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Breathless In Love (The Maverick Billionaires #1)(10)

By:Bella Andre & Jennifer Skully

Soon, Mama Cannelli arrived with her simple yet elegant creation. “I have taste-tested. Magnificent.” She kissed her fingers just as Will had earlier. “Any garnish would be a travesty.” She placed a small pot in the center of the table. Beside that she laid a plate of toasted bread slices and set a spoon by the pot. “Mother-of-pearl. We must not influence the flavors.” She threw out her hands expressively. “Now eat.” Then she leaned down to Will. “The ravioli tonight is on me. And a bottle of our best champagne.”

“That’s not necessary,” Will protested, but Antonio was already popping the cork.

“One cannot have caviar without champagne,” she declared. “And now I leave you alone with your beautiful lady.”

“You brought her caviar?” Harper examined the pot filled with tiny golden eggs.

“I found this about six weeks ago. It’s Ossetra caviar. The golden color is quite prized. And, as a bonus, the fishery is known for its conservation policies, given that the sturgeon is a threatened species.” He picked up the mother-of-pearl spoon, scooped up the caviar, dabbed it on the toasted bread, and brought the slice close to her lips.

“Taste,” he urged.

The action was intimate. Sexy.

Her heart began to beat loudly in her ears. Just as he wanted her to, Harper ate from his fingers, her lips touching his skin. But the flavor that exploded on her tongue was far more decadent than caviar.

The most delicious flavor by far was him.


Will felt an ache grow in his gut as he watched Harper taste caviar for what he guessed was her very first time. Her cheeks flushed as she chewed, savored, and swallowed, her tongue slipping out to lick away the excess.

The delicacy had a rich, buttery, slightly salty flavor. Mama Cannelli was right on with the preparation—no adornment, no garnish.

Harper didn’t need fancy clothes or glittering jewelry, either. She shone all on her own. Shone so brightly that he wanted more and more from her by the second. Not just a dinner out. Not just one hot night.

Will wanted her to stay and fill the empty spots inside of him. And so that he might also be able to do the same for her.

He knew that he shouldn’t let himself want those things from her. Nor could he argue with the voice of reason that told him he should let her find some perfect guy who had never seen or done the things from Will’s hellish past. Maybe he could have lived with the things his father had made him do. But Will couldn’t forget the things he’d done all on his own after the old man went to prison. He should have left the Road Warriors behind and committed to the Mavericks right then, to Bob and Susan, to his new family. But he’d gone on making mistakes for years. Until things had happened —terrible things—for which he could never forgive himself.

But none of those truths were doing a damned thing to make his desire disappear.

After he fed her another slice and relished the caress of her lips on his fingers, she said, “You’re not having any.”

“It’s better feeding it to you.”

“I can’t eat it all myself.” She selected a slice of toast, ladled on a spoonful of caviar, spread it, and handed over the morsel.

She deliberately kept her hand too far away to feed him. But he couldn’t resist wrapping his fingers around her delicately boned wrist and pulling until she was close enough for him to catch the crisped bread between his teeth. Biting down, he took half, stroking her wrist with his thumb as he demolished the caviar.

Sweet Lord, it was far better now than when he’d tasted it on Saturday morning. All because of what Harper brought to it. “You’re right,” he said. “It’s excellent.”

Her hand still imprisoned, he bent to take the other half, his lips lingering on her fingers, tasting her. The salty caviar was like a chaser to her sweetness. She was breathing harder now, and he very much liked the way her skin had flushed pink with the light caress of his lips. But as they finished the caviar between them, she made sure not to prepare another slice for him. And when he spooned one for her, she inserted her hand before he could put it to her lips.

He was getting too close in more ways than one. And Harper was backing off. The problem was that one taste of her had him dying for more. Just as he’d known it would.

Mama’s food demanded a diner’s attention, and neither of them disappointed as they polished off everything on the plates put before them.

“Are you sure you don’t want dessert?” he asked after Harper waved Antonio away. “The crème brûlée will melt on your tongue.” The sight would have driven him crazy but it would have been well worth it just to see the look on her beautiful face when she tasted heaven.

“It was all so good, but I’m stuffed.”

Mama refused to bring a bill, as Will had known she would. But he’d wanted the sweet lady to enjoy the caviar.

“You’re too good to us, Mr. Franconi.”

Will folded an arm around her shoulders, hugging her close. She reminded him of Susan, with her big heart and her love of family. She even patted Harper’s cheek, and said, “Please come again.”

“I will.”

Yes, she definitely would, if Will had anything to say about it.

As they’d eaten, he’d dominated the questions while managing to brush aside Harper’s for him. And he’d learned that everything she did was for or about her brother. Her job choice, where she lived, how often she got out on her own—all of it was about what best suited Jeremy’s needs. Again and again, she’d waved away Will’s admiration, saying it was all because of the trust fund some rich guy had used to appease his conscience. But he could see how much of herself she’d devoted to her brother. He’d hinted about whether there were any other men in her life, but it wasn’t hard to guess that there, too, Jeremy took precedence.

Except that in their case, Jeremy had given Will his stamp of approval to take her to dinner—as well as saying that Harper could stay out as long as she wanted, because she was an adult. Remembering the solemn statement made Will smile.

Hell, yes, Harper was an adult, a gorgeous woman who gave him the kind of rush he’d only ever had from fast cars before. And it was a very good thing that she could stay out late tonight... because Will was far from done with their evening.

“Let’s go for a drive.” It was pitch black outside as they got into the car. “I’ll put the top down and crank up the heater.”

“I should get home.”

Harper, he’d noticed, used an awful lot of shoulds and shouldn’ts. And the more she piled on, the more he wanted to blast through all of them, wanted to see her eyes light up and her skin flush, to watch her let go just as she had on their short ride around the runways.

“I promise not to drive too fast.”

“It’s not that,” she said, even though he knew it had to be, after what she’d been through with those crashes in her family. “And you don’t have to keep promising.”

But he did, because she didn’t trust him yet. Smart woman. “We’ll just take a short drive to a place you’ll like, then.”

She glared at him, but only managed to look adorable as she said, “You always get your way, don’t you?”

“I try,” he said with a grin.

Most people were willing to give him his way. But then, most of them wanted something from him. Whereas from everything he’d seen so far, Harper didn’t. In fact, if he let her have her way, she’d be keeping her distance from him rather than letting him come closer.

But he couldn’t stand the thought of giving her up. Not when she sparked something inside him that he’d never felt with another woman.

“Come on, Harper,” he said in the same voice both he and Jeremy had used on her when they’d wanted her to change her mind. “Say yes.”

She sighed, but her lips had curved up at the corners. “All right. A short drive.”

* * *

Harper should have made Will take her home, but she’d told Trish she’d be out until ten or ten-thirty, so she figured she had a little time left for a drive.

They hurtled along a two-lane road, the top down, her hair blowing. “I thought you promised not to go too fast.” A mesh bar between the head rests kept the rush of air from overpowering their voices.

He slid a lock of her hair back behind her ear, then pointed past her. “I’m going slower than the cars on the freeway.”

He was always touching her—a hand at her back as she climbed the stairs, fingers at her elbow as he helped her into the car—his touch making her crazy inside.

Looking out the passenger window gave her an excuse to draw away, far enough to breathe without his scent filling her head. The road paralleled the highway, with lush greenery flashing by on the other side. He was right; the cars up there were traveling considerably faster.

“It’s the convertible. It makes everything feel like it’s rushing past.” He downshifted around a turn, and trees rose up between them and the freeway. “I’m not going to promise never to drive you faster than you want to go, Harper, but I can promise that I’ll never let you get hurt.”