“Right.” I expect her to ream me out, to have a tantrum. Instead she grins up at me mischievously. “Matteo Benenati with his foot in his mouth. Some might say you were nervous... like a virgin.”
My body heats, my focus intensifying, narrowing until I see nothing but her.
“Don’t taunt the lion, little lamb.” I whisper against her ear, my teeth nipping at the tender lobe.
She shivers, her body pressing against me, and I’m done. I’m not used to waiting for things that I want, and now?
Riley Tremaine... Riley Benenati... is mine, officially, legally. At least for the next month. There is no reason to delay any longer.
I intend to spend the next month naked and in bed with her. It’s not such a bad deal, after all... sating myself on the only woman to ever intrigue me, and protecting my legacy by doing so.
“We’re leaving.” I’m feeling quite smug, entirely pleased with myself as I scoop Riley into my arms without warning and carry her to the house. Catcalls and well wishes, as well as yet more camera flashes, follow the movement.
Setting my bride down on her feet at the foot of the stairs, I kiss her soundly, long and hot and wet, pulling away only when her fingers slowly, tentatively, curl into my belt.
“Take me upstairs?” Her eyes are wide pools, her stare innocent and hot at the same time. My fingers curl around her waist, then release quickly.
“Not yet.” Swallowing thickly, I wrench myself away. “We’re going somewhere first.”
Riley’s eyes narrow with determination, and she stands on her toes, pressing a kiss to my jaw. The smell of her perfume, her skin, are nearly my undoing... I’ve never wanted a woman more.
“I don’t want to wait.” Her fingers toy with my collar, and I allow her to undo my tie and loosen the top button of my shirt. “Let’s go after.”
“Mrs. Benenati. A little restraint, if you please.” Catching her wrists in my hands, I kiss her fingers, then step back. “It will be worth the wait, I promise.”
Franco enters through the front door, nodding when he sees us.
“Go get in the car.” I gently turn Riley in Franco’s direction, and can’t resist spanking her delectable ass, just hard enough to get her attention. Her cheeks flush, and I wonder if I can make it all the way to our destination without sliding inside of her.
She takes a step toward Franco, then pauses, turns. “Your doctor came to see me today, while I was getting dressed. He said that everything is good.” She holds my gaze, and a growl emanates from my throat.
“Get your ass in the car, woman.” I know what she’s saying.
I had my doctor pay her a visit, to give her a birth control shot. He had warned me that it might not work for up to a week, depending on timing.
But what she’s telling me is that the first time I make love to my wife, I can do it with nothing between us.
My internal temperature rises as I watch her sashay through the front door, knowing full well what effect she is having on me.
I’ve never met anyone quite like her.
“You look like you’re about to have a stroke, Matteo.” Emilia’s voice floats through the air from behind me, and I stiffen, remembering the events of the last two days, before whirling and baring my teeth at my stepsister.
Before I can say a word, she holds up her hands in a gesture of peace. “I’m just here to give my blessing.”
“What?” This stops me in my tracks. I look her over suspiciously. Most weddings that I have seen Emilia attend, she has dressed in the skimpiest dresses imaginable, designed to display her fabulous body and detract attention from the bride. That’s just who she is.
But right now she’s wearing a cream colored, textured shift. It’s the most demure I’ve ever seen her.
“What are you doing?” I know this woman. She’s ruthless. I can’t imagine her vacillating between offering herself to me and... this... within a few days.
She has the good grace to look down at her dress and flush. I’ve never, not once, ever seen Emilia Guerra blush. It edges me ever so slightly from suspicion into wanting to hear what she has to say.
She might be a ruthless demon, but she’s the only family I have left.
“I came to apologize. And, like I said, to give my blessing.” She purses her lips, and the expression makes her seem softer than her usual man eater persona. “The company was never meant to be mine. I know that. It just... it hurts to be cut out. I overreacted.”
I don’t quite know what to say. I want to be suspicious. I know the way Emilia’s mind works. But...
Something rings true, and I find a crack in my own ruthless armor.
“Let’s set up a meeting for when Riley and I are back.” Though it’s a strange thing for me to do, I reach out and pat my stepsister on the shoulder.
I can’t believe I’ve said it. I’m married now. I’m almost there—almost full owner of Benenati Enterprises.
But Emilia has worked long and hard, too. She deserves something. Though not to the extent that I would be left with nothing.
An expression that I can’t quite understand crosses her face, but it morphs so quickly into a smile that I don’t ponder it for too long.
“Be careful with her, Matteo.” Emilia says shrewdly, her eyes narrowing. “She’s not your usual type.”
Anger flashes white hot. “I’m fully aware of that. It’s why I like her.”
Emilia smiles knowingly, and I grind my teeth together. “Yes, but Matteo... this marriage... it’s only for a month. You know that you’ll be able to walk away after, because you know that money, excitement, woman will be waiting for you.”
“I don’t like where you’re going with this.” I glare, even as her words worm their way into my consciousness.
“I’m just saying, Matteo. A girl like Riley? She’s not going to be able to help falling for you. She’s not used to our kind of lifestyle. She could walk away with a broken heart if you’re not careful.”
I shake my head irritably, even though Emilia’s words are a punch straight to my gut. Two days ago, I wouldn’t have cared about Riley’s thoughts or feelings. The idea of her being crushed at the end of this all wouldn’t have been my problem, so long as I got what I wanted.
Now... I don’t like the idea of her hurting. Not at all.
“I know what I’m doing,” I snap at Emilia. She smiles.
“Just be gentle.” She places a kiss on my cheek, and it makes me think of how much smaller Riley is. Despite all of her bravado, she’s fragile when in this world. It’s my job to protect her, not to hurt her more.