What a Sicilian Husband WantsBy: Michelle Smart
On his terms only!
Moving countries, cutting all ties and giving birth to her baby alone, Grace Holden is desperately hiding from her past. But just when she thinks she might have broken free, it catches up with her in the form of her millionaire Sicilian husband!
Grace swore her daughter wouldn’t grow up among the dark power and money of his family…but no one walks away from Luca Mastrangelo. Now, back within his reach, Grace is surprised to see new depths to the man she married, and each crack in his armor makes it harder to fight the desire still blazing between them.
“I want to dance with the sexiest woman here and show them she’s mine.”
“I’m not yours. Only in name.” Even as Grace spoke the words, she knew them to be a lie. Luca had imprinted himself indelibly into every one of her senses.
He leaned into her and spoke into her neck. “You will always be mine.”
He felt so warm, his touch penetrating her skin and dancing into the very fabric of her being.
The stars that resided in the midnight of his eyes gleamed, holding her gaze, trapping her into their depths.
He brushed his lips against her neck, nipping at the sensitive skin. “Dance with me.”
Luca was like a drug to her. She could survive without him, but it was like breathing air with only a fraction of the usual oxygen.
She hated him.
She loved him.
The two sides were interchangeable.
The only constant she felt was desire. And she was sick of fighting it and pushing it away. There could only ever be one outcome.
“Yes,” she breathed, “I’ll dance with you.”
GRACE REACHED THE bottom of the stairs and padded barefoot to the alarm on the wall. Working on autopilot, she punched in the code and disabled it along with the sensors running throughout the ground floor. Only once had she forgotten to deactivate it. She had still been half asleep, little more than a zombie. By the time she had walked into the kitchen, the house was making more noise than a dozen hen parties trapped in a large room consuming vast quantities of Jaeger Bombs.
She switched the kettle on and yawned loudly.
Coffee. That was what she needed—a strong dose of caffeine and a good blast of sugar.
While waiting for the kettle to boil, she pulled back the insulating curtains covering the back door and peeked through the pane of glass. Bright early-morning sunlight temporarily blinded her. Squinting, she was greeted with the sight of a thick layer of frost covering the garden. It made her skin feel cold just looking at it. She dropped the curtain sharpish.
Still shivering, she turned to the kitchen table and switched the laptop on. Leaving it to boot up, she made her coffee, adding a huge dollop of milk to cool it down quicker. She brought the mug to her lips and was about to take her first sip when the doorbell rang.
A chill that had nothing to do with the cold outside swept through her, seeping into her bones.
Every hair on her body stood to attention.
Her heart crashed against her ribs, the motion strong enough to unbalance her and slosh hot coffee over her hand and fingers.
She winced and muttered an oath, but the slight scald did her good. It snapped her to attention.
Shoving the mug on the counter, spilling more coffee in the process, she wiped her smarting hand on her dressing gown and strode to the tall cupboard in the corner. She pulled out a wicker basket, burrowed a hand under the pile of tea towels and reached for the small, cold handgun.
The doorbell rang out a second time.
The laptop now booted and ready to use, she clicked on the icon that connected to the live feed from the four surveillance cameras covering the perimeter of her house. The screen split into quarters. Only the top right-hand frame showed anything out of the ordinary.
She didn’t recognise the small figure wrapped in the thick parka, woolly hat and matching scarf. The woman’s knees were springing slightly and she clutched a large bag to her belly, no doubt trying to keep warm in the icy conditions.
Torn between a hard-wired wariness towards strangers and feeling sorry for the freezing woman, Grace walked cautiously down the narrow hallway and drew back the heavy curtain covering the front door. The muffled shape was opaque through the frosted glass panel. Holding the gun securely behind her back with her right hand, she fumbled open the three sliding locks, unlocked the deadbolt and loosened the safety chain. Only then did she turn the lock and pull the door one and a half inches, the exact amount of slack given by the chain.
‘Sorry to bother you,’ the woman said, her teeth chattering. She raised her phone. ‘My car has broken down. Can I borrow your phone to call my husband, please? I can’t get a signal on my mobile.’
Not surprising, Grace thought. Most of the mobile networks struggled for a signal in this small Cornish village. Luckily, her landline worked fine.
She perused the stranger for longer than was polite. The woman was a good four inches shorter than Grace and, beneath the thick clothing, only a slight thing. What she could see of her face was red from the cold.
Rationally she knew this stranger could not pose a threat. Even so...
Even so, her mind raced as she thought of a whole posse of reasons as to why it was impossible to let her in to make her call and then offer the hospitality of warmth from the ever-constant cast-iron cooker in the kitchen.
Much as she knew she should slam the door in the stranger’s face and direct her to the farmhouse at the top of the drive, she could not bring herself to be so uncharitable. It would be at least another ten-minute walk for the poor thing.
‘Hold on a sec,’ she said, shutting the door. She stuffed the gun into the deep pocket of her dressing gown, a place she knew topped the list of most stupid places to hide a firearm. She had no choice but to place it there.
Stupid, paranoid mind. You’ve been hiding for too long. Can’t even open a door without expecting an ambush.
She unlocked the chain and opened the door.
‘Thank you so much,’ the woman said, stepping straight in and stamping her feet on the welcome mat to shake off the early-morning frost clinging to them. ‘I was starting to think I’d never find civilisation. The roads around here are dreadful.’
Grace forced a polite smile and shut the door behind her. The cold had already rushed into the heavily insulated house. A cold, uneasy feeling swept through her, a feeling she disregarded.
‘The phone’s right here,’ she said, indicating the landline on the small table by the front door. ‘Help yourself.’
The woman lifted the receiver and made her call, pressing a finger to her ear and speaking in a low murmur.
The conversation went on for a good few minutes. When she finished, the woman put the receiver back on the cradle and smiled at Grace. The smile didn’t quite meet her eyes. ‘Thanks for that. I’ll get out of your hair now.’
‘You’re welcome to wait here for your husband,’ Grace said, hating the thought of anyone being outside in such awful conditions.
‘No. I need to go. He won’t be long.’
‘Are you sure? It’s horrid out there.’
The woman backed up to the front door and reached for the handle. ‘I’m sure. Thank you.’ She opened the door and headed off down the driveway without so much as a goodbye.
Perplexed, Grace stared at the rapidly retreating figure for a few seconds before shutting the door and relocking it.
The hairs on her arms were standing to attention again.
It took a few beats before she recognised the coldness in her bones as a warning and not a pure physical reaction.