Gabriella Delaveccia sat across the table from her boss, Miguel Juan Carlos Gatto-Alba. Normally she loved the ambiance and the great food at Timpano. The restaurant was located on the beautiful tree-lined shopping street in downtown Fort Lauderdale, where a mix of high-rise office buildings, quaint shops, boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants delighted tourists and residents alike. The well-known street was a gathering place for people strolling in the evenings and congregating along the Riverwalk for jazz and art festivals.
Gabby shifted in her seat. Having to sit so close to Miguel made her stomach jumpy. He both frightened and excited her. She usually kept as much physical distance from him as she could manage without being rude. She had worked for him for over two years—ever since his election as the Broward County State’s Attorney. She had been surprised when he had kept the current staff on and hadn’t brought in all of his own people. To date, she had been unable to figure out just what it was about him that made her so nervous. She had stared down murderers and drug dealers in the courtroom, and not a lot scared her. Something about Miguel…
Was it his stunning good looks or the fabulous body that was not disguised by his custom-made European suits? Was it the testosterone that seemed to roll off him in waves? She could never quite put her finger on it. The man was seriously gorgeous with slightly wavy black hair and ice-blue eyes one wouldn’t expect to see on a Latin male. And, goodness, the way he filled out a pair of slacks.
Miguel ordered a bottle of wine, and they glanced at the well-known menu. When their lunches had been ordered, he sat back, and she felt his gaze running over her body. He wasn’t undressing her with his eyes as the romance novels said, but his glance felt like hot fingers running over her skin. Maybe she was just hypersensitive to anything that had to do with Miguel Gatto.
“Gabriella, you did an excellent job sitting second chair on the Baker trial. I know you thought you were ready to handle it all on your own, but I did not agree.”
“Gabriella, let me finish. And, please, call me Miguel. This is a social occasion after all. I now think that perhaps you are ready to handle the next big case solo. You can bring in your own second chair, of course. The Mara Toros Rojas trial is coming up in February. Do you think you are ready to prosecute that one on your own?”
“Yes. I know I’m ready. That is going to be a very high-profile case. Are you sure you…”
“Gabriella, I know everyone thinks I jump on the big cases as a form of self-aggrandizement, but in fact, that is not true. I have not felt any of the Assistant State’s Attorneys in the office have been ready to try the big ones alone. It is a political fact of life that I have to keep my face out there. As a prosecutor, I have to maintain my reputation for being tough on crime. I do have to get re-elected after all. If I don’t, all of you ASAs might find yourselves out of jobs when my replacement brings in his own people. I chose not to do that, but to take the office as it was. Also, our win-loss ratio has some bearing on our funding. Success begets success. The higher-ups won’t admit that, but that is another fact of life.”
“I know you have pressures that the ASAs don’t share.”
“I’m glad you recognize that fact.” He smiled at her. When he smiled a genuine warm smile it changed his face from slightly forbidding to truly stunning. He had the most striking bone structure. His campaign literature had disclosed that his family had been in Puerto Rico for over four hundred years but traced their lineage back to Medieval Spain.
“I’m going to let you take over the Toros Rojas prosecution, but I am going to oversee the file. I’ll expect you to keep me in the loop as the case progresses. You will have to be on your toes on this one, Gabriella. The defendant, Ramón Gonzalez, is a very dangerous man, and the Toros will pull out all the stops to hamper our prosecution. Also they have some cartel backing and a nearly unlimited budget for his defense. If we can put him away, the power of the Toros will be severely compromised for the foreseeable future. His only possible successor is his younger brother, Rafael, and he is not seasoned enough to command the respect of the other gang members. They don’t have another capo ready to step up and take Ramón’s place if he is convicted, just a rag-tag bunch of thugs.” Miguel frowned and continued. “We might be able to sweep them all up. I am reluctant to let a woman take over this case.”
“That is entirely unfair and unjustified, Miguel. I can handle it.”
“Again, Gabriella, you didn’t let me finish. I am reluctant only because the rivalry between the El Salvadorans and Hondurans is vicious. Their turf war has been heating up for a couple of years now. It could be dangerous, and I don’t like to put a woman in their crosshairs. It goes against my grain, even if that is not politically correct.”
“I’ll be careful. I want this case, Miguel.”
“Yes, I can see that, Gabriella. I am assigning this case to you against my personal better judgment because of the danger involved.” He paused as if gathering his thoughts and abruptly changed the subject. “I was wondering if I might ask you out to dinner one night soon. I would like to get to know you better.” He reached across the table and took her hand and squeezed it briefly.
Oh, no. This was what she had felt coming for a while now, and she had done her best to keep out of his way. She had to admit she found him dangerously attractive—sort of like getting too close to a volcano and looking over the edge into the lava pool. It was hot. It was mesmerizing, but a girl could get burned. “Miguel, I don’t know if that would be a good idea given that we have to work together.”
“I think we are both adult enough to handle any problems that might arise. Give it some thought. I’ll ask you again in a few days.”
“Querida, when I take you, there will be nothing rushed about it.” He smiled that devastating smile again. “Don’t look so concerned, Gabriella. There is nothing to be worried about.” She had that doe-in-the-headlights look again. He had better back the intensity down a bit.
The jazz was relaxing, and he could see her start to melt back into the soft leather seat. The wine and good meal were having the desired effect. He pulled the car onto a side street and parked along the beach. “Would you like to walk for a bit? I wouldn’t mind stretching my legs and walking off some of that meal.”
She nodded, and he helped her out of the car and held her arm while she took off her shoes. He dropped their shoes in the trunk with her handbag, grabbed a beach towel, beeped the lock, and dropped the key fob into his pocket. Then he took her hand as they headed for the sand. After they had walked about a quarter mile north along the surf, he stopped and put the big beach towel on the dry sand above the tide line. He sank down and pulled her onto the towel. The time for conversation was over. He took her into his arms and rolled her under him. He took her mouth with the passion he had been holding in all evening. She tasted of the good red wine they had been drinking and the sweet cappuccino that had finished their meal. Her mouth was soft and tentative as she answered his. He nibbled at her lips and down her long, graceful neck to the tops of her breasts. “You are so sweet, Gabriella. Sometimes I can’t believe what a tigress you are in court.”
* * * *
Gabriella moaned as he deepened the kiss. She hadn’t intended to let things go so far tonight. She knew she had to be cautious here, but to be honest, she didn’t feel like being cautious. There was something dangerously seductive about Miguel Juan Carlos Gatto-Alba. It was right out there. No question. He was a sexy, domineering, alpha male in control of his life and world, and possibly in control of her. She knew she had to put on the brakes, or she would be lost in his kiss, in his touch.
“Miguel, let’s slow this down a little bit. I’m not ready to sleep with you.”
“Who said anything about sleeping?”
“You know what I mean.”
“I do, querida, but I will make that decision when we both are ready.”
“And I don’t have anything to say about it?” She didn’t like the sound of this.
“Of course you do. I just meant I would know when the time was right for both of us to take this further. I will always put your needs first, querida, and you will know exactly what you are getting into before I do. Now lay back and relax. It’s not going to happen tonight, although we may both wish it had.”
“You’re very sure of yourself, aren’t you, Miguel?”
“Yes. Very sure. Now hush and let me kiss you.” His lips came back to hers, and he plundered her mouth as his beautiful hands coasted down over her breasts. His touch was firm and confident as he drifted down to the hem of her dress. Before she knew it, he had pushed it up to her waist. She would be in trouble if she let him get too much further. His questing fingers slipped under the lace edge of her thong and found her wet pussy. Oh, no. There was no hiding her reaction to him. His fingers brushed her pussy, and a quiver surged through her. The man had talented fingers. “Relax, baby.”
“Gabriella, let me provide the dessert we didn’t have in the restaurant.” He kissed her again, and she moaned into his mouth. “I won’t take it further than this.” She didn’t know why she trusted him to keep his word, but she did. Miguel didn’t say things he didn’t mean.
She jerked under his hand when he grazed her clit. Moisture flooded her sex. He had homed right in on the spot. She felt her resolve beginning to ebb along with the tide. The moon was waning, and the beach was dark. They were completely alone, their only company some sea birds roosting in the sea grass at the top of the dunes.
He continued to play with her, bringing her to the edge of coming and then backing down the pressure until she was reaching for his touch. “I can do this for hours, querida. I can have you almost there and then begging me to finish. I can teach you much about pleasure.”