A Ring for Vincenzo's Heir(3)

By: Jennie Lucas

She ran past him, calling back, “Call the police!”

“Hey! You can’t just—”

Scarlett ran up the cathedral’s steps, gasping for air.

“Stop right there!” A second bodyguard came toward her with a thunderous expression. Then he turned when he heard the shout of his colleague as two of Blaise’s bodyguards started throwing punches at him on the sidewalk below. “What the...”

Taking advantage of his distraction, she pushed open the cathedral doors and went inside.

For a moment, she blinked in the shadows.

Then her eyes adjusted, and she saw a wedding straight out of a fairy tale. Two thousand guests sat in the pews, and at the altar, beneath a profusion of white roses and lilies and orchids, was the most beautiful bride, standing next to the most devastatingly handsome man in the world.

Just seeing Vin now, for the first time since that magical night they’d created a baby, Scarlett caught her breath.

“If anyone here today has reason,” the officiant intoned at the front, “why these two may not lawfully be joined...”

She heard a metallic wrenching sound behind her, then Blaise’s harsh triumphant gasp as he burst through the cathedral doors.

“...speak now, or forever hold your peace.”

Desperate, Scarlett stumbled to the center of the aisle. Holding up her hand, she cried, “Please! Stop!”

There was a collective gasp as two thousand people turned to stare at her. Including the bride and groom.

Scarlett put her hands to her head, feeling dizzy. It was hard to speak when she could barely catch her breath. She focused on the only person who mattered.

“Please, Vin, you have to help me—” Her voice choked off, then strengthened as she thought of the unborn child depending on her. “My boss is trying to steal our baby!”

* * *

Unlike many grooms the night before they wed, Vincenzo Borgia, Vin to his friends, had slept very well last night.

He knew what he was doing today. He was marrying the perfect woman. His courtship of Anne Dumaine had been easy, and so had their engagement. No discord. No messy emotion. No sex, even, at least not yet.

But today, their lives would be joined, as would their families—and more to the point, their companies. When Vin’s SkyWorld Airways merged with her father’s Air Transatlantique, Vin would gain thirty new transatlantic routes at a stroke, including the lucrative routes of New York–London and Boston–Paris. Vin’s company would nearly double in size, at very advantageous terms. Why would Jacques Dumaine be anything but generous to his future son-in-law?

After today, there would be no more surprises in Vin’s life. No more uncertainty or questions about the future. He liked that thought.

Yes, Vin had slept well last night, and tonight, after he finally made love to his very traditional bride, who’d insisted on remaining a virgin until they married, he expected to sleep even better. And for every other night for the rest of his well-ordered, enjoyably controllable life.

If he wasn’t overwhelmingly attracted to his bride, what of it? Passion died soon after marriage, he’d been told, so perhaps it was a good thing. You couldn’t miss what you’d never had.

And if he and Anne seemed to have little in common other than the wedding and the merger, well, what difference did that make? Men and women had different interests. They weren’t supposed to be the same. He would cover her weaknesses. She would cover his.

Because whatever his enemies and former lovers might accuse, Vin knew he had a few. A lack of patience. A lack of empathy. In the business world, those were strengths, but once he had children, he knew greater sources of patience and empathy would be required.

He was ready to settle down. He wanted a family. Other than building his empire it was his primary reason for getting married, but not his only. After his last sexual encounter, an explosive night with a gorgeous redhead who’d given him the most amazing sex of his life, then disappeared, he decided he was fed up with unpredictable love affairs.

So, a few months later, he’d sensibly proposed to Anne Dumaine.

Born in Montreal, Anne was beautiful, with an impeccable pedigree, certain to be a good mother and corporate wife. She spoke several languages, including French and Italian, and held a degree in international business. Best of all she came with an irresistible dowry—Air Transatlantique.

Vin smiled at Anne now, standing across from him as they waited to speak their vows. She looked like Princess Grace, he thought, blonde and grave, with a modest white gown and a long lace veil that had been handmade by Belgian nuns. Flawless. A picture-perfect bride.

“If anyone here today has reason,” the archbishop presiding over their marriage said solemnly, “why these two may not lawfully be joined...”

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