The sun was high and white when she woke. There was an ache, dull and somehow sweet, through her body to remind her of the night. She wanted to smile, to snuggle back in bed and hug it to herself like an accomplishment, like a bag full of the finest diamonds. But there was still a part of her, a part dug deep, that believed a woman's submission in bed meant submission everywhere.
He was sleeping beside her. She hadn't thought he would stay the night, or hold her throughout it. Nor had she known how comforting it could be to lie awake in the dark and listen to his steady breathing. She knew now how good it felt to study his face in the morning sunlight.
Tenderness. She felt it, fought against it. Her fingers itched to run along his cheek, to comb through his hair. It would be so satisfying to touch him now, as if what had happened in the night had been real and important.
Cautious, she uncurled her fingers from her palm and started to reach out. Her fingertips just brushed his skin when his eyes blinked open. Adrianne snatched her hand away.
Even in sleep his reflexes were quick. Philip wrapped his fingers around her wrist and brought her hand to his lips. "Morning."
"Good morning." Awkward. She felt foolishly, miserably awkward. "We slept later than I intended."
"That's what vacations are for." In one smooth move he rolled on top of her to nuzzle at her neck. "And other things."
She closed her eyes. It was harder, much harder than she ever had believed to fight the need to give. If possible, she wanted him more now than she had during the night. Love, like any indulgence, was craved more after the first taste.
"Like breakfast?" she said, willing her voice to be light.
After nibbling on her lips, he drew back. "Hungry?"
"Shall I ring up room service?"
"Yes—no," she said, and already hated herself for the deception. "I'd really like to shower and change, then I'd been toying with the idea of diving, going out to Palancar."
"Have you hired a boat?"
When he sat up she shifted, just slightly, so their bodies no longer touched. "Why don't I see to it? I'll go have a shower myself, then meet you in the dining room in an hour. We can take off after we eat."
"Perfect." She managed a smile. "I might be a bit longer than that; I need to call Celeste."
"Not too much longer." He kissed her, and because she was already regretting, she poured herself into it. With a murmur of approval he drew her closer. "A person can go for days without food."
Her laugh was only a little strained. "Not this person."
She waited until she was alone to bring her knees up and drop her head on them. It shouldn't hurt. Doing what was necessary shouldn't hurt. Oh, but it did. Tossing the sheets aside, she rose quickly and began to move.
He gave her an extra quarter of an hour as he sat by the window in the dining room and watched the sun worshipers oil up. He knew there were women who did not value time. But, finally, he reminded himself that Adrianne wasn't one of them. Holding back impatience, he lingered over a second cup of coffee. A man was in bad shape when he started counting the minutes. Philip picked up the rose he'd set beside her plate. He was in very bad shape.
More had happened to him the night before than passion and release. Things had clicked inside him, and settled unalterably into place. He hadn't been looking, hadn't even wanted to look for someone who fit him so perfectly. But there was no going back. For her either, he thought as he lit a cigarette. She might think she could pick up her life where she'd left it off before him, but he was going to prove her wrong.
He'd made his decision, perhaps the first in his life that hadn't been self-serving or with an eye to profit, but he'd made it. And dammit, he wasn't going to waste the rest of the morning waiting to start convincing her it was the right one.
He crushed his cigarette, leaving it smoldering and his coffee cooling as he strode out of the dining room. He was feeling uneasy by the time he got to her door. Lovesick fool, he called himself, with not a little disgust. He rapped, harder than was necessary, then tried the door when she didn't answer. It was locked, but he had his door key in his pocket, along with a credit card and a thin coin. He didn't bother to glance around as he went to work.
When he opened the door, he knew. He was already swearing when he went to the closet to pull it open. It was empty, but for her scent. There was a trace of powder on the vanity counter, but the bottles and tubes were gone.
He let the closet door slam, then jammed his hands into his pockets. For a moment there was only rage and impotence. Never a violent man, he knew then what it was to anticipate murder with relish. Subduing his emotion, he walked to the phone and dialed the front desk.
"How long ago did Lara O'Conner check out?" He waited, fantasizing violence and retribution. "Forty minutes? Thank you."
She could run, he thought as he replaced the receiver. But she'd never run fast enough.
As Philip vowed his own revenge, Adrianne buckled her seat belt. Her eyes were hidden behind dark glasses. They weren't red-rimmed. She hadn't allowed herself tears. But there was regret in them. He would be angry, she thought. Then he would go on—as she would, as she had to. Emotions, the kind he could pull out of her, had no place in her life. Until The Sun and the Moon was in her hands, there was no room for anything but revenge.From the Paperback edition.
Excerpted from Sweet Revenge by Nora Roberts. . Excerpted by permission of Bantam, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.