VITTORIO'S RUNAWAY BRIDE (The Vittorio Series) (3 page)

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Shelby closed her eyes against the sting of tears, forcing back the poignant memories of the scorching kiss that followed.
She’d fallen hopelessly in love with him that night and discovered in the months that followed that he was steadfast in his belief that telling the truth, regardless of the consequences, was always the right thing to do.

She realized now why she hadn’t confronted Logan about the woman she had seen him with.
He wouldn’t have lied to her, and hearing the truth from his own lips would have crushed the life from her.

Chapter 2

Madre di Dio
,” Logan ground out, “it has been almost six months.  Surely one of those incompetent fools has stumbled across at least one clue as to where she is.”

Grady Thorpe, Head of Security at Vittorio Enterprises, offered what little encouragement he could.
“She’s obviously taken precautions so she couldn’t be tracked down.
There hasn’t been any activity on her charge cards, although she withdrew a substantial amount of money from her bank account shortly after…”

A sharp glance from Logan stopped Grady from finishing his sentence.

“What I’m trying to say is that your investigators assumed she withdrew the money to live off of so they never pursued that avenue.”

“And what avenue is that?”
Logan asked irritably.

“That she bought a house, presumably one that is isolated in some manner, like a mountain cabin or a beach house.”

“Beach house.
My wife…Shelby loves the beach.”

“I’ve already got some men checking into houses purchased within a three hundred mile radius during the first two months, but if you think she would have opted for a house on the beach, we’ll start the search there.”

After all the months of having nothing at all to go on, Logan finally felt they might be getting somewhere.  “Maybe I should have hired you to go find her.
Tell me, Grady, why only a three hundred mile radius and the first two months?
How do you know she didn’t buy a house half way across the country, three or four months after she left?”

“A few reasons.
Three days after she left, Shelby withdrew the funds.
Since she has her car, three days of driving could put her as far as three hundred miles.
Going with the assumption she used the money to buy a house…”

“The sale of the house would have closed within sixty days,” Logan finished for him.
“All this time, and she was only a few hundred miles away.”

“I could be wrong.
I’d hate for you to get your hopes only to find out I sent the men out on a wild goose chase.”

Logan rose from his desk.
“No, you are right.
It makes perfect sense, I just wish…”
He turned away from Grady and tried to make his stroll to the window look casual.
“I wish I would have gotten you involved earlier.”

“We’ll find her, but it will be up to you to bring her home.”

“I know,” Logan replied, careful to keep his voice even.

Grady tactfully left him alone and only then did Logan allow himself to surrender to the emotions churning inside of him.
The mask of granite he wore in front of others slipped, replaced with a look of utter desperation.
He had to find her and bring her back home.
If he didn’t, the empty ache in his chest would never go away and what little remained of the heart she’d shredded when she left would wither and die.

Logan had never known such pain, and the fact that he was totally clueless as to why Shelby left him only made it worse.
The idea that there might be another man involved was too unbearable to think about and he shoved it away, praying it was nothing more than a misunderstanding they could clear up and this would all be over.

He stared out the window, but it wasn’t the bustling city below he saw, it was Shelby.
Adoring green eyes looked up at him as he slipped the glittering engagement ring on her slender finger and his heart squeezed as it always did when he realized she was really his.
She flung her arms around his neck, a brilliant smile lighting her face.

“I’m madly in love with you, Logan Vittorio, and I can’t wait to be your wife.”

“Neither can I,
cara mia
,” he said with a husk in his voice, “because I will finally have you in my bed where you belong.”

“Oh, I see how it is,” she teased.
“You think I won’t sleep you with unless you marry me first.”

“What I
,” Logan pulled her closer, “is that we should have a very short engagement or I shall very likely lose my mind.”

“Oh, dear, I would be riddled with guilt for the rest of my life if that happened.
Lucky for you, I have a solution that I think will make us both very happy.”

“And what is that,

Shelby’s hands slipped from around his neck and made a slow seductive trail down his chest.
She looked up at him with eyes that were as soft and sexy as her voice.

“I think you should make love to me now.”

Logan, who had never been anything but confident when it came to bedroom activities, felt a tremor run through him.
For three months, he had dreamed of nothing else but loving Shelby with his body, but he had been willing to wait because he knew she wasn’t ready and he wanted their first time to be special.
That in itself was a novelty for Logan, because he had never really given any thought as to whether the woman he was with would be satisfied or not.

He knew he was good in bed, knew that the attention he languished on his lover’s body brought them pleasures beyond their wildest imaginations, but Shelby was different.
It wouldn’t be enough for her to have just his body; she wouldn’t be completely fulfilled unless she had his heart too.
So the waiting hadn’t only been because she wasn’t ready, but because Logan wanted to be sure of his feelings first.

He’d never been in love before and the truth was, he had been a little concerned that he was even capable of the kind of love that would last a lifetime.
Being tied to just one woman had not been something that appealed to him, and leaving himself vulnerable by allowing his heart to get involved was just as distasteful.
Shelby had changed all that, she had changed everything.

“Are you sure you want to do this, because we can wait…”

“I’m sure.”
Her hands inched up and disappeared beneath his jacket.
“You see,” she pushed it off his shoulders and let it fall to the floor, “if you make love to me now, I won’t have to wonder if you married me just to get me into bed.”
Shelby loosened his tie and flung it over her shoulder then reached for the first button on his shirt.
“It will also insure your mind stays intact and…”

Logan ended her slow moving torture by sweeping her up into his arms and planting a long, hard kiss on her lips.
He was glad he’d brought her to his house to give her the engagement ring instead of going back to her place as he originally planned.
Too many of his day dreams about Shelby centered around making love to her in his own bed and now those dreams would become a reality.
Logan carried her to his room, already so aroused he didn’t think there was much chance the first round would last long.

He set Shelby down beside the bed, leaving her just long enough to adjust the lights so the room was bathed in a soft glow.
Her timid smile tugged at his heart, but it was those incredible green eyes gazing up at him with such trust that took his breath away.
Logan took his time undressing her, feathering soft kisses down her neck as he lowered the zipper on her dress and slipped the thin straps over her shoulders.
He’d admired the silky material and had been thoroughly turned on by the way it clung to her gentle curves, but watching it slither down the length of her body and pool at her feet was enough to make him break out in a cold sweat.

With trembling fingers he unhooked her bra and let it follow the dress to the floor.
A low, throaty moan whispered through Shelby’s lips when he cupped the velvety smoothness of her breasts in each hand and raked his thumbs over the peaks.
The temptation to take her in his mouth was too much, and for a few minutes he did just that, nipping and sucking then swirling his tongue around until her wild gasps nearly did him in.
Logan didn’t think he’d ever been this hard in his life, and he’d sure as hell never felt such a desperate need to bury himself inside a woman before.
Dragging his head up, he framed her faced with his hands and kissed her.

Sono spiacente
…I am sorry, my darling.
I had such great plans to take my time exploring every delectable inch of you, but if I do not make love to you soon…”

“Don’t apologize,” Shelby said, her voice thick and raspy.
“I need you
, Logan.
I feel like I’m going to explode if you wait even another minute.”

Desire speared through him, but he didn’t dare touch her for fear he would lose control.
What he really wanted to do was toss her on the bed, rip her panties off, and pounce on her, but he didn’t think she was ready for the kind of tenacity he was capable of…yet.
Yanking the covers down on the bed, Logan told her to lie down.
Shelby moved hesitantly to the bed and sat down on the edge.

“You…you want me to lay down with my shoes and hose still on?”

Logan’s mouth quirked.
“Do not worry,
cara mia
, I do not have a shoe fetish, I merely wish to undress you myself.”

Her eyes widened and colored stained her cheeks.
“Oh,” was all she managed to say, then obediently moved to the center of the bed and laid down.

He undressed quickly then stretched out beside her, a little disconcerted to feel the tension in her body the instant he drew her into his arms.
Confused by Shelby’s sudden nervousness but determined to rekindle the raging fire that had been dangerously close to consuming them both only moments ago, Logan lavished her mouth with a slow, seductive kiss.
It didn’t take long to get lost in the heady taste of her or to find his own body aching with need as his hands moved over the silky smoothness of her skin.

She was incredibly sensitive to even the slightest of touches and Logan was deriving a great deal of pleasure in discovering which soft caress elicited the biggest response.
Trialing kisses along her neck and down to the swell of her breasts had her breathing in short, ragged gasps that turned into the most delicious little moans once he’d drawn one of the taut peaks into his mouth.

He continued the journey downward, using both his tongue and lips to blaze a moist pathway over her stomach to the lacy top of her panties, stopping only because Shelby’s entire body was quivering and he knew how close she was to climaxing.
Logan had every intention of giving her the release she was softy begging him for, but not just yet.

Rising up on his knees, he slipped off her shoes and the thigh high nylons then watched her eyes darken when he reached for her panties and drew them slowly down and tossed them to the floor.
There was just the slightest resistance when he gently spread her legs then leaned forward and kissed his way up to the dewy juncture between her thighs.

He heard the sharp intake of breathe just a fraction of a second before he dipped his head and pushed her over the edge with one skillful flick of his tongue.
Shelby bucked against him then let out a guttural moan as the first wave of spasms thundered through her.
It was too much for Logan; watching Shelby’s breasts jut up as her back arched, seeing the dazed look on her face as the climax hit its peak and then the helpless whimpers as it began to subside.  It fueled the burning need in his own body, a need that could only be satisfied by burying himself in her feminine warmth.

He maneuvered himself over her, thrusting hard and deep, clenching his teeth against the incredible tightness as her muscles clamped around him and sent a violent shudder coursing through him.
He’d never known such triumph, such glory in claiming a woman before, but he hadn’t expected her to be a virgin and was elated to know he was her first, her only.

Mio Dio
,” he muttered, lifting his hips and surging into her once more.

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