In my vineyard, Riccardo thought proudly, although she wasn’t aware of that. As far as she was concerned, he was just bumming around, doing a bit of this and a bit of that on the production side. Since he had never in his life done any bumming around, he was quite charmed to be thought of in that light.
More realistically, there was no way he was going to give her any inkling as to what he was really all about. Gold-diggers swarmed around wealthy men like flies to a honey pot, and it was refreshing to spend his time with a woman without crazy suspicions proliferating in his head.
‘It’ll give you time to catch up with those friends of yours.’
‘I guess it is only a few days,’ Charlie sighed. She slid off him. ‘There, you can breathe now that I’m off you.’ She reached for her tee-shirt and he stopped her.
‘Not yet. I like looking at you naked.’
‘Just a shame most of it has to take place outdoors,’ she said wistfully. ‘Honestly, the amount of times I’ve tried to hint to Jayne and Simone that they should go spend a night somewhere so that we could have the place to ourselves…’
‘A night where?’
‘Oh, I don’t know.’ She giggled. ‘Wherever it is people go to when they want to give other people space in a cramped flat.’
‘Ah, that mystery place. I suppose if they knew of its existence they might have been more obliging.’ He linked his hands behind his head, comfortable in his own nudity, and appreciated the lines of her body. The sun had turned her skin a healthy golden colour, which suited her long, streaky blonde hair and wide blue eyes. He thought, not for the first time, how much younger she looked than her twenty-four years, but then that was probably because she wore next to no make-up, which was always ageing on a woman.
‘And also,’ Charlie ventured tentatively, ‘I’m not going to be around for much longer. I have to get back to England.’
‘Yes. And that will be exciting for you. Taking up a new job, meeting new people.’
‘Um, yes,’ she said indistinctly, thinking of the university life looming in front of her. Two months ago, she couldn’t wait to get there. Now she was dreading it after her heady summer in the sun. ‘And then you’ll be off as well…Do you realise you’ve never actually told me exactly where your next port of call is going to be?’ Although, she now thought, she had told him practically everything about herself. About her dad dying when she was six, and being brought up by her mother who had worked her fingers to the bone so that her two daughters didn’t have to do without. About her mother being the victim of a hit-and-run accident which had put Charlie off cars for a long time. About her sister now living in Australia, happily married and with a brand-new baby whom Charlie had never seen except on her computer.
Okay, so she had told a couple of white lies about her age, but instinct had told her that he would not have come near her if he had known that she was only a teenager. In the great scheme of things, a few white lies were easily justified.
Mostly they had been happy to be in each other’s company, and that was fine.
‘Who knows?’ Riccardo gave a little shrug. ‘The life of a wanderer…’
‘And what are you going to do when you’re finished wandering?’