Seduced by the Heir

By: Pamela Yaye

“Keep your chin up. You’ll meet a great guy this weekend. I just know it.”

Paris scoffed and rolled her eyes to the vaulted ceiling. “Girl, please, I have a better chance of being struck by lightning during a snowstorm!”

“Okay, okay, fine, quit pouting. I’ll get Rafael’s phone number for you.”

“I’ve known Rafael since I was a teenager,” she blurted out, staring down at her bejeweled hands. The very same hands she’d once used to stroke Rafael’s face, his chest and his... Paris deleted her last thought. To ward off the memories sneaking up on her, she pressed her eyes shut and took a deep, calming breath. “He was my first love.”

“You hooked up with Rafael Morretti? No way!”

“We started dating our freshman year of college, and broke up a year later.”

Cassandra wore a cheeky grin. “That means Rafael is Mr. O!”

“Don’t call him that.”

“What?” Her smile was coy, but the expression in her eyes was one of pure mischief. “You said your first love gave you orgasm after orgasm, night after glorious night.”

“All right, all right,” Paris snapped. “Enough already. I don’t want to talk about my sexual escapades with Rafael Morretti.”

“Don’t get mad at me. They’re your words, not mine.”

Needing a distraction—something, anything, to take her mind off her old college sweetheart—Paris surveyed her surroundings. The seventeenth century villa was the perfect blend of Old World Venice and the modern, contemporary age. During the tour of the villa that afternoon, she’d learned it had a wine cellar, a personal theater and a home gym. But the room that impressed Paris the most was the study. Later, when the party died down, she was going to curl up on the couch and unwind with a romance novel.

“How was I supposed to know Stefano’s childhood friend was your old college sweetheart?” Cassandra plopped down on the antique chair at the vanity table and unzipped her Hermes makeup bag. “I’m a savvy businesswoman, Paris, not a mind reader!”

Paris laughed, but the uneasy feeling in her stomach remained. To take her mind off Rafael, she joined Cassandra at the vanity table and picked up a curling iron. “You’re right. I’m sorry for blowing up at you, but seeing Rafael again after all these years has me on edge.”

“Relax, you’re getting yourself all worked up for nothing. Rafael is too much of a gentleman to rehash the past. Besides, he’s leaving for Tuscany tomorrow, so you won’t see him again until the wedding day.”

“He balked at your ridiculous, five-page itinerary, too, huh? Smart man.”

“I just want everyone I love to spend quality time together this week.”

“I hear you, but a week-long wedding celebration is a little over the top, even for me.”

“Don’t talk to me about over the top. You rented out Spago for your thirtieth birthday, flew in friends from all across the country, and paid thousands of dollars to have Maxwell to perform,” Cassandra said, nailing her with a don’t-mess-with-me look. “Only celebrities do that, and the last time I checked your last name wasn’t Kardashian!”

The friends laughed.

“Is, ah, Rafael, staying here, too?” Paris asked, keeping her tone light, casual.

“Of course.”

“But I thought you rented the villa for the bridal party.”

Cassandra frowned. “I did. Rafael is the master of ceremonies.”

“Of what?”

“The wedding, Einstein!”

“And you’re just telling me about this now!”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said, eyebrows raised, her tone dripping with sarcasm. “I didn’t realize I needed your approval before making decisions about my New Year’s Eve wedding.”

Paris ignored the dig. Things just keep getting better! Her gaze landed on the bedroom window overlooking the backyard. She recalled her conversation with Rafael, wondered why he had given her the cold shoulder. Is he still mad about the way things ended? Their exchange had been plagued with silence, and had felt like the longest minute of her life. Paris didn’t want to stay at the villa, but she had few options. If she grabbed her stuff and left, Cassandra would flip out, and Paris didn’t want to get on her girlfriend’s bad side. “Are you sure Rafael’s the right person to emcee the wedding? He’s always been on the quiet side, and he hates public speaking.”

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