He is stern now, so unlike Adrian. Adrian is always laughing, always easy-going and relaxed. But not today. “You need to go take a nap. And get something to eat. You look like you’ve lost weight and you didn’t have it to lose in the first place.”
I nod. I know that. I’m not taking good care of myself. I know.
Adrian starts to say something, then closes his mouth. I lean closer.
“What is it?” I ask. He shakes his head, not wanting to say. “Adrian, please.”
He looks at me thoughtfully, then relents. “Eva, Luca doesn’t want to see you because he knows he is dangerous for you. He’s right. He doesn’t want something to happen to you and neither do I. You really should go. For your own good.”
He’s pained now and I’m speechless. I can’t go. Adrian has no idea what Luca means to me. And I know that Luca feels the same about me. He hasn’t said the words, but I have seen it on his face. I have felt it in the air between us.
“I can’t,” I whisper. Adrian nods wordlessly.
“Adrian,” I say quietly. “When I was with Melina a couple of weeks ago, she begged me to help her ‘end it all’. She thinks that the Minaldi line should end with her and her sons. She is insistent. I tell you this because I know that she will try to end it if she can. She will continue to try.”
He nods. “I know.”
There is a pregnant pause and then he continues.
“She’s right, though, Eva. The line should end with them. It really should. This horrible thing has been going on for generations. It is time for it to end.”
A lump forms in my throat. “Surely you mean that Luca and his brothers should remain childless and allow the family name to die out. Surely you don’t mean….”
My voice trails off. I can’t say the words. I can’t say, Surely you don’t mean they should die. My tongue refuses to form the words.
“Of course,” Adrian agrees. “Of course that’s what I meant.”
But from his tone, from his face, I can tell that it wasn’t what he meant at all. Luca is getting to him, years of watching his friend deteriorate. Or perhaps it is from years of being around Melina. But whatever it is, whatever he means, Adrian is finished talking about it and has turned toward the house. I struggle to keep up, one step of his for every three of mine.
I grab at his elbow. “Adrian, stop.”
He slows and turns to me.
“Adrian, I have to help him. I’m desperate to help him.”
I can hear the desperation in my voice and I know he can too. His eyes soften as he stares into mine.
“Sweet Eve,” he murmurs and tucks a stray piece of my hair behind my ear. “I hate to see you so upset. Please, listen to me. You can’t help. You can’t. And I don’t want you to get hurt. You’re far too precious.”
And to my shock and horror, he bends and kisses my lips. I don’t kiss him back and as soon as I regain my senses, I push him away.
“Adrian!” I snap. “What the hell are you doing?”
He is apologetic now, chagrined.
“I’m sorry, Eve. I haven’t had much sleep either. That was out of line. I’m so sorry.”
I stare at him for a moment and then accept his apology. Of all people, I know what it is like to be sleep deprived. I’ve been a walking zombie for two weeks.
“It’s okay,” I assure him. “Just don’t do it again.”
He nods and I turn and as I do, I see Luca standing on his bedroom balcony. From his stricken face, I know that he saw the entire thing. And before I can lift a hand or shout to him, he turns his back and walks back into the house.
I make it to Luca’s bedroom in record time, practically running over anything that stands in my way.
“Luca!” I cry out as I burst into his rooms.
He is standing at the windows, beautiful and slender and refined. The breath catches in my throat as I realize just how much I missed him, just how beautiful I had forgotten that he is. Power exudes from him, power and beauty. He’s wearing black slacks and a blue pull-over that hugs his chest perfectly. He turns to look at me.
“Luca,” I whisper. “It wasn’t what it looked like. I didn’t kiss Adrian. I don’t want to kiss Adrian. I only want you.”
Luca stares at me thoughtfully, quietly. And he nods.
“I know,” he says simply.
I rush across the room and throw myself into his arms.
“Please don’t do this again,” I tell him helplessly. “Ever. You can’t lock yourself away like that. I missed you so much. I was so worried and there wasn’t anything I could do. Adrian wouldn’t let me see you.”
Luca’s strong arms finally close around me, as though he tried to resist but couldn’t. He pulls me to him and I bury my face against the softness of his shirt, inhaling his smell. I am crying and didn’t realize it. I really am an emotional wreck and I know that I need to pull it together.
I clutch him to me and he pulls away. But I won’t let him. He has kept himself from me for two weeks. He isn’t going to pull away from me now. I won’t allow it.
Finally he acquiesces and I feel the moment he gives in, as he clutches me to him as well. He inhales my hair and buries his face in my neck and I sigh.
“Please don’t do this again,” I beg him. “I can’t stand it.”
I feel weak and helpless, but this situation has been so emotionally charged that it has taken a toll. It would take a toll on anyone.
Luca doesn’t say anything, he just lifts me into his arms and carries me to his bed. His lips are on mine and his body is wrapped around me.
Words cease to matter.
Luca kisses every part of my body, every plane, every curve. His lips are soft, his breath warm as he moves from place to place on my body. He even kisses my fingertips and by the time he is done kissing me, he is hard against me and I am breathless.
“Please,” I say quietly, into his ear as I lean up against him. “Please, Luca.”
I need him to fill me, to convince me that everything will be alright, that he will never leave me again and that we will figure out what is wrong with him. That we will fix it. That we will have a future. In my head, which is clouded by unreasonable thoughts, making love with him will convince me. It’s what I need.