Inherited by Ferranti

By: Kate Hewitt

Then he let out a sigh and she eased the door open slowly, so slowly, every second seeming to last an hour. She slipped through and closed it carefully behind her before glancing at the dark, empty street. She looked back at the house with its lit windows one last time before hurrying into the night.


Seven years later


Marco Ferranti turned from the window and his indifferent perusal of Palermo’s business district with a shrug. ‘She might not.’ He glanced at the lawyer seated behind the large mahogany desk and then strode from the window, every taut, controlled movement belying the restlessness inside him.

‘She didn’t come to her mother’s funeral,’ the lawyer, Roberto di Santis, reminded him cautiously.

Marco’s hands curled into fists and he unclenched them deliberately before shoving them into the pockets of his trousers and turning to face the man. ‘I know.’

Violet Rocci had died three years ago; cancer had stalked her and killed her in a handful of months. Sierra had not come back for her mother’s illness or funeral, despite Arturo’s beseeching requests. She had not even sent a letter or card, much to her father’s sorrow. The last time Marco had seen her had been the night before their wedding, when he’d kissed her and felt her trembling, passionate response.

The next morning he’d waited at the front of the church of Santa Caterina for his bride to process down the aisle. And waited. And waited. And waited.

Seven years later he was still waiting for Sierra Rocci to show up.

The lawyer shuffled some papers before clearing his throat noisily. He was nervous, impatient, wanting to get the ordeal of Arturo Rocci’s will over with. He’d assured Marco it was straightforward if uncomfortable; Marco had seen the document himself, before Arturo had died. He knew what it said. He didn’t think Sierra did, though, and he grimly looked forward to acquainting her with its details.

Surely she would come?

Marco had instructed the lawyer to contact her personally. Marco had known where Sierra was for a while; about five years ago, when the first tidal wave of rage had finally receded to a mist, he’d hired a private investigator to discover her whereabouts. He’d never contacted her, never wanted to. But he’d needed to know where she was, what had happened to her. The knowledge that she was living a seemingly quiet, unassuming life in London had not been satisfying in the least. Nothing was.

‘She said she would come, didn’t she?’ he demanded, although he already knew the answer.

When di Santis had called her at her home, she’d agreed to meet here, at the lawyer’s office, at ten o’clock on June fifteenth. It was now nearing half past.

‘Perhaps we should just begin...?’

‘No.’ Marco paced the room, back to the window where he gazed out at the snarl of traffic. ‘We’ll wait.’ He wanted to see Sierra’s face when the will was read. He wanted to see the expression in her eyes as realisation dawned of how much she’d lost, how much she’d sacrificed simply to get away from him.

‘If it pleases you, signor,’ di Santis murmured and Marco did not bother to answer.

Thirty seconds later the outer door to the building opened with a telling cautious creak; di Santis’s assistant murmured something, and then a knock sounded on the office door.

Every muscle in Marco’s body tensed; his nerves felt as if they were scraped raw, every sense on high alert. It had to be her.

‘Signor di Santis?’ the assistant murmured. ‘Signorina Rocci has arrived.’

Marco straightened, forcing himself to relax as Sierra came into the room. She looked exactly the same. The same long, dark blond hair, now pulled back into a sleek chignon, the same wide blue-grey eyes. The same lush mouth, the same tiny, kissable mole at its left corner. The same slender, willowy figure with gentle curves that even now he itched to touch.

Desire flared through him, a single, intense flame that he resolutely quenched.

Her gaze moved to him and then quickly away again, too fast for him to gauge her expression. She stood straight, her shoulders thrown back, her chin tilted at a proud, almost haughty angle. And then Marco realised that she was not the same.

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