An Invitation to Sin(7)

By: Sarah Morgan

‘I’m not going to need that.’

He scanned her dress. ‘This is your punishment for not picking something from the House of Corretti. Our clothes would make you feel seductive and feminine. We don’t have to sew our women into their dresses for them to look good. the dress becomes part of the woman.’

She’d forgotten that he ran the fashion house but it explained his effortlessly stylish appearance. Even with his shirt collar open and strands of dark hair falling over his forehead, he looked spectacular.

‘I didn’t pick this dress.’ Heat and hunger made her irritable. ‘I wore what your cousin told me to wear.’

‘He’d never pick anything from my company,’ Luca drawled, ‘it might signify approval and God forbid the rivalry between us should ever die. That fabric isn’t allowing your body to breathe. I could help you with that.’

‘Nice try.’

‘I’ve got moves that would make you weep.’

‘I’m sure you make women weep a lot, but I’m not a crier.’

‘I like you more and more. You could bathe naked in the fountain.’ He reached for the chilled bottle of champagne. ‘Or I could roll this over your skin.’

Her skin was prickling with the heat and she made a sound that was half laugh, half groan. ‘Now you’re torturing me. Talk about something else, before I melt.’ Taylor knew she should walk away but she decided it was safer to wait a few minutes until the people they’d overheard were safely back among the guests. Just five minutes, she promised herself. Five minutes. ‘So who is this woman you’re running from?’

‘I have no idea. Apparently her name is Portia but that was news to me.’

Taylor lifted her hair away from her neck to try and cool herself down. ‘You’re terrible.’

‘Not terrible enough to induce her to dump me, sadly. She was alarmingly difficult to shift.’

‘Some women find bad boys attractive.’

‘And from what I’ve heard, you know a lot about that.’

‘Do you often listen to gossip?’

‘All the time. Gossip makes me laugh.’ The cork flew out of the bottle with a pop. ‘So tell me the truth, Taylor Carmichael? How do you like your men? Welldone, medium or rare?’

‘Rare.’ Sticky and uncomfortable from the heat and the conversation she squirmed, wishing she could dip her toes in the water. ‘So rare I can’t remember when I last touched one.’

‘So I’m looking at a desperate woman.’

‘You’re looking at a controlled woman. I’m no longer a slave to my impulses.’

‘That sounds like the tag line for a good bondage movie. Slave to Her Impulses. The sequel could be Slave to His Impulses. I might be willing to star in that for a price providing you were the leading lady.’ That mocking smile touched the corners of his mouth and he tipped champagne into a glass and held it out to her. ‘Drink. It will help numb the boredom of the wedding.’

Hating the fact that she was even tempted, Taylor reluctantly shook her head. ‘No, thanks. Champagne is on my list of banned substances, particularly on an empty stomach.’

‘Personally I have a taste for banned substances.’ Shrugging, he tilted his head and drank, the sun glinting off his dark hair.

Just for a moment, because he wasn’t looking at her, she looked at him. At those slanting cheekbones, that nose, the olive skin—

It was so long since she’d looked at a man and found him attractive, the spasm of sexual awareness shocked her.

She reminded herself that Luca Corretti was probably the most dangerous man she could possibly have found herself with. ‘I thought you were trying to behave yourself.’

‘This is me behaving myself.’ He took another mouthful of champagne and she laughed in spite of herself, sensing a kindred spirit. A part of her long buried stirred to life.

‘So both of us are making a superhuman effort to behave. What’s your excuse?’

‘I have to prove myself capable of taking charge of another chunk of the family business.’ Underneath the light, careless tone there was an edge of steel and it surprised her because she didn’t associate him with responsibility.

That thought was followed instantaneously by guilt. She was judging him as others judged her, based on nothing but gossip. She was better than that.

‘But you already run a business. I read that you’d turned the House of Corretti around.’

‘I have a flare for figures.’

‘Especially when those figures belong to models?’

He laughed. ‘Something like that. Unfortunately trebling the profits of Corretti isn’t enough for them.’