Sorcha was still the sexiest woman he'd ever known. Their passion was incredible, be it in the boardroom, his office, the bedroom. The hard part now was walking away .
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CESARE DI ARCANGELO'S eyes narrowed as he watched the woman begin to walk down the aisle, looking as though butter wouldn't melt in her beautiful mouth, and he found he wanted to crush it, lick it, bite it, eat it.
Yet he felt the flicker of a pulse at his temple and was aware of the faint wash of disappointment—for he had wanted to feel nothing, to remain as coolly indifferent as women always accused him of being. But as she approached, in a cloud of silk-satin and lace, that hope shattered within him. He felt anger rise like poison in his blood, but something else too. Something more powerful still—which it seemed that all the years could not diminish. Something which had kept the human race going since the beginning of time.
And maybe that was better—because if lust was a problem then it had a pretty simple solution.
The sound of the organ music was building up to a crescendo, and the heavy scent of the flowers was intoxicating, but all Cesare could see from his seat near the back was Sorcha, smiling, her bouquet held in front of a waist which was as sensuously narrow as it had been when she was just eighteen.
What a gorgeously sexy bridesmaid she was... Feeling the hard, heavy tug of an erection straining against the exquisitely tailored trousers of his morning suit, Cesare briefly clenched and then flexed his hands, willing the hard throb of desire to disappear.
He had slid into his seat at the back of the church at the very last minute. It had been a low-key but deliberate lateness—for the sight of Cesare diArcangelo tended to create interest and excitement wherever he went.
Mega-rich, sexy Italians seemed to be on the top of everybody's wish list. It was why the hottest hostesses in all the major cities in the world pursued him with the fervour of astronomers who had just discovered a brand-new planet.
He scanned the congregation for Sorcha's mother. Yes. There she was—in a hat as big as the Sydney Opera House—and even from this distance it was easy to read the cat-got-the-cream satisfaction of her body language. She must be very pleased—for a rich son-inlaw spelt hope for a family firm beset with problems. Would Emma's new husband be willing to pour the necessary funds into the family business to keep creditors at bay?
Cesare doubted it. Money only worked up until a certain point—after that, you might as well hold it up to the winds and let it scatter. Problems had to be fixed; they couldn't be patched up. His mouth twisted.All problems.
The bride and groom were now passing, but he barely gave them a glance. Nor the parade of chubby little bridesmaids, or the scowling pageboys clad in satin romper suits which they would never forgive their mothers for forcing them to wear.
No, it was the only adult bridesmaid, with the bright, strawberry blonde hair woven with tiny rosebuds, who commanded his total, undivided attention. She was his problem—the unfinished business which he needed to put to bed. Beautiful Sorcha Whittaker, with the green eyes, and the bright hair like a waterfall, and a body as supple as an eel.
He had her trained in his sights, like a hunter with his prey fixed—for he wanted to see her reaction when their eyes met for the first time in... How long was it now? A pulse began to beat at his temple. Seven years? A minute? An eternity?
He saw her knuckles tense and her footsteps falter so much that for a second she almost came to a halt. Time froze as he stared into eyes as green as a rainwashed woodland and saw the confusion and consternation which flew into them as she stared straight back.
Cesare watched her face blanch and her lips tremble and felt a fleeting moment of utter triumph—swiftly followed by frustration that he could not just take her there and then.
If only this were not a crowded place of worship.
How much easier if they were alone and he could swiftly remove all the underwear hidden beneath the canopy of that monstrous dress—could swiftly obliterate desire and frustration with sweet release.
And then just walk away.
For a moment he was powerless—as once she had made him powerless all those years ago. But soon she would have fulfilled her role as bridesmaid, and then he would take the power back with relish.
"Bride or groom?" asked the delicious-looking brunette in banana-coloured silk who was standing beside him.
Cesare swallowed, for his erotic thoughts had inevitably made him ache. He flicked his eyes over the brunette, who widened hers so provocatively that she might just as well have had Yes, please! tattooed on her forehead. "Groom," he answered drily. "And you?"
"Mmm. Me, too. He said there were going to be some gorgeous men here, and by heck—he wasn't lying!" The brunette batted her eyelashes quite outrageously. "Any chance I could cadge a lift to the reception?"
Cesare's mouth hardened into a smile. "Why not?"
Outside the church, Sorcha was standing in the wedding group while it seemed as if a thousand photos were being taken. But her smile felt as if someone had slashed it across her face with a razor.
Her eyes flickered over to the tiny church and she saw a tall, broad-shouldered figure emerging, having to bend his head to avoid bumping it on the low door, and her heart felt as if someone had ripped open her chest and squeezed it with a bare fist.
Here! "Sorcha! This way! Look at the camera!"
With an effort she tore her eyes away from him and a flashbulb exploded in her face, temporarily blinding her. When it cleared he had gone. But there was her brother, Rupert, standing in a group, and she hurried over to him, completely ignoring the appreciative comments which came from his fellow ushers. Her mouth was dry and her heart was beating like a drum. And it hurt. It shouldn't do, but it hurt.
"Who in their right mind invited Cesare di Arcangelo today?" she managed, though her specially perfected chief bridesmaid smile didn't waver.
"Oh, he's here, is he?" Rupert looked around and an odd expression came into his eyes. "Good."
"Good?" Sorcha tried to squash all the instinctive fears which came scurrying to the forefront of her mind. Because none of them might be true, and it was her sister's wedding day, after all.
It was supposed to be a happy occasion, a joyous day—like all weddings should be. And it had been— right up until the moment when she had seen Cesare's dangerously handsome face and had felt her heart clench as if it was making up its mind whether to beat again.
Just the sight of his brilliant black eyes had taken her back to another time and another place—and mocked her with the lesson she had been learning ever since. That no other man could ever match up to him. And one look at him had reminded her exactly why.
Her mouth was dry and her breath was rapid, but she sucked in a deep breath and tried to stay calm. "Rupert, did you know he was going to be here?"
There was a pause. "Er...kind of."
"Kind of? And so did Emma, presumably—since she's the bride?"
"Yeah. Ralph's family does a lot of business with di Arcangelo. You know that, Sorcha."
Yes, she knew that—but it was one of those things you knew and kept pushed to the back of your mind. The same way that you knew natural disasters occurred, but you just didn't spend your time thinking about them until you had to. "And it didn't occur to any of you to have the decency to tell me he'd been invited, in view of our...our history?"
Rupert looked vaguely bored. "You went out with him a few years ago—what's the big deal? And anyway—he asked me not say anything. He wanted it to be a surprise."
She wanted to yelp—What do you mean, he asked you not to? I am your sister, and as such I take precedence over Cesare di Arcangelo—in spite of his affluence and influence.
"Oh, it's certainly a surprise," said Sorcha lightly— but if she said any more then Rupert would think she cared. And she didn't. Not any more. She had to get things into perspective. Cesare was simply part of her past who would soon be gone, if not forgotten.
But why was he here? What possible reason could there be for re-establishing a family connection which had fizzled out years ago? Loyalty to her brother? Had they really been that close? Or was it just what it seemed—he was attending the wedding of a son of a business colleague?
It was like being caught in a trap which no one apart from Sorcha could see. Even though the sun was shining, and the church was picture-postcard perfect, and the bells were pealing out, inside she felt a bleak pang of regret. Time healed, that was what everyone said—and now it seemed that the rest of the world had been colluding in a great big conspiracy of lies.
But she played her part to the maximum and flashed a series of bright, happy smiles for the cameras until they wanted just couple shots of the bride and groom and she could escape.
She just wasn't sure where. With an odd kind of sixth sense, Sorcha suddenly became aware of being watched as surely as if eyes were burning into her back, branding her pale skin through the delicate silk-satin of her bridesmaid dress. And—try as she might—she couldn't stop herself from turning round to see, even though she knew exactly who it was.
This was the true meaning of the word irresistible, she thought as she tried uselessly to pull against the power he exerted. As if she were a snake and he some charmer, summoning her against her will. And she looked round to find herself dazzled by the ebony gaze of Cesare di Arcangelo.
Stay away, Sorcha prayed silently—but her prayer went unanswered. Sunlight bouncing off his gleaming blue-black hair, he walked across the church path towards her, tall and dark and supremely confident— leaving a sulky-looking woman in a bright yellow dress glaring at his retreating back.
Sorcha felt a lump in her throat—as if someone had rammed in a pebble large enough to block her wind-pipe—and she briefly closed her eyes, imagining— almost praying—that she would pass out. What a merciful release that would be. To faint and discover when she opened her eyes again that Cesare had gone— as if he had never set foot here in the first place. Almost as if she had dreamt it all up.
But she did not faint, and there was no mercy. Or dream. Instead, the air came flowing back into her lungs as she stared back at him—and just the sight of him was the visual equivalent of a punch in the solar plexus.
"Cesare," she said, and it came out as a whisper. He was wearing a pale, formal suit in grey, made from some expensive fabric which hung and hugged his muscular body in all the right places. Whoever had designed it must have decided that hinting at a man's raw sexuality was the way to go—or maybe it just had something to do with the man who was wearing it.
The grey contrasted with jet-dark hair which was thick and silky-straight—just like the outrageously thick black eyelashes which shielded eyes as rich as dark chocolate. He looked more like an international sex symbol than the millionaire entrepreneur he really was—who had taken the long-established wealth of the di Arcangelo family, transformed it into super-riches and made himself into a bit of a legend in the process.
Everything about him was perfect—even that slightly restless expression on his face, and the cold and quizzical eyes that hinted at an intellectual depth which lay beneath the charismatic exterior. She had once thought that it wasn't possible for a man to be as gorgeous as Cesare, but somehow he had defied the improbable— and seven years had only added to his striking physical impact.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Very nice read really enjoyed