Wife By Force(10)

By: Caro LaFever


“How you talk to me,” she said with annoyance.

“Mamma.” He restrained his growing exasperation with an effort he found surprising. However, he needed to focus on what was best for the situation at hand. It would not do to have his mother upset at this important time. “Let us focus on Carlotta and her wedding.”

“You constantly try and divert my attention away from you.”

“Without much success.” The dryness of his voice barely concealed his frustration.

“Dante—”

“No, Mamma.” His temper continued to fray. “I won’t have it anymore. There is nothing to discuss. I will continue to do what I have always done.”

“Work too hard. Worry too much. Take on too much responsibility.”

He made a disparaging sound deep in his throat. “I work because I want to. And I do not worry. I fix things that need to be fixed. That is all.”

“That is not all.” His mother’s gaze fastened on his. “It is time to change, time to think about yourself. You’ve done your duty, now I want you—”

“Enough.” She would see his goal’s fruition soon. Her needless anxiety about his supposed unhappiness would dissipate once he settled down with Lara. That would have to satisfy her because he was incapable of giving her what she truly wanted: A man who lived life free from duty and obligation, a man who let his emotions rule his actions. Impossible. The role he held was too ingrained to ever break free. He wanted no more of this conversation. “I am serious. Enough.”

She stiffened at his tone, then lifted her chin. Her nose was a fraction of the size of his, yet she used it to great effect. “I believe I will retire for the evening.”

He took a deep, frustrated breath. “Buona notte.”

She marched out of the room with a flourish of offended dignity. Undoubtedly, he would have to soothe some ruffled feathers tomorrow if he wanted this wedding week to go smoothly. Still, she’d received his message, loud and clear, and he had no doubt he’d be able to curb her lingering displeasure. After all, he’d been doing it since his father died.

Pacing to the window, he looked out once more at the shadowed garden. Where he had kissed her. Really kissed her.

Lara.

Lara.

His hand shook and then tightened around the glass. Ah, yes. Lara.

Even with her anger at him, she’d responded.

His mother was right in one respect, whether he’d told her or not. Now was the time when, for once, he would think of himself. This one time he would allow himself to satisfy his deepest desire. He wouldn’t be alone in this need, though, would he?

The bond was still there between them.

She knew. Deep within herself. Just as he did. Just as he always had.

She was his.





Chapter 3





The hot Italian sun beat on her as Lara leaned into her car and pulled out the woven basket holding her towel and a book. The call from the Casartelli housekeeper had been a perfect antidote to a frustrating day. After fighting a slew of contractors and arguing with the city inspector over the construction at her school, she couldn’t wait. Couldn’t wait for a long soothing swim, some hot gossip from the sisters, and hopefully, a nice cold drink.

Slamming her car door, she strode past the imposing marble staircase and around the side of the villa into the verdant gardens surrounding it. The vibrant purple pansies and crimson roses highlighted the sunlit green of the grass and the greys of the olive leaves. It was only a short hike down one of the many paths to the pool. Walking around the side of the white-washed cabana, she stopped cold.

No gaggle of women cooed a welcome.

Everything was quite quiet. Except for the rhythmic splash of water.

From the man in the pool.

For one stolen moment, she let herself look. Look at the wet, gleaming muscles as they bunched and moved under his skin. Look at the long, strong arms as they arched over his head.

His powerful body cut through the water, all elegance and masculinity.

Whatever his faults, Dante Casartelli was a man who demanded attention. She had to admit, if only to herself, he demanded her womanly attention. Her body told the story. Beneath her bikini top, her nipples tingled. Between her legs, lust burned.

Her anger burned even hotter, however. The anger she’d held onto for these last two days whenever she remembered. Remembered the kiss. Remembered his mouth and his lips and his heat. Remembered how she’d said no and he hadn’t listened.

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