I was pretty pleased with my plan. Daniel had practically begged me to let him have the evening with Rachel. He'd told me all about his picnic plan, and the fact that he wanted my help meant he also wanted my approval. A guy who cared about what was right for Rachel enough to ask me was good by me. And her face when she'd seen him... yup, she had it bad.
"Appletizer please." I put the money on the bar and waited while the barman filled a tall glass.
"Let me buy that." An American man sat to my right, a couple of empty seats down, spoke up. I smiled and shrugged gently. He slid some money across to the bar man and I took back mine.
"Tyler Larkin." He walked over, extended his hand and I shook it. "And you are, apart from being British and utterly gorgeous?"
I laughed and released his hand.
"Pleasure to meet you Blake." He sat on the stool next to me.
"And you Mr. Larkin. Thank you for the drink."
"Tyler. What brings you to Italy?"
"Awful lot of business people in such a relaxed hotel, such a carefree country. Is there some sort of convention?"
"Not that I'm aware. I just came to handle some unsolved business between my company and a growing Italian one. Terribly dull. I would be happily distracted if you would like to dance."
"Well I suppose it's the least I could do for the man who was kind enough to buy me a drink."
"Excellent. So what brings you to Italy Blake?"
"Holiday, with my friend."
"And how are you enjoying your holiday so far?"
"It's been very... relaxing. I like letting off steam." I smiled slyly and he choked on his drink a little. Damn, I forgot for a moment that I wasn't talking to Carlos. This man didn't look like he would be able to flirt back without combusting. I'd already laid it on a little thick by the looks of it.
"Well, I could do with letting off some steam too." He said, having recovered. Oh no buddy, not you. Sorry, but that is not happening. You're strictly a 'buy me drinks' man. Maybe a dance. But that's it I'm afraid.
"Well I always say dancing is good for letting off steam and I already owe you one. Come on." I sipped my drink and then handed it to the bar man. "Can you watch that? Thanks."
We went to the centre of the room, where a couple of people were dancing to a slow song about love. We swayed, but the song changed to a faster paced one within seconds and Tyler grinned at me.
"You're a good dancer." He praised, his hand resting lightly against the skin of my back. The backless dress, the one I'd bought for antagonizing Carlos, was good for getting drinks.
"Thank you. You're not so bad yourself." I grinned.
"Mr Larkin." I knew it was Carlos before I turned round. "I didn't know you were staying at this hotel. I see you've met il mio amore, Blake." He was staring at Tyler, eyes slightly narrowed. Tyler let go of my waist and he shook Carlos' outstretched hand. When they released each other they were both eyeing each other, as if sizing up the competition. They knew each other- did they not get on? Had I just majorly put my foot in it?
"Blake, I didn't know you knew Carlos."
"-We're good friends." Carlos finished. I glanced at him surprised.
"Well then you won't mind if I finish my dance with her will you Carlos?" Tyler was reaching for me again but Carlos' arm snaked round my waist and he pulled me to him gently so our hips seemed to meld together.
"I think Blake ought to decide that, don't you Mr. Larkin?"
His voice was slightly threatening and I gulped. I had definitely put my foot in it. They did not get on. What the hell was going on? I looked at Tyler who was narrowing his eyes at Carlos.
"I think the way you two are acting I'll just go and finish that drink by myself." I escaped from Carlos' arm and frowned at them both. "Nice to meet you Tyler. Thanks for the drink. Carlos." I nodded at him and strode back to the bar. What the hell? I almost wanted to go to my room, but I knew Daniel and Rachel were having a picnic in there. And more than likely, more than a picnic.
I don't mind when guys fight over me, but that was not about me. That was something else.
"Would you like your drink back?" The bar man asked. I peeked over my shoulder and saw Carlos coming over. Oh hell. He looked furious, and at the same time, utterly, insanely, insatiably gorgeous.
"No, thank you." I slipped off my stool and headed for the nearest exit, not daring to look at Carlos. I found myself outside, on the terrace that looked over the hotel's garden. The moon was staring down at me, and I knew I'd never be able to get off the terrace before Carlos found me.
"Blake." The doors behind me had opened and Carlos was now behind me. Pull yourself together Blake, why are you intimidated by this man? Show him you're not scared of him, no matter how bloody angry he was back there. I turned and stared defiantly at him.
"Carlos. You know how to ruin a dance."
He took a step forward and I noticed how when he was angry, his eyes seemed to be darker. It momentarily distracted me, but I pulled myself together.
"So you take two days away from me, and then I find you with Tyler Larkin?"
"He bought me a drink. Just because you two are... well whatever was going on, doesn't mean you can ruin a perfectly nice dance."
"Nice? Is nice what you want bella?" His voice was husky now, layered with controlled anger. "Because I was under the impression that with me you wanted more than nice and when a woman is with me, I don't like to share her."
"I never said I was with you. Is that was that... um, 'il me amore' was about?"
"Il mio amore. And yes, I was under the impression that our time together meant that you wanted me, like I want you. And I'm not used to my women challenging me."
"I thought that was one of the things you liked about me?"
He smiled dangerously and took the last step so he was pressing me against the balcony of the terrace. I inhaled his heady smell and bit my lip.
"Oh yes bella. From you, I like it very much."
I smiled and kissed him. His lips were so close, so tantalising, I couldn't help it. And he pulled me close to his chest and kissed me back, so passionately that if he hadn't been holding me to him I might have fallen backwards over the balcony. Instead I just entangled my fingers in to his hair and pulled him closer.