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What a Sicilian Husband Wants Michelle Smart 2022/8/3 13:40:16

‘The majority of the wine and olive business is in Europe,’ he mused. ‘Francesco’s buying out my share of the casinos and nightclubs, which will free me up to base myself anywhere I choose, like Pepe.’

‘But this is your home. How would your mum feel if we moved away? She’d be heartbroken.’

‘My mum is as tough as old Parma ham.’

She sniggered. ‘I know, but she adores Lily. She can always come with us.’

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He pulled away and stared at her quizzically. ‘Seriously? You would want my mother to come with us?’

‘I know she’s never approved of me but she is your mother and she does love Lily.’

‘She does approve of you,’ he insisted. ‘She’s always thought you were wonderful but she could see from the beginning that the restrictions of living here would wear you down. And she was right.’

She snuggled back into his chest, a warm feeling of contentment seeping through her bones ridding her of the final vestiges of poison.

‘We’ll work it out,’ he promised, stroking her hair. ‘As long as we’re together, and as long as we’re talking to each other about the things that matter, we’ll figure it out.’

‘Did you know I managed to escape your goons’ X-ray vision for all of two minutes and buy a new untracked phone?’

He laughed and rubbed his chin on her hair. ‘Now why doesn’t that surprise me?’

Snickering, she buried her face in his chest, catching a whiff of stale alcohol. ‘Have you been drinking?’

His voice became rueful. ‘I stayed the night in your studio nursing the best part of a bottle of Scotch.’

‘Were you very drunk?’

‘No. Believe me, I tried very hard to find oblivion. I knew what I had to do but I was delaying the inevitable.’

‘I can’t believe you were prepared to let me go.’

‘And I can’t believe what a bastard I was in forcing you to stay, and I can’t believe you’re prepared to give me another chance. I swear, I’ll never give you cause to regret it.’

‘As long as you promise to stay away from any business venture involving Francesco Calvetti.’

‘You can’t blame Francesco. I am my own man and I make my own choices. But I promise from now on all my business ventures will be legitimate in the sense that you recognise.’

‘Good. You must also swear there will be no more secrets between us.’

She rubbed her nose into his neck, catching another scent, a very faint trace of his new cologne. ‘Why did you change your aftershave? I thought another woman had bought it for you.’

His laugh was savage. ‘There has been no one else. I changed it because every time I smelt the old one it reminded me of you and made me miss you so much it hurt.’

‘Good. Because you must also swear to never, ever, ever even think about taking a mistress.’

‘As long as I’m breathing you are the only woman for me. You. Just you.’

‘Good. Because if you went with another woman I swear to God I’d rip your heart out.’

‘My heart would have to be ripped out for me to stop loving and wanting you.’ He bent his head and brushed his lips to hers. ‘I never stopped loving you, even when you shot me.’

Her laugh was shaky. ‘And I never stopped loving you, even when I hated you.’

‘No more hate.’ His lips parted and he pulled her into a kiss of such tender sweetness that the last hollow patch inside her belly filled and made her whole.

THE MONASTERY WAS filled with friends and family, the Mastrangelo contingent of aunts, uncles and cousins far outweighing the handful that had flown over for the occasion from England. Lily Elizabeth Mastrangelo had been baptised earlier in the same church in Lebbrossi where Grace and Luca had married. The beaming congregation had all agreed she was the most beautiful baby to bless the earth—although Grace could have sworn one of the small Mastrangelo cousins had likened Lily to a pig, but her language skills were so pathetic it was likely a mistranslation.

Donatella approached her, a glass of red wine in hand. ‘Aunt Carlotta has kidnapped Lily,’ she said, looking more relaxed than Grace had ever seen her.

‘I don’t think I’ve seen her since we got back from the church.’ Grace laughed. ‘The relatives have been too busy playing Pass the Baby.’

‘I’m going to miss her,’ Donatella admitted with a rueful smile.

‘I know. It’s not too late—you can still come with us.’