From the Author
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From the Inside Flap
"Youdropped your towel."
His voice, soft and golden like meltedbutter, stole into her thoughts, jolting her from her dreamlike state. Andrea,who had been lying on the sun-lounger, letting the sun kiss her bikini-cladbody, now opened her eyes and looked up through the brown filter of hersunglasses.
Him again.She'd noticed him before, she thought, watching him as he stood beside her witha white towel in his hand.
He was gorgeousness personified and so differentfrom the dark haired Italian men she was used to. The man before her wasblue-eyed and golden and hotter than lava; she thanked the god of fitness, for she couldsee that the gym had been particularly good to him.
Blinking, she became vaguelyaware that her own towel lay by her feet and she was just about to reply to the handsome stranger when Capricebeat her to it.
"That'smine," her friend purred, leaning over Andrea to take the towel from him and nodoubt giving the man a good eyeful in her plunging cherry red bikini. Andrea's eyesnarrowed. Caprice, with her long straight hair and luscious body, had the typeof figure and full lips that gave men ideas.
The man glanced at her friend and grinned,and Andrea was grateful for the hugePrada shades that shielded her eyes as her gaze swept easily over his chest andarms. He looked like a tower of strength, standing over her with histall and taut gym-sculpted body. She felt vulnerable lying down in her bikiniand propped herself up to a seated position. Her movement attracted his attentionand he looked at her, making her feel self-conscious and excited all at once.
"Areyou ladies enjoying your stay here?" he asked. His accent was American, she noticedand the more she stared at his electric blue eyes--as blue as the lake which theVilla Costanza overlooked--the more she recalled that she'd seen him yesterday,too.
Thepitter-patter of her heart increased and she briefly wondered whether the sun hadaffected her. She was far too cautious and sensible to believe in instalove,yet here she was ogling this man as though he was the last of his species.
Her body was reacting to him--even if hermind still sat on the side-lines wondering when to join the game. She tried to thinkof something to say, so that he would know she had a voice, that she wasn't mute.
"Weare," said Caprice, wriggling around in her seat. "Someone had a big milestonebirthday celebration this weekend."
"Amilestone birthday?" he asked, his eyes twinkling. "A twenty-first?" he asked, allinnocent.
"She turned thirty," replied Andrea,nodding her head at Caprice and finally getting a chance to prove that she couldtalk.
"Thirtyis the new twenty," Caprice declared as she rubbed sun lotion slowly andsuggestively over her upper body. Andrea smiled at the man, more out ofembarrassment for her friend who had turned the art of applying sun cream intoforeplay.
"Iagree. That's quite a milestone youcelebrated in style." With his attention directed at Caprice, Andrea's eyesdarted to his body. Her gaze lowered to his swim shorts which hung dangerouslylow on his waist. Rivulets of water trickled down his chest and kept her transfixedas she watched them cling to the light dusting of golden hairs across his chest.
He caught her looking and her throat driedup like a prune. She didn't know where to look.
"Nice meeting you, ladies," he said, finally."Happy belated birthday," he told Caprice before stealing a look in Andrea'sdirection. Then he walked away.
Shestared at the perfect V of his back. Caprice made lewd, low moans and lickedher lips in pure, unashamed admiration as he stood at the side of the pool,getting ready to make a dive.
The glittering water was blue and silver asslivers of sunlight fell and danced upon its gently moving surface. He dove inand disappeared, emerging moments later with his arms raised, thick and cordedat the biceps, as he swept back his golden hair.
Andrea'sheart galloped as though she'd just sprinted four hundred meters. Shelay back on the sun-lounger, her chest rising and falling.
"Wheredid he come from?" Caprice sounded asthough she needed an inhaler even though she didn't suffer from asthma. "If I wassingle...," she whispered, adjusting herself on the lounger. "Oh, look," shecried, almost spilling out of her bikini. "I have my towel here, see."
"Maybe someone else dropped theirs,"murmured Andrea.
"Ormaybe that was his line," purred Caprice. "I think he was interested."
"Ican still look." Caprice pouted. "Andhe's not here."
"Thatmakes it alright?" Andrea asked.
"I'mnot breaking the law. You can be with one person and still have thoughts foranother."
"It'sharmless, Andrea. I love Luigi and I would never do anything silly." Shesettled back on the chair.
Andrea welcomed the silence and the feel ofthe sun as it licked her skin. This weekend had been the tonic she'd needed. The Villa Costanza nestled highabove Lake Como and was set in a small wooded peninsula. An enchanting and luxurioushotel, it was tucked away in a quiet corner of Bellagio with only the view ofthe lake and surrounding greenery around. This magical paradise had enabled herto unwind completely during the long weekend.
It might have explained why her pulse hadrocketed the moment she'dset eyes on the golden haired stranger. She didn't usually notice men, not aseasily as her friends Talia and Caprice did. They seemed to have been born withsome sort of heat seeking device which locked onto all the hottest guys withina short range.
Yetshe'd noticed him.
"It's been a great weekend, huh?" Caprice asked.
"It'sbeen amazing. I so needed this," Andrea replied, dreamily. "I can't thank youenough."
"Youare welcome, my darling. I wanted to celebrate with two of my best friends butnow I wish I didn't have to leave so soon.Why didn't we make it longer?"
Because itwould have cost a fortune, Andrea thought, wishing her friendwould lie down and keep quiet for more than a minute.
"Makesure you plan at least a week for your thirtieth birthday celebrations." Caprice could talk for the world,and Andrea realized that she wasn'tgoing to get the peace and quiet she desired. She sat up and tied her thickdark curls into a ponytail.
"Iwas thirty last year," she said quietly.
"Youdidn't invite me!"
"Ididn't do anything." Andrea opened her bottle of sun screen lotion and rubbedit over her shoulders. "I think I might have had a takeaway pizza."
Caprice snorted. "That's tragic! I hope your thirty-firstbirthday is more exciting. I hope you've found a man by then, at least."