Authors: Stephanie Morris
PROPOSITIONING THE RICH ITALIAN
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A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK
PROPOSITIONING THE RICH ITALIAN
Copyright © 2010 by Stephanie Morris
E-book ISBN: 1-60601-627-X
First E-book Publication: January 2010
Cover design by Jinger Heaston
All cover art and logo copyright © 2010 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED:
This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
Siren Publishing, Inc.
To my sister, Yvonne.
You are more of an inspiration than you will ever know. I love you.
Copyright © 2010
Tierra Davis’s heart rate sped up as she laid eyes on the sexiest man she ever seen, including her now ex-fiancé, the sorry bastard.
However, at this particular moment, she had a strong urge to write him a postcard to thank him for dumping her for her best friend on the day of their wedding.
Her body temperature started to increase just watching the attractive stranger. Dark charcoal pants covered narrow hips and emphasized long, sturdy legs. A crisp white button-up dress shirt accented his broad shoulders.
The rolled up cuffs revealed perfectly tanned forearms sprinkled with dark hair. The arm hair matched the shade of his dark, thick, wavy hair, long enough for her to get lost in. She watched as he took a drink from the glass sitting in front of him. The simple action only emphasized his strong jaw line. His clean-shaven face shadowed by the stubble covering his jaw. A slight shift of his body gave her a perfect view of his facial features. A nice nose sat above a firm, extremely kissable mouth.
Without her three bellinis she might be embarrassed at her uncharacteristically brazen thoughts, but looking at him, she couldn’t be. Something about him appealed to her on an intense level, more than his physical attractiveness. She watched him overtly for several moments. The way he carried himself with such authority almost made her squirm in her seat. Her eyes found him the moment he entered the bar area. Every woman at the bar with a pulse studied him.
The man seemed to be a walking contradiction. One glance at him in his business suit told her he screamed of wealth, but he simply walked up to the bar in his expensive suit and slipped off his jacket and tie. She studied him while he proceeded to make himself comfortable a few stools down from her, his movements’ quick but sure. A strong sense of confidence, strength and sensuality radiated from him, three elements leaving her with the inability to take her eyes off of him. Luckily, she hadn’t begun to drool, at least not yet.
She exhaled softly. The shock of yesterday’s events still stung— part of the reason why she sat at the bar drooling over a man who could definitely be classified as eye candy.
Even though she’d come to Rome against the wishes of her family, she’d yet to regret it. Yes, the reminder of the fact she should be on her honeymoon hit her the instant she walked into the hotel room. However, with the third bellini sitting in front of her, she came to the conclusion this could be the perfect place to act upon what she contemplated since she arrived. There wasn’t any doubt in her mind that the sensible, stable, and organized person she always strived to be were some of the reasons her ex-best friend, Shannon, lay in bed with her ex-fiancé, Quincy, while Tierra sat at the bar by herself.
Unfortunately, a mix up on the honeymoon arrangements occurred. Somehow, no record of the refund insurance purchase with the package could be located. She didn’t have any plans to throw away the money. Besides, she’d wanted a vacation to this majestic destination for as long as she could remember. Not to mention she could really use one right now. After the way Quincy and Shannon shattered her dream, she needed to get away from all of the heartbreak, the disappointment, the pity. She needed a little time to clear her head, get herself together and have a little fun.
So today she resolved to throw caution to the wind while she stayed in Rome for two weeks. A no-strings attached affair would do her some good. It shouldn’t be a problem for her, either. A few men already approached her while she sat at the bar. Most of them attractive, but all of them a little strange and not what she desired in her prime candidate. Now she knew why. None of them made her heart race like the man standing at the end of the bar. Before now, she would have never thought about picking up a man, especially at a bar, but the hot-blooded Italian in her direct line of vision definitely made her want to make an exception to her normal and reasonable logic.
She drained her glass of the remainder of her bellini as she took another glance at the sexy man sitting a mere few feet from her. The bartender appeared automatically as if she’d beckoned him. She couldn’t help but noticed how he paled in comparison to the man she’d ogled for the last few minutes.
“Would you like another?” he asked her in English, with an undertone of his Italian accent, causing her to smile.
Shaking her head, she asked him for a glass of water instead in Italian. Being a sensible and organized woman, she’d begun taking lessons in Italian as soon as Quincy proposed to her. As a little girl, she dreamed of taking her honeymoon in Italy. The Italian words rolled off her lips as if she’d been speaking them all her life. In reality, she only memorized twenty phrases that would save her life in any situation, along with a few commonly used words. Otherwise, she hoped the person she conversed with spoke enough English to understand her. So far she’d done okay because the staff at Hotel Carabelli spoke English. Her decision to stay at the five star deluxe hotel turned out to be a good one so far. She made the choice based on pure indulgence, but she deserved it. The bartender reappeared with a bottle of water he poured into a glass of ice.
,” she murmured.
The bartender flashed her a smile before disappearing again. She took a sip of the water and sighed in appreciation. It wasn’t as flavorful as the bellini but just as refreshing. Besides, she didn’t need to get drunk. If she wanted her plan to work, she needed to be halfway sober to carry it out. Suddenly, the hairs on the back of her neck stood up, and her skin began to tingle. Feeling as though someone stared at her, she looked up.
When she lifted her head, her gaze met his. Desire surged through her so strongly her thighs actually clinched involuntarily. She became even more aware of the man sitting next to her. Her breathing became shallow, and her nipples hardened, making her regret the flimsy undergarments she wore.
Since she was supposed to be on her honeymoon, she’d updated her wardrobe to entice her new husband. The plan to entice someone still simmered beneath the surface, only it would be someone else. The man sitting a few barstools down from her smiled, and her heart almost jumped out of her chest. Her mouth dried up completely, and a tingle raced down her spine to her toes and back up. His gaze indicated a mutual level of interest.
Buona sera, bella
. Do you mind if I join you?”
She gave a slight nod of her head, giving him permission to join her. Suddenly, her voice wasn’t working. He smiled, picked up his suit jacket and moved closer to her. His strong, masculine scent enveloped her, and she breathed it in deeply. Automatically, she knew she was in over her head, but she didn’t care. She wanted him, and right now, nothing else mattered.
* * * *
Antonio Carabelli couldn’t take his eyes off of the woman who accepted his invitation to sit next to her. He hadn’t been able to take his eyes off of her since he spotted her several minutes ago, the main reason why he’d come into the bar and sat down instead of going to his parents’ home for dinner like he normally did when he got off work. She stood out to him immediately. One glance at her told him she wasn’t like the typical woman he spent time with. She seemed to have a lot more class and intelligence. He didn’t intentionally go after women of her standard because it made things less complicated.
There were enough complications in his life without adding the ones that could come in a relationship with wrong person. His financial status didn’t allow for it. He looked over at the woman, and for the first time in a long time, he didn’t mind if things became complicated. She was a stunning woman, but the way she seemed to carry herself implied more lay hidden beneath the surface. Everything about her made him want to take a risk to find out what. She appealed to him on a level he hadn’t experienced—not only physically, either.
Antonio took in her soft ebony skin and the shoulder-length dark brown hair swept up in a clip, exposing an elegant neck. He definitely wouldn’t mind lavishing attention on it, and an image of him trailing kisses up and down her throat hit him so quickly he blinked. His level of attraction to her gave him pause along with her eyes, the color of honey, but they weren’t what caught his attention.
Yet, what he read in those soft eyes, hurt mixed with a hint of anger. Even though it wasn’t directed at him, he’d seen the look often enough to know he should get up and leave, but something made him stay. She captivated him with her beauty, intrigued him on many levels better left unspoken until he figured them all out.
“Would you prefer for me to speak English or Italian?”
She smiled at his question, and he automatically made plans to do whatever it took to make sure she smiled again and often. It only added to her beauty.
He didn’t know which he liked better, hearing her speak his native language or English. Either way, her voice contained a smoothness with a hint of huskiness.
“Do you mind if I ask you your name?”
She shook her head and extended a dainty hand to him. “My name is Tierra, and it is a pleasure to meet you.”
He smiled in return. “Earth. I like it.”
A look of surprise appeared on her face, and he took it to mean not many people knew the meaning of her name.
“I am Antonio. It is a pleasure to meet you as well.”
He brought her hand up to his lips and placed a kiss on the back of it. As soon as he did, her eyes changed from the color of honey to a darker shade of brown, glad to see the reaction of attraction to him. He also liked how she seemed to exhibit self-control by making a move to withdraw her hand after he held it longer than he should have. The irony being the one time he should have restraint he didn’t, but he forced himself to release her hand.
Tierra cleared her throat. “What does it mean?”
He gave her a blank stare, not understanding her question. She licked her lips and smiled, which only distracted him more.
“Your name. What does it mean?”
His smile joined hers. “Beyond praise.”
He watched at her eyes grew round, and she paused in the middle of the sip of water.
Her cheeks flushed slightly, and her gaze drifted around the bar before coming back to him.
“Are you staying here at the hotel?”
He didn’t miss the flash of weariness before she nodded.
“Yes, I am.”
She shifted in her chair. “What brings you down here tonight?”
He sat back in his chair. “I just got off work and decided to have a drink before I headed home.”
“What brought you down to the bar?”
He took a sip of his brandy, not revealing the entire truth about why he made the decision to stop in the bar. After spotting her sitting alone, he couldn’t resist.
She shrugged. “I needed a drink, and I wanted to see if I could find a man.”
He almost choked on the sip he just took, and if the expression on her face hadn’t been so sincere, he would have thought he misheard her.
“You care to tell me why?”
He thought she might tell him wasn’t privy to her personal business. Instead, she told him about the horrific events that occurred over the last twenty-four hours. He found it hard to comprehend how she could be sitting in front of him so calmly. Being left at the church altar and having her fiancé walk away with her best friend and maid of honor would have made a lesser woman crumble. Yet the woman he stared at gave off nothing but strength. He brushed his hand against her cheek.
“I know it may not mean much, but your fiancé sounds like a complete idiot. Trust me. It is definitely his loss.”
His meant to console her but knew he failed. She turned her head, but not before he saw the tears in her eyes. He produced a handkerchief for her.
“I didn’t mean to make you cry.”
Seeing her shoulders tremble, he gathered her close. She went into him embrace, and he knew she needed to be held and comforted. He didn’t mind stepping into the role. He whispered soothing words against her temple. When he pulled back a moment later, wet eyelashes were the only thing left of her tears. The look only added to her beauty. She gave him a small smile.
“Believe it or not, I needed that. This is the first time I have cried over the idiot.”
He chuckled as he put a finger under her chin and tilted it upward. “Hopefully it is the last time.”
Her grin widened, and he put a little distance between the two of them. He needed to. He had to. Lately, he’d been edgy, restless. Going home to an empty house after a hard day at work didn’t appeal to him anymore. It wasn’t due to the constant pressure from his parents to settle down and have a family, which shocked him. Being the oldest of six children put him at the forefront of pressure, even though only one of his siblings decided to marry. Unfortunately, Carlo also divorced, and no children came out of the marriage. So the pressure fell back on Antonio. Just like his five other siblings, Antonio ignored it. In the past few months, he couldn’t deny the occasional twinge of loneliness. Tierra just might be the solution to the problem, even if temporary.