The Innocent's Secret Baby. Carol Marinelli

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Название The Innocent's Secret Baby
Автор произведения Carol Marinelli
Жанр Эротическая литература
Серия Mills & Boon Modern
Издательство Эротическая литература
Год выпуска 0
isbn 9781474052184

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      Yet Bastiano had used his dark charm on the weakest and had taken Maria as his lover.

      Pillow talk had been gathered and secrets had been prised from loose lips.

      Not only had Maria had an affair—she had taken it beyond precarious and slept with a member of the family that Gino considered his enemy.

      When the affair had been discovered—when the rumours had reached Gino—Loretta had called her to warn her Gino was on his angry way home. Maria had taken out a car she didn’t know how to drive.

      An unwise choice in the valley.

      And Raul knew the accident would not have happened but for Bastiano.

      ‘Raul...’ Loretta spoke softly, for she felt the tension rip through him and could hear his ragged breathing. She held on to his hand, while knowing nothing could really stop him now. ‘You are Sicilian, and that means you have a lifetime to get your revenge—just don’t let it be today.’

      ‘No,’ Raul agreed.

      Or did he refute?

      Raul’s words were coming out all wrong, his voice was a touch hoarse, and as he looked down he could see the veins in his hand and feel the pulse in his temples. He was primed for action, and the only thing Raul knew for sure was that he hated Bastiano with all that he had.

      He dropped Loretta’s hand and brushed past her, then shrugged off someone else who moved to try to stop him.

      ‘Raul!’ The priest shot him a warning. ‘Not here—not now.’

      ‘Then he should have stayed away!’ Raul responded as he strode through the cemetery towards the man who had sent his mother to an early grave.

      Raul picked up speed—and God help Bastiano because hate and fury catapulted Raul those last few steps.

      ‘Pezzo di merda...’ Raul shouted out words that did not belong in such a setting.

      Any sane man who saw murder approach would surely turn and run, but instead Bastiano walked towards Raul, hurling insults of his own. ‘Your mother wanted—’

      Raul did not let him finish, for Bastiano had already sullied her enough, and to silence him Raul slammed his fist into Bastiano’s face. He felt the enamel of Bastiano’s tooth pierce his knuckle, but that was the last thing he felt.

      It was bloody.

      Two parts grief, several belts of rage and a hefty dose of shame proved a volatile concoction indeed.

      Raul would kill him.

      That was all he knew.

      Yet Bastiano refused to go quietly and fought back.

      There were shouts and the sounds of sirens in the distance as the two men battled it out. Raul felt nothing as he was slammed against a gravestone. The granite tore through the dark suit and white shirt on his back with the same ease that it gouged through muscle and flesh.

      It didn’t matter.

      His back was already a map of scars from his father’s beatings, and adrenaline was a great anaesthetic.

      Only vaguely aware of the wound that ran from shoulder to flank, Raul hauled himself up to stand, took aim again and felled his rival.

      Yet Bastiano refused to submit.

      Raul pinned Bastiano and slammed his fist into his face, marring those perfect features with relish, and then he held him to the ground and told him he should have stayed the hell away from his mother.

      ‘Like you did!’

      Those words were more painful than any physical blow, for Raul knew that he had done just that—stayed away.



      The City of Love.

      Wrapped in a towel, and damp from the shower, Lydia Hayward lay on the bed in her hotel suite and considered the irony.

      Yes, she might be in Rome, and meeting tonight with a very eligible man, but it had nothing to do with love.

      There were more practical matters that needed to be addressed.

      Oh, it hadn’t been said outright, of course.

      Her mother hadn’t sat her down one evening and explained that, without the vast and practically bottomless pit of money that this man could provide, they would lose everything. Everything being the castle they lived in, which was the family business too.

      And Valerie had never said that Lydia had to sleep with the man she and her stepfather were meeting tonight.

      Of course she hadn’t.

      Valerie had, however, enquired whether Lydia was on the Pill.

      ‘You don’t want to ruin your holiday.’

      Since when had her mother taken an interest in such things? Lydia had been to Italy once before, on a school trip at the age of seventeen, and her mother hadn’t been concerned enough to ask then.

      Anyway, why would she be on the Pill?

      Lydia had been told to ‘save’ herself.

      And she had.

      Though not because of her mother’s instruction—more because she did not know how to let her guard down.

      People thought her aloof and cold.

      Better they think that than she reveal her heart.

      And so, by default, she had saved herself.

      Lydia had secretly hoped for love.

      It would seem not in this lifetime.

      Tonight she would be left alone with him.

      The towel fell away and, though she was alone, Lydia pulled it back and covered herself.

      She was on the edge of a panic attack, and she hadn’t had one since...


      Or was it Venice?



      That awful school trip.

      She had said yes to this trip to Rome, hoping to lay a ghost to rest. Lydia wanted to see Rome through adult eyes, yet she was as scared of the world now as she had been as a teenager.

      Pull yourself together, Lydia.

      And so she did.

      Lydia got up from the bed and got dressed.

      She was meeting Maurice, her stepfather, at eight for breakfast. Rather than be late she just quickly combed her long blonde hair, which had dried a little wild. She had bought a taupe linen dress to wear, which had buttons from neck to hem—though perhaps not the best choice for her shaking hands.

      They are not expecting you to sleep with him!

      Lydia told herself she was being utterly ridiculous even to entertain such a thought. She would stop by for a drink with this man tonight, with her stepfather, thank him for his hospitality and then explain that she was going out with friends. Arabella lived here now and had said they should catch up when Lydia got here.

      In fact...

      Lydia took out her phone and fired off a quick text.

      Hi, Arabella,

      Not sure if you got my message.

      Made it to Rome.

      I’m free for dinner tonight if you would like to catch up.


      And so to breakfast.

      Lydia stepped