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|Echoes of Scotland Street(On Dublin Street #5)(57) by Samantha Young|
I let out a little squeal of delight as Cole lifted me into the air. I wrapped my legs around his waist, my hands clinging to his neck as he kissed me. A long, slow, sweet, deep, hot kiss.
I melted into him.
“Now, that is the way to say hello,” I murmured.
His hooded eyes were filled with something . . . something I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but it was utterly arresting. I stilled in his hold. “You keep surprising me, Shannon MacLeod.”
“That’s a good thing, right?” I rubbed my nose against his and he nodded, turning his face to catch my lips in another breath-stealing kiss.
When we came up for air, Cole panted, “I have a surprise for you too.”
Anticipation rushed through me. “I can feel your surprise.”
He shook with laughter. “Not that.”
“Ooh, present?” I said, and he laughed even harder at my childish excitement.
Lowering himself to the sofa, he arranged me so I was sitting comfortably on his lap—well, as comfortably as I could with his erection digging into me. I sat patiently as he smoothed his hands down my hair. “Life drawing class wasn’t my favorite, but I can’t get the idea of drawing you naked out of my mind.”
For some reason I found the idea of modeling for Cole both stimulating and embarrassing. “You can draw me if you want to.”
He nodded, eyes hot. “I want to. I wonder how long I’ll last before I give in to temptation.”
I squirmed, my skin heating at the thought of all the ways I could tease Cole while he drew me. “I’m definitely modeling for you,” I murmured thickly.
Cole swelled against the apex of my thighs. Hmm, he really liked that idea.
He groaned and pulled my head toward him for a quick kiss. “Before I make love to you I want to give you your surprise.”
“I know it’s your birthday tomorrow.”
Taken completely off guard, I jerked back. “How? I didn’t tell anyone.”
“I know.” He frowned. “And that’s really annoying, Shortcake. Luckily you work for me, so I have your birth date on file.”
“I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it.” I shrugged, feeling an unpleasant ache in my chest ruin all my sexy, glowy feelings.
Cole sighed. “Because your family hasn’t contacted you?”
I lowered my gaze and nodded. “It’s my first birthday without Logan. Without any of them. It was the one day a year my parents actually acted like they gave a crap.”
He lifted my chin, forcing me to meet his gaze. His eyes roiled with passion and tenderness. “They don’t get to take your birthday away from you. If they don’t want that piece of you, then I’ll have it. Gladly.”
“Cole . . . ,” I whispered, folding into him. Some of the ugliness in my chest started to dissipate.
He hugged me tight. “I know you’re trying to put together as many different pieces as you can for your portfolio, so I’m taking you somewhere where you can work on your art.”
I pulled back, my pulse picking up speed. “Where?”
“Joss and Braden own a private villa in Lake Como. They’re letting us stay there in two weeks for seven nights. I’ve already cleared the time off for us with Stu.”
Shocked, I stared at him openmouthed for a few seconds before I squeaked, “You’re taking me to Italy for my birthday?”
Cole gave me that boyish, cocky grin of his. “Yes.”
“You can’t do that.”
He raised an eyebrow at me. “I think I can.”
“No.” I shook my head adamantly. “No one has ever taken me anywhere, let alone a man who’s only been dating me for two months.”
“Well, it’s happening.” He laughed.
“I can’t let you take me to Italy, Cole,” I argued.
Impatience crackled in his gaze. “Why the fuck not?”
“Because . . . because . . .” I slumped on his lap. “I know I said I know my own worth now, but part of that was just bravado, okay? Don’t get me wrong. I’m trying to get there . . . but it’s been a while since anyone was good to me and I . . .” I gasped for breath, completely taken aback by how overwhelmed I was by his gift. “I don’t know if I can cope.”
Fierceness flashed in Cole’s gaze and I abruptly found myself in the air as he stood up. “You can cope. You’d better,” he declared, carrying me into my bedroom. “Because I don’t intend to stop anytime soon.”
“I know what will help,” I whispered frantically.
“Sex. Sex will definitely calm me down.”
Cole grinned wickedly seconds before he threw me onto the bed. “Not the way I plan on doing it.”
I t was surreal.
I’d never imagined I would ever be surrounded by so much beauty.
Yet there it was all around me.
The lake glistened under the unbending sun, finding pockets of shade only in the shadows cast by the surrounding mountains. Villas and hotels dotted the edges of the lake and mountainsides in bursts of white, yellows, rusts, and red in the tiles of the roofs. Cypress trees framed stunning, luxury homes on the lakeside, and the lush greens and simple, romantic Italian architecture created this Eden of peace and tranquility. Ferries crossed the lake, as did speedboats and Jet Skis in lazy leisure under the heat of the sun.
Sweat and suntan lotion shimmered on my skin, and I found a slight relief from the hot, late-July sun as a small breeze from the lake whispered over me.
The villa Joss and Braden owned on Lake Como was by the water in Menaggio. It was a four-bedroom villa with its own private pool. It wasn’t until we arrived at it that I fully grasped how loaded the Carmichaels were. And how differently the other half lived . . .
I smiled out at the water.
For a while I was getting a taste of it.
Water splashed and I looked to my left as Cole climbed out of the pool. It was an understatement to say I enjoyed the way droplets of water rolled down his rock-hard abs. We’d been here only two days and already Cole’s skin was turning a gorgeous golden brown. He smiled over at me as he dried himself off with a towel. “If you can tear yourself away from that painting, we could jump on a ferry. See the rest of the lake.”