Charlie knew why. There was no shame in having to admit to a parent living in reduced circumstances, but sometimes it could hit hard. Hadn’t she once felt that very same thing herself? She had won an assisted scholarship to a private girls’ school when she was eleven, and between the ages of eleven and sixteen, before she had left for a sixth form college, she too had sometimes found herself ashamed about her own comparative lack of money, loath to draw attention to the fact that she wasn’t a member of the ‘two-car, three-times-a-year-holiday-abroad’ club. She tactfully and sympathetically changed the subject but it gnawed away at her, that little window into a wealth of information that would make their relationship so much deeper, that would set it on a course she was so desperate for it to follow.
Much later she was to think that love and desperation were a fatal combination.
For now, though, bitterness was an emotion with which she had never had contact. For now, she just appreciated the exquisite food and drank the exquisite wine, and wondered how she could manoeuvre the conversation back to the more fertile ground about him.
But he was an adept conversationalist. He didn’t want to talk about himself, and so he didn’t. He only had a couple more hours in her delectable company, he thought, and he wasn’t going to waste it trying to dodge questions about himself. In fact, he could think of something far more profitable they could be doing…
Riccardo liked that thought. Less acceptable to him was the suspicion that he would miss more than just her willing body. Involvement with a woman, any woman, was not at this point in time part of his game plan.
They couldn’t go back to her place. Her two friends would be there. They were ‘entertaining’ tonight. Riccardo had assumed that that meant having boyfriends around, but no, just an English couple they knew who were stopping by for the night. And his place was out. Which, unfortunately, just left the car. But when it came to sexual experiences, he was game for pretty much anything.
And so, he discovered, was Charlie.
Not the most comfortable place on the planet, Charlie admitted wryly to herself, but beggars couldn’t be choosers, and she just wanted to touch him yet again, have him touch her once more, before he left to see his mother. She didn’t even lodge a faint protest when he pulled down one of the twisting side roads and killed the engine. By now it was very late and here, away from the lights of the town, very, very dark. She was also slightly tipsy, she realised, after the better part of a bottle of some very expensive wine.
‘You have some making up to do,’ Riccardo murmured, wishing to hell he was driving something decent instead of this clapped-out heap of rust which he had bought because it suited the image he had wanted her to have.
‘Meaning that I satisfied you at the pool…’
‘Oh, yes, so you did.’ She remembered his dark head buried between her thighs and the rhythm of his tongue snaking along her most intimate places until she had bucked and moaned and reached orgasm.
They made love with the inventiveness of two people who knew each other’s bodies intimately and were comfortable with the knowledge. And this time neither was left unsatisfied. In fact, Charlie thought with a sigh of contentment as they reluctantly drew apart, she seriously doubted satisfaction could get any higher.
She could have fallen asleep. In fact, she was beginning to drowse when he flipped open the car door and shifted his weight from under her.