Marrying CadeBy: Sally Clements
She straightened. Long chestnut hair shot with caramel lights was piled up on top of her head. A couple of tendrils had escaped to dust against the smooth, tanned skin of her cheek. Large sunglasses covered her eyes, and her full mouth formed a perfect bow. She locked the car and sashayed into the hotel, hips swaying in the tight blue cotton sheath. Cade breathed out the breath he’d been holding, shaken by the surge of arousal the mere sight of the woman had awoken. It had been too long since he’d had a female in his arms. It must be, if the mere look of a gorgeous woman had him this hot and bothered.
She must be meeting her lover. Women didn’t dress like that unless they were meeting a man. Cade glanced at his watch, wondering if he’d have to rescue Adam from the hotel’s owner, just as Adam arrived with plateful of antipasti. He wasn’t alone. The bombshell with the killer curves walked next to him, right up to the table. Cade pushed back the chair and stood up.
“Hey, Cade. Our ride is here. I’ve persuaded her to join us for a drink and a snack before we go back to the house.” Adam eyed him carefully. “You remember Melo?”
Melo? Cade rubbed a hand over his unshaven jaw.
She slipped off her glasses, and stowed them in her bag.
Could this really be Rosa’s sister? The tall, boyish tomboy he’d spent the summer with, so many years ago? She’d been gangly, awkward. Barely in her teens. The woman who stood in front of him bore no comparison.
“Ciao, Cade.” Her low voice caressed his name. Her eyes rose to his and jolted him with a bolt of blue. It was Melo, all right. He’d know those eyes anywhere.
The last thing Cade West felt like doing was mingling with a bunch of bright young party guests. His eyes stung at the unaccustomed Tuscan sunlight, and his body ached from contorting his long frame into a plane seat. The irony of hating long distance flights wasn’t lost on him. After all, he spent most of his life jetting between hotels. But he wasn’t made for an airline seat. Even a first class one.
This week was going to be all about love and happy-ever-afters. A forced break from his regular routine which, if he were honest, he could well do with. He was exhausted after the tedious routine of back-to-back meetings and on-site consultations. People thought his life as owner of The West Group was glamorous, but the day-to-day reality was anything but. His managers were paid way over the odds; they could handle things for a couple of weeks. For the first time in over a year he was on holiday.
“They’re sending a car.”
Cade cracked open a sleep-weighted eyelid. “Great.”
His best friend Adam was getting married. Moving to Isola dei Fiori, working for his father-in-law, and putting his life and hope of happiness in Rosa Bellucci’s hands. There wasn’t a woman alive Cade would change his life for. Getting married meant staying in one place, settling down, putting down roots. He’d had roots once, snaking through the earth of his native Texas, gripping firmly in the land that had been his family’s for generations. Cade rubbed the side of his face with the back of his knuckles. No point going there.
“C’mon, man, I’m getting married!” Adam gulped a mouthful of Bellucci Red, pushed back the light wicker chair, and strode across the gravel to the Fiori Hotel’s entrance. “I’ll get us some antipasti while we’re waiting.”
Cade tilted his head up toward the blazing sun, feeling its warmth heat his skin. Adam had called the Bellucci villa the moment their helicopter landed, and they’d checked in to Isola dei Fiori’s only hotel. Traditionally, the bride and groom didn’t catch a glimpse of each other on the wedding morning, so Cade and Adam had been billeted at the hotel to prevent any “accidental sightings.” Cade longed for some shuteye, but that wasn’t going to happen. Adam was totally focused on being with his bride, and as best man, Cade had to give Adam what he wanted.
Isola dei Fiori was just as he’d remembered. Beautiful, unspoiled, and totally underdeveloped. He breathed in and felt peace infuse, settling the restless itch which normally plagued him. Maybe it was the memories of the stolen weeks spent here, avoiding the harsh realities of a life in tatters. He’d found peace, for a while, before he’d had to return to the unfamiliar rented house filled with grieving women. The last thing he expected was to rediscover that peace, twelve years later.
His eyes snapped open as his ears registered the purring of an engine. An elegant, slate grey Mercedes pulled up in front of the hotel, and the door opened. From his vantage point under the trees, Cade watched a woman alight. One long, smooth, tanned leg emerged, clad in incredibly high heels, then the other. She was wearing a short, dark blue dress, which showcased every dangerous curve, and he pulled in a deep breath as she leaned back into the car to retrieve her bag, revealing the smooth curve of her bottom. If he’d been Italian, he would have whistled, but that wasn’t Cade’s style.
She straightened. Long chestnut hair shot with caramel lights was piled up on top of her head. A couple of tendrils had escaped to dust against the smooth, tanned skin of her cheek. Large sunglasses covered her eyes, and her full mouth formed a perfect bow. She locked the car and sashayed into the hotel, hips swaying in the tight blue cotton sheath. Cade breathed out the breath he’d been holding, shaken by the surge of arousal the mere sight of the woman had awakened. It had been too long since he’d had a female in his arms. It must be, if the mere look of a gorgeous woman had him this hot and bothered.