The Italian's Future Bride

By: Michelle Reid
CHAPTER ONE



IT WAS like playing Russian roulette with your sex life: place a loaded invitation in the barrel, then shoot and see if you scored a hit.



Everyone was doing it, Raffaelle Villani observed cynically—the young and nubile, complete with breast implants and carefully straightened and dyed blonde hair. They circled the room eyeing up likely victims, picked the richest man they could find, then primed him and fired their lucky shot.



Or unlucky, depending from which side of the fence you viewed it.



Some you win, some you lose, he mused as one eager player tried the deal on him only to be rewarded with the sight of his back.



Contempt twisting his lean golden features, he beat a retreat to the furthest corner of the room where the bar was situated. Discarding his untouched glass of champagne, he ordered a glass of full-blooded red wine to take its place.



Functions like this were the pits and he would not have come but for his stepsister twisting his arm. He owed Daniella a favour for pulling him out of a tricky situation recently with a woman who had been about to become his latest lover—until Daniella had whispered in his ear that the woman was married with a small son.



It turned out that she had even lied to him about her name. Discovering that she was actually the ex-catwalk model Elise Castle, now married to the heavyweight Greek Leo Savakis, had not made Raffaelle feel good about himself.



Married women were not his bag. Married women with small children were an even bigger turn-off. As were neat little liars who pretended to be someone they were not. Elise Castle ticked the boxes in all three categories and the hardest part of it all had been accepting how thoroughly he had been duped by a pair of innocent blue eyes and a set of good breasts that had been her own.



Or maybe not, Raffaelle then contended. Perhaps the breasts and the blue eyes had been just more lies the beautiful Elise had fed to him. Fortunately he had not managed to get close enough to find out.



But he still owed it to Daniella that he’d managed to get out of a potentially scandal-spinning tangle before it had exploded in his face.



He was into gun metaphors, he noticed. What a great way to spend a Saturday night.



Where was Daniella—?



Straightening his six-foot-four-inch frame up from its bored languid slouch against the bar, Raffaelle began scanning the sea of bodies milling about in front of him for a glimpse of the sylphlike figure belonging to his beautiful stepsister.



He found her almost instantly. Her glossy mane of black hair and the red dress she was wearing made her virtually impossible to miss. She was standing with some smooth-looking guy over by a wall on the other side of the room, and it came as a shock to Raffaelle to see that she was playing the game like all the rest!



She was pouting, her pose distinctly saucy, her breasts pushed up almost against the guy’s chest while he looked down at her with one of those lazy I’m-interested-smiles on his handsome face.



Were Daniella’s breasts her own—?



The question hit Raffaelle’s brain and made him curse softly because he didn’t care what Daniella’s breasts were made of. She was not and never had been his type. And anyway, as his stepsister, she was and always had been off limits.



She was also getting married in two months, to one of his closest friends. But there she stood, coming on to another man!



Annoyance launched him away from the bar with the grim intention of going over there and hauling her away before one of the other kind of circling vultures here—the press—noticed her and ruined the foolish creature’s life.



‘Mr Villani?’ a husky female voice spoke to him. ‘I’m really sorry to bother you but…’



Raffaelle spun on his heel to find himself staring down at yet another nubile young thing with the requisite blonde hair and good breasts. His expression turned to ice as he looked down at her, though the way she was looking up at him through tense, apprehensive, big blue eyes almost made him think twice about turning his back.



More so when the pink tip of her tongue arrived to nervously calm the little tremor he could see happening with her lips.



Nice lips, he noticed. Full, very pink, very lush lips.



‘Do you think I could h-have a word with you?’ she requested nervously. ‘It’s really important,’ she added quickly. ‘I need to ask you a big favour…’



A favour? Well, that was a novel approach. Raffaelle felt the corner of his mouth give a twitch—and thereby did the worst thing he could have done, by allowing a chink of interest to stop him from walking away.



Her silky hair hung dead straight to her slender shoulders and she possessed the most amazing pearly-white skin. He sent his eyes skimming down her front to her cleavage where two firm, plump very white breasts balanced precariously inside the tiny bodice of the short and skimpy pale turquoise silk thing he supposed he should call a dress. She wasn’t tall by his standards, but she had a pair of legs on her that did not need the four inch heels she was wearing to extend their fabulous length.

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