Enemies at the Altar

Harlequin Presents

Series: The Outrageous Sisters

Available: 08/21/2012

ISBN-10: 9780373130924

ISBN-13: 978-0373130924

ASIN: 0373130929

The last time Andreas Ferrante saw Sienna Baker she was naively trying to seduce him. Whilst her provocative sensuality is emblazoned on Andreas’s memory, the terrible consequences torment him. So the news that they must marry to secure his inheritance is unthinkable…Once devastated by his heartless rejection, when she sees Andreas again it makes Sienna’s humiliation burn brighter. And as for marrying him…? They’d be lucky to last the ceremony without killing each other! But there’s a fine line between love and hate…Will the flames of anger turn to white-hot passion on their wedding night?

An Excerpt from Enemies at the Altar

ANDREAS got the call from his younger sister Miette in the early hours of the morning.

‘Papà is dead.’

Three words that under normal circumstances should have evoked a maelstrom of emotion, but to Andreas they meant nothing other than he was now free from having to play happy families on the extremely rare occasions his path crossed with his father. ‘When is the funeral?’ he asked.

‘Thursday,’ Miette said. ‘Will you come?’

Andreas glanced at the sleeping woman lying beside him in the king sized hotel bed. He rubbed at his stubbled jaw and let out a frustrated sigh. It was just typical of his father to choose the most inconvenient time to die. This coming weekend in Washington DC was where he had planned to ask Portia Briscoe to marry him once his business here was complete. He even had the ring in his briefcase. Now he would have to wait for another opportunity to propose. There was no way he wanted his

engagement and marriage to be forever associated with anything to do with his father, even his demise.

‘Andreas?’ Miette’s voice pierced his reverie and his conscience. ‘It would be good if you could be there, for me even if not for Papà. You know how much I hate funerals, especially after Mamma’s.’

Andreas felt a claw of anger clench at his insides at the thought of their beautiful mother and how cruelly she had been betrayed. He was sure that had been what had finally killed her, not the cancer. The shame of finding out her husband was sleeping with the hired help while she was battling gruelling rounds of chemotherapy had broken her spirit and her heart.

And then, to add insult to injury, the brazenness of that witch Nell Baker and her trashy little sleep-around slut of a daughter Sienna had turned his mother’s final farewell into a cheap and tawdry soap opera.

‘I’ll be there,’ he said.

But that little hot headed harlot Sienna Baker had better not.

The first person Sienna saw when she arrived at the funeral in Rome was Andreas Ferrante. At least her eyes registered it was him, but she had felt him seconds earlier in her body. As soon as she had stepped over the portal she had felt a shiver run up her spine and her heart had started a crazy little pitter-patter beat that was nothing like its normal healthy, steady rhythm.

She hadn’t seen him in years and yet she had known he was there.

He was sitting in one of the pews at the front of the cathedral. Even though he had his back towards her she could see he was as staggeringly gorgeous as ever. His aristocratic bearing was like an aura that surrounded him. He exuded wealth and power and status. His glossy raven-black head was several inches higher than any of the other black-suited men sitting nearby, his thick, slightly wavy hair neither long nor short, but cut and styled so it brushed against the collar of his shirt.

He turned his head and leaned down to say something to the young woman seated beside him. Just seeing the profile of his face made Sienna want to put a hand to her chest where her heart was flapping like a frantic fish suddenly flung out of its fish tank. For years she had dismissed his features from her mind. She had dared not think of him. He was a part of her past she was ashamed of—deeply ashamed. She had been so young and foolish, so immature and insecure. She hadn’t thought through the consequences of twisting the truth. But then, who did at the age of seventeen?

And then, as if Andreas sensed her looking at him, he twisted his head and locked gazes with her. It was like a lightning strike when those hazel eyes hit hers. They narrowed and glared, pinning her to the spot like a bug on a corkboard.

Sienna pasted an indifferent smile on her face and, giving her silver-blonde head a toss, sashayed up the aisle and shimmied her way into a pew on the left hand side a few rows back from his.

She felt his anger.

She felt his rage.

She felt his fury.

It made her skin shiver. It made her vertebrae rattle like ice cubes in a glass. It made her blood race. It made her knees feel weak, as if someone had removed all of her strong stabilising ligaments and

4 put overcooked noodles in their place.

But she showed none of that. Instead, she affected a cool poise that her teenage self, eight years ago, would have sorely envied.

The woman seated beside him was his latest mistress, or so Sienna had gathered from a recent press article. Portia Briscoe had lasted longer than any of his other lovers, which made Sienna wonder if the faint whisper she had heard of an impending engagement had any truth to it.

Not that she had ever thought of Andreas Ferrante as the falling in love type. To her he had always been the playboy prince of prosperity and privilege. When the time came he would choose a bride to suit his Old Money heritage. Just like his father and grandfather before him, love would not come into it at all.

Although, going on appearances alone, Portia Briscoe looked like the perfect candidate to be the next generation Ferrante bride. She was classically beautiful in a carefully constructed way. The sort of woman who never went anywhere without perfectly coiffed hair and expertly applied make up. She was the type of woman who wouldn’t dream of turning up at a funeral on a whim, in faded jeans with ragged hems and soiled trainers or, God forbid, a T-shirt that had suffered a food spill.

Portia Briscoe only wore exquisitely tailored designer couture. She even had toothpaste commercial teeth and porcelain skin that looked as if it had never suffered a blemish on it.

Unlike Sienna, who’d had to endure the torture of braces for two years and had only that morning had to reach for her concealer to cover a spot on her chin.

Andreas Ferrante would make sure his bride never put a designer clad foot out of place. His bride wouldn’t have a history of bad choices and reckless behaviour that had caused more pain and shame than she cared to think about.

No, his bride would be Perfect Portia, not shameful, scandalous Sienna.

Good luck to him.

As soon as the service was drawing to a close, Sienna slipped out of the church. She still wasn’t exactly sure why she had felt compelled to pay her respects to a man in death she hadn’t even liked in life. But she had seen the news in the press about his death from a heart attack and immediately thought of her mother.

Her mother Nell had loved Guido Ferrante.

Nell had worked for the Ferrante family for years, but not once had Guido acknowledged her as anything but his housekeeper. Sienna remembered all too well the scandal her mother had caused at Evaline Ferrante’s funeral. The press had gone wild with it, like a pack of hyenas over a carcass. It had been one of the most humiliating experiences of her life. To see her mother vilified, to see her shamed

in the most appalling way, was something Sienna still carried with her. She had sworn that day she would never be at the mercy of a powerful man. She would be the one in control. She would be the agent of her own destiny, not have her life dictated to by others who had been better born or had more money than her.

She would never fall in love.

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Enemies at the Altar is part of the The Outrageous Sisters series.
Also available in: Spanish