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“I don’t remember you bringing this home,” I said, grabbing a fork from the tray and digging in.

  Roth sat cross-legged on the other side of the tray from me, taking the other fork and shoveling a huge bite of chicken Parmesan into his mouth. “I didn’t,” he said after he’d chewed a few times. “I was so focused on getting us back here and getting you naked that I forgot it. That message I sent earlier was to Marco. I asked him to have our leftovers brought here. ” He took another bite, and then poured wine into a glass. There was only one glass, though, and he filled it nearly to the brim. “Marco would kill me for mistreating the wine like this, but I don’t care. Wine etiquette is for when you’re in public. ”

  After a healthy gulp, he passed the glass to me. We were sharing a glass of wine. Something about that made me giddy. “Well, you already know I don’t give much of a shit about wine etiquette,” I said. “I mean, if I’m out with you, I’ll try to follow your lead so I don’t embarrass you, but I clearly wasn’t raised with the kind of manners you were. ”

  He shrugged. “Just be yourself, Kyrie. I don’t care if you know how to appreciate fine wines. That can be learned. The beauty of your soul, however, cannot be taught, and that is what I appreciate most about you. ”

  “God, Roth. That’s so sweet. Thank you. ” I gazed at him, letting some of what I felt for him flow through me and melt into my expression. “I feel the same about you. I mean, yeah, you’re the most handsome, sexiest man I’ve ever seen in my f**king life, but the more I learn about who you are, the more I appreciate you. ”

  Roth set his fork down very carefully, tilting his head to one side. His expression was inscrutable. “You…appreciate me?” He sounded stunned. “You don’t…resent me for claiming you the way I have?”

  I shook my head. “Nope. ” I endeavored to sound casual, so I paused to take a bite of lasagna, chewing and swallowing before I continued. “Look, I’m pretty in tune with my emotions, okay? When I figure out how I feel, I don’t waffle around about it. Once I know I like something, I’m all in. And I don’t fight feeling something just because it should be impossible or whatever. I know I should be insulted by the way you brought me here and told me you owned me, and I was at first. But…once I gave in to playing your game your way, I realized I liked it. Giving in, obeying your commands, is…freeing. It’s hot. I’ll never be a quiet, submissive little thing. Obeying doesn’t come naturally to me. It never has, and it never will. I’m strong, and I’m independent. But when you take charge and I let myself give in, I have fun. ”

  “Well. I’m glad for that. ” He picked up his fork, but I could tell he was still deep in thought. “But that doesn’t explain you appreciating me. ”

  “No? Think about it, Roth. Think about me. Would I have gone this far with you, given in and obeyed and let you do all the things to me that you have if I didn’t trust you? If I didn’t enjoy it and enjoy you?”

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  He shook his head. “No. Of course not. ”

  “Then you get it. ” A few more bites, a swallow of wine, and then I continued. “I like sex. I like it a lot. But I don’t do random, meaningless sex. I’ve been with a few guys, as I’m sure you know, but I’ve never felt a…connection…of some sort to any of them. I know that’s not a great thing to say, or to think about after what we just did together, but that’s exactly the point. All that? Everything that I’ve done before, all the guys I’ve been with before…none of them could even remotely compete with you. Not on any level. That” —I gestured at the bed— “was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It meant something. I don’t know what, exactly, but it did, and I know it, and I think you do, too. ” But there was a lie in there. That I did know.

  “You’re right, of course. ” Roth said. Then he took a long swallow of wine before passing the last of it to me. “I think we both have a lot to think about. ”

  Roth and I had polished off a startling amount of food in a short time, all of the leftovers now gone, the wine finished, too. I was sated in every way: my stomach full, sexually glutted, a little buzzed, heart and mind full of powerful emotions kept secret for the moment.

  Roth took the tray and set it on the floor outside the bedroom, then went into the bathroom and turned on the shower. His bathroom was even more incredible than mine. The shower was a cavernous space of dark marble and clean glass. There was a bench in the middle, with a six-foot-long rainfall showerhead embedded in the ceiling above it, and jets along the wall also angled toward the bench. There was a more traditional long-necked showerhead on one wall, located above the controls for the water flow.

  I watched Roth from the bed, enjoying the play of his muscles beneath his firm skin, watching his ass tighten and relax with every step, his dangling c**k swinging, balls heavy, thighs thick and powerful, arms long and hard and bulging with muscle. He turned one lever in the shower and the overhead shower kicked on, sending a stream of water down onto the bench. He turned another lever, and the jets sputtered and started, and then he adjusted a third lever, for the temperature, I assumed. He pushed a button on a panel outside the shower-room; the bathroom dimmed, and a set of soft multicolored lights set into the floor and walls of the shower came on, playing into the streams of water, making one jet crimson, another azure, a third hunter green. Muted amber shone down from the overhead stream, and purple was aimed across the floor.

  Roth came back into the bedroom and scooped me up in his arms.

  As he carried me into the bathroom, I said, “You really have a thing for pimped-out showers, don’t you?”

  He nodded. “Yes, I suppose I do. A long, hot shower can be a magical thing, don’t you agree?” He set me down on the bench and closed the door to the shower. “If you think the showers in this place are something, you should see the one in my place on Turks and Caicos. ”

  “You have a place in Turks and Caicos?” I asked.

  The water was just this side of too hot, the stream from above beating down with incredible force, the jets spraying me from all sides. Roth reached down between his feet and pulled out bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel, as well as a scrubbing poof, all of which were hidden in some kind of compartment built into the bench itself.

  “Yes,” he said, reaching for me and pulling me to sit sideways on his lap. “Besides this place, I have homes in Turks and Caicos, London, Paris, and another in a tiny village on the Mediterranean coast of Italy. I spend most of my time here, as my business is centered in New York, so I rent those other homes out most of the year. I always take three months out of the year to travel, however, so I keep my other homes open and ready for me from September through November. ”

  He threaded his fingers into my hair and began massaging my scalp, bunching handfuls of my hair under the stream of water. The bench was placed so that, depending on which way you leaned, you could get the stream on your head or on your back and not on your face. I leaned against him, closed my eyes, and let the hot water beat down on my spine, listened to his heart pulsing, enjoyed the attention of his hands on me.

  He worked shampoo into my hair, scrubbing my scalp and lathering my hair thoroughly down to the tips, and then he leaned us forward so the water sluiced the shampoo away. He backed away again, and the water streamed onto my back, allowing Roth to work conditioner into my hair. While the conditioner set, he squeezed the poof out in the jets of water and applied some shower gel, and began scrubbing: my back, over my shoulders and down my arms, everywhere he could reach without moving me.

  “All right, stand up for me. ” He shifted forward, and I reluctantly stood up.

  Roth washed me all over, getting me clean, and then began to run the poof over my body in a more leisurely fashion, paying attention to my br**sts first, lifting them and sliding the poof beneath them, then over my ni**les. I leaned my head back into the water, and moaned in enjoyment as the hot water ran over my face and down my back, Roth’s hands wandering down my belly