A Scandal in the Headlines(8)

By: Caitlin Crews



He didn’t care that she was almost certainly on some kind of pathetic mission from Niccolo and the Falco family, who had been openly jealous of the Corretti empire for decades. He didn’t care why she was here. Only that she was when he’d thought her lost to him forever.

And he still wanted her, with that same wild ferocity that had haunted him all this time.

He’d had every intention of doing his duty to his family, to his grandfather’s final wishes, and it had exploded in his face. Maybe it was time to think about what he wanted instead.

Maybe it was time to stop worrying about the consequences.

He found her in one of the many shaded, open areas that flowed seamlessly from inside to outside, making the whole house seem a part of the sea and the sky above. She was frowning out at the stretch of deep blue water as if she could call back the yacht he’d sent on its way with the force of her thoughts alone. He’d pulled on a pair of linen trousers and a soft white T-shirt, and he ran his fingers through his damp hair as she turned to him.

That same kick, hard to the gut and low. That same wildfire, that same storm.

His.

She looked almost vulnerable for a moment. Something about the softness of her full mouth, the shadows in her beautiful eyes. The urge to protect her roared through him, warring with the equally strong impulse to tear her open, learn her secrets—to figure out how she could want that jackass Niccolo, to start, and fail to see what kind of scum he was. How she could have felt what Alessandro had felt on that dance floor and turned her back on it the way she had.

How she did this to him when no other woman had ever got beneath his skin at all.

And there were no prying eyes here on his island. No whispers, no gossip. No one had to know she’d ever been here. There would be no business ramifications if he finally put his mouth on her. No ancient feuds to navigate, no humiliating scenes in public with his shareholders and the world looking on. Whatever game she and Niccolo were playing, it wouldn’t affect Alessandro at all if he didn’t let it.

No consequences. No problems. No reason at all not to do exactly as he wished.

At last.

“I told you to change into something more comfortable,” he said, jerking his chin at that dowdy little uniform she still wore, not that it concealed her beauty in the least. Not that anything could. “Why didn’t you?”

Clear blue eyes met his, and God, he wanted her. That same old fist of desire closed hard around him, then squeezed tight.

“I don’t want to change.”

“Is that an invitation?” he asked silkily, enjoying the way her cheeks flushed with the same heat he could feel climb in him. “Don’t be coy, Elena. If you want me to take off your clothes, you need only ask.”


His mocking words scalded her, then shamed her.

Because some terrible part of her wanted him to do it—wanted him to strip her right here in the sea air and who cared what came afterward? Some part of her had always wanted that, she acknowledged then. From the first moment their eyes had met.

Elena remembered what it had been like to touch this man, to feel his breath against her cheek, to feel the agonizingly sweet sweep of his hand over the bared skin of her back. She remembered the heat of him, the dizzying expanse of those shoulders in his gorgeous clothes, the impossible beauty of that hard mouth so close to hers.

It lived in her like an open flame. Like need.

She remembered what it had been like between them. For those few stolen moments, the music swelling all around them, making it seem preordained somehow. Huge and undeniable. Fated.

But look where it had led, that careless dance she knew even then she should have refused. Look what had come of it.

“No?” Alessandro looked amused. That sensual gleam in his dark green gaze tugged at her. Hard. “Are you sure?” His amusement deepened into something sardonic, and it didn’t help that he looked sleek and dark and dangerous now, the pale colors he wore accentuating his rich olive skin and the taut, ridged wonder of his torso. “You look—”

“Thank you,” she said, cutting him off almost primly. “I’m sure.”

He really did smile then.

Alessandro sauntered toward her with all the arrogant confidence and ease that made him who he was, and that smile of his made it worse. It made him lethal. His shower had turned the evidence of his misspent night, all those cuts and bruises, into something very nearly rakish. Almost charming.

No one man should be this tempting. No other man ever was.

She had to pull herself together. The reality that she was trapped here, with Alessandro of all people, on this tiny island in the middle of the sea, had chipped a layer or two off the tough veneer she’d developed over the past few months. She was having trouble regaining her balance, remembering the role she knew she had to play to make it through this.

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