Chapter 21

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Elliot whisked us back to Milan and the hotel in no time—the guy sure got used to driving a quarter million dollars worth of speed in a hurry. As we changed for Ferrero’s after party, I considered what he had said about me.

Was I really waiting to explode just beneath the surface? Or was I really just a plain and dull as I always imagined myself to be?

“Did you bring that slinky dress?”

“What dress?” I asked, turning away from my selection of clothes long enough to wonder what he meant.

“The one you wore at that first party. Gray. Shiny.” He cocked his eyebrows for emphasis. “Slinky.”

Oh, that dress. “Yes I brought it. Why?”

His eyebrows dropped, hooding his lids in a seductive, bedroom-come-hither look. “Wear that.”

My cheeks burned and I felt a rush of tingling heat shoot through every vein and nerve in my body. I had thought it too cold to wear such a revealing dress, but I was overheating now.

One look and I was a puddle.

“Oh,” I said, breathless, “okay. Good, um, choice.”

I swallowed hard, forcing myself to look away. To search through my belongings to find the one dress I now had to wear. The thought of wearing anything else evaporated along with my willpower, inhibitions, and capacity for rational thought. It was bad enough he already looked delicious, now I had developed a gnawing hunger.

Finding the dress hanging neatly and unwrinkled in the armoire, I slipped it off the hanger and darted into the bathroom to change.

Dubble Bubble Damn, I forgot to grab the nude, seamless panties I needed to wear underneath. All others either showed in bulges beneath the clinging jersey or cut my flesh into hills and valleys. Neither resulted in a streamlined sexy look.

Thumbs hooked through the waistband, I shimmied out of the black lace bikini I had been wearing with the intention of grabbing the right pair and slipping them on before we left.

When I emerged from the bathroom, slinky dress donned and smoky make-up applied, I found Elliot leaning against the door in a casual-but-ready-to-go pose.

He still wore the tailored black tux, but had replaced the stark white shirt with an unstructured one in a light blue that accentuated his eyes. The first two buttons were undone, displaying a delightful triangle of smooth, tanned skin. His hair was still a windblown mess from the stretch of driving with the windows down, but the disheveled look worked oh-so-well on him.

“Hey hot stuff,” he greeted. “Ready to go?”

I could barely breathe. “Yes, just let me grab my clutch.”

As I transferred a few essentials from my day bag to my chic black sequined clutch, I knew I was forgetting something.

And it felt important.

“Come on. We don’t want to miss all the good champagne.”

Oh well. If it was really important, I would have remembered.

“I’m ready.”

Arm in arm we left, heading for the Corona Reale ballroom on the mezzanine level.

It wasn’t until the doors closed on the elevator that I remembered what I had forgotten.

#

“No, I don’t run much,” I heard myself telling an up-and-coming Italian designer who seemed to be trying every possible bad pick up line ever written.

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