Gia frowned as she dried off. The big jerk apparently expected her to parade around naked. She snugly wrapped the towel around her body and held it securely. Stepping cautiously from the bathroom, the fragrance of hot food lured her further.
“You must be hungry, Giancarla. Come downstairs and eat,” he called from the kitchen.
Gia marveled at his apparently supersensitive hearing. Either that or he had spy cameras installed everywhere. The latter thought made her frown again. She briefly considered rummaging through his drawers to find something besides a damp towel to wear, but decided against it. If she delayed too
long, he might deny her supper. And he might decide to embark upon a career of beating and raping women if he were sufficiently annoyed by her intrusive rummaging.
Vitaly hardly spared his rescue a glance as he set a plate of eggs, bacon, and toast on the kitchen table. He poured a glass of juice and set it down next to her plate. He avoided looking at her, knowing that a long stare at her satin skin so easily accessible would rev up his libido even further.
Gia gingerly sat on the chair, the cool, polished wood uncomfortable against her bare bottom. She picked up a fork and warily picked up a bit of egg.
“I haven’t poisoned or drugged it,” he said as he sat down across the table.
She blinked and tried to dim her awareness of him as a man. The removal of his coat made that impossible, though. His broad shoulders strained the white fabric of his dress shirt. The rolled-up sleeves displayed thick forearms roped with muscle and colorful with tattoos. He’d taken off his tie and unbuttoned the collar of his shirt. She could see more tattoos where the shirt opened at his throat.
Nervously, she glanced at the clock on the wall. It was barely eight o’clock and already full dark. She glanced back down at her plate and tried to figure a way out of this mess. Even an unseasonably warm fall holiday was too cold to go wandering about in nothing but a damp towel. If she made a dash for the front door, she was sure to be apprehended before she touched the doorknob.
“Thank you for making supper,” she said politely.
“I thought you could use something to eat,” he replied with simple kindness.
Gia thought back to his leather bag full of sharp, shiny things, and asked, “What is it, exactly, you do?”
He chewed and swallowed as he thought, then gave her his mild reply, “I’m something of a jack of all trades. Today, I was to interrogate a thief.”
“Interrogate?” she repeated faintly. He could have agreed with those thugs who had kidnapped her and interrogated her with knives and who knew what else? She pushed her glasses back up her nose and forced herself to take another bite of egg.
“You should not have been dragged into this,” he said truthfully.
No kidding, she thought, but was prudent enough not to say aloud. The ink covering his arms and chest suddenly took on a more sinister meaning. Vitaly Synvolka wasn’t a rebel, he was a criminal. Instead she merely said in a tone faint with horror, “I’ve never even had a speeding ticket.”
“Neither have I,” he replied with a small smile.
Apparently, the expression wasn’t friendly, because Giancarla turned very pale. He quickly fixed it, composing himself to mild neutrality. She’d never know how much that cost him when every cell in his body urged him to throw her over his shoulder and haul her to his bed. He was glad the tabletop hid the rigid bulge behind the zipper of his pants.
“Finish your meal,” he gently ordered. “You need to rest. I will ensure your safety tonight.”
Reassured, she ate. She focused her eyes on the plate and pointedly ignored the man staring at her like she was some particularly tasty treat. When she finished, he ordered her to go back to his room.
“There’s a new toothbrush still in the package in the upper left drawer of the sink cabinet in my bathroom. Use that,” he instructed, forcibly keeping his tone mild and even.
She made her escape, fleeing on wobbly knees and rubbery ankles. Just as he had promised, she found the fresh toothbrush. She used his toothpaste, grimacing at the taste of baking soda. Why couldn’t he use a mint flavored gel like everyone else? She reminded herself to be grateful for the concession of good oral hygiene and crawled into his bed, still clutching the towel around her body.
Stress, adrenaline, or whatever hit her like the proverbial truck and she failed the struggle to keep her eyes open, to wait alert and ready for a chance to retrieve her clothing and escape. She never heard him enter the room. She slept through the noise of his shower that filtered through the bathroom door. He felt the damp lump of the towel she had used to cover herself and pulled it out to toss it on the floor. When he slid beneath the covers and snuggled close to her from behind, she sighed unconsciously and relaxed even further into his embrace.
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