Patience was clearly not Pepe’s forte. ‘You have exactly ten seconds to open this door or I will break it down. Ten.’

The fight began to seep from her. This was all too much. ‘Please, Pepe, just leave me alone.’


‘Eight.’

He was serious.

‘Seven.’

The tears that had been fighting to break free for the past hour suddenly escaped. She could no more contain them than she could prevent him breaking the door down.

‘Four.’

With salt water rushing down her cheeks like a mini waterfall and trembling hands, she unlocked the door and pulled it open.

      CHAPTER TEN

ALL THE ANGRY emotion raging through Pepe’s blood constricted when he saw Cara standing there sobbing, still clutching her bra, only her knickers on to protect her nakedness.

Something hot and sharp pierced through his chest.

Instinct and something deeper, something unquantifiable, made him close the gap between them and wrap his arms around her.

‘Shh,’ he whispered, resting his chin on her cloud of hair and raising his eyes to the ceiling. ‘Please don’t cry, cucciola mia.’

She didn’t even attempt to fight, just clung to him and cried into his chest, sobs racking her frame. Her generous breasts compressed against him but for once he couldn’t react to it. Cara’s sobs hurt his heart too much for him to care about anything but soothing them away.

He’d spent the past five days doing his best to forget she was pregnant. He’d been so set on blocking it out that he’d completely failed to take her feelings into account. Cara was such a feisty woman it was easy to forget her vulnerabilities. But she was vulnerable. Pregnancy made her more so.

He remembered the first time he’d met her. It seemed so long ago that it could have been a different lifetime but in truth it had only been a few years. It was a few weeks before his brother had married Grace. Cara had gone to stay with them in the build-up to the wedding and Luca had talked him into going on a double date, pointing out Cara would feel like a gooseberry otherwise. As she was such an important part of his bride-to-be’s life, Luca was determined Cara would find Mastrangelo hospitality second to none.

Pepe hadn’t been impressed. He’d been used to strong, confident women; the only bit of vivacity he’d found on Cara had been the colour of her hair. Other than that, she’d been like a wallflower, practically gluing herself to Grace’s side, talking to him and Luca only when spoken to and even then in monosyllables. He’d thought her surly and rude.

As the wedding had approached, slowly he’d seen a different side to her unfurl, until, by the day of the nuptials, when he had been best man and she the chief bridesmaid, she was happy to chat with him as easily as she could with Grace.

But no one else.

He’d come to realise she wasn’t surly, just painfully shy. It took her a while to overcome her nerves with someone, but when she did, she was excellent company with a dry wit that delighted him. But...she’d been Grace’s best friend. She would likely always be a part of his life. There was a vulnerability to her that none of his lovers had. Any attraction to her was quashed.

He would not involve himself with vulnerable women, no matter how sexy they were. All the same, he’d enjoyed her company, would happily return home to Sicily when she stayed there and go out on double dates. They always had the best of times together.

He’d known early on from Grace’s disappearance that Cara would hold the key to finding her. But he’d put it off. And put it off some more, always hoping Grace would turn up of her own accord or that Luca would find another clue to finding her. But as the months had passed with no word, he could not in all conscience stand idly by while his brother turned into an emotional wreck. So he’d swallowed that same conscience and sought Cara out. The one woman he’d sworn he would never seduce...

He’d spent the best weekend of his life with her.

He’d been haunted by memories of it ever since.

And now she was here, back in his arms. Her naked breasts crushed against him. Breasts that tasted like nectar...

His blood thrummed, deep and heavy, his senses reacting to the scent and feel of her, a primitive desire that came alive only for her.

He did not want to admit those brief moments of fear when he’d realised she’d gone from the party. Vanished into the night.

He did not want to think of the cold tightness that had clutched at his chest as he’d forced his driver to put his foot down through the dark Montmartre streets.

He did not want to think of his rage when he’d seen that oaf of a taxi driver manhandling her in such a callous manner.

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