When the man you once ran from is the only one who can now protect you…
When Heather fell into Prince Massimo Ventura di Villanova's bed and let herself go in unbridled pleasure, the price she had to pay turned out to be too high. So she ran, vowing to never look back.
Little did she know that she would see him again one day, but this time with two children and someone wanting to harm her little family, she's even more vulnerable. And Massimo is the only one who has the knowledge and the means to save her. There's just one condition—he wants her back.
Will Heather make the same mistake and fall in love with him again?
Content Warning: contains mild sexual content
Heather was dining al fresco by the Mediterranean Sea with Sicilian Prince Massimo Ventura di Villanova, sipping Inzolia white wine and drinking in his devastatingly good looks and worldliness.
"You know, you just might be the answer to years and years of hoping," he murmured, kissing her hand, and Heather was ecstatic.
The sex had been out of this world. Unprecedented in Heather's meager sex life. Massimo was a considerate but searing-hot lover, making her come again and again, and in the end cuddling her as he murmured life-time promises in her ear.
On the second night his passionate love-making continued, and again they snuggled up, content all night. But in the wee hours he'd woken her, his sexy grin replaced by a sleazy leer. To no avail she resisted as he pinned her face down…
"Get up," he boomed afterward, his voice barely penetrating the haze of Heather's shock.
Dazed, she opened her eyes, blinked back tears, her throat sore from crying. Massimo Ventura di Villanova was hovering above her, shoving her clothes at her, his face a horrible mask of anger and disgust.
"Get lost. Now."
He hustled her down the stairs, her high-heeled sandals rolling past her as if animated with a will of their own. She couldn't understand what was happening, how he'd turned into an animal overnight, but she knew she had to get away from this dream-date turned nightmare as quickly as possible.
So much for her fairy tale ending.
Heather winced. He had seemed to be the answer in flesh and blood to every woman's dream—Mediterranean looks, a dark, intriguing sensuality that monopolized your senses, a body made for battles of every kind, and eyes that promised delicious love-making to come. And he had been interested in what she had to say. His warm eyes had never left hers, his answers were intelligent and stimulating, his laughter apparently genuine. It had all been a ploy to do what he wanted to do to her.
They had met in the Piazza San Giorgio, heart of the lovely medieval town of Ragusa Ibla, during her last weekend before flying back to her home in London. She was competing in the Ibla Gran Prize classical music festival where young musicians from around the world came to strut their stuff. Heather had played the violin, rather badly she thought, but Massimo came backstage to congratulate her all the same.
The attraction was undeniable as on that first evening he wined and dined her at a small, intimate restaurant. The next day he took her to visit the Castle of Donnafugata and then to various art galleries in nearby Modica and even sightseeing in the Baroque Valley of Noto—all in just two days, and he had been so warm, so kind.
But now all his tenderness and fire were gone, like a mask he had easily discarded. She should've known this kind of stuff didn't exist, that it would be a beautiful bubble that would explode acid in her face.
His mad shouts followed Heather all the way into the kitchen downstairs. There, she stopped to pull her dress on, not bothering with her bra that she stuffed into her clutch. She stepped into her heels and darted out the door without looking back as tears blinded her. Some love at first sight. It served her right. What was she thinking, that a guy like that could be real?
In the lavender haze before dawn, the limestone buildings seemed to glow, pulsating with the force of her mortification. She wiped her eyes and ran erratically down the slope and tripped, cutting her knee on the rough pavement and losing a heel. She scrambled to her feet, ignoring the blood running down her shin.
"Bloody hell," she sobbed. Could it get any worse?
As if in response, headlights flooded the road before her as a car pulled up, stopping alongside the curb. Was he coming after her for more? She'd kill him first.
Furious, Heather whirled as the passenger door opened, but she couldn't see his face in the dark.
"Ciao, bella," came an unfamiliar voice. "Quanto vuoi?"
She gasped. Her meager knowledge of Italian translated that as 'how much?' She scooped up her shoes and ran from the most humiliating night of her life.
Now she knew that her dream of real love didn't exist. It never had.