“I’m not one of your brothers, Miri,” Duardo said, his voice now almost dangerously quiet.
Miri studied his face and saw again what she had first seen in that moment in the nightclub when he came to sit with her. He wanted her. She knew he did. Even if it was just a little, there was something there in the darkening of his eyes and the flaring of his nostrils. And he was determined to hide it for some reason. The idea that she might tease it out of him was what made her go off alone with Stephan, but that had gone so horribly awry, she didn’t even know how to fix it.
“Then stop acting like it,” she said softly. “Stop treating me like it.”
Duardo shook his head and muttered something under his breath.
“You do,” she insisted. “You treat me like I’m untouchable. Not just for men like Stephan, but for you too.”
“I don’t …”
“You do,” she insisted. “If I’m not, then why don’t you?”
“Why don’t I ..?”
“Touch me,” she said. “Why don’t you touch me?”
She was beyond embarrassment now, beyond shame. Standing there, mere inches between them, feeling the heat radiating from him, Miri was only barely containing the urge to grab and hold him, to make him … something. That was the problem, she barely even knew what she wanted him to do. Kiss her; yes, of course. But more than that. She wanted much, much more.
Something akin to panic flashed in his eyes, and Duardo moved to the side as though to evade her. Miri held his arm, grabbing him at the bicep. It was rock hard under her fingers. Her chest heaved, the towel came loose and threatened to fall. If it did, she would let it.
Duardo was breathing hard as well, his own chest visibly rising and falling while they stared. “Miri,” he said again, seemingly unable to complete his thought.