The Ranieri Bride [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Michelle Reid
eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: When Enrico Ranieri discovers that Freya has hidden the existence of his son, he demands her hand in marriage. Enrico won't give Freya his heart, but he *will* give her his special brand of bedroom pleasure.... Now Freya must convince Enrico she's innocent, because she can't survive as *just* his bride of convenience....
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Presents
Fictionwise Release Date: September 2006
57 Reader Ratings:
ENRICO RANIERI was striding across Hannard's foyer with his dark head lowered. He was late and he was frowning, too preoccupied with the meeting he was about to attend to notice the drop-jaw looks of recognition he and his small entourage were receiving as they passed through.
It was the finest—finest—hint of a sound crashing into his consciousness that made him lift up his head. After that he stopped dead, every important thought preceding this moment wiped clean away by the sight that met his ink-dark gaze.
She was about ten feet away, just stepping out of one of the lifts. His insides flipped and then rolled as if he'd been put into a sudden steep dive. He struggled to believe it—or did not want to. It was years since he'd so much as clapped eyes on her, yet as she uttered some small, indistinguishable sound he found himself rendered so immobile he couldn't make his brain move beyond the fact that she was right there before him in the flesh!
She had not noticed him yet because her head was lowered, her glorious mane of bright auburn hair caught up on the top of her head in one of those unflattering knots that had always challenged him to tug it free.
It challenged him again now, setting a couple of nerves flicking in his fingers, while something far more potent flicked at other parts of him.
Her name sizzled across his senses in a tight, complicated mix of hate and pleasure. Three years ago he'd kicked her out of his life without conscience, then spent the next memorable year taking that decision out on anyone who fancied taking him on. Business or pleasure, he had not been fussy. She had worked for him. He'd trusted her. No woman before or since had ever earned that level of trust. She'd lived in his apartment and slept in his bed. He slept alone now and any physical activities always took place somewhere else.
In fact, she'd stolen so much away from him, it was no wonder he was sizzling with hate.
But—Dio—she looked good. Even wearing that unflattering grey suit, which looked at least one size too big for her, she was stinging his senses with first-hand knowledge of what lay hidden beneath the layers of high-street-cheap.
Like the clothes she used to wear before he'd taken her in hand and turned the scrappy sow's ear into a breathtakingly beautiful silk purse.
That odd feeling moved to his chest, turning into a swirling, coiling stab of discomfort when he remembered how she had left all the silk behind when he'd kicked her out.
Now here she was, walking towards him with her head tilted downwards as if she was as preoccupied with her thoughts as he had been with his. His eyes narrowed as he watched her come closer. A fine layer of sweat went bristling across the surface of his skin as he waited for the silken arc of her gold-tipped eyelashes to lift up and show him a pair of vivid green eyes destined to turn as dark as his own with shock.
He wanted to see her shock—needed to see it, like a man possessed with a fevered desire to watch another human being squirm.
Did she work at Hannard's? Had he unwittingly logged into a way to make the beautiful but deceiving Freya Jenson pay yet again for what she had done to him?
His white teeth came together with a snap of tension as he waited for the glinting red head to lift up. She was almost upon him. Hell, his senses were going crazy. Any second now she was going to cannon right into him! Anticipation leapt inside him like a mad, snarling wolf ready to attack.
She pulled to a stop suddenly and all of that swirling, tingling war of feeling completely blanketed him because he thought she had sensed his presence at last.
Then he heard her speak—
'No, Nicky,' she said. 'It's no use trying to pull free of my hand when you know Mummy is not going to let it go.'
Like a man hurled from a storm into a maelstrom, Enrico dropped his gaze downward. If his senses had made a violent dive when he'd first seen her, it was nothing to what he experienced now as his eyes came to rest on the small denim-clad boy who was fighting to get free of her restraining hand.
Curling black hair crowned a handsome little face, and a pair of fiercely determined ink-black eyes glared up at his mother.
Nicky, he thought.
Nicolo, he extended.
She had named her son Nicolo.
Right there in Hannard's foyer, Enrico Ranieri, hardheaded businessman and cold, ruthless operator, quite simply crashed and burned.
* * *
The 'terrible twos' were an apt label when it came to her son, Freya thought ruefully as she fought to keep a grip on his hand. Give him the chance and he'd be off causing mayhem wherever he could wreak it. Lose concentration on him for a single second and he became a terrifying danger to himself.
She was going to have to purchase leading reins, she decided as she stood waging battle with one determined little boy. They would cause serious offence to his dignity, but hanging on to a writhing, kicking two-year-old meant that she was in danger of hurting him in her effort to keep him contained.
'The park,' she said, using a favoured destination as a key to unlock the door to her son's more compliant side. 'Be a good boy and walk nicely, and we will go to the park.'
Copyright © 2006 by Michelle Reid.