VITTORIO'S RUNAWAY BRIDE (The Vittorio Series) (2 page)

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“After what you have told me of your family, I almost feel guilty telling you about mine.
Both of my parents are still alive and causing havoc with their children.
I have one older brother, Simon, who just recently married and one sister, Milana, who also just got married.
I have three younger brothers; Dante, Raffaele, and Gianluca, all of which are single at the present time.”

“Are you all close?”

“A little too close sometimes,” he grinned.
“My brothers and I share the responsibility of running the family business and we do not always agree on how it should be done.”

“I can imagine.
With five Italian males, the arguments are bound to be quite...”
Shelby felt herself blushing once more.
“What I mean is…well…it’s just that I’ve heard…”

“That Italian men are passionate?”

“Yes,” she mumbled, her cheeks flaming.

Logan pulled her closer, lowering his head so he could whisper in her ear.
“It is true you know, and I should like very much to prove it to you.”

Shelby let out an audible gasp when the muscles in her abdomen suddenly clenched, accompanied by a rush of heat that made her skin tingle.
She tilted her head back, fully intending to tell Mr. Logan Vittorio that his proposition was both inappropriate and unwelcomed.  But the moment her eyes met his, Shelby lost herself in their bottomless depths and couldn’t seem to utter even a single word of protest.
Her heart was racing at a furious pace and her body temperature shot up as he lowered his mouth to hers and took advantage of her parted lips.

It was intoxicating to say the least, and she may as well have downed several glasses of wine because the effects were just the same.
Shelby’s head was spinning, her knees suddenly so weak she all but melted into him.
If the world went on around them, she wasn’t aware of it; she wasn’t aware of anything except the feel of his warm lips on hers and the strange sensations his kiss was eliciting.
When he finally lifted his head, Shelby could do little more than gaze up at him with an inane smile and eyes that were clouded with desire.

Logan rested his forehead on hers and drew in a ragged breath.

Mio Dio
, the things I want to do with you right now.”

Shelby closed her eyes, only vaguely aware their bodies were still swaying to the music.
“Logan, I…I barely know you.”

“Then let us get to know one another better.
Spend the night with me, Shelby.  Let me make love to you.”

I don’t sleep around, Logan.”

“But you want to be with me tonight,” he said huskily.
“Your body is trembling, aching for my touch.
Say it,
dmit that you want me as much as I want you.”

“Yes,” she whispered faintly.

“But not tonight?”

She shook her head slowly, regretting her answer the minute it was out of her mouth.

“Then we will wait until you are ready.”

She shivered in response, as everything feminine inside of her begged her to change her mind and tell him she was ready now.
She’d never been fascinated by sex in her teens, as all of her girlfriends had been, and even as she got older it hadn’t held that much appeal.
The thought of getting naked in front of a man was so abhorrent she had never let any relationship develop beyond kissing, so she was stunned to realize that she wasn’t the least bit appalled at the idea of undressing for Logan.

In fact, Shelby was so turned on by the image of lying beneath his gloriously masculine body, she felt a sudden rush of heat pool deep in her abdomen and a rather disconcerting moistness between her thighs.
Startled by her own reaction to him, she tried to pull away, but Logan held in her a vice like grip, obviously intent on keeping her from fleeing.

“You look frightened,
mia tesoro
,” he said softly.
“Is it me you are afraid of or is it the way I make you feel?”

“I’m not afraid…of you.”
His hand glided slowly up her spine, making her whole body quiver.
“Logan,” she choked, “you have to stop.”

The corner of his mouth twitched as if he found something greatly amusing.
“Stop what,
I am merely dancing with you.”

Shelby rarely got angry, but the Irish blood in her instantly shot to the boiling point when she realized he was toying with her.
He’d been seducing her from the first moment his hand held hers and she was horrified at how easily she had fallen prey to him.
He was laughing at her, she could see it in his eyes.
Had she honestly believed a man like Logan Vittorio would find her attractive?

It was obvious he had gone for the easy kill.  After all, demure little Shelby couldn’t possibly withstand the onslaught of such alluring charm, could she?
It was humiliating to know she had nearly given in, and though a small part of her fervently wished she could have spent the night with him, a greater part of her resented Logan for making her feel like such a fool.

Her eyes blazed in total opposition of the iciness in her tone.
“As tempting as your offer is, I think I’ll pass.
But don’t worry; I’m sure there are any number of women here who would be more than happy to warm your bed.”

Logan’s brows drew together.
“If that is all I was looking for, I am sure you are right, but I do not want a one night stand with you, Shelby.
When I said you were different from any woman I have met, I meant it.”

“Different how?
Because I’m plain and boring and gullible enough to think a man like you would be interested in me?
I know it’s probably just a game to you, but I think it’s just plain cruel to toy with me.”

Madre di Dio
, what are you talking about?”

Shelby’s eyes misted with tears in spite of her effort not to cry.
“You know what I’m talking about.
You picked me because you thought I would be a…an

Logan looked genuinely baffled.
“An easy conquest?”

“Yes,” she replied tearfully. “You probably took one look at me and decided I would be so flattered by your attention I would jump at the chance to tumble into bed with you.”
Shelby’s voice caught in her throat, but before she could regain her composure, Logan whisked her off the dance floor and out through a set of French doors leading into a flower garden.
“Wh-where are you taking me?”

“Do not worry,
, I only want to find someplace more private so we can talk.”

She should have been at least a little bit afraid as he pulled her down a winding path, especially since he seemed to be taking her farther and farther away from the other couples who were strolling through the gardens.
But for some inexplicable reason, Shelby trusted him.
Maybe it was because he looked as if he really didn’t understand why she was so upset, or maybe it was because he hadn’t turned around and left her on the dance floor and gone in search of a more willing female companion.

“In here,” Logan said, ducking into a small alcove and leading her to a stone bench.

Shelby sat down beside him, desperately trying to quell the flutter of butterflies in her stomach when his thigh brushed against hers.
She was painfully aware that Logan was looking at her and imagined he was wondering why he was wasting his time out here when there were dozens of beautiful women inside who had been vying for his attention all evening.
When he finally spoke, his voice was so soft and gentle it instantly dissolved her determination to remain angry at him.

“Forgive me,
, I have obviously upset you.
I know you have no reason to believe me, but I am not in the habit of inviting women I have just met to share my bed.  If I have insulted you by doing so, then I am sorry.”

“It wasn’t…that.”
Shelby kept her gaze focused on the greenery around them, afraid that if she looked at him she would lose the nerve to speak her mind.
“I suppose it’s my own fault.
to believe you were attracted to me, and when you asked me to spend the night I felt…desirable.
I’ve never felt that way before and I guess I got caught up in the fantasy.”

“What fantasy?
Shelby, I am extremely attracted to you.  Why else would I have kissed you?”

“Logan, please stop,” she choked out.
“I may have fooled myself into believing that for a few minutes, but we both know it’s not true.”

Logan reached up and cupped her chin, gently forcing her head up so she had to look at him.
“Those things you said about me thinking you were an easy conquest because you are plain, do you really believe that is true?”

Tears pooled in her eyes.
“Isn’t it?
Why else would you have chosen me when there are so many beautiful women in there?”

Mio Dio
,” he said with surprise, “you outshine all of them.
How could you not know that?”

“You don’t have to try and spare my feelings, Logan, I have no illusions about the way I look.”

“Then perhaps you have not looked at yourself lately,
He brushed away a stray tear with the tip of his finger then pressed a soft kiss to her lips.
“Let me tell you what I see when I look at you.
Eyes the color of jade that reflect every emotion, every desire that is in your heart.”
His hand glided down her arm.
“Flawless skin that makes a man long to touch it just to see if it is as soft and silky as it looks.”

Shelby drew in a stilted breath when he took her hand and held it in his, studying it for a moment before lifting it to his lips.

“Your hands are so small, so delicate, yet the lightest touch makes my heart pound in my chest.”
He let her hand go and lifted one of the long strands of hair from her shoulder.
“When the light hits your hair, it shimmers like fire and I try to imagine what it will look like splayed across my pillow.”
His gaze shifted to her mouth.
“So soft and warm,” Logan murmured, “so undeniably kissable.”

Shelby closed her eyes, her lips parting as Logan’s mouth closed over hers.
Two strong arms enveloped her and pulled her closer, the friction of his muscular chest against her breasts so sinfully delicious she could have cried from the sheer joy of it.
Her fingers curled around the material of his jacket, a low moan vibrating in the back of her throat when Logan slanted his head and deepened the kiss, his mouth hard and hungry.
He could have taken her right there and Shelby wouldn’t have uttered a single word of protest, but he did nothing more than ply her with more devastating kisses before drawing his head back with a satisfied smile.

“This is what I have wanted from the first moment I saw you.
I wanted to see your eyes dark with desire, your lips full and moist from my kisses, your skin flushed with color.

,” he sighed, “you have no idea what you do to me.”

Shelby’s heart surged.
“You weren’t lying,” she said with wonder.
“You really do…want me.”

“I do not lie, that is one thing you can always be sure of.
I am a man of my word,
, and you
never hear anything but the truth from me.”

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