‘On second thoughts, don’t tell me.’ Interrupting her, he lifted her hand, checking for a ring. ‘Single?’
Detecting something in his tone but too dazed to identify what, Holly nodded. ‘Oh yes, completely single,’ she murmured hastily, and then immediately wanted to snatch the words back, because she should have played it cool.
But she didn’t feel cool. She felt—relieved that she’d left the engagement ring at home.
And he was smiling, clearly aware of the effect he was having on her.
Before she could stop him, he pulled the clip out of her hair and slid his fingers through her tumbling, wayward curls. ‘That’s better.’ Very much the one in control, he closed his fingers around her wrists and hooked her arms round his neck. Then he slid his hands down her back and cupped her bottom.
‘Oh.’ Appalled that he seemed to be focusing on all her worst features, Holly gave a whimper of embarrassment and fought the impulse to wriggle away from him. But it was too late to take avoiding action. The confident exploration of his hands had ensured he was already well acquainted with the contours of her bottom.
‘Dio, you have the most fantastic body,’ he groaned, moulding her against the hard muscle of his thighs as if she were made of cling film.
He thought she was fantastic?
Brought into close contact with the physical evidence of his arousal, Holly barely had time to register the exhilarating fact that he really did find her attractive before his mouth came down on hers in a hungry, demanding kiss.
It was like being in the path of a lightning strike. Her body jerked with shock. Her head spun, her knees were shaking, and her attempt to catch her breath simply encouraged a still more intimate exploration of her mouth. Never in her life had a simple kiss made her feel like this. Her fingers dug into his shoulders for support and she gasped as she felt his hands slide under her skirt. She felt the warmth of his hands against her bare flesh above her stockings, and then he was backing her against the table, the slick, erotic invasion of his tongue in her mouth sending flames leaping around her body and a burning concentration of heat low in her pelvis.
He was kissing her as though this was their last moments on Earth—as if he couldn’t help himself—and Holly was swept away on the pure adrenaline rush that came with suddenly being made to feel irresistible.
Dimly she thought, This is fast, too fast. But, even as part of her analysed her actions with a touch of shocked disapproval, another part of her was responding with wild abandon, her normal insecurities and inhibitions dissolved in a rush of raw sexual chemistry.
Control slipped slowly from her grasp.
When Eddie had kissed her she’d often found her mind wandering—on occasions she’d guiltily caught herself planning meals and making mental shopping lists—but with the prince the only coherent thought in her head was Please don’t let him stop.
But she had to stop, didn’t she?
She didn’t do things like this.
What if someone walked in?
Struggling to regain some control, Holly gave a low moan and dragged her mouth from his, intending to take a step back and think through her actions. But her good intentions vanished as she gazed up at his lean, bronzed features, her resolve evaporating as she took in the thick, dark eyelashes guarding his impossibly sexy eyes. Oh, dear God—how could any woman say no to a man like this? And, if sheer masculine impact wasn’t enough, the way he was looking at her was the most outrageous compliment she’d ever received.
‘You’re staring at me,’ she breathed, and he gave a lopsided smile.
‘If you don’t want men to stare, stay indoors.’
Holly giggled, as much from nerves as humour. ‘I am indoors.’
‘True.’ The prince lifted one broad shoulder in an unmistakeably Latin gesture. ‘In which case, I can’t see a solution. You’ll just have to put up with me staring, tesoro.’
‘You speak Italian?’
‘I speak whichever language is going to get me the result I want,’ he purred, and she gave a choked laugh because he was so outrageously confident and he made her feel beautiful.
Basking in warmth of his bold appreciation, she suddenly felt womanly and infinitely desirable. Blinded by the sheer male beauty of his features, and by the fact that this incredible man was looking at her, her crushed heart suddenly lifted as though it had been given wings, and her confidence fluttered back to life.
All right, so she wasn’t Eddie’s type.
But this man—this incomparably handsome playboy prince who had his pick of the most beautiful women in the world—found her irresistible.
‘You’re staring at me too,’ he pointed out, his gaze amused as he slid his fingers into her hair with slow deliberation. ‘Perhaps it would be better if we both just close our eyes so that we don’t get distracted from what we’re doing.’
‘What are we doing?’ Weak with desire, Holly could barely form the words, and his smile widened as he gently cupped her face and lowered his mouth slowly towards hers.
‘I think it’s called living for the moment. And kissing you is the most fantastic moment I’ve had in a long time,’ he said huskily, his mouth a breath away from hers.
She waited in an agony of anticipation, but he didn’t seem in a rush to kiss her again, and Holly parted her lips in expectation, hoping that he’d take the hint.
Why on earth had she stopped him?
With a faint whimper of desperation, she looked into his eyes, saw the laughter there and realised that he was teasing her.
‘That isn’t very kind, Your Highness.’ But she found that she was laughing too and her body was on fire.
‘I’m not kind.’ He murmured the words against her mouth. ‘I’m definitely not kind.’
‘I couldn’t care less—please…’ She was breathless and trembling with anticipation. ‘Kiss me again.’
Flashing her a megawatt smile of male satisfaction, the prince finally lowered his head and claimed her mouth with his. He kissed her with consummate skill, his touch confident and possessive as he drew every last drop of response from her parted lips.
Her senses were swamped, her pulse accelerating out of control. Holly was aware of nothing except the overwhelming needs of her own body. Her arms tightened around his neck and she felt the sudden change in him. His kiss changed from playful to purposeful, and she realised with a lurch of exhilarating terror that this wasn’t a mild flirtation or a game of ‘boy kisses girl’. Prince Casper was a sexually experienced man who knew what he wanted and had the confidence to take it.
‘Maybe we should slow this down,’ she gasped, sinking her fingers into the hard muscle of his shoulders to give extra support to her shaking knees.
‘Slow works for me,’ he murmured, sliding his hands over the curve of her bottom. ‘I’m more than happy to savour every moment of your utterly delectable body, and the game hasn’t started yet. Why rush?’
‘I didn’t exactly mean—oh—’ her head fell back as his mouth trailed a hot, sensuous path down her throat ‘I can’t concentrate on anything when you do that—’
‘Concentrate on me,’ he advised, and then he lifted his head and his stunning dark eyes narrowed. ‘You’re shivering. Are you nervous?’
Terrified. Desperate. Weak with longing.
‘I—I haven’t actually done this before.’ Her whispered confession caused him to still.
‘Exactly what,’ he said carefully, ‘Haven’t you done before?’ He released his hold on her bottom and slid his fingers under her chin, forcing her to look at him, his sharply intelligent eyes suddenly searching.
Oh God, he was going to walk away from her . If she told him the truth, this experienced, sophisticated, gorgeous man would let her go and she’d spend the rest of her life regretting it.
Was she really going to let that happen?
No longer questioning herself, she slid her arms back round his neck. She didn’t know what was going on here, she had no idea why she was feeling this way, but she knew she didn’t want it to stop. ‘I meant that I’ve never done anything like this in such a public place.’
He lifted an eyebrow. ‘We’re alone.’
‘But anyone could walk in.’ She wished he’d kiss her again. Would he think she was forward if she kissed him? ‘What would happen then?’
‘They’d be arrested,’ he said dryly, ‘And carted off to jail.’
‘Oh—’ Reminded of exactly with whom she was dealing, Holly felt suddenly intimidated. Please, please, let him kiss her again. When he’d kissed her she’d forgotten he was a prince. She’d forgotten everything. Feeling as though she were standing on the edge of a life-changing moment, Holly gazed up at him and he gave a low laugh.