Inherited by Ferranti

By: Kate Hewitt

Sierra admired the impressive Art Deco foyer of the hotel, and when a bellboy escorted them to the private floor that housed the penthouse suite, Marco experienced a little dart of satisfaction at how awed she looked. It might not be a Rocci hotel, but he could still give her the best. He wanted to give her the best.

And the penthouse suite was the best: three bedrooms, four marble bathrooms, a media room, plus the usual dining room, living room and kitchen. But best of all was the spacious terrace with its panoramic views of the city.

Sierra stepped out onto the terrace, breathed in the hot, dry air of the desert. She glanced up at the scrubby hills that bordered Los Angeles to the north. ‘It almost looks like Sicily.’

‘Almost,’ Marco agreed.

‘I don’t know if we need such a big suite,’ she said with a small teasing smile. ‘Three bedrooms?’

‘We can sleep in a different one each night.’

Her smile faltered. ‘How long are you planning on staying here?’

Marco noted the ‘you’ and deliberately kept his voice even and mild. ‘I’m not sure. I want to complete the preliminary negotiations for The Rocci Los Angeles, and I don’t need to be back in Palermo until next week.’ He shrugged. ‘We might as well stay and enjoy California.’ Enjoy each other. He only just kept himself from saying it.

‘I have a job to get back to,’ Sierra reminded him. ‘A life.’

And she was telling him this why? ‘You have a freelance job,’ Marco pointed out. ‘What is that if not flexible?’

Her eyebrows drew together and she looked away. So he’d said the wrong thing. He’d known he would all along.

Sierra walked back into the suite and after a moment Marco followed. When he came into the living area he saw how lost she looked, how forlorn.

‘I think I might take a bath,’ she said without looking at him. ‘Wash away the travel grime.’

‘All right,’ Marco answered, and in frustration he watched her walk out of the room.

* * *

Could things get more awkward and horrible? With a grimace Sierra turned the taps of the huge sunken marble tub on full blast. She didn’t know what she regretted more: telling Marco the truth about her father or coming with him to LA. The trouble was, she still wanted to be with him. She just didn’t know how they were going to get past this seeming roadblock in their relationship.

Whoa. You don’t have a relationship.

She might be halfway to falling in love with him, but that didn’t mean Marco felt the same. He’d made it abundantly clear that they were only having a fling and, in any case, she didn’t even want him to feel the same. She didn’t want to be in love herself. Not when she’d seen what it had done to her mother. Not when she’d felt what it could do to herself.

Since meeting Marco again her whole world had been tangled up in knots. Since making love with him she’d felt happier and yet more frightened than she ever had in the last seven years. Happiness could be so fleeting, so fragile, and yet, once discovered, so unbearably necessary. How much was it going to hurt when Marco was gone from her life?

Better to make a quick, clean cut. She’d told herself that yesterday and yet here she was. She was more like her mother than she’d ever wanted to be. Filled with regret and uncertainty, Sierra closed her eyes.

She almost didn’t hear the gentle tapping at the bathroom door. She opened her eyes, alert, and then heard Marco call softly, ‘Sierra? May I come in?’

She glanced down at her naked body, covered by bubbles. Everything in her seemed to both hesitate and yearn.

‘All right,’ she said.

Slowly the door opened. Marco stepped inside the steamy bathroom; he’d changed his business suit for faded jeans and a black T-shirt that clung to his chest. His hair was rumpled, his jaw shadowed with stubble, his eyes dark and serious.

‘I haven’t known what to say to you.’

Sierra gazed at him with wide eyes. She felt intensely vulnerable lying naked in the bath, and yet she recognised that Marco had come in here for a reason. An important reason. ‘I haven’t known what to say, either.’

‘I wish I had the right words.’

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