Marrying Cade(3)

By: Sally Clements


“How’s your papa?” Adam’s tone was full of concern.

“Not as good as we hoped, but they brought him back from the hospital today with a doctor and nurse in attendance to monitor him. They recommend he takes it easy.” She shrugged her shoulders, looked toward the heavens, then, as if it might hurt, smiled. “Papa, of course, is determined to walk Rosa down the aisle. And Rosa wants him to.”

Cade nodded. Rosa always got what she wanted.

A couple of fat bumblebees hovered over the purple flowers of the rosemary bushes under planting the plane trees where they sat. Their slumberous buzzing was soothing in the perfumed heat. Cade breathed in, then slowly let the breath escape in a long puff. Isola dei Fiori was weaving its spell around him, and it felt damn good.

Melo bit into a marinated artichoke heart, and a small drizzle of olive oil dampened her bottom lip. She wiped it away with a napkin, grinned and lifted her shoulders. “It’s impossible to eat these elegantly.” Her gaze met his and held.

A flash of electricity shot between them, and his heart thumped and kicked. She was aware of him. More than aware, attracted.

Her eyes widened slightly, and her lips parted a miniscule amount. Her skin was perfect, soft and tanned without the addition of make-up. The curve of her neck led down to a tantalizing glimpse of cleavage.

Maybe this wedding wouldn’t be such a chore after all.

****

Melo swallowed and climbed into the driver’s seat. She’d been sure of her mission when she started out, but now, with the adult Cade in the seat next to her, her heart was doing the cha-cha, and she wasn’t sure she had the nerve to carry it out. He’d changed. His hair was long, brushing his shoulders, parted slightly off-centre, and long at the front too, pushed away from his face. He was as dark as ever, though. And his unshaven jaw was unbelievably sexy. He hadn’t needed to shave the last time she’d seen him. Her fingers still tingled with the memory of touching his stubble. What would it feel like under her tongue? Her nipples tightened into hard nubs under the lace of her bra.

He was taller, too. A good couple of inches taller than Adam, who easily topped six-two. When his warm lips had brushed her cheek, her eyes were just about level with his mouth. His shoulders too were wider, lean and muscled under the black shirt open at the neck, showcasing a faint dusting of dark hair. The last time he’d been on Isola dei Fiori they’d swum together in the sea every day. Swimming with him now would be a completely different experience. At the mere thought of an almost naked Cade, heat swept through her.

“Buckle up.” She spun the Mercedes in a spray of gravel, and sped away from The Fiori Hotel down the road to the villa.

Silver sparkles reflected off the turquoise surface of the sea and a breeze blew in from the open window. On her left, serried ranks of Bellucci vines marched up the hillside and Melo breathed in deeply.

It was wonderful being on Isola dei Fiori again. The island was part of her heritage, part of her blood. Living in Florence, she visited often, but the island, in all its unspoiled beauty, was where she belonged. One day, she’d build her home on the perfect little plot of land her grandmother had left her. And one day when she’d made her father see she deserved a place in the family winery, even if she was a woman.

“So, how are all the arrangements going?”

At Adam’s question, Melo’s head started to throb. As sister of the bride, and the only responsible member of the family, organizing the whole, three-day wedding extravaganza was her department. There was still so much to do.

“Well, all your guests are booked in to the hotel, and we’ve driven them up to the villa.”

With a team of drivers, she’d spent most of the morning ferrying the eighty guests around. In between stringing up the fairy lights leading from the villa to the beach in preparation for the evening barbeque. And crawling under a table with her screwdriver to fix a wobble. She was so tired she could barely see straight.

“What’s Rosa doing?” Adam asked from the back seat.

“She’s having her dress taken in. You’ll have to wait to see her, I’m afraid.”

Melo had snuck out to collect Adam and Cade at her mother’s insistence, and hadn’t even told Rosa she was going. It had taken all her powers of persuasion to talk the designer, Eliza Moretti, onto a helicopter to make the alterations. Rosa had lost weight, fretting about their father, and there was no way her sister would settle for Eliza’s assistant. The one proviso was Eliza would be in the air on the way back to Florence by mid-afternoon.

Melo’d promised. Now all she had to do was make sure Rosa stuck with the program.

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