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The Italian's Stolen Bride [Secure eReader]
eBook by Emma Darcy

eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: Six years ago Luciano Peretti had scorned Skye and their baby. Defying him and his family, Skye raised her son on her own. But now Luc wants it all back: his son, his family--his wife.

eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Presents
Fictionwise Release Date: October 2005

128 Reader Ratings:
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'REMEMBER Skye…Skye Sumner…'

It was a shock to hear the name, falling from his brother's lips in a laboured whisper. Luciano Peretti frowned at the dark anguish in Roberto's eyes. Why speak of her now? Why waste any time at all on her when time was so precious?

In a few minutes Roberto would be wheeled out of this intensive care cubicle for the surgery that might or might not save his life. A fifty-fifty chance, the doctors had told the family. Their parents were out in the waiting room with the priest and Roberto's wife because of his brother's request to speak to him alone, and it seemed crazy to bring up Skye Sumner—an old wound between them that Luc had long since set aside for the sake of family harmony.

'Water under the bridge,' he muttered, wanting to dismiss whatever lingering guilt Roberto felt over the betrayal involved. 'Forgiven and forgotten,' he added for extra assurance.

'No, Luc.' It obviously pained him to speak but the determination to get out what he wanted to say demanded respect for the effort. 'I lied. It wasn't Skye…in the photos. She was never with me…like that. I set it up…to get her out of your life.'

Not Skye?

Luc's whole body clenched in denial. It couldn't be true. It was too…monstrous! Yet why would Roberto make such a statement, a confession of such destructive deceit, unless he wanted—needed—to clear his conscience?

And if what he said was true…Horror swept through Luc's mind, unlocking a sealed compartment of memories, letting loose the ghosts of intense hurt and fury, images of the damning photos that had driven him to cut Skye Sumner out of his life. Roberto having sex with her, the raspberry birthmark on her thigh, the long blonde hair streaming across the pillow, the distinctive bracelet—three circles of white, rose and yellow-gold—around her wrist.

Her face—the incredibly appealing face with joy always sparkling in vivid blue eyes, the sexy full-lipped mouth that had so many different smiles, the fascinating dimples that came and went—had been hidden by Roberto's head, bent low as though he was whispering something in her ear, but Luc had not doubted it was Skye. The hair, the long lissome legs, the birthmark, the bracelet…

Apart from which, Roberto had backed up the evidence, admitting to a playboy dalliance with her, belligerently stating he'd seen Skye first, and why shouldn't he have her when she was willing?

Willing to laugh with Roberto, flirt with him…Luc had dismissed it as just light-hearted fun between them, glad that Skye had felt comfortable with at least one member of his family. He'd actually felt grateful to his brother…until the photos had blasted him into a different reality.

Blinded by the unbearable images, he'd seen no reason to suspect a set-up, no reason to accept Skye's wild denials, no reason to believe her explanation that she'd mislaid the bracelet, then miraculously found it, no reason to think anything but she was a two-timing slut who'd enjoyed having both brothers.

'Why?' The word croaked from his throat—a throat that had tightened from a wild melee of surging emotions. 'I loved her, Roberto.'

He rose to his feet, hands clenched, barely able to contain the violence erupting in him. If his brother wasn't half-dead already, lying in front of him as white as the sheet covering his broken body…

'Why?' he cried again, struggling to understand such—such malignance. From his own brother whom he'd trusted…trusted ahead of Skye…because he was family and family honour meant his word was his bond. 'What satisfaction could it have given you? Destroying my love for her…'

Stabbing me so deeply in the heart, I've never let any other woman into it.

'Dad wanted her out.'

A judgement Luc had flouted.

'Not suitable.'

A ruling made.

A sad irony glittered through the pain in Roberto's eyes as he struggled to spell out the rest. 'He had Gaia…picked out for you.'

Gaia Luzzani, who had never sparked one bit of sexual interest in Luc. Gaia, whom Roberto had married, earning their father's approval and placing himself to eventually take over the Luzzani multi-million dollar construction business—a business that complemented the Peretti property development company. The irony was that the grandchildren so eagerly anticipated by both Italian families had not been born. Gaia had suffered two miscarriages so far, and if Roberto died…

'I was…jealous of you, Luc. The oldest son. The favoured son. I wanted Dad…to turn to me…have confidence in me…'

Luc shook his head, not knowing what to answer. His mind was spinning, trying to put the pieces together. 'Doesn't matter,' he growled, dropping back onto the chair under the weight of crushing despair.

Life had moved on. Six years had passed and there'd be no getting back with Skye. She wouldn't have a bar of him after the way he'd brutally dismissed everything she'd said, rejecting everything she was.

And facing him was his brother who might die in the next few hours. What good would it do to rail against him when his thinking had been dominated by their father…their conniving, determined to get his own way father!

Luc brought his own will to bear on what had to be done now—let his brother be at peace with himself before the operation. He took a deep breath and spoke soothing words. 'I'm sorry if I made life difficult for you, Roberto…being the first son.'

'Not your fault.'

The struggle for more breath was dreadful to watch. Smashed ribs, so much internal damage from the car accident…it was a wonder Roberto was still alive. And conscious.

Copyright © 2005 by Emma Darcy.

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