An Invitation to Sin(4)

By: Sarah Morgan


‘We could be discreet. leave the wedding.’

‘I love weddings and I love my cousin,’ Luca said immediately. ‘I couldn’t possibly leave until he’s married…married—’ what the hell was her name? ‘—the woman of his dreams.’

‘You love weddings? Honestly?’

‘Weddings never fail to make me cry,’ Luca said truthfully. ‘The thought of two people promising to love each other for ever makes me want to break down and sob like a baby.’

‘Oh. I had no idea you were so romantic.’ Her eyes misted. ‘And I’m so pleased that all those rumours that you hate your cousins are wrong. You’re nowhere near as bad as everyone says.’

‘Bad?’ Luca adopted his hurt expression. ‘I’m a saint compared to some people.’ He hoped she didn’t ask him to name someone as bad as him because he knew he’d struggle.

‘You’re quite a softie—’ she stroked his arm with her fingertips ‘—except in the one area that counts.’ She’d moved closer to him again and Luca stood up, cursing his lack of thought in picking up a guest at the wedding.

What he’d taken to be a few moments of fun, she’d taken to be a future.

Now he had to shake her off before the Corretti board gave him another black mark.

Unfortunately Portia didn’t want to be shaken anywhere. ‘Will I see you tonight, after the wedding?’

‘The definition of a one-night stand, angelo mia, is that it lasts one night.’

‘You were keen enough last night.’ She pouted. ‘What’s wrong? Don’t you like me in this dress?’ The words robbed him of breath.

Do I look good, Luca? Do I look better than her? Will he love me if I wear this?

‘Luca?’

He dragged himself out of the black pit of his past and stared into Portia’s over-made-up eyes. ‘You look great,’ he said flatly, relieved when one of the wedding guests shrieked a greeting and Portia was reluctantly dragged away.

Relieved by his narrow escape, he was momentarily distracted by a sheet of blonde hair that hung down the back of a woman standing on the far side of the terrace. People were pressing close, all desperate to get a piece of her, and he shifted slightly to see who she was.

When she finally turned her head, he felt a flash of surprise.

Taylor Carmichael. Well, well.

It cheered him up to know that there was one person present whose reputation was as bad as his.

According to the media, she’d done it all—drink, drugs and partying. And then she’d disappeared for a couple of years. He wondered what she’d been doing with herself and decided it was probably something disreputable. She was one of the few people at this wedding who could make him look saintly. Almost.

Luca watched her across the room and remembered reading that his cousin Santo had recruited her to play the lead in his latest film.

She had the most incredible body. Thinking that all that blonde hair would look good spread over his pillow, he took a step towards her and then remembered that members of the board were watching his every move and waiting for him to step out of line.

Exercising a restraint he didn’t know he possessed, Luca turned away and engaged a suited man in a conversation about the economy.

If Taylor had been able to take a big enough breath, she would have screamed.

‘You poor thing,’ the woman said in a voice sweet enough to rot teeth. ‘This wedding must be so stressful for you.’

‘Why would it be stressful?’ Taylor kept her smile in place and wished Zach would show up. She was going to need someone to lend her a jacket when her stupid dress split. ‘It’s the perfect opportunity to meet interesting people.’ Unfortunately you’re not one of them.

‘But so much temptation for someone like you.’ The woman eyed the glass of water in Taylor’s hand. ‘I suppose you don’t dare even take a sip of champagne in case you undo all the good work and lose control. It must be impossibly hard given the circle you move in.’

‘It isn’t hard.’

‘What stops you drinking?’

The knowledge that she couldn’t pee without the assistance of a seamstress. ‘I’m going to be filming twelve hours a day. My focus is on my work.’ And she couldn’t wait. She knew that once she was playing that role, she’d be lost in it. Acting was all she wanted to do. And not just because it meant she could escape the empty, meaningless circus of her life.

Another woman pressed closer. ‘I can’t believe you’re back in circulation. You just vanished off the face of the earth. You have to tell us whether those stories about you were true.’

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