The waiter arrived with their salads, but Colin had suddenly lost his appetite. He knew what he wanted to taste and it wasn’t on the Moretti’s menu. A part of him knew it was a mistake to let himself go any further with Natalie, but the other part already knew it was too late. He needed to have her. Knowing nothing would come of it going in, he would be able to compartmentalize it. Just because he rarely had sex for sex’s sake didn’t mean he couldn’t. What they had was a raw, physical attraction, nothing more. Natalie was certainly an enticing incentive to try to start now.
Perhaps if he did, he could focus on something else for a change. He had plenty going on right now, but somehow, Natalie’s full bottom lip seemed to occupy all his thoughts.
As they ate, Natalie shifted the conversation to the wedding and his sister, even asking about his business, but he knew neither of them was really interested in talking about that tonight. They just had to get through dinner.
It wasn’t until they were halfway through their pasta that she returned to the previous discussion. “I’ve been thinking,” she began. “I think you and I started off on the wrong foot at the engagement party. I’d like us to start over.”
“Start over?” He wasn’t entirely sure what that meant.
“Yes. When we get done eating, I’m going to once again ask if you’d like to go someplace quiet to talk and catch up. This time, since you’re not dating anyone, I hope you’ll give a better response.”
Was she offering what he thought she was offering? He sincerely hoped so. He finished his wine and busied himself by paying the bill. When the final credit card slip was brought to him, he looked up at Natalie. She was watching him with the sly smile on her face that she’d greeted him with the first time.
“So, Colin,” she said softly. “Would you be interested in getting out of here and finding someplace quiet where we could talk and catch up?”
Colin had replayed that moment in his mind several times since the engagement party and now he knew exactly what he wanted to say.
“Your place or mine?”
It turned out to be his place, which was closer. Natalie’s heart was pounding as she followed Colin down the hallway and into his kitchen. She’d only been here once before, the night of the engagement party. The house looked quite different tonight. There were no huge catering platters, no skirted tables, no jazz trio. It was just the wide open, modern space he called home. It actually looked a little plain without everything else. Spartan. Like a model home.
She couldn’t help but notice the sharp contrast between it and the warm, welcoming feel of his parents’ house. It was about as far as you could get between them. Natalie had no doubt that this was a million-dollar house, but it was far too contemporary in style to suit her.
“May I offer you more wine?” he asked.
“No, thank you,” she said, putting her purse down on the white quartz countertop. “I had plenty at dinner.” And she had. She was stuffed. Natalie had focused on her food to avoid Colin’s heated appraisal and now she regretted it. If she’d fully realized that her fantasies would actually play out after dinner, she would’ve held back a touch. She didn’t exactly feel sexy, full to the gills with pasta, bread and wine.
“May I offer you a tour, then? I’m not sure how much you got to see of the place the other night.”
“Not much,” Natalie admitted. Since she’d only known the bride and her brother, she hadn’t done much socializing. She’d hovered near the bar, people watching most of the evening.
Colin led her out of the sleek kitchen and through the dining room to the two-story open living room with a dramatic marble fireplace that went up to the ceiling. She followed him up the stairs to his loft office, then his bedroom. “This is the best part,” he said.
“I bet,” Natalie replied with a grin.
“That’s not what I meant.” He walked past the large bed to a set of French doors. He opened them and stepped out onto a deck.
Natalie went out behind him and stopped short as she caught a glimpse of the view. They’d driven up a fairly steep hill to get here, she remembered that, but she hadn’t realized his house virtually clung to the side of the mountain. While precarious, it offered an amazing view of the city. The lights stretched out as far as the eye could see, competing with the stars that twinkled overhead.
She had a really nice townhouse she liked, but it couldn’t hold a candle to this. She could sit out here all night just looking up at the stars and sipping her coffee. Natalie bet it was amazing at sunrise, too.