Kidnapping the Brazilian Tycoon

By: Carmen Falcone

To Mama, Flaviano, Ana, Cris, Rita, and the rest of my family in Brazil. Every time we see one another, we shrink the gap of time and distance, and it’s like I never left.





Chapter One

Bruno Duarte stopped staring into the amber contents of his glass and turned to face the woman he would marry in less than eight hours. Elegantly clad in a crease-free, designer blue cocktail dress, Erika Lancaster moved toward him and slid onto the bar stool next to his.

“I’m surprised you texted me,” he said. “I thought you wanted time to pack and get ready for Vegas.”

A nervous smile formed on her pink lips. “I needed to talk to you in person.” She ran her manicured hand over her long, smooth brown hair and gestured to the bartender. “Scotch, please.”

Scotch? During the three months they had dated, she’d sipped on white wine or anything with a colorful umbrella. The bartender nodded and was about to turn away to get her drink when she blurted, “Make it a double.”

He tensed. Could she be having cold feet? Impossible.

Their courtship had been smooth sailing; they shared a mutual attraction that burned the sheets, and, damn it, he needed to marry her. Within a couple of hours, they’d fly to Vegas in his private jet, get hitched, and proceed to Brazil. The place he’d left behind. He lifted his glass of scotch to his lips and let the smoky liquid roll down his throat.

Is Erika really who I want to spend the rest of my life with? A pang of doubt trickled down his spine. He sat up straighter and glanced around the upscale bar. His need for distraction was why he’d gone for a drink in the first place, before Erika had messaged and asked to see him.

No honest woman will ever want to marry you. His father’s angry voice echoed in his mind. You’re a shame to our family. While Bruno had enjoyed the company of delicious, sinful women the past fourteen years, time had come to prove to his father—damn it, to prove to himself—he was worthy of someone to settle down with.

Erika was perfect on paper. Mild tempered with well-bred mannerisms, she gave him the security he needed to face his father again… Hell, his entire family. She was just who he needed to bury the past, once and for all. I want to forget the shame. I want my father to forget the shame.

“Bruno.”

He shoved the useless thoughts away as Erika drummed her fingers on the black granite countertop, her square glass already empty. An intensity he’d never seen before, not even when they were tangled together, was visible in her mocha eyes.

“We shouldn’t get married,” she said, and her shoulders sagged like she had been released from a death sentence.

The air left his lungs. Not get married? He brought his scotch to his mouth again, hoping the alcohol would shake him out of his surprise. Merda. “Why not?”

“We’ve only known each other for three months. It doesn’t…feel right.”

“And you couldn’t have said ‘no’ when I asked you two weeks ago? Or expressed your doubt when you suggested we elope to Vegas instead of a Brazilian wedding?”

Erika shifted in her seat, both hands curled against the edges of the stool. She offered him an apologetic glance. How the hell was she screwing him like this? He loosened the silk tie around his crisp white shirt.

He tilted his head back and cursed under his breath. He’d chosen Erika to be his wife because of the timing, sure. His dad didn’t have long to live, and Bruno couldn’t let him die before the old man saw his oldest son settled. His heart contracted to the size of a coffee grain. Even with the billions he’d made during the years of a self-imposed exile from his home country, he was still that boy, naïve and misunderstood, who’d dragged his family’s name through the mud. Who had abandoned his dying mother.

Cold sweat slicked his forehead, and he wiped it off with the back of his hand.

Erika chewed her lower lip, as if she both anticipated and dreaded his reaction. “I told my father, and he reluctantly agreed. This won’t affect your business with him.” Her voice was gentle at the end.

The land. Silas Lancaster, with his flexible morals, couldn’t wait to get his greedy hands on the piece of land that was Bruno’s last tie to the country he had fled—the country that had offered him nothing but pain.

After his father’s imminent death, he’d sell it and close that last creaky door to the darkest part of his past. For years, he had avoided dealing with the land. But since finding out about his father’s terminal cancer, he knew the time had come to say good-bye to his father and sell Toca do Tigre, the last reminder of the shame he brought on his family.

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