An Invitation to Sin(5)

By: Sarah Morgan

They circled her like wolves waiting to pounce on a carcass. And she was the carcass.

Taylor laughed inwardly. Given the amount of weight she’d lost in preparation for this part, she almost was a carcass.

The moment filming was over she was going to rush to the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts and indulge her carb fantasy but until then she had to play the game.

She couldn’t keep this up for much longer. She was going to punch someone, split her dress and end up naked.

Exhausted, Taylor pressed a button on her phone and made it ring. ‘Oh, excuse me—’ with an apologetic smile, she pulled it out of her bag ‘—I just have to take this call. So good to meet you. I’ll see you inside the chapel in a little while!’ And I hope you both choke on a canapé.

Phone held to her ear, talking to herself in a bright tone, she walked to the edge of the terrace, aware of Santo’s eyes watching her every move.

As far as she was concerned, he could watch all he liked. She wasn’t going to slip up.

She could do this. All she needed was a quick breather and then she’d sit somewhere at the back of the church, away from all the intrusive questions.

Bypassing the groups of people gathered on the terrace, she glanced around her to find somewhere less populated. Spying the English garden and, beyond that, the maze, she increased her pace. Perfect. What better place than a maze to find shade and peace?

The high hedges gave much-needed protection from the burning Sicilian heat and the curious stares of the other guests. Taylor slipped off her shoes, moaning with relief as the soft grass cooled her throbbing feet. Breathing deeply, she listened to the sound of the birds. Live in the moment, wasn’t that what Zach had taught her? Block everything else out. It’s all about now.

Slowly, her pulse rate slowed. The knot in her stomach eased, leaving only the hunger pangs that had been her constant companion since she’d signed up for the role. She was just congratulating herself on being back in control when she turned a corner and walked straight into a man.

‘Cristo, can’t you take a hint?’ Hard hands gripped her and kept her on her feet but his tone was ice cold and Taylor stared at him, disorientated.

‘What hint?’ She recognised him instantly. Luca Corretti, billionaire playboy, occasionally described as Sicily’s biggest tourist attraction and absolutely the last man in the world she would have chosen to be alone with given her current objective of staying out of trouble.

‘Mi dispiace, chicca.’ His smile was disturbingly attractive. ‘I thought you were someone else.’

‘Well, I’m not,’ Taylor said coldly, ‘so if you’d just let go of me, I can carry on walking and you can carry on hiding or whatever it is you’re doing.’

‘I’m dodging my past.’

Him too? ‘I would have thought that was an ambitious objective for someone with your reputation.’

‘Actually, I was talking about my immediate past. Last night.’ His smile held no hint of apology. ‘And you’re not exactly in a position to judge, are you, Taylor Carmichael? Your past is every bit as dirty as mine.’

His use of her name made her insides lurch. ‘You know who I am.’

‘Of course. I’ve even seen you semi-naked.’ Those eyes gleamed dangerously. ‘That movie about the teenage runaway? God, you were sexy.’

Why did he have to pick that movie? She’d made over twenty films, but he’d picked the one she’d filmed at the very lowest point of her life.

She felt cold and hot at the same time. ‘That was a long time ago.’

‘But you have the same incredible legs….’ His voice was a soft, sexy purr and his eyes dropped to her breasts. ‘And other parts of you. I remember envying the director—what was his name? Rafaele. He got to see you on and off set, lucky bastard.’

Taylor felt as if someone was choking her. ‘I don’t want to talk about him.’

‘Why not? So you dumped him and he sold his story to the press.’ Luca gave a dismissive shrug. ‘Who cares?’

She’d cared.

And she still cared.

She had no choice. The moment she’d accepted the film role, the texts had started. Just like before. It didn’t matter how many times she changed her number, he always managed to track her down. His threats had been part of her life for nine years. Occasionally he went quiet, only to re-emerge when she’d started to hope it had all gone away and he’d finally become bored with tormenting her.

The dress was squeezing her like a boa constrictor trapping its prey. Taylor couldn’t breathe. She tried desperately to change the subject. ‘So what does your immediate past look like? Blonde? Brunette? You’d better tell me so that I can give her a wide berth. I’m not in the mood for dealing with an angry, jealous woman.’