Picture of Innocence(73)

By: Jacqueline Baird


He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her as the crowd started cheering. ‘You will pay for this,’ he murmured in her ear. ‘I had plans for an intimate dinner for two in Venice. We have to communicate better—starting now.’

And then Antonio came, hurtling to his feet, and he picked his son up and spun him around, and kissed his mother on the cheek. Then he was shaking hands and greeting people, but he put a hand around Lucy’s waist and kept her by his side as he made for the stairs, telling Gianni and various others that he needed to get changed. And huskily telling Lucy she was going to help him.

‘Lorenzo, we can’t,’ Lucy said, eyeing him with loving amusement as he shed his suit and shirt, dropping them on the bed room floor as usual.

Wearing only boxers, he caught her to him. ‘Yes, we can, Lucy. I love you more and more each day. You have given me a wonderful son and you have made me the happiest man in the world. But it has been four days, and right now I ache to be inside you.’ And gathering her close, a hand curving around her nape, he kissed her long and deep, his fingers deftly loosening the haltertop.

Lucy closed her eyes. He was right. She could feel the passion, the desire vibrating between them, and when he slipped her dress down to pool at her feet and carried her to the bed she wanted him with a hunger that could not be denied. She always did and always would.

Later, she slipped off the bed and told Lorenzo to wait. She crossed to the dressing room and, taking the parcel she had hidden there, returned to the bed. ‘Happy birthday,’ she said, and handed him her gift.

Grinning, he ripped off the paper—and stopped, his dark eyes fixed on the painting. He stared for so long in silence, she began to worry.

‘I thought it was time there was a portrait of you above the fireplace in the lounge, and your father’s was relegated to the hall,’ she said. ‘But if it’s not good enough.’

He turned his head, and she saw the moisture in his eyes. ‘Good enough? It is magnificent—the best gift, after our son, you could possibly give me. The days. the hours you must have spent … I am humbled and flattered that you see me so well.’ And, slipping the painting gently to the floor, he reached for her.

Lorenzo Zanelli’s surprise fortieth birthday party was talked about for months afterwards in the homes of Verona—mainly because it had taken him three hours to get changed for the party, particularly as his wife was helping him!

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