Thursday, December 7 2017 / 4:36 am
I can’t go after him.
Not because I’m in Italy for only one month, so there is no way anything but a fling could happen between us.
I can’t kiss him.
Not because his lips aren’t kissable. I writhe and ache, imagining what his lips would feel like pressed up against my lips as our tongues tangled together in a passionate kiss.
I can’t think about him.
Not because I should be studying for my exams. I could pass those whether or not I was thinking about ripping his shirt off and running my fingers across every hard inch of him.
I sure as hell can’t sleep with him.
Not because I don’t want to.
Not because he wouldn’t be the most life-altering sex I’d ever had.
Not because he’s out of my league.
Not because he doesn’t want me.
I can’t have Arlo Carini because he’s dangerous. And I’m obsessed.
I can’t keep my eyes off him as Arlo gives me and thirty other grad students a tour of his historic mansion. I can’t keep my heart from racing. Or my mind from thinking dirty thoughts of all the ways and places we could have sex in this mansion.
On the couch in the sitting room, on the grand staircase, against the stone wall in the foyer.
I can’t stop the obsession once it starts. And, right now, I’m full-on obsessed as he guides us through more and more rooms, the whole time ignoring everyone else and staring directly at me. It’s clear that he might be a little obsessed or at least curious about me, which only makes me crazier.
I can’t do this. I’m not really obsessed. Just infatuated. He’s just a hot guy that I want to fuck. The same thought that every other woman here is thinking.
Arlo leads us outside and I try to do my best to focus on other things. That’s what my years of therapy has taught me; distraction is key. I focus on the blooming flowers that are so large that they would hold my interest if this were any other time. Just not when there is one of the hottest warm-blooded males I’ve ever seen standing only a few feet away from me.
I try listening to the birds. I try focusing on the beautiful statues and fountains. I try ogling the men in my class but they all look like boys compared to Arlo.
I just have to get through this and then I’ll find a nice Italian man to distract me tonight. I just haven’t had sex in a while. That’s it.
The class starts walking again. So I do too. But when I take a step I feel nothing beneath my foot.
I don’t have time to react. I feel my body falling and then I feel the water soaking me as I fall into the pool. I let my body sink to the bottom because drowning sounds better than reappearing on the surface and facing my embarrassment.
I open my eyes under the water as a body jumps into the pool. My eyes widen and my heart sinks as Arlo swims toward me. He grabs hold of my waist and pushes me toward the surface.
We both break through the surface sucking in air like we’d been underwater for minutes instead of just seconds. He jumped in to save me. He thought I was drowning, not just dying from embarrassment. And he saved me.
I begin to swim toward the stairs, but Arlo doesn’t let me go. He scoops me into his arms, as he swims, and then carries me out of the pool.
The class applauds instead of laughing, like Arlo is a hero or something.
He ignores them and carries me as he walks into what looks like a pool house a few yards away from where the class is gathered.
He sits me down gently in a chair and grabs a towel, draping it over my shoulders.
“You okay?” he asks. His voice is sweet and caring, such a stark difference from the hard and cold exterior he has been all afternoon.
“You saved me.”
He smiles for the first time today. “I wouldn’t say that. Just saved you from embarrassment.”
I shake my head. “No, you saved me. I’m forever in your debt. How can I repay you?”
With a date, please.
His hard expression returns. He removes his gray jacket, tie, vest, and shirt leaving it on the floor while I ogle every hard muscle on his body. He realizes his mistake and takes a towel from the rack. He begins drying his hair as he walks back out without a word.
I close my eyes as I sit alone in the pool house, trying to push the familiar feelings down. I was strong enough before to resist. Before he was just a hot stranger, that with enough distraction, I could have left alone. Now he’s the sexy stranger that saved my life. That’s too much temptation for me to resist.
I can’t obsess about him though. The last time I was obsessed with a guy, I ended up with months of therapy and a restraining order. I got more therapy after I chased and almost ran a guy off the road. I self-medicated with alcohol after I flunked a semester while dating another guy. I started doing drugs after I ruined a married man’s life.
I know what men do to me. They make me obsessed. They make me insane. Addicted. I don’t have a life when I’m with a man.
I’ve been through it time and time again. More than a dozen times with a dozen different men. I know the only cure is to stay away from men. I’m like an alcoholic who can’t go into a bar. I can’t go anywhere near hot, attractive, powerful men.
But Arlo Carini is different. He’s hot, sure. He’s tall with unruly, dark hair and muscles that I can’t wait to have on top of me, overpowering me and controlling me. I didn’t have to wait for him to undress to see his muscles. I can see every single one. The gray three-piece suit did nothing to contain them.
He’s sexy as hell. But I’ve gone after sexy men before.
And there is more to him than a hot body.
He’s powerful. I know from the way he’s demanded everyone’s attention from the second we entered the mansion. But so do hundreds of other men who run companies, and I’ve vied for their attention, too.
He’s filthy rich. I know that from the enormous mansion I’m currently standing in, which is owned by the Carini family. But I have plenty of money myself, and I’ve gone after men with money before.
What makes me want Arlo more than any man I’ve wanted in the last three months of sobriety is the intensity with which he stares at me and no one else in the room, both before and after he saved me. It’s the way he never grins or lets any emotion through. It’s the mystery that surrounds him and the whole Carini family. The town hasn’t stopped talking about his family since I arrived.
I want to know everything about him.
What does he do?
Who has he slept with?
What would it feel like to kiss him?
How much dick is he hiding beneath those tight slacks?
Does he know how to handle a woman in bed?
Is he a playboy, or is he looking for a wife?
Does he have freckles, moles, birthmarks?
Does he prefer coffee or tea?
Night owl or early riser?
I want to know everything.
My mind goes crazy, already trying to fill in the answers. I’m sure I have guessed right on most. I’ve studied enough people in the past to know. But I don’t like guessing.
I like obsessing. I like the chase. The hunt. I like knowing everything and making a man mine. I like control. I like being wrapped up in a man who I would rather die for than give up. Something I’ve almost done three times now while chasing a man.
I know I can’t go down that road. I promised my father on his deathbed that I would give it up. Get help. And I’ve kept my promise for eighty-nine days now. It was getting easier to give men up. I threw myself into grad school. Got into a one-month study abroad program in Italy.
But one attempt at saving my life, and I’ve forgotten all about my sobriety.
Maybe my grief made it easier for me. Maybe I wasn’t doing so well after all.
I’m here for only one month. Not even that. Four weeks. Twenty-eight days. Maybe it’d be okay to sleep with him. Get the thrill of fucking a guy again out of my system so that life will be easier when I go home. I can’t obsess when I’m four thousand miles away, back in Vermont.
I run back outside to join the group, after doing my best at drying off.
“My cousin, Paola, will be continuing your tour of the grounds. It was a pleasure meeting you all,” Arlo says, his eyes falling on me one last time before he turns and walks toward the house. Most likely, to get out of his wet clothes.
I turn my head to his beautiful cousin who has long brown curls for days as she leads the class outside. But I can’t listen to her. I can’t be so far away from Arlo so soon after meeting him.
“You okay? That was quite a fall,” Eden asks.
I nod. “I’m going to see if they have any dry clothes for me to wear.” I dart inside and turn in the direction I saw Arlo walk. I have to walk only two doors down when I find him standing inside the office he showed us earlier.
My stomach twists in knots as my anxiety builds when I enter his office, uninvited. We can fuck right here on his desk, or maybe he’ll sneak me off to his bedroom upstairs. Or maybe he’ll whisk me off to some special room in the mansion that he didn’t show us yet.
“You can’t be in here,” Arlo says, staring at me with dark eyes that overwhelm me. I have no idea what he is feeling or thinking when he looks at me, but I hope it’s the same need I feel when I look at him. Surely, he felt a connection to me after he saved me, even if it is just lust. But his voice is so different than it was in the pool house. Before he was sweet. Now he’s angry and cold.
I grin and take a step forward, making sure to push my breasts out as I walk toward him. The V-neck shirt I’m wearing isn’t that revealing, even wet, but it’s enough to get him to glance down at my breasts.
“I think this is exactly where I need to be,” I say as I twist a dark brown strand of hair, which fell out of my ponytail, around my finger.
His eyes dart to where my finger is twisting my hair.
I grin wider. He can tell me I shouldn’t be in here all he wants, but his interest in my body says differently.
He grabs my wrist, and I stop moving. His touch sends a shock wave through my body, unnerving me. His grip is firm, giving me a hint of just how rough he could be in bed.
“You. Aren’t. Allowed. In. Here,” he says slowly and sternly without raising his voice.
I reach my other hand out to touch the stubble on his cheek. His hand grabs my other wrist. This time, more roughly.
I’m not worried about both my wrists being trapped in his hands. Although I should be. His eyes have darkened. He looks like he’s about to kill someone. And I’m the only one in the room for him to take his anger out on.
“You don’t know who I am,” Arlo says, still holding on to my wrists.
“I know you’re Arlo Carini, basically royalty in this town.” I take a deep breath. “And I know that you want to fuck me.”
He grips my wrists tighter and pulls me toward him until our bodies are pressed together. I can’t breathe. All I can think about is the pain he is inflicting on my wrists. It’s making my head spin. But I kind of like it.
“You have no idea who I am. You, on the other hand, I know exactly who you are.”
I smirk. I doubt it.
“You’re Nina Young. Twenty-something grad student who is majoring in art history because you love it even though it’s going to lead to a dead-end job that pays you nothing. That means, you have family money to make up the difference or are planning on marrying a rich lawyer or doctor as soon as you return to the US. But none of that matters. What matters is that you are a spoiled, rich little girl who gets to come to Italy and will do anything to bang every hot Italian man she can find, so when you return home, you can relive the excitement and adventure instead of dealing with the reality of your pathetic life.”
He loosens his grip just a little on my wrist, and I breathe.
“Your life is perfect. But you’re living in a dream world.”
I open my mouth to tell him that my life is anything but perfect, but Arlo’s eyes shut me up before I even start.
“You don’t know me, and you don’t want to. I ruin women. I destroy them. I mean that literally. Stay away from me, Nina. No, run away. And don’t ever look back.” He says it like he means it. His eyes beg me to stay.
He releases my wrists, but I don’t move. I can’t move. I have so many questions.
Why don’t I want to know him? What does he mean about destroying women? How does he know my name?
“Go,” he growls at me when I don’t move.
I turn, startled at his growl, and begin to leave the room. Much slower than I’m sure he wants me to. But I know that I’m not going to get anywhere with him right now.
I will. I’ll get him to fuck me. I’ll get him to obsess about me. Love me. Marry me if I want him to. He can be my last obsession. He’s perfect. He would make the best husband.
I glance back at him when I reach the door. He’s nothing but a hot stranger to me. He was just supposed to be a man giving me and my classmates a tour of his mansion, which is full of history. Nothing more. Definitely not the object of my new obsession.
He smiles smugly at me. He thinks he’s won. That I’ll leave him alone after he scared me. But he’s wrong. He’s just made me more obsessed than ever before.