Once a Ferrara Wife(4)

By: Sarah Morgan

Her best friend.

Keeping that fact at the front of her mind, Laurel bent her head and slid into the car, grateful for the blacked out windows that shielded her from the goggling passengers who sat with their noses pressed to the windows of the aeroplane watching the drama unfold.

Cristiano joined her in the car and the door was closed on them. The doors locked with a solid clunk, a reminder that a member of the super-rich Ferrara family was always a target.

He leaned forward and spoke in Italian to the driver, the lilting expressive language sliding over Laurel with the softness of silk. He was an international businessman and he favoured Italian over the more guttural Sicilian dialect spoken by the locals although he could switch easily enough when it suited him. The fact that she loved hearing him speak to her in Italian had been one of their many private jokes.

The car moved forward, their departure allowing the rest of the passengers to finally disembark.

Laurel envied them their freedom. ‘How did you know I would be on that flight?’ ‘Is that a serious question?’

No. If there was anything that the Ferrara family didn’t know then it was because it didn’t interest them. The scope and reach of their power was breathtaking, especially for someone like her who had come from nowhere. No one had cared who she was or where she was going.

‘I didn’t expect you to meet me. I was going to text Dani, or get a taxi or something.’

‘Why?’ His strong, muscular leg was dangerously close to hers, thrusting into her personal space. ‘You wanted to find out if I’d pay the ransom if you were kidnapped?’ Power throbbed from him and suddenly she realised why she’d been swept along by everything. She could barely think in his presence. Even now, his sexuality made her catch her breath.

She slid across the seat slightly, trying to widen the distance. ‘The divorce will be final soon. You probably would have paid them to take me off your hands. Your stroppy, disobedient ex-wife.’

The tension in the car tightened to snapping point. ‘Until the ink is dry on those papers, you’re still a Ferrara. Act like one.’

Laurel leaned her head back against the seat.

Laurel Ferrara. A legal reminder that she’d made a bad decision. The name sounded better than the reality.

The large powerful Ferrara family was bound together by blood and centuries of history. Their name was synonymous with success, duty and tradition. Even his sister Daniela, for all her English university education and rebel ways, was settling down and marrying a Sicilian from a good family. Her future was mapped out. Secure. Within a year she’d have a baby. Then another. That was what the Ferraras did. They bred more Ferraras to continue the dynasty.

Laurel’s throat burned and she stared straight ahead of her, grateful for the sunglasses that hid her eyes.

There were so many things she didn’t allow herself to think about. So many places she didn’t allow her mind to visit.

It had been more than two years since she’d seen him and she’d disciplined herself not to look at his photograph or surf the Internet for images, knowing that the only way to survive was to try and wipe him from her brain. But that wasn’t easily done with this man.

Once seen, never forgotten. Cristiano was so insanely good-looking that wherever he went, women stared. And it had driven her mad even though he’d done nothing to attract that attention except be himself.

Her need proved stronger than her willpower and she glanced sideways.

Even dressed casually in black jeans and an open-necked polo shirt he looked spectacular and her body responded instantly to the raw male power that was so much a part of who he was. He would no more have apologised for his masculinity than would his caveman ancestors. His masculinity was his pride. And she’d dealt that pride a lethal blow.

‘Why didn’t Dani come with you to meet me?’

‘My sister believes in happy endings.’

What was that supposed to mean? That Daniela thought by allowing them to be alone together they’d fall into each other’s arms and heal a rift wider than the Grand Canyon?

Laurel thought about all Dani’s clumsy matchmaking attempts at college. ‘She always did believe in fairy tales.’ A long forgotten memory appeared through the haze of misery. A child’s room, complete with a canopy bed and pretty fairy lights. Shelves of books, all portraying life as a joyful adventure. A fantasy room. Annoyed with herself for thinking of that now, she shook her head slightly, dislodging the image from her mind. ‘Dani is an incurable romantic. I guess that’s why she’s getting married despite—’ She broke off but he finished her sentence.

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