Inherited by Ferranti

By: Kate Hewitt

‘They won’t be worth much, on the open market,’ Marco said. His voice came out loud and terse, each word bitten off. Sierra’s gaze moved to him and he felt a deep jolt in his chest at the way she looked at him, her gaze opaque and fathomless. As if she were looking at a complete stranger, and one she was utterly indifferent to.

‘Is there anything else I need to know?’ Sierra asked. She’d turned back to the lawyer, effectively dismissing Marco.

‘I can read the will in its entirety...’

‘That won’t be necessary.’ Her voice was low, soft. ‘Thank you for my mother’s jewels.’ She rose from the chair in one elegantly fluid movement, and Marco realised she was leaving. After seven years of waiting, wondering, wanting a moment where it all finally made sense, he got nothing.

Sierra didn’t even look at him as she left the room.

* * *

Sierra’s breath came out in a shudder as she left the lawyer’s office. Her legs trembled and her hands were clenched so tightly around the little velvet pouch that her knuckles ached.

It wasn’t until she was out on the street that her breathing started to return to normal, and it took another twenty minutes of driving out of Palermo, navigating the endless snarl of traffic and knowing she’d left Marco Ferranti far behind, before she felt the tension begin to unknot from her shoulders.

The busy city streets gave way to dusty roads that wound up to the hill towns high above Palermo, the Mediterranean glittering blue-green as she drove towards the Nebrodi mountains, and the villa where her mother was buried. When di Santis had rung her, she’d thought about not going to Sicily at all, and then she’d thought about simply going to his office and returning to London on the very same day. She had nothing left in Sicily now.

But then she’d reminded herself that her father couldn’t hurt her any longer, that Sicily was a place of ghosts and memories, and not of threats. She’d forgotten about Marco Ferranti.

A trembling laugh escaped her as she shook her head wryly. She hadn’t forgotten about Marco; she didn’t think she could ever do that. She’d simply underestimated the effect he’d have on her after seven years of thankfully numbing distance.

When she’d first caught sight of him in the office, wearing an expensive silk suit and reeking of power and privilege, looking as devastatingly attractive as he had seven years ago but colder now, so much colder, her whole body had trembled. Fortunately she’d got herself under control before Marco had swung that penetrating iron-grey gaze towards her. She had forced herself not to look at him.

She had no idea how he felt about her seven years on. Hatred or indifference, did it really matter? She’d made the right decision by running away the night before her wedding. She’d never regret it. Watching from afar as Marco Ferranti became more ingrained in Rocci Enterprises, always at her father’s side and groomed to be his next-in-line, told her all she needed to know about the man.

The road twisted and turned as it climbed higher into the mountains, the air sharper and colder, scented with pine. The hazy blue sky she’d left in Palermo was now dark with angry-looking clouds, and when Sierra parked the car in front of the villa’s locked gates she heard a distant rumble of thunder.

She shivered slightly even though the air was warm; the wind was picking up, the sirocco that blew from North Africa and promised a storm. The pine trees towered above her, the mountains seeming to crowd her in. She’d spent most of her childhood at this villa, and while she’d loved the beauty and peace of its isolated position high above the nearest hill town, the place held too many hard memories for her to have any real affection for it.

Standing by the window as dread seeped into her stomach when she saw her father’s car drive up the winding lane. Fear clenching her stomach hard as she heard his thunderous voice. Cringing as she heard her mother’s placating or pleading response. No, she definitely didn’t have good memories of here.

But she wouldn’t stay long now. She’d see her mother’s grave, pay her respects and then return to Palermo, where she’d booked into a budget hotel. By this time tomorrow she’d be back in London, and she’d never come to Sicily again.

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