Seduced by the Heir

By: Pamela Yaye

“She’s not?”

His frown deepened, caused fine lines to wrinkle his forehead. “Nope, last time I checked she was single and ready to mingle!”

“But she’s wearing a massive diamond ring on her left hand.”

“Paris loves jewelry. Most women do.”

Surprised, and oddly relieved by the news, Rafael pressed on. “Is she dating anyone?”

“Why? Are you interested?”

“I didn’t come to Venice to make a love connection.”

“Nicco said you dated Paris in college. How come you never mentioned her?”

He shrugged. “Because we weren’t serious.”

“Why did you guys call it quits?”

“What’s with all the questions?”

“I just couldn’t imagine you dating someone like Paris, that’s all, and I wonder—”

“Someone like Paris?” he repeated, interrupting. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You’re polar opposites. She’s a high-maintenance diva and you’re Mr. Laid-back.”

Rafael thought about what his friend had said, wondering if there was any truth to it. In college, Paris had been the girl every guy wanted, and every girl wanted to be. But he couldn’t recall her ever copping an attitude with him, or behaving like a diva. Loved by everyone, and admired by all, she’d easily made friends. She had shone as the student council president, and gained the respect and admiration of the faculty and staff, as well.

Had Paris changed? Was she like all the other shallow, materialistic women he’d had the misfortune of dating in the past? Unlike his friends, Rafael didn’t flaunt his wealth, and derived great pleasure from the simple things in life. Hot summer days spent jogging through the park with his beloved dogs; spending Sunday afternoons playing golf and watching football. He’d yet to find someone who loved the great outdoors, and humanitarian work, and doubted he ever would. Most women he met were more interested in driving around town in his Bentley and dining at five-star restaurants than getting to know him as person. And since he had more than enough work to keep him busy, he had zero interest in the Washington dating scene.

“Paris loves to party, and you’re a recluse, so you’d definitely make an odd pair.”

“Recluse? That’s a stretch, don’t you think?”

“No. The last time you went on a date Michael Jordan was still playing for the Bulls!”

Rafael had a zinger on his tongue, one he knew would wipe the grin clear off Stefano’s face. But before he could speak, his friend resumed his interrogation.

“Did Paris cheat on you?” he asked in a solemn tone. “Is that why you broke up?”

“No, she transferred to Spelman her junior year, and the distance proved too much....” Rafael trailed off, stopping himself from saying more. What he didn’t tell Stefano was that Paris had dumped him three days before his birthday and immediately started dating someone else. Some rich, good-looking clown on the football team. It’s in the past, water under the bridge, he told himself, downing the rest of his wine cooler. I moved on a long time ago, and never gave Paris, or her loser boyfriend, another thought.

If that’s true, his conscience said, then why are you still bitter and resentful about your breakup? Why does your heart ache every time you see her?

“I can’t believe you’re still sweet on her after all this time.”

“Stefano, knock it off. I’m not sweet on Paris. I haven’t seen her in years.”

“So? Who’s to say she’s not the one?” he challenged, raising an eyebrow. He leaned forward expectantly. “Maybe it’s true what they say. Maybe absence does make the heart grow fonder.”

Rafael laughed, rejecting his friend’s opinion with a dismissive flick of his hand. “Thanks for the advice, Dr. Love, but I’m not interested in making a connection with Paris or anyone else.”

But I wouldn’t mind a few nights of carnal pleasure, he thought as images of his ex-girlfriend bombarded his mind. Rafael couldn’t remember the last time he’d had sex. Six months? A year? He told himself it didn’t matter, because now that he’d reunited with his old college sweetheart his sexual drought was about to come to an abrupt end.

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