His stare was bold, aggressive, like the predator he was. “Unless you plan on committing bigamy that would be impossible.”

She struggled to get her brain in working order. “You need to do something. Fix this. It’s your firm’s fault. They should fix it.”

An indolent shrug. “There’s only so much they can do. These things move at a snail’s pace. It could take months to push it through.”

“But you know people. You have influence in all the right places...you could make it happen.”

“Perhaps.”

Her blood ran cold at the hard, unforgiving lines of his face. “But you don’t plan to use it.”

“No. It would be an unnecessary calling in of favors.”

Unnecessary? A red mist descended over her vision. “I am getting married in three weeks. It’s all planned. How is that unnecessary?” She shook her head, pinned her gaze on his. “Are you still angry with me? Is that it? You want to punish me for walking out on you? For God’s sake, Lorenzo, you knew our marriage was doomed. You knew it was never going to work. Let me move on.”


He stepped closer, six foot three inches of far too intense male vibrating just centimeters from her. His expression, when he looked down at her, was full of leashed aggression. “Our marriage was not doomed. Our marriage failed because you were too young and selfish to realize that marriages take work. Effort, Angelina. Instead you put all your energy into rebelling against what I asked of you. Into ignoring what I needed.”

She lifted her chin. “You wanted a perfect society wife without a mind, a purpose of her own. You should have hired a beautiful robot to fill the role. It would have been the perfect match for you.”

His eyes flashed. “Don’t be sarcastic, cara, it doesn’t suit you. I liked your mind, you’re well aware of that. I offered you all sorts of chances to get involved in the charitable efforts Ricci supports, but you didn’t have any interest in them, no matter how challenging.” He pointed his glass at her. “As for being my society wife, you knew what you were getting into when you married me. What the reality of my life was.”

Had she really? Twenty-two, pregnant and wildly infatuated with her husband, she’d had no idea she’d been exchanging one lonely existence for another. That instead of finding the love she’d craved, she’d be giving up the very independence she’d been searching for, the dreams she’d had of being a jewelry designer. That she’d be following in her mother’s footsteps in falling for a man who had no capacity to love—the one mistake she’d sworn never to make.

She lifted her chin, chest tight. “I thought you, of all people, would understand my need to pursue my passion. My need to be something.”


“I did understand it. You had a fledgling online business. I helped you nurture it. What wasn’t going to work was to play start-up with a boutique that would take up the lion’s share of your time. Our life was too busy.”

“Your life was. It was never about my life. Yours was more important.”

“That’s not true.”

“It damn well is.” Champagne sloshed the sides of her glass as she jabbed it in his direction. “All you wanted was for me to stay in line, to look the part...to warm your bed. And even then, I was a possession to be enjoyed and discarded according to your whims.”

His jaw hardened. “Our intimate relationship was the one thing about us that didn’t need fixing, cara mia. Don’t sully it with your sharp tongue.”

“Didn’t it?” Her mouth twisted. “You never truly let me in—not in bed or out of it. Emotional intimacy was simply not on the table with you.”

A glimmer of something she couldn’t read passed through those dark eyes. “You are right,” he agreed in a clipped tone, “that I, too, bear responsibility for the breakdown of our marriage. We both bear responsibility for it. Which is why we’re going to fix it together.”

Her jaw dropped. “Wh-what?”

“Franco cannot produce an heir. That responsibility falls to me now. Since we are still married, it leaves me with only one option.”

Oh, no. She backed away from him. “That’s insane. You are insane. I’m sorry for Franco, but I am engaged to be married.”

“I’ve just explained why that’s impossible.”

She absorbed the hard set of his jaw. My God, he’s serious.

“Lorenzo.” She adopted her most reasonable tone. “It can’t work between us. We’ve been through too much. We want different things. I have a life I’ve built, a career. I’m not giving that up.”

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