Marrying Cade(7)

By: Sally Clements


Her skin looked soft. Invitingly kissable.

Cade angled his leg away from hers. “So, are you going to be next?”

Melo’s gaze flickered to his. “What?”

“Married,” Cade answered.

Melo laughed. “No.”

“Don’t believe in it?” Cade leaned closer and let his lips brush against her ear as he whispered, “I don’t blame you. I don’t either.”

“It’s just not for me.” She changed the subject. “How is your family—still as crazy as ever?”

“Monica is married, but the other two are still as wild as they ever were. I keep telling my mother she doesn’t need to worry about them anymore, they’re all over the age of consent, but you know how it is.”

She nodded. “Mothers worry.”

“Yeah.”

At least his mother didn’t need to worry about money anymore. He’d made enough to buy her a comfortable house outside London, and made sure the girls would want for nothing. After his father’s death, Cade had been forced early to assume the role of head of household. His mother and sisters were his responsibility.

Melo shifted on the bench, the little movement brushing her thigh against his. A rush of awareness shot through him. He swallowed. When he was a teenager he’d confided in Melo. She knew more about him than any woman, even his mother and sisters. She’d been in the right place, at the right time. And more than that, she’d been the right person.

His mother and sisters needed a strong male to handle everything, a role he’d slipped easily into. But the unexpected holiday on Isola dei Fiori, away from the confines of home had given him the gift of freedom to be himself—and he’d confided his deepest secrets to Melo, while his best friend followed her sister around like a lost puppy.

Even Alison… With a start Cade realized he’d never told his ex-fiancée about his father’s death. He’d never offered the information, and she never asked.

The last woman on earth he should be attracted to was Melo. Cade breathed deeply, struggling to pass the message on to his disobedient body.

“So, what are you doing now? Working in the family business?” he asked.

The Bellucci vineyard was hugely successful. Marco had built an empire to be proud of.

“No.” Melo looked surprised at his question. “I’m only here for the wedding. I have a business in Florence.” Her long fingers reached out and smoothed the soft perfumed petal of a red rose. “I’m a financial advisor.”

Cade would have expected her to say she was a model, or a fashion designer; she had a definite way with clothes. Somehow, he couldn’t picture her in the cutthroat world of big business.

“My clients are mostly owners of very successful businesses which have overextended. I come in and advise them how they can maximize their returns from investment. Get them back onto the straight and narrow.” Melo’s face became animated and she visibly relaxed as she spoke about her work.

“Where did you study?”

“Florence. I have a degree from the university there.”

“Didn’t you want to work in the family business?” A vague memory niggled of Melo talking of her hopes, her dreams. He was pretty sure she’d wanted to be involved in the Bellucci winery.

“Not anymore.” Melo shook her head and pursed her lips. “Papa is very independent. He doesn’t need my help.” Her fingers dropped from the rose and she clasped them in her lap. “And now he has Adam working with him, he’s preparing for the future.”

Cade nodded, he’d spent long hours listening to Adam’s plans.

“Don’t you want to be involved?”

He couldn’t work her out. When she’d been a teenager she’d been so passionate about the island he couldn’t imagine her abandoning her dreams easily.

“My father is a very traditional man, Cade,” Melo said huskily. “He feels the Bellucci winery should be run by men. Some of my male cousins work there, but the only position offered to me was that of secretary—whether I came into the business with a degree or not.” She crossed her arms, drawing his attention to her chest. “In my business I don’t have to deal with sexism. The quality of my work speaks for itself.” She glanced at him. “My business has become very successful. It’s grown by word of mouth. I don’t have to lean on my family name or connections.” Her tone and the flash from her bright eyes indicated she was proud of it too.

She was confident and self-assured. As well as her appearance, the whole way she interacted with people was different. She’d been in the shadow of her sister when she was younger, that much was evident.

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