Seduced by the Heir
First Love. Forever Love?
International business mogul Rafael Morretti has his pick of the world’s most desirable women. But the all-work, no-play bachelor can’t forget the one who got away. Fifteen years ago, Paris St. Clair was his college sweetheart. Now a destination wedding in Venice has reunited him with the vivacious beauty. And he will stop at nothing to win her back.
Busy building her financial career, Paris is still haunted by the one who got away. Maybe meeting Rafael again in The Floating City is a sign that their love is meant to be. As passions collide and they give in to desire at a private villa, will a sudden web of blackmail destroy Rafael’s good name and sabotage their precious second chance?
Paris St. Clair squinted, focused her gaze. Maybe her eyes were playing tricks on her. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d mistaken a gorgeous Italian guy for her ex, Rafael Morretti, and it probably wouldn’t be the last. Their eyes met, zeroed in on each other, and Paris knew without a doubt it was Rafael. She’d recognize his smoldering stare and those long, thick eyelashes anywhere. Off-kilter, she gripped the side of the bar to keep from keeling over onto the manicured grass.
Eyes narrowed, she inspected him from head to toe. The years had obviously been kind to him. Back in the day, Rafael had been cute, but today he put the “h” in hot. His thick black hair was neatly trimmed, and he was immaculately groomed. His muscled physique filled out every inch of his tailored suit, and his boyish smile still made her heart swoon. He moved through the crowd with more confidence than one of Hollywood’s leading men, and if that wasn’t bad enough, charisma oozed from his pores.
Paris fanned a hand in front of her face, warning herself to get a grip. But he looked so dapper in his khaki suit that she couldn’t help but stare at him. This can’t be real. I must be dreaming. What is Rafael Morretti doing here? And why is he headed my way?
His cologne was a subtle fragrance, and as it wafted through the air her thoughts slipped back to the afternoon she’d lost her virginity to him at his family’s beach house in Cape May. Did he remember that night? Paris quickly told herself it didn’t matter. She didn’t have time to relive the past, not when her past was staring her right in the face. Rafael was there, just inches away, and seeing him again gave her a heady feeling.
Desire rushed down her spine, tickling and teasing her most intimate parts. After all these years, she still wanted him, but Paris was determined not to embarrass herself.
To break the ice, she smiled. Rafael didn’t.
“This is a pleasant surprise.” His clipped tone suggested otherwise, but he had that twinkle in his eyes. A hungry, predatory expression on his face that said he was aroused. Back in the day, that look used to make her body tremble and quiver—
Still does, her conscience interrupted. You’re shaking so hard your teeth are chattering!
“It’s been, what, twenty years since we saw each other?”
No, fifteen years and three days, but who’s counting? Feeling as if she was trapped in a mental fog, she gave her head a hard shake to clear her thoughts. Never in a million years did she expect to see Rafael at her best friend’s engagement party. Questions raced through her mind. Did he still live in Washington? Did he have children? Was he married?
Of course he’s married! her conscience shrieked. Look at him! He’s worth millions, he’s built like a Greek god and his scent is as seductive as his smile.
Years ago, he’d been featured in Money magazine, but the article didn’t reveal any personal information about him. Currently, the rumor mill was filled with tales of embezzlement, lawsuits and infighting at Morretti Incorporated. But the most shocking story she’d heard recently was that Rafael’s brothers, Demetri and Nicco, were happily in love. Deliriously in love, if the gossip blogs were true. The Morretti brothers used to be closer than the Three Musketeers, and Paris couldn’t imagine any woman—no matter how beautiful she was—ever coming between them.
“It’s wonderful to see you again.” Commanding her legs to quit shaking, Paris leaned casually against the bar, as if she wasn’t the least bit affected by his arrival. And she wasn’t. She was a confident, thirty-five-year-old woman, not a shy, pubescent tween. She refused to let her nerves get the best of her. “It’s been a long time, Rafael. How have you been?”
Rafael parted his lips, but his brain froze. Nothing came out. Not a word, not a squeak. Paris took his breath away—literally—and it took every ounce of his self-control not to sweep her up in his arms for a kiss. His tongue suddenly felt too big for his mouth, and it hurt to swallow. Struck dumb, he couldn’t think of a single thing to say.
Rafael wanted to smack himself hard upside the head. What’s the matter with you, man? Why are you standing here gawking at her? She dumped you, remember?
Standing tall, he masked his unease with a smile and slid his hands into the pockets of his dress pants. Damn, Paris made him feel nineteen again—like that quiet, socially awkward teenager who used to carry her books and walk her to class. But I’m not a kid anymore, he told himself, in an effort to bolster his confidence. I’m an accomplished businessman who outearns the president, so why the hell am I acting like a flustered, jittery fool?