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Marrying Cade

By:Sally Clements

Marrying Cade
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.







Marrying Cade



by



Sally Clements






Chapter One



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.

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 a  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.

She leaned toward him, proffering her cheek for the customary kiss.

Cade's lips grazed the smooth skin of her cheek, and his nostrils filled  with the intoxicating scent of her perfume. His fingers smoothed over  her upper arms, feeling the shiver snaking through her. She had a tiny  mole above the outer curve of her mouth, something else he remembered  from the Melo of old.

He stepped back, needing distance.

"Hi, Melo. You look great." The scratchy croak was just about all he  could manage. Rosa's sister had blossomed into the most stunning woman  he'd ever seen. Twelve years ago, the gangly tomboy had been the perfect  companion for a boy on holiday. They'd done everything together. Well,  almost everything. Now he was tongue-tied around her, and that was new.

"So do you." She grinned, revealing white even teeth. Long fingers reached up and smoothed over his jaw line.

Cade held himself in check, resisting the urge to rub against her like a lonely cat.

"Are you growing a beard?" Her tone was deep, sexy, teasing.

Cade struggled through the sensuous fog that descended as her fingers  touched his skin. Melo'd always teased. "Maybe. Do you like it?" Her  eyes were no ordinary blue, but deep sapphire.

She dropped her hand quickly. "I love it. But Rosa won't. She'll probably ask you to shave."

Adam pulled out a chair, and Melo sank into it.

Cade took his seat again, and helped himself to an olive-topped  crostini. Melo picked an olive from the platter and popped it into her  mouth. The cherry gleam of her lips was impossible to ignore.

Adam poured her a glass of wine. "So, how's my Rosa?"

"Desperate to see you." Melo's mouth curved in a smile. "If she knew  you'd arrived she'd be here to fetch you herself." Her shoulders lifted  and her open palms tilted upwards. "We're under time pressure, so I  didn't tell her."

Cade swallowed his wine and tried not to look at the siren Melo had  become. Since the Alison fiasco, he'd been careful to keep his  relationships casual. He'd thought he and Alison had an equal  relationship, based on trust and mutual desires. He cared about her, had  given her a platinum credit card, which she promptly proceeded to melt.  It had taken mere days to track down her addictions. Roulette, haute  couture, and cocaine. Cade had financed the most expensive rehab  possible, but Alison's bland statement she didn't want to get better,  she wanted to "have fun," had sent a steely javelin of ice through him,  severing their connection irrevocably. He'd been a blind fool, but no  more.

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