock glided in, slowly because he wanted to enjoy every sigh she made. Her walls clenched around him, pulsing at every inch, sucking him in deeper until he was fully seated in her.

“Breathe, Dinah,” he whispered against her lips. He felt her intake of breath as he slowly withdrew, enjoying the scalding heat of her canal. Slowly he rocked inside her, never completely leaving the warmth of her walls, never wanting to. It was slow, even for him, but he couldn’t help it—he needed to inhale every second of every moment with her.

“Galien, please, I’m going to come.”

It was all the encouragement he needed. He sped up just a little, letting the tip of his cock caress her g-spot with every re-entry. Her walls quivered around him; her wetness increased.

“You are so tight, mon chéri, it is so exquisitely tight.” Her pussy fluttered around his. She was close. The vein in her neck pulsed as she gasped for air. The sight of it made the sound of her rushing blood roar in his ears. His control began to unravel, his hips thrusting faster and faster.
Her arms tensed and locked tighter around him, and her hips rose to meet every single one of his thrusts.

“Fuck, Galien. I feel like I’m on fire.”

“That’s my blood in you, chéri. You can feel my desire and yours.”

“Galien, please, oh, ah…”

He thrust harder, coiling one arm around her waist. Using his other arm, he held her close while his hand pulled her hair tie from her hair. His fingers entwined in her thick black tresses, shaking the strands free until they spilled over her shoulders. She looked like a goddess. He pulled her hair back and forced her to look at him. He knew what she would see. His eyes would be eerily yellow. His incisors lengthened to the point of pain.

“Look at me, Dinah.” His voice vibrated off the walls, this time causing the wine glass to tip over.
Her eyes opened, and they were the most glazed-over, lustful eyes he’d ever seen.

“Your voice, why does it do that?”

He almost laughed. “I’m very powerful. I can move things with a thought. When I’m out of control like this, it…” She put her fingers on his lips, quieting him.

“You’re not out of control yet.” She kissed him, hard, and then bit down on his lip, drawing more of his blood. Her warm tongue licked at his wound, making him groan.

“I think I’m addicted to you, Galien.” She smiled as she said the words, her lips against his.

There went the last of his control. He pulled her hair back, exposing her neck and watching her throat bob with each breath. Her veins were pulsing. He slammed his cock into her. Driving himself in her as deep as he could go, he pushed his hips up into her, over and over again. Faster and faster, he couldn’t help it if he wanted to.

“Deep, so deep,” she murmured, her pussy quivering uncontrollably around him.

“That’s right. I am.” He watched, fascinated, as her eyes stayed with him, locked with his, unafraid. Again, she made him feel like just a man.

“Do you want to taste me, Galien?” she asked, her voice a whisper. He couldn’t tell what she was thinking, he was too dazed.

“Yes,” was all he could think. Yes to any part of her she wanted him to taste. She chuckled.

“Oh, yeah, any part?” He smiled. She could hear his thoughts now that she’d tasted his blood. That thought, of his blood in her body, made him pick up the pace, the full brunt of the demon beginning to unleash. Her thrusts matched his, going faster and faster, taking all of his hard cock in her pussy. “Do you want to know what it’s like feeling both our desire, Galien?” She let her neck fall to the side, exposing her chocolate skin, her vein pulsing with her blood.

“Bite me. You promised.” Her breath was husky. She was a daring, beautiful creature. She had no idea…

“Oh, yes, I do, but I don’t want an idea. I want to know. Show me.” She thrust her neck in his direction, enticing him.

It was the only invitation he needed. He let his lips curl back, feeling the pleasure of fully exposing his teeth, his demon finally at the surface. Ahhh, yes, he was free…

Chapter Three

She wanted it, asked for it, begged for it. It was magnificent to watch. Galien’s eyes were no longer blue or yellow. No, she was looking at deep crimson eyes with a faint black outer ring. Wow. It wasn’t fear—no, she felt her pussy flutter at the sight of his teeth. It was just amazement.

He felt so good inside her, she felt her insides tighten at the thought of those teeth inside her flesh. Her pussy clenched at the thought.
Again, she thrust her neck at his mouth. “Do it.”

Her eyes closed as his mouth came toward her, and she took a breath. The first initial prick wasn’t so bad, like getting her ears pierced, but then his lips clamped down and she felt the full length of his incisors in her flesh. It was glorious. The feeling of his cold lips against her hot skin sent her into a frenzy, and she bucked. His arms clamped around her in a vise-like grip, and his suction deepened.

He moaned into her neck, the feeling vibrating through her body. She could feel the blood leave her, flow into his mouth, and it was euphoric, like floating on a cloud. His tongue swiped against her skin and that was it for her. Her pleasure unleashed in waves, first a small orgasm that left her tingling, then a bigger one that made her take a gulp. A third wave rushed over her and her body stilled, and the fourth ripped through her, finally causing her to let out a deep groan.

Galien pumped harder and faster into her, relentless. She held on, another rocking orgasm building within her.

“Galien, come with me, please,” she murmured, her vision beginning to blur.

Galien growled and slammed himself into her, his cock pulsing deep within. Then she felt it swell. With one last draught from her neck, Galien let go, licked her wound, and exploded deep within her. She felt his seed fill her; her pussy clenched in reaction, pushing her over the edge into another orgasm.

She clutched at him as her breathing slowed. She felt delirious. Her eyes drooped closed, and she felt herself being carried up. She didn’t care where. She felt him chuckle even as he laid her down in her bed, covering her up in her sheets.
“Galien, I’m not dreaming, am I?” she murmured sleepily.

You’ll have a nice little love bite to show for it in the morning. Good thing you like turtlenecks, my little mortal. Sleep well. I’ll see you tomorrow.

The last thing she thought as she drifted off to sleep was, We are going to have to address this “little” thing. I’m not little. She felt him chuckle in her head as her mind went completely dark.

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Burning Down Montana – Chapter 5


He didn’t know what caused her  abrupt change of mood, or what made her start calling him Thorn,  but he wasn’t going to let her shut him out so easily.

“Come then, put some slippers on your feet.”  When you have a twin as cold as Bradford, he knew exactly how to get through her cool façade.  He could see right through her and he knew that it would be asking too much to have her develop feelings for him, but he could also tell that is exactly what she was trying to prevent.  How I adore challenges.

He watched her movements as she slipped into the hospital socks.  Making sure there was a comfortable distance between them, he led them through the small hospital to the lounge.  He’d seen there was a seat by the window that had a majestic view of the snow capped mountains.   He’d hoped that the stillness of the mountains would bring peace to her mind and not make her want to close her mind to him.

Watching her closely to make sure she didn’t hurt the bandaged shoulder, Brighton didn’t want to offer her too much help.  If there was anything he’d learned from being around  strong women like Layla and Samara, is that if he offered too much help, he was going to get his head bitten off.

“So tell me about you,” he said as he slid into the seat opposite of her.    It was early enough in the morning where the sun began to rise high above the mountain tops, casting a golden glow over her skin.   I would love the opportunity to sit across from her on more mornings like this.    The restless feeling he’d grown to live with eased when he was in her presence.

“There isn’t much to tell.    I was born outside of Vegas, and have pretty much remained there.   I travel for work, and Vin is a pilot.”

“Oh there is more to you than that.   I noticed you didn’t drink your coffee, you cherished it.  What’s your favorite blend?”

“French.”

“French, bah…” Rolling his eyes mockingly and clutched his heart, “I’ll have to forget you said that.  You strike me as someone who would enjoy a Sumatra or Ethiopian blend.  They have more character and flavor notes.”

“Normally, you would be right, but when I need a swift kick in the guts to get my ass in gear, French is the only option.”

“Yes, the French are like that.”   She grinned at him.  Her smile was astounding.  Her cheeks actually dimpled when she did.  He wondered if those were laugh lines or scowl marks around her full lips.  He couldn’t help but to think about sucking on the plump bottom lip she’d bitten trying to not laugh out loud.

“Alright, England, so what do you like to drink?”

“I grew up drinking tea with breakfast and lunch, but after being in Afghanistan and in America, I’ve come to enjoy the taste of coffee in the morning.  I suppose I would’ve gotten used to coffee if I lived in Vegas because I surely would never get a full night’s rest.”

“Mmmph, it was too quiet here, I barely slept all night.”  He watched as she moved her pawn forward.

“I can think of many ways to keep you up all night that would make you need sleep.” She crossed her arms in front of her and hitched her arched eyebrow at him.  “Hunting for nightcrawlers, counting stars, and crossing a desert come to mind.”

Continue Reading >>>>>  Burning Down Montana – Chapter 5

Burning Down Montana – Chapter Four


“So why did you have to thank me, England?”

“You’ve inspired me pet.  I’m here to sign up for the emergency responders.  According to Dr. Daniels, there’s an opening.” His smile, stretching from ear to ear, showed how enthused he was and his eyes danced with his announcement.   Boy he wears his emotions all over his face.  She couldn’t help but to be moved by his eagerness and returned his smile.

“So y’all have names for each other now?  She must really be grateful to you man, my twin doesn’t give out nicknames and she hates being called anything but Vesta.”   Vinny took a sip of his coffee without breaking eye contact with Brighton.    If Vinny had hair on his head, it would be standing up by now.   Her brother’s bald head was a beacon for determining what was going through his head, and right now, a vein was bulging on the right side of his dome.   I know that vein.  He’s going to strike first and ask questions later.    She knew she had to stop the standoff of male hormones or she was going to be in the middle of who knows what, but she knew family always stuck together, no matter what.

“Shut up Vin or I’ll let these strangers know what we called you when we were little.”  Turning her head back to Brighton, she noticed the twinkle of laughter in his eyes.  His eyes really are magnificent. 

Continue Reading Here Burning Down Montana – Chapter Four

Last Chapters and Conclusion to Interviewing the Italian


Chapter Ten – To Hell With It
It didn’t take me long to figure out that August was blind. Sexy, alpha, but blind. I think that his cousin and ex-fiancé just made him look like a jack-ass. Then I felt bad for him. I got off the bed and looked down at him. His face was itched in lines of worry and perhaps realization.
Despite his tendencies to be Alpha male one minute and vulnerable the next, I found myself getting to know him, perhaps even falling for him a little bit. Maybe it was just better to leave now and cut my losses. I never mixed business with pleasure, and from the kiss that I did share with Augostino Romani, I would soon be looking for pleasure and damn the business part of it. I had to get out.

Yet, instead of walking out of the room and leaving him to his thoughts, I made a ghastly mistake. As if I was in some type of trance, my hands found their way to his hands, which were still buried in his hair. I couldn’t pull them back if I wanted to. The silken strands felt cool to my touch and I became lost. Moonlight streaming in the large bay window caught his eyes. I was glad I couldn’t see what color they were. They looked like small lakes in the man’s head, shining in the moonbeams. I sat down on the edge of the bed, my thigh resting next to his abdomen. I could feel that he had stopped breathing. He was probably wondering, just like I was wondering, what the hell am I doing?
He pulled his hands from underneath mine. Grabbing my wrists he pulled my hands to his chest. I could feel his heart beating a tattoo rhythm and his breathing hitched. I knew, really I did, that I shouldn’t be doing this but I didn’t want to stop.

“August, I…” I didn’t know what to say. I could tell him the woman in side of me was screaming for release but that scared me. No, I didn’t want to say anything. I watched as his sat up, still clutching my hands.

“Yvonne, this wasn’t supposed to happen. I didn’t want it to happen, but ever since that interview, I can’t stop thinking about it happening. So before I go any further there are some things that I have to tell you.” August sighed and let go of my hands. I know that tone of voice. It was the same tone of voice my mother got when she had to tell me our father packed his bags and left. I wasn’t going to like what August was going to say. My gut was in a g-force dive into my feet and I couldn’t stop the sinking feeling overwhelming me.

“I’m all ears.” I still needed to abate my desire for this man, but I wanted answers first. I tried to put a clamp on my desire as August started talking.

“I figured that my own cousin was the leak. I just didn’t think that Lucy would be involved in it. Lucy knows something about me that could probably take me down and make me never show my face again. If she thought I was on to her being involved, she would blackmail me.” August leaned back and stared at the ceiling. I could tell his was frustrated from his tense posture. I could also tell from the way he was clinging to my hands.

“Go on…” I said, wiggling my fingers a bit. He let my hands go and I put them in my lap.

“You see, Lucy knows something about me that could change my life as I know it. Raphael my cousin already knows.”

“What is it!” I screamed. I was never one for the dramatic, or suspense.

“I am not Augostino Romani.” He said with a whisper. I stopped. Everything stopped moving. As far as I knew, there was only one Augostino Romani and this man in front of me was it. Now the stranger was telling me that he wasn’t August?

“Come again?” It was all I could say.

“My name is Augostino Conti. My mother had an affair with my father, a very rich man in Italy, and they had me. He didn’t want to have anything to do with me. That is until his real wife died giving birth to her second son. Mother and son both died in labor, but to make himself feel better, my father, Piero Romani, came and took me from my mother. He gave me his name and I haven’t seen her since.” He sounded choked up.

“How old were you?”

“I was four. Raphael is my mother’s nephew. My true cousin. He knows who I really am.” August’s voice cracked and I could tell he was in pain. That type of pain I could relate to. That type of pain was human.

“So if you make your cousin out to be the leak, then he would expose you?”

“I am sure of it. Raphael said he had information on my mother. Apparently Piero paid her off pretty well for her trouble of birthing me, and Raphael made it seem as though she still missed me. I wanted to find her. Raphael said he knew where she was, but he needed to get out from under my father’s business. So I brought him here.”

“Has he told you where she is or how to get a hold of her?” I pitied him. All of this time, I greatly admired him, and really what he needed was a supportive ear. I was no better than all the other women that have launched themselves at him. I felt like an ass.

“No, and he has been holding out. I doubt that he will after I punched him.”

“So, you think that Lucy and Raphael would take you down because of your last name?”

“Yes! I know it!” August began to yell. He bolted off the bed and began to pace. “The name Romani means power. I probably wouldn’t even have all of this if my last name wasn’t Romani. It opened doors for me, I got into the university because of this name. Everything that I have would be a lie.”

I hated agitation, but August’s lopsided view of things made me want to yell right back.

“Stop that.” I yelled. “You are not made of your last name. You did the work, you got the grades, you developed your brand, and it had nothing to do with your name.”

“You’re biased. You have been following Romani Enterprises for years.”

“So! Do you think your ideas would have been less brilliant if they were named Conti Enterprises? You are still his son, despite what your birth certificate says. Why would they blackmail you?”

“If it came out that I wasn’t his second son that really died in child birth, all of my inheritance would be forfeit. I am illegitimate. I used the inheritance as seed money to start the company.”

“I see.” I didn’t know what to think. If he paid them off, they would come back for more. If he didn’t his company would forfeit its name, his father’s indiscretions would be exposed and August would feel like he lost.

“I had to tell you now. I feel like I have involved you too much as it is…” His voice trailed off.

“Can I ask you something?” Since August was airing his dirt, I felt like I had to get sure answers.

“Yes. Please.” He said. His voice losing some of the hard edge I had grown accustomed to.

“Why the interview set up and why did you ask me to be your personal journalist?”

I heard him give a sigh and watched as he came to sit next to me on the bed.

“Because I knew that if anyone could expose me for the real me that I am, it would be you.” He chuckled as he said it. Did I miss a private joke?

“Come again?”

“Like I said, I suspected Raphael as the leak. I also know that Raphael reads just about anything that you particularly write. You should hear him go on about the great Savannah Martin. So I figured if you found out about my parentage and aired it, it would beat Raphael to it, thus no blackmail. Then I met you and spending the day with you, I didn’t want to go through with it.”
“You didn’t want to go through using me, you mean?” I said. It was a hell of a situation to be in; I couldn’t tell if I was mad or flattered. I was just floored.

“Using you, exposing myself, being attracted to you… all of it. I can’t play this game anymore.”

I didn’t see him move. I just felt his hands grab my shoulders and the warmth of his lips close to mine. The moment I took to gasp in shock was apparently the only moment August needed. His lips clamped down on mine and I felt him lean into me. His fingers stroked a fire up and down my arms and I knew I was a goner. There would be no running away from this kiss. I didn’t want to, I didn’t want to run. I just wanted more, more of the drunk feeling he was giving me and more of August the human and not August my idol.

Chapter Eleven – To Everything….

I kissed him as if it was going to be the last thing I did. I felt his warm tongue invade the cavern on my mouth. The tip of his tongue traced my teeth. I had never felt anything like that and I felt a jolt of heat fire through me. His kiss was every bit as intoxicating as it was the first time, only this time, I wasn’t running. I kissed him back with the intensity I felt. Drowning in the taste of his full lips, I finally let my tongue brush his. It was an exciting duel. His tongue tasted of cloves and mint, an erotic mix that caused moisture to pool in my clenched pussy. I ran my fingers through his hair, pulling him closer to me, angling myself so I could feel his body weight on top of me.

Feeling euphoric, I let out a moan. He froze. I opened my eyes and found him searching my face with a huge question in his eyes.

I put my index finger on his chin and traced his kiss swollen lips with my thumb. Then cupping his cheek, I stroked his short, dark stubble and waited.

“Are you sure you can do this Yvonne? I never meant to…” I put my fingers to August’s lips.

“I never meant to either. I don’t ever do this. I can do this and I want to do this August. Take me, I’m yours.”

That was all the encouragement August needed. His gaze met mine I witnessed his transformation from an unsure man to a hungry wolf. His pupils got round and I sucked in a breath. It isn’t that I had never been with anyone, but I had never been with a man like August. He was experienced, and from what I could tell, passionate. Yet, I knew I needed this moment, and I wasn’t going to run from it. His hands began to run down my sides, feeling for the bottom of my tank top. His touch was hot to my cool skin, sending jolts through me every time his fingers grazed my skin. His lips found mine and this time the kiss was leisurely, but still intense. His tongue traced my lips; his soft spoken Italian endearments came out in rasps. His nose nuzzled my neck and he started to kiss and lick my neck, my shoulders, my arms and then my finger tips. He pulled each digit into his mouth and sucked each one with the same care.

He pulled me towards his chest, until my legs wrapped around his torso. Looking into my eyes, August stared at me for what seemed like an eternity.

“Don’t flinch.” His low aroused voice shook me out of my stupor. Before I could even ask, August took his two hands and ripped the flimsy tank top in two down the center. My modest breasts poked out as if they had been caged.

“You know I could have taken that off right?” I chuckled. That chuckle quickly released into a groan as August dove in between my breasts. I didn’t see anything funny about the pleasurable torture he was administering to my breasts. He sucked a tip into his mouth, bit down gently, and then caressed the bitten nipple with his tongue. His alternating on each nipple and the pain of his bite combined with the pleasure of his soothing tongue sent me into orgasm. I let out a low moan as I felt the edges of the universe begin to fold in on me. I never thought that I would have an orgasm from someone playing with my breasts, but August did it and I couldn’t have felt more complete. We were just getting started, and that elusive orgasm was already out of the way. I had never ‘finished’ during sex in my past, but August brought me to the big O before we even had intercourse! I smiled to myself as I let his hands wander over my body. The intense feeling in the pit of my stomach began to build again. I needed to do something or I was going to pass out before we got t the good stuff. I began tugging at his shirt, pulling it over his torso and letting my fingertips graze his taught skin. I heard his sharp intake of breath and smiled. At least he was affected as much by this encounter as I was. After pulling the damn shirt over his head, we were finally chest to chest, making skin to skin contact. His heat was scorching my flesh, but I didn’t care. He was the only one that was going to soothe the fire in the pit of my belly.

I ran my fingers over his chest, down his abs and to his pants buckle. I didn’t want to wait. I unbuttoned his pants and he arched a little off the bed so I could get them off. I unlocked my legs from around him and the idea hit me. It wasn’t graceful sliding off his lap, but I finally got my long limbs into a kneeling position in between his spread legs. I kissed the lines of his torso, gentle tugging his pants down. As I got to the band of his boxer briefs, I took in a deep breath. Moving lower I spotted the target, rock hard and needing attention. Slowly, I began to blow on August’s marble like cock through the satin material of his underwear. It began to jerk towards my mouth, but I was not in a rush. I had never been so aroused and I wasn’t going to miss a single moment.

I let my tongue quickly lick the tip as I pulled his pants all the way off. It was time to get rid of the other barrier. I took a seam of his underwear and looked at him. I smiled, slow, seductively and his eyes got big.

“Don’t flinch,” I said my voice raspy as I tugged and tore his underwear from his body. I could feel his belly shake as he chuckled. You want be laughing long, Mr. Romani. I licked my lips and in one swift movement I had most of August’s length in my mouth, my tongue running circles around the sensitive ‘v’ underneath his head. Pursing my lips as if I was sucking on a straw, I tried to suck in as much of his gorgeous tan cock as I could. His hips bucked and arched off the bed. I let my tongue caress the bulging vein on the underside of his thick cock. The taste was sweet and salty, an inebriating mix of sex and male assaulted my nose and I thought for a moment I was about to catapult myself into another orgasm.
I felt his hands on my shoulders just as I was moving my head up and down his shaft.

“Dio, belissima, please stop. I won’t last.” He grabbed my head and gently pulled my head away from his throbbing cock. It came out of my mouth with a pop. Gently gripping my head, he pulled me up to his lips for a kiss. As our lips found each other again, August maneuvered so I was lying underneath him. I felt his fingers in the band of my shorts and I knew what was coming. I heard the rip and felt the fabric drop from my heated core.

Tearing my head away to gasp for air, I had to regain some sense.
“If we keep this up, we are going to need to buy a new wardrobe August.”

“Or you could just not wear any clothes around me for the rest of your life.” He growled in my neck. I was too far gone in passion for the brevity of August’s words to hit me at that moment. It was his three fingers caressing my nether lips that threw everything into a spiral. His index finger was teasing my clit like a pearl in oil while his middle digit worked in and out of my tight walls. My inner core sucked at his finger, pulling it deeper and his urgency taking me higher.

“You are so tight belissima,” August’s throaty baritone sounded far away. “How long has it been?”
My pussy walls clinched again as his fingers kept stoking the fire into a raging inferno. What did he even ask me? I smiled to myself as I remembered the question.

“Ahhhhhh…” I moaned bucking my hips under August’s touch. His pace was quickening and I was about to fall over the precipice again.

“How long?” His finger’s stilled as August asked me again.

“Around four years.” I panted, writhing as August’s fingers held perfectly still inside of my wet folds.

August groaned deep and positioned himself in between my legs. He leaned over me and my legs instinctively wrapped around his torso. He positioned his head at my entrance, my insides already clutching in anticipation of his nice cock invading the space.

Bracing himself on his arms, August began to push. The beginning was almost painful and I felt like a virgin again. The head of his cock was fully inside of me as he leaned closer to me. I could feel the warmth of his breath in my ear and I heard his soft whisper: “Forgive me belissima”.

His hips plunged forward and I felt a searing hot pain on my walls. His girth completely stretched my walls. I bit down on my bottom lip to keep from crying out. He held still for only a moment, and then he pulled slowly out. As slowly as he pulled out, his hips strained to go back in at the same lethargic pace. In an instant, I was on the precipice again. As I felt August’s chest rub against mine, I noticed that I was beginning to sweat in between my breasts. I needed release. I put my feet on the bed and arched my back to meet August’s slow thrusts with thrusts of my own. August reared up on the impact. He grabbed my hips and the leisurely pace was gone. He pulled me into him, matching our thrusts and finally pushing me over the edge.
“August, I’m going to…” I panted, trying desperately to catch a breath that seemed to elude my lungs.

“Yes, bellisima, come for me.” As if at his command, my pussy clinched around his dick and my juices flowed. I arched my back and let out a low howl as my orgasm crashed around me.
August pulled out completely and grabbed his cock. I watched as his large hands grasped his cock and one, two strokes and his seed began to shoot on my belly. White and stringy, several spurts landed side by side. He groaned and rolled to his side. I took my fingers and drew some circles in the semen he deposited on my stomach.

He was looking down at me, some of the dazed passion dulled by our orgasms.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know if you were on anything and I didn’t have a condom with me.” He kissed my forehead gingerly and went to the bathroom. I listened to the water running and it was lulling me to sleep. I jumped when I felt a steaming cloth touched my stomach. I watched August through half lidded eyes as he washed my stomach with gentle caresses and light touches. As he finished up and toss the cloth on the nightstand, I watched his movements. For the first time since I met him, he looked content. He gathered me into his arms, pressing my back into his chest. Pulling the covers over us and throwing his legs over mine, August snuggled in and began a rhythmic breathing sound. Listening to his breathing I realized that I was in love with August Romani.

Shit.

Conclusion

I didn’t have time to even think about sneaking out of the bed. August was up and out before my eyes opened. If it weren’t for the slight soreness I felt in between my legs, I would have thought that I dreamed about having sex with August. It wasn’t a dream. I knew it wasn’t a dream when I heard the door open and spied August coming into the room with jeans, sans shirt and a tray. I sat up, covering my naked form with the sheet and tried to get used to this different side of August. He was smiling. It was a crooked smile, almost a self conscience smile, with his upper lip hitched just a little, but it was a smile nonetheless, and I was captivated.
“Good morning sweetheart. Breakfast is served.” August voice sounded boyish, almost light. And it was the first time he hadn’t barked or growled. Then I remembered, he hadn’t had sex in two years. Having sex would take the bite out of any man. My ears reddened as I remembered our ‘coupling’ last night. I didn’t know what else to call it, it was more than just sex but it was less than a slow sensual encounter.

August placed the tray on my lap and sat across from me. I felt the journalistic itch of wanting to rattle off a million questions, but somehow, some part of me was content in just sipping the orange juice and staring at August as he watched me eat.

I quirked and eyebrow at him as I stabbed a piece of cantaloupe with a fork.

“Aren’t you hungry?” I held the juicy fruit to his mouth and watched as his pink lips wrapped around my fork. I smiled as he chewed the food thoughtfully, and I watched his Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed. We sat in silence as I fed him bits and pieces of what was on the plate. I didn’t know what to say but I think we both knew that the dynamics of this ‘relationship’ had changed.
I finished eating and removed the tray. I grabbed a robe and sat up with my legs crossed.

“So, do you want to address the elephant in the room or should I?” I said, looking at August’s gaze.

“I love that about you.” I started at his statement. He held up his hand and shook his head. “Please, there is a lot to talk about and I think that you want to hear it before you decide on us.” He took a deep breath and I felt myself bracing again. Why did I feel like he was going to drop the elephant on me?

“It isn’t simple really. But I will try to make you understand. Yvonne, I think I have been following your career just as much as you have followed mine. I have read everything that you have published. I was determined to meet you sooner or later after reading your application to the scholarship foundation. It just wasn’t time yet. But I felt like I could tell you anything. When I set up that interview, I wanted to see if my gut was right.”

“As far as the leak, I was pretty sure that it was Raphael, but I figured it would be a good way to see if we were compatible. To see if you thought the same way I did, if I could trust you. So I set up the interview, the personal journalist thing right after I broke it off with Lucy. And the mistress thing, ” He paused. “I didn’t want to show up to the embassy dinner alone.”
“Can I ask one question August?” I asked, crossing my arms in front of me. I wasn’t sure if I should have been pissed or flattered. He nodded. “This business about your father, your last name, all that, is it true?”

“Yes, that is all true. Even Adriano doesn’t know that I am not that brother that died in childbirth. I am his brother, but by a different mother.” August looked pained at the admission. Maybe one day I could get him to tell Adriano.

“Ok, so tell me why your inheritance would be forfeit if you came out about your mother now?”

“Because the inheritance was set up by Adriano’s mother family. All the money that my father had at the time came from them. The name is power, but there was no money until my father married her. Piero Romani had the name, she had the money. If they were to find out they would make sure I would give the inheritance back. But I don’t want put them through that.”
That had my wheels churning, but I needed him to keep talking.

“So what about Lucy?”

“It was like I told you, I was never in love with Lucy. She didn’t demand too much and it was uncomplicated. But then I caught her with other men. And I knew that I didn’t love her. And the first thing I did was pick up a Savannah Martin article. Perhaps it is a family trait, but I think we, Adriano, Raphael, and myself all had a soft spot for you. Raphael thinks your brilliant and Adriano likes that you are straight to the point. But I fell in love with what wasn’t written in the lines. You had this passion about whatever you were writing about. After Lucy and I fell out, I told myself it was finally time to meet you. Lucky I had a leak at the time.” He smiled and I couldn’t help but to laugh.

“You know, a girl could let that go to her head.” He smiled and picked my hands up in his.

“I know it seems crazy. But there is something I have to do before we go any further.” He said, he voice dropping to a serious tone.

“Well do it.” I said. I didn’t think it could get any crazier. It did.

“You’re fired.” August said.

I started laughing. I couldn’t help it.

“I am glad you fired me August, because I was about to quit.”

****Months Later****

I closed the laptop on my manuscript. I was finally finished. I had written about August, but August Romani, the man, and not the myth; and I used my real name. After I sent the interview to my editor, I left the magazine. It was my last great interview. When my editor read it, he asked me if it was all true and if August was going to let me say anything about the leak, his broken engagement and his new love, Yvonne Mason.

I laughed and told him that August helped me write it. That was the truth. After August ‘fired’ me, I was free to really write about him as he wanted to be known. He really wasn’t the arrogant bastard that most of the press called him. He spent most of the time trying to keep people from knowing his secret of his birth.
At my urging, August finally told Adriano the truth, and the funny thing was, Adriano already knew. He said it didn’t change ‘a damn thing’. August set up a trust in the name of the deceased August Romani and told his father that it contained all the money from the inheritance and then some.

Piero Romani had a surprise my dear August. He had adopted him legally right after August hauled Raphael overseas to work for him. August was indeed, truly, in name Augostino Romani. I would like to think that Piero after 32 years grew a conscience and really made August his son. But I knew it was because I called him and told him that I was writing a book on August and threatened Piero that he would be portrayed as a horrible father if he didn’t do something to soothe August’s soul.

He had laughed at me then. When I started to pull the names of mistresses out of my hat, he stopped laughing. He told me I was a shark. I told him that I have been called worse.
I snapped out of my musings when I looked up and saw August standing up. He put a desk in his office for me to work while he was working. Possessive, maybe, but I didn’t want to be separated from him either. There was still much more to learn about the formidable Augostino Romani, but I was a fast learner. I smiled at him and he smiled back. It was the shyest most sincere smile I had seen from him; but from being around him, I knew that something was up.

I stood up and met him. His office was still huge even with the addition of my desk and a love seat. He took my hand and led me over to the couch. August took my heels off my feet and began to massage them. His blue eyes began their transformation to the stormy navy I had come to love.

“Yvonne, can I tell you something?” His voice was husky, gravely, and made my pulse race. I tried to sound nonchalant as I tipped my head to the side and nodded in answer to his question. August took a deep breath and sighed. “I love you.” I tensed. He hadn’t said it in three months. Even though I knew I was in love with him, and he sort of mentioned it after our first time together, he had never said it.

I felt the tears well up in my eyes and I bolted into August’s lap and began to shower his face with kisses.

“I love you too August.” Secretly I thanked my stars that I decided to wear my lucky sneakers. This turned out to be the best damn assignment I’d ever had.

Interviewing the Italian – Chapter Eight – From Absurd to Awkward


Chapter Eight

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.

Interviewing the Italian – Chapter Six – A Tense Rising


Chapter Six

 

The guards must have arrived during dinner with my things. As I found my way back to my room, I saw that my suitcases were waiting for me. I slowly unpacked and tried to think of how I ended up where I am. This was not how I planned anything to play out. From an interview, I turn into personal journalist, from personal journalist, I turn into mistress. Who uses that word? Shrugging my shoulders, I sighed,it would be the same person with carpet in his dining room and a rendering of the Creation of Adam on his foyer ceiling. It was Augostino Romani, the same man I craved before I knew him.  The need for a shower, a cold one, overwhelmed me. At least I didn’t have to go looking for a bathroom; there was one in the bedroom I occupied. Rummaging through a few of my things, I found my lavender body wash and something comfortable to wear My lucky green and navy blue flannel short shorts, the ones too indecent to wear anywhere but to bed were also in the bag. After finally finding a  tank top and laying them on the bed, I walked into the bathroom with a fluffy white towel, I felt my jaw drop and drool begin to form. Talk about being too scared to mess anything up! This whole place was out of my league. As I turned on the lights, soft yellow track lighting illuminated and danced on the black marble floor. Hurrying on to the rug because I thought the marble would be cold to my naked feet, I was surprised the marble was actually warm. Heated tile floors, of course, why wouldn’t he have heated floors? There was a stand up shower incased in mirrored glass. There was also a deep old fashioned black porcelain footed tub. While it would have been fun to soak in that magnificent tub, I would have fell asleep in it and drowned.  Opting for the shower, I turned on the brass handled faucets and jumped as soft jets of water came from all three walls.  I’ll be damned if this place didn’t have everything. I’m no gold-digger, but this assignment had some perks.  Stepping into the shower, I lost myself under the undulating spray of the water.  Working up a good lather and beginning at my feet I soaped every inch of skin I could reach, trying to wash away the confusion of the day and trying to remember who and what I was.  I knew I was Yvonne Mason, a writer, a journalist. Unfortunately the nagging thought that I was trying to avoid as I rinsed the soapy foam from my breasts and watched the foam swirl and whirl down the drain hit me with the force of a punch in the gut. No, I was now Yvonne Mason, Augostino Romani’s mistress. Turning the handles to the shower so hard they squeaked,  I stomped out of the shower and wrapped the towel around my waist. So much for lavender aromatherapy, I was agitated all over again. Trying to slow my breathing as I got dressed and rubbed lavender scented baby oil over my skin.  Even after laying down under the thick down comforter, I was still restless. It wasn’t that I was upset that August asked me to pretend to be his mistress, I realized as I lie awake staring at the vaulted ceiling.   I was upset because I reacted to his touches and his simple kiss to my forehead.  Damn, if that wasn’t a playboy move! A forehead kiss could make any woman want to trust you even if she knew better. Forehead kisses on a five year celibate woman like me, and she would be throwing her panties at you.  Hating myself for falling for his smooth tactics, I threw the covers off me and punched my pillow.  How could I have been so gullible?

I gave up all pretense of sleep at around five in the morning.  Groaning, I grudgingly got out of the bed. Knowing that I would be even crankier unless I got some form of release, I started to pull open drawers and see what else I’d remembered to scribble down on that list I gave to his guards.  My mind was still caught up on a simple forehead kiss. What was wrong with me?. No better way to do that than to work it out of me. As I started to unpack my things  and putting them into drawers, I noticed there was a simple one piece black swimsuit folded nicely.  It was not one of the things that I would have remembered, but August would have.   Knowing August, who was a swimmer, there had to be a pool around here somewhere and that was perfect for me to work out my frustration.  I smirked at his uncanny ability to always think ahead.   Swimming was the perfect adrenaline rush or, at least, I hoped holding my breath until it felt like my lungs were bursting would get the feeling of his lips on my head out of my mind.   Being someone’s mistress was over my head. The people I was used to hanging around ate Buffalo wings and pizza darn near every night and screamed at the football games on TV. We watched ESPN at every chance and CNN when we could not get the sports fix we craved.  As I slipped on the swimsuit and tied a towel around my waist, it occurred to me that I could not let my mom know beforehand that there was going to be a lot of press about me and August and none of it was true.  Walking out of my room, I let intuition lead me where I would think a pool would be, but truthfully, I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going.  My thoughts were on my gold-digging sister who would be running to the tabloids telling lies. Then the cover would be blown. I smacked my forehead. Wait a minute, covers blown? Who was I, Elliot Ness?  I looked up and was glad that no one was around, I had been mumbling to myself as I wandered the halls looking for the pool. Looking up I tried to remember which way I came, but  I came up blank. . Tying the towel tighter around my one piece swimsuit, I  followed the bright light streaming from one hall.  As I walked down the marbled floor, I could hear birds chirping and knew I had to be close to the outside. Shielding my eyes against the rising sun, I opened the glass double doors to what should be  a backyard, but this was not a backyard. There was a huge pool, yet there was also a tennis court and what appeared to be a hot tub as well as a bar. Shaded next to the bar was a gazebo. This is where he must host his grand parties.  With everything that was on my mind, I didn’t even care.  Unused to this type of luxury, I just wanted to work my body until I got good and tired. I dropped the towel from my waist and stalked over to the pools edge. I stretched my arms up and dove into the deep clear water. This couldn’t possibly be my reality. At any moment I was going to wake up and have a column due. I am not a spy, heck I can’t keep secrets worth a damn, and I was not the sophisticated femme fatale that should be going to parties at the Italian embassy.  My arms were hitting the water at full speed and I executed my turn flawlessly.  With each thought that came to my mind, I hit the water harder, racing full speed through the length of the pool and back again.  My lungs were hurting but I could not stop.

Reality was stepping in.   Facts began to hit me such as the fact that August had checked me out before this mistress thing.  Was that his plot all along to compromise me in some way shape or form?   What exactly was his plan of action.  Last night his plan seemed simple, but in the dawn of a fresh day, it seems farfetched  and illogical. I’d forgotten what lap and didn’t care that I was probably overdoing it as I pondered every question in my head.  My mother wouldn’t take this as a joke or as an undercover assignment, she wouldn’t find it funny, and she would tear my head off for shacking up with a man I just met.  Thinking about what my mother would think made my thoughts turn angry.   I shouldn’t care what she thinks since I was merely a glorified gopher to her.   Then thinking about my sister and brother and I know damn well that they would be calling my cell phone every five minutes for favors.    I couldn’t do this. Making  up my mind to tell August thanks but no thanks, find another mistress, I was ready to vacate the pool.my hand met a rock hard chest.  That is definitely not the cool pool lining I had been touching. I didn’t want to open my eyes. I knew who it was; my body knew who it was. My hand stayed where it was, not by my choice, but by August’s hand covering it.  I finally got up the nerve to wipe the chlorinated water from my eyes and looked at him.   He was already drenched. his breathing was ragged as well.   Had he been in the pool for long?

“You should stop before you get a cramp.” His voice was rich and deep, even if he was trying to catch his breath.  “You have been at it for a while.” His voice was husky, soothing as if he was concerned. Unfortunately, from the tumultuous thoughts I had been mulling over, I felt like I was a poor guppy sitting in a pool with a shark.

“Thanks for the concern; I am on my way out.” I said coldly as I tugged my hand. I was going to swim the opposite direction but he held it to his chest.  I looked up at his eyes and yep, there is the cool blue gaze. I tried to give him an impatient look, raising my eyebrow, and shifting my lips to the side of my face.

“You have a lot on your mind?” Although he posed it as a question, it seemed more like a statement.

I shook my head no and tugged at my hand again. He was not letting go.

“I beg to differ, Yvonne, you didn’t seem to notice that I was taking laps at the other end, and that I had been swimming next to you for the past four laps.”

“I am good, really.  I just haven’t swam in a long time. It was the adrenaline rush. I got in a zone.” I rushed out. He pursed his lips together and pulled me close to him. He was staring into my eyes, as if he was searching for the truth switch. All he was doing was escalating my temperature and making me really think this was a mistake.  His thumb began to stroke the top of my hand and I decided to focus there, it was easier than trying to look at him and tread water. I was watching his tan thumb circle my hand and I became hypnotized. I refused to let my gaze roam to what I knew was his sculpted shoulders and toned abs.  I wasn’t fat, but his perfect body made me feel even more inadequate. There was no way someone would believe I was his mistress. We are too different.

“If you are having doubts, we can reconsider this. I don’t want you to be scared…” His calm voice knocked me out of my deliberations.

“Scared?” My voice sounded like a squeak. I roughly cleared my throat. Scared was the last thing I was. “I am not scared, August. I have some concerns.  I mean, wouldn’t you?”

“Of course, but I told you I will take care of your concerns.” I rolled my eyes heavenward and let out a little huff.

“Alright, then you can talk to my mother when she calls.” I huffed.

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“She reads all that tabloid fodder and gossip columns that should be lining the bottom of a bird cage. She is going to pitch a fit… furthermore, that means that I can’t do damage control before tonight’s little shindig because what if one of my friends spill the beans, so that means no contact with them either.” I shook my head at my own babbling.  I was making my own head hurt.  “I am sorry, I didn’t mean to explode on you.” At that August quirked his eyebrow and pulled me closer.  If I was not mistaken, there was something in his swim trunks trying to get out.  Please let it be an eel and not what it feels like.  August’s head dipped to my ear and I felt the ‘it’ hit the inside of my thigh. Oh Lord, the ‘it’ was big.

“Do not say things like ‘explode on me’ and not expect to get a reaction out of me.” Then with his free hand, his fingers danced down my back and then he pinched my butt.  I gasped and pushed away.  I quickly got out of the pool and looked behind me. August was standing there with his hand on his hips and I think got out of the pool with the devil himself.

New Release – Novella – Amory’s Mate by Nevea Lane


You asked, now you shall receive.   We ran an experiment for a while of shorter stories, however, most fans have indicated they want something longer… (don’t we all… *snicker*)  So here I give to you, Amory’s Mate, a longer work that will knock your socks off with action and sensuality.     The heroine is a independent damsel that is in distress but you won’t see her faint nor swoon.   She is packing guns and knows how to use them.     Here is a blurb and an excerpt.  It is available now at http://www.sharaazod.com/ebook/amorys-mate.html

 

Amory's Mate

 

Blurb –

Running in the woods through deep snow in the middle of the night wasn’t a good idea no matter who you were. Running through the woods at night, during a blizzard with a stolen laptop, several stolen microchips, and two goons chasing you was an even worse idea. Angel Harmon was always full of ideas, but this late-night run hadn’t been her plan. She thought for the hundredth time that hour that all she was doing was her job. She thought she’d chosen a safe career in the IT field. Being a security specialist, she found security breaches in websites and company programs. All she was doing was her job, and now someone was dead and she was obviously next.

Amory Monteclaire had been out on a run with his packmates when he’d crossed paths with the mocha skinned female running through the woods.  Her scent was intoxicating enough for him to want her, the fact that she was in danger made him want to protect her.  The question is, would the wildly independent woman stay in his world once she was out of danger?

EXCERPT –

“Angel.” It was all he could say; his chest was heaving, the urge to howl was too close, and her lips were still pressing closed-mouthed kisses on his cheek and his chin.

“Amory,” she returned. Her voice was serious, even if she had no idea what she was doing or what he was saying. She sighed then laughed. Stopping her assault on his body with her mouth—for which he was grateful—and sitting up, she looked him in the eye. Her normally almond-shaped eyes were in the most seductive slits he’d ever seen. There was something to be said about a woman who could look at a man without a look of fear—he just couldn’t think what it was. What he saw, in that moment, was the warrior his Angel really was. Her look was sensual and defiant. His chest swelled as she stared at him. “What? You think I’m going to cower because of what you are? You think you howling, growling, grunting, and whimpering is going to stop this want I have for you? Are you really that bad of a wolf, Amory?” That last question was asked in defiance, as if she was daring him. “Well, are you? Are you that bad of a wolf that you don’t think I can handle you?”

 

 

Go pick up your copy and of course, let me know what you think.    Happy Reading!

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.

Interviewing the Italian – Chapter Three (A Free Read)


 

Chapter Three

Driving back to my little apartment, I tried to calm my nerves and prepare myself for the biggest opportunity of a lifetime.   I cleaned my rooms from top to bottom, re-read all of the notes I’d acquired about Mr. Romani, and still, I couldn’t sleep. Knowing that travel would be a part of the job, I began to think of all the places I’d get to see working for the man. At least I hoped I got to see them. That is when it hit me; what exactly is a personal journalist? Firing up my laptop and Googled it, and nothing, well nothing but a song called “Personal Journalist” by someone named Sage Francais. I have no idea what I am supposed to do.  I found one article on a personal journalist and it was more of a theory than it was an actual job description. It said “The personal journalist does what journalists do best: keep their eyes open.” Well I can do that. The media already loved Augostino Romani, even if he had a playboy repertoire. Feeling more confident than before, I decided to wear a simple pair black pants and an azure blue top that reminded me of August’s eyes. Man, I had to stop thinking about him like that. He was to be admired and adore, not studied. I should probably tattoo that on the back of my hand.  Settling down into my comforter, I prepared myself for the next step in my life.

It was exactly 7:59 AM when I knocked on the door to Mr. Romani’s office.  I knew he’d appreciate my punctuality, but I frowned at myself for trying to impress him once again.   Being punctual was one thing, but expecting Augustino Romani to give me a pat on the back was just plain foolish.  I wasn’t in high school trying to get the school jock to notice me, this was my job.  I cleared my throat, and listened for Mr. Romani’s notorious yell.    There was not an immediate answer, but his assistant motioned for me to go right in.  Don’t ask me why, but I actually walked in. I wished that I hadn’t.

“What do you mean!” I heard Augostino yelling into the speaker.   The fact I hadn’t heard him yelling let me know his office was sound proof.  No wonder he didn’t hear my knock. I was about to turn around and leave him to whoever he was castrating, but he pointed his index finger at me and then pointed at the huge leather chair sitting in front of his large cherry wood desk.

“I mean that it has been compromised, meaning that someone from the inside is leaking information.” Said the voice from the speaker, whose voice sounded similar to Augostino’s.

“You are the detective Adriano; find out who it is…”

“If you weren’t my younger brother, I’d kick your ass for speaking to me like that…”

“You should be used to it by now.” And then an amazing thing happened, Augostino Romani smiled. The man had the most white and even teeth I’d ever seen in person.  He sat down and still was smiling when he finally told his brother they weren’t alone. “Adriano, my new journalist is here. Her name is…” he paused, cocked his head to the side, and raised that eyebrow at me again “What shall you be called by when you write my biography?”

At least he asked, but I had assumed that because he did not like my pen name, I would use my real name.

“Yvonne Mason. Pleased to hear you Adriano.” I chuckled. That was the oddest introduction I had ever seen, but this whole situation is odd to me.

“What’s this deal about her name?” said the baritone voice from the speaker.

Augostino sat in his own huge leather chair and leaned back, lacing his fingers and placing them on the back of his head. He looked at the speaker as if his brother can actually see what he was doing. “Her current pen name is Savannah Martin.” Augostino said and paused.

“Oh, you,” said the voice, and I think I heard the man chuckle. “I have read some of your stuff,” said Adriano. I quirked an eyebrow and stared at the speakerphone.

“Granted, we haven’t met Mr. Romani, but why would you be scouring the tech mags?”

“Work related, which is all I am going to tell you, but your stuff is good, all facts, not that over enthused dribble that most write. It has helped me on a few cases.” Adriano Romani was all business, his voice was crisp, but deep and to the point. Even on the phone I could tell he was no-nonsense. Picturing him as a detective made all the sense in the world.

“Well thank you, Detective Romani, I try to stay away from fluff pieces.” I said, smiling. I looked up at Augostino’s face. What I saw made the smile on my face run for the hills.  It was cold, and he was staring at me as if I committed some sin.  I frowned at him and raised one eyebrow, I learned that trick from him at our interview.

“You will have to save your flirting with Yvonne, brother, for later.” Flirting? I know he didn’t think that was flirting? “There are some things I have to get done before my morning meeting.”

He was already reaching for the end call button. I could hear Adriano’s chuckle and felt it vibrate through the dark wood of the desk.

“Flirting, hardly. Ciao August, see you soon.”

What did he mean by that?  The line went dead and Augostino was regarding me with an eyebrow raised and a question on his lips. I already knew what it was.

“I was not flirting, I wouldn’t flirt with anyone, but especially your brother.”

“That is not what I was concerned with. Although, I am relieved to hear it.” That made me jump. So what was he concerned with?  “What I am concerned with is that you heard there was a leak.” Understanding just kicked me in my gut. Yes, there was a leak in his powerful company, and  I nodded  at him.  Of course that would be a great article about leaks and security at one of the more powerful software development companies, if I had more than a partially overheard conversation.

“I don’t report on something unless I have all the facts, and what I heard amounts to a needle in a haystack. There isn’t much to go on and it would be hearsay, hell, just plain gossip. As your brother said, I am about facts.”

“Good. That is why I chose you to be my personal journalist. You will be around me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no exceptions. With a leak on the loose, that means that you will be in danger. People will want to know if you have more information than others. The project we are working on is a government funded project with direct connections to the Department of Defense.  That information puts you in danger. Are you ok with that?”

I had to shut my mouth. I knew it was gaped open trying to absorb what Augostino just said.  Who said anything about 24/7?  Was he serious? From the look on his face, I could only assume that he was.  There wasn’t much I could do about it now, and, somewhere deep down, I didn’t want to, although I was sure I could negotiate 18 hours a day and 6 days a week. There was a small hint of excitement bubbling inside of me. Clearing my throat and crossing my long legs, I placed my hand folded into my lap and thought about the defense contracts.   That would be another great article.   As I thought of all the articles I could possibly write, it occurred to me that as private as Augustino Romani was, he just let slip two very damning pieces of evidence. Staring at him fully, having forgone the glasses today, I didn’t have the buffer of lenses to protect me from his penetrating gaze, but the need to fully comprehend what was really going on overrode his intimidating eyes.

“Let me get my mind around this, you” I pointed at him with my pen “want me to follow you all day, every day, and put myself in danger for your biography?  You’ve also told me information that I could use in a different article and expose your company.  What makes you trust someone you just met yesterday?”  He didn’t respond, but merely stood up and went to the side cupboard in his office and poured himself a cup of coffee. Then I saw him take a second cup and pour another one with two cubes of sugar and a healthy dose of cream.   How did he know the way that he took my coffee?

He placed the steaming cup in front of me and sat down again in his high backed chair. When I still didn’t speak, he pulled out a manila envelope from his desk drawer and slid it across to me.

I opened it and my jaw dropped.  It was a file on me. There were pictures of me taking my daily trip to the neighborhood coffee shop, leaving my mother’s home, various articles that I wrote, and other things about me.  I didn’t know what to say, I’d never been checked out before.

“At least I know how you knew how I like my coffee.” I murmured, taking a sip of the hot coffee and flipping through the file.   I saw a photo of myself digging in a dumpster.    I chuckled to myself.  I remembered that day clearly and one pissed off interviewee had thrown my lucky pen out the window of his apartment.

“You don’t seem concerned.” He said, and I think his eyes were sparkling with admiration.

“Look, Mr. Romani,”

“Augostino, or you may call me August” His voice dropped to a husky, indescribable tone that sent chills down to my toes.

“August,” I said somewhat breathlessly, setting the coffee cup down on his desk. “Apparently, given the world you live in, asking someone to be around you twenty-four hours means you need to check them out. That is small potatoes. What I want to know is did you have this before or after the interview?”

“Before,” he said simply, without a hesitation or flinch. That was as I thought.  It made sense on why he would ask me what my real name was when no one I met had ever questioned what my name was. My guess is that he wondered if I would tell him honestly or not. It also explains why he would offer me a job after having only meeting me for thirty minutes.

I nodded my head and looked at the rest of the file. In the back of the file was the record of my scholarship by his foundation, including my essay that landed me the scholarship.  It was a quirky insightful essay about my love affair with coffee. I am not ashamed to admit it, I love coffee, in every which way, ice cream, frappe, iced, hot, you name it, and I have had it.   I closed the file and handed it back to him.  His fingertips touched mine and I felt and electric shock up my arm. I pulled my fingers back quickly as if I had been burned. I had to get control of myself, even though everything about the man sitting across from me made me jittery.

“Ok, so you checked me out, anything else I should know?” I asked, trying to stay calm and professional about this.

“Yes that I found your essay funny and real. Any one that can honestly speak of themselves as being an addict of anything…” his voice trailed off and his eyes focused on something above me. Deeply bothered by his sudden sense of melancholy, I sat back in the chair and stared at him a few moments before I spoke.

“Thanks, Mr., sorry, August. I am still trying to figure out why in the world that you would want me to be the one to write your biography, regardless of the extensive background search you did on me.”

“Because I want to leave a legacy. I thought you, following me as intently as you have, would be the perfect candidate.  Now, as far as you following me twenty-four hours, well I think you should know from our interview that I am a spur of the moment person; also, I prefer to have things at my beck and call. That includes you.” If I were anyone else, that would sound improper but nothing shocked me much anymore when it came out of his mouth.  As I stared at the azure eyes studying me to see if I would twitch, bitch or faint, I smiled. I don’t run from a challenge.

“If that is supposed to make me turn tail August, you got me pegged all wrong. Beck and call journalist, sure I can deal with that. I do have a condition on my own.”

“What would that be, Yvonne?” Why did he have to say my name like that, all sexy and seductive?

“That you lay your cards on the table all the time. I don’t like being kept in the dark, and if this working relationship is going to work, I expect stark honesty from you, not some cat and mouse game.”

“That is a steep price. What about a need to know basis?”

“Yeah, like I need to know if I am going to need a gun, or a Doberman?” That I had to ask that question should have made me run and the fact that all he did was laugh should have made me weary. It was a good throaty laugh, which told me I would need both.

Interviewing the Italian – A Free Read as a Thanks and a Gift


I will be posting a free read, in chapters, on here and on Wattpad as a gift to you, the readers and the fans, it will take some time to get it all posted, it is actually a lengthy read, but well, you guys deserve it.  A few caveats: it is written in first person, I know how some of you don’t like that, but that is your prerogative…Also, it is roughly edited, real rough, that is why it is free, and here, not on Amazon or anything like that.  This was supposed to be out there somewhere, but things happen, ish implodes, et cetera… but that is neither here nor there… On with the goodness… Chapter One starts here…..

 

Chapter One

“Please tell me you aren’t wearing those sneakers to the interview?” My best friend stared  at me with her mouth agape and her brown eyes bugging out of her head.. I laughed at her horrified expression. Lena Bath, self-proclaimed tomboy, wasn’t going to let me wear sneakers to an interview?

“Lena, Lena, when have you known me not to wear my lucky sneakers to an interview? This one is no different.” I looked at my outfit in the full-length mirror. Lena was on my bed still in her scrubs.  Most people would have been mortified to have a coroner sitting on their bed still in their scrubs, but I didn’t care. I found her stories about working with the DC police fascinating.

“Yvonne, please, you are about to interview Augostino Romani.. You can’t possibly wear those ratty high tops. I don’t care how good that Donna Karan suit looks on you, ditch those shoes[Km1] .” She pointed at the offensive [Km2] sneakers on my feet. I looked down at them knowing what I would see. White Reebok classics, with Velcro straps, scuffed and marred from walking, running, and sticking my foot in closing doors.  There was a huge grass stain on the left shoe and a pinkish spot of unknown origins on one of them . I smirked, the shoes were ratty, hell, downright ugly, but I wasn’t taking them off.  

“Girl, please, I’m not trying to jump his bones! It is an interview. Like all my other interviewees, there is no sex, no dates and no flirting. Even though he is fine as I-don’t-know-what.” I said, sighing. Yes, Augostino was handsome, but zero fraternizing with the interviewees.  That was my firm policy. I was twenty-seven year old journalist and I was determined not to let my work be judged on who I slept with. . Crossing my arms under my chest, I gave Lena the hard stare.

“Don’t give me that look. Yvonne, you have been itching for this interview for years. You can’t fool me. I’ve seen the  pages and pages of notes you hoard on the man, not to mention you  have several of his software programs. Let’s not forget, you made it out of grad school on one of his company’s scholarships. You’ve talked about this  interview for what, three years? Don’t give me that just another day bull.”

“This is why I am wearing the shoes! I can’t be drooling all over the man and looking like some inexperienced deranged stalker, now can I?  I have to have the sneakers to remind me why I am there.”

I grabbed my trusted worn brown leather shoulder bag. Lena was right about one thing. I had idolized Augostino Romani for five years. Maybe it was because he came from nowhere, under the radar and into the spotlight or perhaps it was because most software engineers didn’t look like him, or it could be that Mr. Romani only does only one interview a year. I don’t know what had made Romani Industries call my editor and offer the coveted interview, but I am glad they did. I remembered when my editor pulled me to the side after the morning meeting and told me that he wanted me to do it..

Gary, the editor, cleared his throat and asked me to stay behind while the other reporters cleared out. Normally jovial, Gary looked at me with an assessing stare. He started down at my tennis shoes, traveled up my khaki chinos and stopped at the men’s button down oxford that I’d adorned with a wide chain link belt. As he finished his survey of my clothes, he nodded and spoke.

“You would be perfect to interview Mr. Augostino Romani. I like your no-nonsense attitude, and you don’t preen and cluck like a hen around good looking men. Plus, your last story gave me a good laugh.”  Gary handed me a card and shooed me out with a wave of his hand. “Oh, and Martin?” I looked back over my shoulder at Gary, his brown eyes looking stern and unforgiving,  . Savannah Martin was my pen name. It wasn’t that I didn’t love my real name, Yvonne Mason, for some reason most of my work was rejected when turned in as Yvonne Mason.  Perhaps it told people I was a stubborn person, but I chose Savannah Martin because it sounded softer, not because I was soft!   If Shakespeare asked again, ‘what’s in a name?’ I would tell him a whole lot! 

“Yes, sir?” I said, almost wanting to salut him.  The way Gary gave me the assignment, I felt like I was in the military. .

“I don’t need to remind you that this is a confidential interview. Not a word, to anyone.” I nodded and walked out.  Of course I knew how everyone tech hound coveted this interview, if I said anything it would be to Lena, but everyone else, no way.  They would run me over with a MACK truck before they let me have this interview unhindered.   It was the big break I needed.   The only reason my editor picked me because I wouldn’t be speechless from hero worship like the men at my job, nor would I try to audition to be Mrs. Augostino Romani. Women like me do not catch the attention of men like him. Unlike my friend Lena, mixed with Asian and African-American, there was nothing exotic about me.  My skin was an ordinary milk chocolate color. Almond shaped eyes were my best asset, and I had worn contacts for years, but more people took me seriously when I wearing my glasses. For my interview with the reclusive Romani, I picked out a chocolate brown and pink pants suit to make me feel confidant and look older. I piled my hair on my head into a loose bun, put on my black rimmed glasses. Again, I reminded myself, don’t get slack jawed; he is still just a mere man.

Yet, I still couldn’t help but feel like I won the lottery. I had to work my way up to get the interviews of engineers that were lower on the totem pole.  I figured I had at least another year of waiting for the ‘great Romani interview’ as I dubbed it in my journal. 

“He is still a software engineer. I have had all my notes pre-approved, and I am sure we’ll be monitored by his entourage so I don’t ask any off the wall questions.  He is just a man.”

“Right Vonne, he is good looking and available man. He has, been called one of Washington D.C.’s eligible bachelors for the past four years. He is constantly giving back to the community by donating computers, software, and his time. Don’t tell me you don’t find all of that attractive?”

“Lena, despite his humanitarian efforts, according to the tabloids, he was known for being a flirt, elusive, and arrogant.  Not to mention a different flavor of woman every month.  So no, I know he is a philanthropist and all that, but I don’t understand how you can be so caring for the community one minute and then pretty much be called a dog the other fifty-nine minutes of the hour.”

 Lena giggled and stood up.  She eyed me and sighed, I knew she had given up arguing with me. “Yeah, ok Vonne, just don’t forget, you are human. A red-blooded, human woman about to meet, for an exclusive interview, a man that you have followed his career ever since yours took off. Have I mentioned he is  good looking? The man is  intelligent obviously, and available. Just because you are interviewing him now, doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be something later.” Giving a careless shrug, Lena looked down at her watch. “I’ll see myself out. I got to get to the lab.”

“Yeah I got to get going too; I want to get there early so I’m ready.”

I drove to the location the marketing department told me where Mr. Romani wanted to be interviewed. He respected his privacy and preferred not to be out in the open.  I pulled up to what appeared to be a town home turned into a private restaurant of sorts. I walked into the front door and was greeting by a fidgeting, barely five foot woman talking rapidly in Italian.  I couldn’t catch most of what she was saying because whatever she was saying, wasn’t in any formal Italian classes I’d taken.  She erratically pointed at walls, and said pareti hanno bisogno di pittura, which from what I understood her walls were painted for her but why was she telling me this?   Was she just as nervous to have the great August Romani in her restaurant?  Up and down she pointed, to the hardwood floors, the ceiling fans, and one really big chandelier.  If this was supposed to be a tour, I wasn’t grasping a thing.  The only thing I could do was stay behind her and try to follow her erratic shifts in direction.  How she managed to move that fast on wood floors in heels was beyond me.   Finally she led me to the bar area and stopped so fast in front of me,  I almost barreled right over her.  She turned to look at me, her eyes full of tears.

Ha pagato per tutto!”  Ahh, I see.  He’d paid for it all.  That was why she was showing me everything, Mr. Romani had paid for the extensive renovations to her restaurant.    She didn’t have to sell me on the fact that August Romani was a good guy, he was just a reclusive guy that everyone wanted. 

 She showed me to the bar area and very politely asked me to wait.  She waddled out of the room at a much slower pace than when she was showing me the place. As I looked at everything from the painted ceilings to watercolor frescos on the wall, I realized that he must have thrown a lot of money into this place.  As I was flipping through the pages of my approved questions, the aura in the room changed. I no longer heard the hostess clicking around in her heeled shoes and it seemed as though the ceiling fans turned slower.   I felt a tenseness course up my spine and in my heart knew that Augostino Romani had entered the room.  I turned to look. As soon as my eyes landed on him, I went from looking to staring. He was not someone you just ‘look’ at, he was to be admired. As his eyes swept the room I studied his form and movements. He was wearing a deep navy suit, tailored, with pin stripes. His tie was turquoise while his shirt was an innocent white. The simplistic hues seemed at odds with his dark hair. He looked at me with a gaze as acute as a hawk and it took every ounce of will power I had to not gasp and to not put my hand to my chest like some fainting southern belle. This man was a walking advertisement for sex. There is no other way to put it. I was in over my head. I knew it, I felt it, and as he started to walk towards me, his demeanor said it. The long strides he took put him in front of me in mere seconds. I don’t remember blinking, but as soon as I did, he took my hand and raised it to his mouth.  A brief kiss, his warm lips grazing the tops of my knuckles and then he was sitting in the barstool. I felt like I was so was screwed because  I didn’t expect him to look half as good as he did in the tabloid pictures or even on TV. No, he looked even better.  Turning, I took a sip of my water and counted to ten before I twisted back to him.   His gaze finally met mine and I paused.  Was he even looking at me?  It looked like he was looking right through me, as intense as his eyes were.

“Buongiorno, signore Romani. I’m glad to have this interview.”  I thought maybe it would snap his attention back to the moment, and ok, who am I kidding, I wanted  to impress him with my knowledge of Italian. I’m so pathetic that I wanted his approval. Luckily for me, he wasn’t impressed. In fact, he barely acknowledged that I had spoken to him at all. There was a slight tilt of the head, and perhaps his lips pursed into a line, but that was it. Not even a grunt. Most men at least grunted. Better get this over with.  That quickly put me back into professional mode.  No longer wanting to impress the man, I wanted to get to the heart of the interview.  

I started off with simple enough questions. 

“So what is this new software? What makes it revolutionary?”  Then I saw something flicker across his face as if he was ready to put on a show.  From several years of interviewing, I knew this was about to be a long rehearsed answer.

“The concept behind this software is to provide heightened security to even the most casual of computer users. We have used the theory behind human DNA to develop this new security software. We are calling it Double Helix…” his deep voice was monotone and perfunctory. I could have had more fun reading instructions on cooking rice. Something wasn’t right with this. Most people get excited, animated and antsy when discussing something they are passionate about. This guy, nothing. He stared at me with this intense stare, as if he was trying to hypnotize me. I sat and listened to the bits of sentences, only scribbling a few lines here and there. Even there, Mr. Romani’s eyes never left my face. Most media shy or even the slightly insecure will want to try a peek at what you are scribbling. No, his eyes were trained on my face. I frowned and tried to listen more intently.

“The software is not faulty like the current finger print masking. Masking is never efficient. Masks will eventually be cracked,” Mr. Romani’s voice cracked from that monotone voice. That made my ears perk. He just said ‘mask’ several times, and each time he got more agitated. That is more than just my boredom, hoping for something, I had to know more. A new line of questions began to formulate, ones that were not approved in the slightest, but I was a journalist, it was my job to dig. . From behind my glasses, I slyly look around and that is when I noticed, there was no one here but us. He didn’t have a huge entourage, no doppelgangers. It was me and him, although I am sure the jittery host was lurking somewhere.

I hated myself for wanting to ask it, but I felt the question itch and burn on my tongue. I knew then that the rest of interview would not go as smooth as I hoped. Before my rational, professional mind could clamp down on the words, they shot out my mouth like a bullet from an automatic weapon.

“So what mask are you wearing?” Damn it, damn it, damn it. I would have sworn out loud if he was not already staring at me in contempt.  

“Excuse me?” He practically hissed at me. Had I just pissed off one of the most influential men in the engineering business?  Yeah  I did, yet, from the quiet intensity of his expression, I didn’t think it took much to stir the dragon within him.  I continued to stare at him as if I wasn’t petrified.  

Mr. Romani looked at me and I looked at him from the top of my glasses, and said it again with the most sincerity.

“What mask are you wearing?”

 “Scusi?” He barked in Italian and he quirked his eyebrow. Perhaps it was that slight raise of his eyebrow that was supposed to command a response. I am sure the dark black contrast of brow to his pure blue eyes caused a heart or two to stop. It was obvious he was agitated. I didn’t blame him; he was in the middle of an explanation on the concept behind his new software program. Honestly, I just did not care. The answers were rehearsed, until he went off on the mask tirade, and I did not want the light stuff. I wanted his soul. As dark as that sounded, I wanted to know what drove him.  

The best plan was quickly rephrase the question to a friendlier, less Barbara Walters and more the journalist that I was. I wrote for a magazine, not Nightline.

“That is to say,” I said, clearing my throat for emphasis, “your new software shows a different side of you, different than what we seen before. Is it because you’ve changed your line of thinking at thirty-six years old or did you just want to try something new?”

I hope I sounded sweet enough to make him answer the question. I was not some young cotton for brains writer seeking squeal points; I was a journalist and I wanted to know what set him off on that tirade and I wanted just a hint of the man behind the engineer.  

He still looked at me like he wanted to take my head off. I wasn’t going to budge. Some people might have backed down from that glare of those icebergs they call his eyes, but I was not moving.

“I just wanted to try something new.” That was it? No tears? No sniffles, not even a glimpse into his inner most secrets?

“Did you experience something new?” I was going to have to be scientific about this but he was starting to piss me off, I don’t give a damn how fine he is, I want my Pulitzer award-winning interview.

“No. I wanted to create something that I had been playing around with. The concept is very simple, but the design was complicated. Plus I had to see if the audience would even like the concept.”

If I were the reaching type, I would take that as being insecure, yet it wasn’t enough. I liked cold hard facts, facts which he did not want to seem to give me.    

“How long were you experimenting with the new software?”

“About 2 years. Then I had a test group and it seemed to work the way I intended.”

“Did you run these by your friends or the executive…?”

“No, I am the only executive on this project, so I did what I felt to do.” There’s the arrogance I heard so much about.

 “Point taken and what was the feeling behind the December 24th release date?” I said, getting irritated more by the moment.  He might as well have been a robot his tone was so controlled. 

His eyes narrowed into slits, but still no emotion.   Well, him shooting me with shitty stares could be classified as lack of control right?  No, as quickly as his eyes had given him away, he recovered to his normal bored look. 

From the side of his mouth he murmured the words “Early Christmas present.”

That was it? What person does not want to talk about a new project they were working on? I knew then I was about to blow up at my dream interview. I looked down at my notes, all of my questions I had spent almost 3 years coming up with, and felt rage. I had wanted above all things to interview the man whose products were exciting to a tech junkie like me. Now face to face with him, I wanted to do nothing but scream at him, that no one could possibly be this emotionless. As I flipped through my pages of questions, the more frustrated I got.  All of the questions would only produce one word answers.  No wonder he only gave one interview a year, he was either dull as fuck or he knew damn well he wouldn’t give up any more information than was necessary. The wheels started to turn in my head on how  I was going to make this the interview I’d fantasized about for years.  I was not particularly one for reverse psychology but anything was worth a shot.

“Ok, well that does it for me,” I clicked my lucky pen, retracting the point as I was retracting form the interview. He looked startled.

“You only asked me a few questions. Is it really over?” Now he was looking at me from above the rim of his glasses.  

“Yes, it is really over. The information you are telling me I can get from the press release notes when the software drops in another month. I see no need to waste your time any further Mr. Romani. I am sure that you have some Thanksgiving festivities to fly to or something, I know I still have to get to the grocery store…” I was putting my purse on my shoulder. I was staking my career on this act; if my editor found out I did this and didn’t come back with any good information for pissing off the most formidable software developer on the east coast I will be back to writing columns for the local community college.  

“Please don’t call me that.”

“Ok, Signore Romani.” I said sarcastically. I think I saw him smirk but I held firm, I was taking a huge gamble.  “Seriously, I am sure there is something else you would rather be doing. Please do not linger on my account. I waited three years for this interview. I think I can wait a month for your new software to come to the stores to get the information that I need.”

I took a breath, this was my last chance.  I stared at him in silence and waited. Something strange happened in his eyes. Either it was a spark of interest or I pissed him off royally.  The irises became dilated and the color became such a vibrant hue of blue, it looked like the sky.

“Sit. Down. Miss. Martin.” Augostino Romani carefully enunciated each word as he took off his glasses. From the tone in his voice, I would say I had succeeded in really making him angry. He gingerly folded his silver rimmed glasses and set them down on the dark wood bar top. I noticed the lenses in his glasses don’t magnify anything. Why would this man hide behind a pair of glasses with his gorgeous yet intimidating eyes? He gestured toward the chair I just vacated. So what could I do? I sat. “I don’t like being talked to that way, but I am making an exception for you.” His voice was stern and cold.

“I will take your word for it.” His eyebrows shot up and his eyes narrowed again.  I was putting on the not interested anymore act a little thick, but hell, he started it. 

“Why Christmas Eve, because that was the one night I knew I would have everyone’s attention. I like attention. So what better than a holiday?”

The question hung there, rhetorical or not.   I looked at him, knowing damn well he didn’t expect an answer, but from the way his eyes steadily stared at me, I could tell he was gauging my reaction. 

“So,”  I said drawing the words out,  “do you enjoy being a spectacle?” The press had a field day with his career so far. It has been ten years and they have not ceased to be on his heels at every moment.  

“I am always going to be a spectacle, whether I like it or not. Fame has a way of doing that to you.” I had never met anyone so cynical, well despite myself of course.  

“That is true, but fame also affords you money to slink back into the mountains of Montana or Idaho if you wanted to.”

“Are you always this direct?”

“Depends on the subject…”

“Am I a subject to be studied under a microscope?”  his words sounding clipped. Augostino Romani fenced with words.  Each question was either deflected or swayed.  While his way of deflecting and avoiding real questions may have been useful anywhere else,  I was the one giving the interview not him.

“No. What you are, sir, is trying to avoid answering my question.”

“Touché Miss Martin.  Why do I keep going out? I love to invent. That is why. I love what I do. Going out to a few events every once and while pads my pockets so I can fund my personal side projects without using company funds.”

“Was there ever a time that you fell out of love with inventing new software? It is a pretty frustrating field.”

“Before I made this program, yes, I had fallen out of love with it. After a while, you do get tired.”

“You mean you were suffering from exhaustion?” Captivated that he was giving me so much information, I had to keep on prying.

“No, the touring, showcasing and selling was the easy part. It was the politics, the promos, and the interviews, no offense.”

“None taken. So why aren’t you tired now?”

“I grew up. I realized that people take more than they give. So I am going to give a whole lot that they didn’t ask for.”

“And who is the ‘they’?”

“Anyone who stands in my way.” He looked at me with the glare that I am sure the big bad wolf gave one of those pigs before he blew their house down.  I am not easily intimidated, but the gleam in his eyes made me want to stay far away from him when he was angry. I had already accomplished pushing his buttons twice in fifteen minutes. Not off to a good start, but I was not finished yet. We were just getting to the good stuff, and I had waited too long for this.

“Has anyone been in your way recently?”

“Yes, myself.” His eyes slunk off into the distance staring at something beyond me. Considering we were the only two people in the room, I find it impossible that someone else had his attention.

“So did you go around yourself or did you mow yourself down?” I knew all too well what he saying. Sometimes you find the only thing that is keeping you from getting to the next level that you want to achieve is yourself. You have either to tear it down, or go with the flow. I spent most of the time tearing down my own personal walls, just to get an adrenaline rush.  

“I mowed it down. And this is getting too personal…” I could see the invisible fortress he keeps himself in going up in front of my eyes, and I had to stop it. Not for the sake of the article, but because now I was generally intrigued. I stopped the tape recorder.  

“Ok, fair enough. Why don’t you ask me some questions?”

He quirked his eyebrow at me and did not believe that I would put my own neck on the line.

“Look, I spend most of my time getting people to talk about themselves; I don’t talk about myself a whole lot. Things got a little heavy, so this is like a cease fire.”

“Ok, is Savannah really your name? “

“It is my middle name. Why do you ask?”

“Because you don’t look like a Savannah. I was to walk in here, expecting some blonde nitwit, and instead I get a leggy chocolate dessert, whose skin reminds me of gelato.” Yeah sure, Casanova. I had my fair share of smooth talkers in my lifetime, and that was not the smoothest line I have heard.

“Yeah, Ok Mr. Romani, you don’t have to try flattering me, I have waited for this interview for years.” And there was no way he was going to convince me that I was like a Tyra Banks or Naomi Campbell, even if I did stand five feet ten. That is where the similarities ended. I packed a little more in my derriere. I wasn’t thin, that I knew, and his offhand flirting made me self-conscious. I don’t diet, and I eat a steak when I can. I am thick and I like it that way, but not when he is staring at me as if I am standing here in a bikini instead of a pants suit. He quirked an eyebrow again and who taught him that one eyebrow trick anyway? He posed an unasked question as if he did not understand, I added, “There is no need for you to flirt with me in order to get the good stuff in the article. I know all about your company already .”

“Well, someone with integrity, it is about time. But that does not mean that I don’t think your skin is satin like gelato, just an observation.  As an engineer I have to observe every detail of everything.” I groaned and rolled my eyes. If he weren’t so Italian, it would have came off as being extremely corny.  I looked at him over the rim of my glasses, and he smirked again. Arrogant bastard.

“So what else do you want to ask me?”

“What is your first name?”

“Yvonne,”

“I like your first name better. Is this what you want to do for the rest of your life?”

“No, I am pretty young yet, I don’t wish to be doing this much longer, but until I finish my novel, well this is writing, and I like it.”

“So are you a journalist or a writer?”

“What makes you separate the two? Most people don’t…”

“Anyone can write. Every so often, I have to write a memo, or write a press release, or something to stay published. A journalist, well there is a difference. Only you would know that.” I looked at him and realized that maybe turning the tables on myself was not a good idea.

“I am a journalist. I take what I see and push deeper. You know the old adage; a picture is worth a thousand words?” He smirked and gave a brief nod. “I try to use a thousand words to paint a picture. Something that is tangible or real. Whether you were a can opener or the formidable Augostino Romani, you are still going to get the best that I got.” I stared at him and he was smiling at me. God he had some killer dimples. Then his countenance changed.

“I am not formidable.” He said, casually, as if it never occured to him that he was an intimidating figure.

I let out a pent up breath and mumbled, “If you say so.” I went back to looking at my notes. He was formidable to me. When he walked in the room earlier, I had felt his presence before I saw him. He seemed to emit masculinity from all his pores and it is almost suffocating.  As I flipped through my notes, I realized that I did not want to ask him anything that I had previously written down, I wanted to have a conversation with this man. Shaking my head, I thought that I was just falling for his rumored charm.  I looked back up at him, and he was regarding me with, damned if I know, but it was not friendly.

“I am not anything of what they paint of me.” He said in a low growl, and there was definitely an accent there. Oh my, was he pissed. I just could not tell if he was pissed off at me or at the they. Either way, that was the third time he growled.  

“I figured that much Mr. Romani. Most of what people write is fluff. But they don’t know you, and I can’t say that I do either. You’re still an intimidating figure. I mean have you looked in the mirror? Not to mention you have a multibillion dollar company and you are merely thirty-six. ” Not that the man needed to have his ego stroked, but he couldn’t be that obtuse to his own charm.  

“Was that a rhetorical question? I think it was, so I won’t answer it.  Miss, what is your last name?”  

“What makes you think that Martin is not my last name?” I was getting a little peeved at him asking me these questions about my name.  

“It does not suit you. Why did you pick such a plain name? It is not you.”  

I was not about to get into the reasons behind me changing my name to be taken seriously as a journalist. Having a name like Savannah Martin opened more doors than having a name like Yvonne Mason did.  I tended to hit an invisible wall when shopping around my other work as Yvonne Mason.  One editor told me it sounded too ethic.   That is why my name was a touchy subject. 

“Yes, it was a rhetorical question and my last name is Mason.”

“So then paint my picture, tell me what you see that is so intimidating.”

Was this guy serious? I mean, I thought I had hit the gold mine by getting this interview but I was beginning to think that I was in way over my head here. Looking at him,  I don’t imagine anyone has told this man no and not had to pay some consequences.  I licked my lips and played with my pen. How many times had I described him to myself? Did I really even need to look at him to describe what I already knew to be there? I was never good at backing down at challenges and his question was definitely a challenge.   So I told him what I had written as part of my thesis on the Sexual Appeal of Engineers and Programmers.  

“Mr. Romani stands at a proud six foot three inches, broad shoulders defined by ten years of swimming. Although his height is daunting and the span of his chest would make you think twice about picking a fight, that is not the most foreboding factor about Augostino Romani. His eyes are an azure blue, as the sky is during a summer rain, but when he is troubled, bothered or angry, they turn to a deep navy, storming like the angry sea in Homer’s Odyssey. This combined with his well-set square jaw proves that he is a man that knows what he wants and gets it, no matter what.”  It was the truth, but the way his eyes were watching me, just as stormy as I described, I felt like I bared a bit more than truth and felt like I left a part of my soul on the table.  I sounded like some sex starved lunatic. That was not journalism, I chastised myself.  I was supposed to be a professional and sharing with him my thesis statement didn’t paint that picture.   

We sat and stared at each other for a few more seconds before he broke the silence.  

“That was not a thousand words, but I will take it for now.” He said in a softer, gentler voice. It was still deep, but it sounded more like a caress than an order this time.  I did not realize that I was holding my breath until I exhaled.  Then he smiled.  

“I got a wonderful idea, Ms. Mason. It is Miss, right? Otherwise this isn’t going to work.”

“Yeah, no rings, no offers, no boyfriends.” Oh man do I ever know when to shut up?

“Good, you are going to by my personal journalist.  You will follow me where I go, you will send press releases and you will write my biography.”  He stood up and handed me a card.  “Stop here at eight Friday morning. I will call your editor and explain. You will still get the exclusive interview, but he will be without you for a few months. Don’t be late.” Mr. Romani just exited the room. I didn’t say yes, but I damn sure was not going to say no.  All I did say was,

“Oh shit.”