glistening with amber liquid. “Try it.”

Naldo obediently sucked the tip of her finger, dark eyes fixed on hers. “Mmm-hmm. Orange and ginger.” He licked his lips. “Can I spread it all over you and lick it off?”

Her skin stirred as she imagined the rasp of his lips and tongue on her aroused flesh. “That would be a very thorough taste-testing.”

He lowered his head, a gleam in his eyes. “It’s this kind of hard work that’s grown our retail sales by two hundred percent in the last year. We owe it to our customers.”

“So true. We mustn’t neglect our duties.”

“Spoken like a true De Leon. But before we eat, I have something for you,” he whispered into her hair.

She fought the urge to smile. “Let me guess, another gem?”

“Smart as well as beautiful.” Naldo fished a box out of his pants pocket. “Check it out. Narciso’s outdone himself with this one.”

Anna took the box, a smile creeping across her mouth. Naldo’s old family jewels had been found amidst the charred ruins of the cottage. The box had burned to nothing and the dated settings melted into the ash, but the brilliant gems had emerged from the fire unscathed.

Naldo was getting a ridiculous amount of pleasure having them reset by a friend of his from college who’d become a renowned jewelry designer.

“Wow.” She lifted out a large brilliant stone glittering at the center of several interwoven strands of gold. “Is this the Star of the Sea? The one from India?”

He nodded, his dimples appearing. “Yes, carried here by my ancestor Pedro Amador De Leon. He fought a maharaja’s tiger to win it. May I put in on you?”

“Sure.” She couldn’t help grinning. “I feel kind of bad for the tiger, but it is amazing. It’s huge!”

His fingers tickled the back of her neck as he fastened the clasp. She sensed his smile beaming down on her from behind. It was sweet how Naldo loved to pamper her with his family treasures, and damn if it didn’t feel good to be cherished.

As she turned to face him, he glanced at the gem resting between her collarbones then raised his intense gaze to meet hers.


He said the word looking into her eyes, so she wasn’t sure if he meant the priceless diamond in its elegant new setting…

Or her.

Her answer came when he closed his lips over hers in a greedy kiss.

She kissed him back hard, pushing her fingers into his thick hair and inhaling the intoxicating outdoor scent of his suntanned skin.

When they pulled apart, Naldo whispered into her ear. “I love you, Mrs. De Leon.”

She shivered with raw pleasure. Somehow she never got tired of her new name. Not because of the status and power that came with it, but because she shared it with the man she loved.

Four hundred years of growth, change and the resilient force of life hummed in the soil, in the trees and the air. As her lips stung with their kiss, Anna had a sudden, fierce sense of their place in that cycle, as heirs to a legacy of passion-for the land and for each other-that nothing could destroy.

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