Seduced by the Heir

By: Pamela Yaye

“Have you spoken to Winston’s mother recently?”

Paris nodded, but didn’t elaborate on the hour-long conversation she’d had with the retired nurse days earlier. She couldn’t talk about her ex-boyfriend’s mother without getting emotional, and just thinking about the frail, elderly woman made her heart ache. She appreciated Cassandra’s concern, but knew if she didn’t change the subject quick she’d succumb to the clutches of grief and despair. And the last thing Paris wanted was to have an emotional breakdown.

“Don’t move.” Paris picked up the pink aerosol can on the vanity table, and sprayed Cassandra’s elegant up-do with hair sheen. “Voilà, you’re all done.”

“I love it, girl, thanks!” Touching the nape of her neck, Cassandra turned from right to left, admiring her chic hairstyle. “When are you going to quit working for your old man, and finally open a high-end beauty salon?”

Paris groaned. “Not this again.”

“Yes, this again. It’s time you quit working for daddy dearest, and branch out.”

“We’ve talked about this ad nauseam. I’m not cut out to run my own business.”

“Of course you are,” Cassandra argued, propping a hand on her hip. “You got your MBA from one of the finest business schools in the country, and you graduated at the top of our class.”

Paris shook her head, refusing to give any thought to what her best friend said. Leaving Excel Construction wasn’t an option. Even though she loved doing hair and makeup, and always dreamed of owning a salon, she wasn’t about to leave her cushy executive job in Atlanta. Traveling the world, making great money and partying with wealthy, influential people was important to her. And if she quit working at her dad’s company, she’d have to kiss her fabulous social life goodbye. “I opened a salon back in the day, and it was a complete failure, remember?”

“Don’t be so cynical. You’re older and wiser now. Things will be different.”

“I can’t afford to take that risk. I still owe my dad thousands of dollars. I’ll be paying him back for many more years to come.”

Cassandra stood, gripped Paris’s shoulders and stared her down. “Then do what you do best—find some big-money investors and persuade them to back your salon.”

Leaning against the vanity table, Paris gave some thought to what her friend had said. It was a good idea, but she didn’t have the time or energy to take on such an enormous endeavor. Not when she had more responsibilities than ever. Besides, no one in their family ever defied her father, and Paris wasn’t about to start.

“I’m going to go change.” Selecting one of the dresses on the bed, Cassandra sashayed back inside the walk-in closet, and shut the door. Minutes later, she returned to the bedroom wearing a designer bejeweled gown. “How do I look?”

For effect, Paris hollered like a cheerleader. Her best friend had always been a low-key, no-fuss type of girl, but there she was, in her third dress of the night. She was draped in thousands of dollars’ worth of diamonds, and her blue silk gown made her look as graceful as the Duchess of Cambridge. “I love the color of your dress, and how it shows off your killer bod. Your fiancé is one very lucky man!”

Giggling, the friends linked arms and exited the bedroom.

“We better hurry,” Cassandra said, as they slowly descended the spiral staircase. “It’s time for dessert, and if we’re late there’ll be nothing left. Julietta is a little, bitty thing, but boy, can that girl eat!”

Paris followed Cassandra through the grand foyer and out the French doors. Music, laughter and the pungent scents of fresh fruit and flowers filled the night air. With a dry mouth and an erratic heartbeat, Paris stepped inside the tent, hoping Rafael was long gone. At the thought of him, blood rushed through her veins. Try as she might, she couldn’t squelch the butterflies swarming around her stomach. He had a hold on her still, after all these years. One Paris didn’t understand, and couldn’t explain. Memories sneaked up on her, scrolled through her mind in slow motion. The first time they’d kissed and the nights they’d made love were deeply cherished memories, ones she had relived hundreds of times over the years, and nothing would ever change how much she’d once loved and adored Rafael Morretti.

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