“All right,” she said with a deep breath. “I'll give you a chance.”
His larger hand enfolded hers as he helped her out of the car. She trembled at the touch of the fingers that had once touched her in such unspeakable ways. The last time they'd been in Rio, he'd done such things to her virgin body that even now, her breath constricted just remembering.
You're so beautiful, he'd said hoarsely, I will die if I don't have you. She remembered the swirling pleasure of his tongue, so bewildering and like nothing she'd ever imagined. The sensation as he slowly thrust one finger inside her…then two…then three. The mastery of his kiss. The way he'd teased, demanded, enticed her. His sensual onslaught had made her tremble and explode. She'd whimpered and thrashed and bucked against his mouth. He'd held her down firmly with the weight of his muscled body, so masculine and foreign and strange and… Oh my God, my God, Diogo, I love you, I love you, I do.
She could hardly believe that three months ago, she'd let him strip her naked and seduce her into ecstasy she'd never known existed. And when he'd realized she was a virgin and tried to pull back, she wouldn't let him release her. Trembling at her own boldness, she'd held him tight. She'd never wanted to let him go.
So much had happened since then. He'd gotten her pregnant. Lied to her. Ignored her.
But something had changed in the favela. What? What had made him suddenly relax back into the charming man she remembered? He'd suddenly started acting almost as if he truly cared about her….
No! She couldn't start thinking that way. Who knew where such dangerous thoughts would end?
He led her inside the hotel, past soaring ceilings, palm trees, gilded furniture and the elegant check-in desk. But Ellie barely noticed. She had eyes only for Diogo. In a small, private elevator, he turned a key to push the button for the top floor. The doors slid open and he led her past two bodyguards lounging in the hallway. They nodded at him respectfully, barely bothering to glance at Ellie.
But why should they notice her? They probably saw him with a different woman every night. She was just the latest in his long line of lovers. Tomorrow, he'd be with somebody else.
The thought chilled her like a shadow.
“You're shivering,” Diogo said, observing her keenly as he unlocked the door to the penthouse.
Her teeth chattered. “No. I'm fine, really.”
“Come inside. I will soon get you warm.”
Following him in a daze, she kicked off her muddy high heels and stepped on the thick white carpet inside. It felt good to take off the painful shoes, but nothing else in this penthouse was particularly comforting to her. The decor was severe and Spartan—modern, minimalist and cold. Glass and metal sculpture was placed sparingly against the white walls. High floor-to-ceiling windows edged the penthouse, surrounding a freestanding, two-story-high white fireplace.
It was the most sophisticated home she'd ever seen. Elegant, certainly, and very expensive, but severe and about as friendly and warm as an ice pick.
As Diogo closed the door behind her, she idly rubbed her bruised wrist. It was still sore, but no longer had the same sharp pain.
“You are hurt?” he demanded.
“It's nothing. I fell on my wrist earlier—”
“Let me see,” he ordered.
She reluctantly held out her hand, protesting, “It's much better now. Really. You don't need to…”
Then he touched her, and she sucked in her breath. Fire spread up and down her body as he examined her, gently moving her hand to the right and left.
“Your wrist isn't broken,” he said, releasing her. “I spent ten years learning capoeira on the streets. I can recognize a break or sprain. You have neither. But if it hurts, I will call the doctor and she can…”
“No, really,” she breathed. “I'm fine.” She couldn't stop looking at his handsome face. At the sharp lines of his jaw, his high cheekbones, the slightly crooked nose that gave him the hard look of a warrior. His sensual mouth. The lips that she longed to feel against her skin…
He looked up at her, and his dark eyes seared her.
“What do you want first?”
First? She licked her lips. She wanted him to make love to her with heat and urgency. To whisper hoarsely against her skin that he wanted her and only her forever. To say he wanted to be a good, loving father to their baby, and that he would always, always…
“What?” Nervously, she tucked her hair behind her ear. “What do I…?”
“Breakfast first? Or—no.” Cursing himself under his breath, he shook his head in sudden decision. “I'm being stupid. Of course, we should start by taking off your clothes.”
It was as if he'd read her mind. “My…clothes?”
What was she thinking? No, no, no! She couldn't allow this to happen!
Clutching the wet wedding dress against her body, she backed away. Every step she took left a wet trail against his floor. “I won't be your mistress, Diogo,” she said aloud, willing herself to believe it. “I won't be your latest one-night stand!”
“Why do you think that's what I want?” he asked quietly.
Her heart turned over in her chest. He wanted more? She licked her dry lips. “What else could it be?”
“You're pregnant with my child. I want you…to be comfortable and warm. You're soaking wet, querida, chilled to the bone. You need a hot shower. Breakfast. Dry clothes.”
Of course. Ellie wanted to kick herself. Of course that was what he'd meant. Did she actually think he was desperate to seduce her? Now there was a laugh! Diogo could have any perfect woman he wanted—and not just the vapid beauties, but smart, gorgeous women who ran their own businesses and had college degrees. Not high school dropouts like Ellie! Her cheeks went hot with humiliation.
He came toward her, reaching for her dress.
“No.” She stumbled back from him, suddenly unwilling to let him touch her. “I don't need your help.”
He snorted. “That wedding dress weighs more than you do. Come here.”
With calm arrogance, he reached for her.
Like a coward, she turned and ran blindly into the next room. She saw a round wall of windows overlooking Copacabana Beach and the Avenida Atlântica far below. In the center of the room was a bed, large, white and stark.
His bedroom. She bit a knuckle in consternation. The last place she wanted to be! Whirling around, she tried to escape but he was standing in the door. She started to shut the door in his face, but he easily blocked her.
“Obrigado, querida,” he said with a sensual smile. “This will be much easier.”
He came forward and pulled her tightly against his body, then unzipped the back of her gown. Ellie's damp skin felt suddenly cold against the air. Her body felt light, freed of the heavy weight of her dress as he pulled the thick, wet skirts down to her thighs with a single hard yank. She watched yards of taffeta fall to her feet.
And she realized she was standing in front of him with nothing but a white silk bra and panties that clung transparently to her skin.
With a gasp, she tried to cover her breasts with one arm and panties with the other. He gave her a smug, masculine smile.
“I can see you naked anytime I want, Ellie,” he said, sounding amused. “All I have to do is close my eyes.”
He was laughing at her modesty! A flash of anger went through her.
“You have so many women in your bed,” she snapped, “I'm sure it's someone else you're picturing. I'm not a bit worried!”
“I see,” he murmured silkily. “Surely you're not jealous, querida?”
“Of course not,” she huffed. Of course she was. She tossed her long, wet hair. “You can sleep with every supermodel in Brazil for all I care! It's not like I have any reason to…”
Her strident voice faltered as Diogo turned away from her, pulling off his wet white shirt and dropping it to the floor. Distracted by the vision of Diogo's hard chest, impossibly covered with muscles and scars of a warrior, she couldn't finish her sentence. His tanned skin was etched with black hair that descended from his broad shoulders down his flat belly. His rain-dampened gray trousers clung to his hips and fit buttocks as he went into the adjacent bathroom.
She heard him turn on the shower. Heat flooded her cheeks—and everywhere else in her body. What was wrong with her? How could she still want him so badly when he'd made it clear that, aside from her pregnancy, he didn't find anything about her particularly interesting or special?
Folding her bare arms, she shivered in the wet silk bra and panties clinging to her skin. Three months ago, Diogo Serrador had taken everything from her. Her innocence, her faith, her courage in her dreams. Was she really such a desperate fool that she was willing to throw herself under the same train again, the Serrador Express that stopped for no woman?