Chapter 5

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Infuriatingly, at the precise moment I decided to stop avoiding Ryan, he inconveniently disappeared. I spent the night sitting on my balcony, waiting for another of Stefano's cars to make the journey up from the town, but for this one to have Ryan in it. I eventually fell asleep, my head resting on the balustrade. When I staggered down to breakfast the next morning, the imprint of the balustrade still on my cheek, the housekeeper assured me Ryan had returned at some time during the night, because his suitcase was now neatly packed and waiting in the hall, but that he'd promptly gone out again.

"Signor March is not staying long this time," she said, giving me a dark look. "He is not happy."

Even the staff were now ganging up on me.

I tried not to look as though I was reading the luggage label upside down.

"Is he going back to the States?"

"Tonight he catches a plane to Rome."

Wherever he was headed, I'd never see him again – and it was entirely my own fault.

I spent the morning hoping not to be too obvious about hanging around the entrance hall, but by mid-afternoon Ryan still had not reappeared and both his and Luca's suitcases had gone. Feeling thoroughly miserable, I changed into my bikini and made my way outside to the pool.

On the way I passed Stefano heading inside for his afternoon nap. "Don't sit under the lemon tree," he told me. "It is a true Sorrento lemon. Huge. If one fell out of the tree it could kill you."

Killer lemons? He had to be kidding!

I walked across the terrace and into the garden. Although there were palm trees surrounding the pool, they didn't give as much shade as the lemon tree. I stood beneath it and looked up. Considering it had been planted in pride of place, it appeared a bit sorry for itself. Some of the leaves had died and there were not many lemons growing on it.

Deciding to risk it, I draped my pink beach towel over one of the sunloungers and dragged it beneath the tree. I arranged the sunlounger so I would have my back to the villa and a beautiful view across the bay of Naples, towards the lavender smudge that was Vesuvius.

It was so peaceful I could hear the bees buzzing around the flower pots and, after a few more minutes, a little lizard ran out across the paving stones. I gave up trying to read my book and instead lay back on the sunlounger, staring up through the foliage of the lemon tree. There was a spectacular contrast between the emerald green of the leaves, the vivid blue sky and the yellow lemons. I remembered the brightly-coloured pottery I'd seen for sale in all the gift shops. The colours were exactly the same.

And those lemons truly were huge. Their weight pulled right down on the branches. I wondered whether I should move away and sit beneath one of the palm trees instead, but the heat was making me feel indolent. Before I knew it, I was asleep.

I was woken, sometime later, by a gentle thud. When I opened my eyes the first thing I saw was one very large lemon, rocking gently on the paving slab beside me. It seemed Stefano was right about his killer lemons!

Well, maybe it wouldn't have killed me, but it would certainly have given me a nasty headache. I glanced at my watch. It was 4.00 pm. I really ought to go and pack. This time tomorrow, I would be back in rainy old England and never see Ryan again, unless it was on the cover of one of those celebrity magazines. And, what was worse, I totally deserved it.

I rolled over, with the intention of getting up, only to see Ryan on the neighbouring sunlounger, fast asleep.

Desire twisted my stomach. He was stretched out, his arms above his head, his tawny skin glistening in the sunlight. My gaze slid further down, following the ridges of his stomach muscles and the faint dusting of golden hair disappearing into the waistband of his shorts. I sighed; although to be honest, it might have been more of a moan.

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