“Do you like Pompeii?” Santino murmurs in my hair. I can feel the grin spread across his face.

“It’s my new favorite place.” All I can smell is him and it’s intoxicating.

“Mine too.”

I think about his pack of cigarettes sitting on the veranda back at the house, but am too overwhelmed with the nearness of him to dwell on it. When I look up at him, he’s already staring at me with an intensity that weakens every defense I put up between us.

When Santino kisses me, I know he carries the key to my body and soul. I don’t know when he got it, when he had it made, but I know it fits me, because when he turns it, I unlock.

Maybe the heat of Italy in June is getting to me, and I pull away.

“This feels wrong, in a place like this.” I whisper to keep myself from turning into a submissive puddle. “We should be reverent.”

“Do you know how long ago these people died?” Santino asks in my ear, his breath sending cascading goosebumps across my entire body. “Did you know there were people encased in lava as they were lying together? They spent their last minutes on this planet fucking.”

“There were also women cooking, frozen in place for all eternity in a position of servitude.” I manage some sass even though he continues to disarm me in such close proximity. “They deserve respect.”

“Because they died? Have we not already established everyone dies?” His fingers curl around a lock of my hair and pull ever so gently. Heat shoots through me, and he sucks in a breath as if he feels it in his bones. “I will not take you here.”

“I never said you could have me.” I level my gaze with his to display the remaining shards of my breaking defiance.

His gaze runs from hot to humor. He laughs heartily and kisses my forehead. I have never in my life wanted him to kiss my lips hard and real and deep this badly. “Come, Violetta. We have much more to see.”


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