Inherited by Ferranti

By: Kate Hewitt


Marco sighed, the sound one of defeat, his shoulders slumping. ‘Understandably,’ he agreed quietly. ‘Yes.’

Sierra stood up, pacing the room, her arms wrapped around her body. Suddenly she felt cold. She had no idea if what she’d told Marco changed things. Then she realised that of course it changed things; she had no idea how much.

‘What now?’ she finally asked, and she turned to face him. He was still sitting on the sofa, watching her, his expression bland. ‘Should I leave?’ she forced herself to ask. ‘I can go back to London tonight.’

Marco didn’t look away; he didn’t so much as blink. ‘Is that what you want?’

Was it? Her heart hammered and her mouth went dry. Here was a moment when she could try to trust. When she could leap out and see if he caught her. If he wanted to. ‘No,’ she whispered. ‘It isn’t.’

Marco looked startled, and then a look of such naked relief passed over his face that Sierra sagged with a deep relief of her own.

He rose from the sofa and crossed the room, pulling her into his arms. ‘Good,’ he said, and kissed her.





CHAPTER FIFTEEN

MARCO GAZED OUT at the azure sky, his eyes starting to water from staring at its hard brightness for so long. The plane was minutes away from touching down in LA and he’d barely spoken to Sierra for the six hours of the flight.

He’d wanted to. He’d formed a dozen different conversation openers in his mind, but everything sounded wrong in his head. He had a feeling it would sound worse out loud. The trouble was, since her revelation last night he hadn’t known how to approach her. How to handle her.

Guilt churned in his stomach as he replayed in his mind all that Sierra had told him. It was a form of self-torture he couldn’t keep himself from indulging in. A thousand conflicting thoughts and feelings tormented him: sadness for what Sierra had endured, guilt for his part in it, confusion and grief for what he’d felt for Arturo, a man he’d loved but who had been a monster beyond his worst imaginings.

In the end, beyond a few basic pleasantries about the trip and their destination, he’d stayed silent, and so had Sierra. It seemed easier, even if it made him an emotional coward.

‘Please fasten your seat belts as we prepare for landing.’

Marco glanced at Sierra, trying for a reassuring smile. She smiled back but he could see that it didn’t reach her eyes, which were the colour of the Atlantic on a cold day. Wintry grey-blue, no thaw in sight. Was she angry at him? Did she blame him somehow for what had happened before? How on earth were they going to get past this?

Which begged another question—one he was reluctant to answer, even to himself. Why did they need to get past this? What kind of future was he envisioning with Sierra?

A few days ago he’d wanted to be the one to walk away first. But a realisation was emerging amidst all his confusion and regret—he didn’t want to walk away at all.

But how could they build a relationship on such shaky, crumbling foundations of mistrust and betrayal? And how could he even want to, when he had no idea what Sierra wanted? When he’d been so sure he’d never love someone, never want to love someone?

‘Are you looking forward to seeing Los Angeles?’ he asked abruptly, wanting to break the glacial silence as well as keep from the endless circling of his own thoughts.

‘Yes, thank you,’ Sierra replied, and her tone was just as carefully polite. They were acting like strangers, yet maybe, after all they hadn’t known about each other, they were strangers.

The next hour was taken up with deplaning and then retrieving their luggage; Marco had arranged for a limo to be waiting outside.

Once they’d slid inside its luxurious leather depths, the soundproof glass cocooning them in privacy, the silence felt worse. More damning.

And still neither of them spoke.

‘Where are we staying?’ Sierra finally asked as the limo headed down I-405. ‘Since there isn’t a Rocci hotel here yet?’

‘The Beverly Wilshire.’ He managed a small smile. ‘I need to check out my competition.’

‘Of course.’ She turned back to the window, her gaze on the palm trees and billboards lining the highway. The silence stretched on.

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