December 1st, 2013

Harlequin
November 19, 2013
ISBN 9780373132003

A Hunger For the Forbidden/The Highest Price to Pay 2-in-1

A Hunger for the Forbidden

Scandalized & Seduced: to desire a Corretti…

Alessia Battaglia is a vision in white…as she flees the church. She's abandoned her fiancé, praying that his cousin, Matteo Corretti will come after her.

Because there are two things Matteo doesn't know… Alessia is pregnant, and the child is his!

A Hunger For the Forbidden is a Romantic Times Magazine Top Pick! "Yates ends the Corretti dynastic series with an angst-filled, pulse-pounding page-turner. Her narrative reveals the beauty and the ugliness of this imperialistic family inside their gilded cages."

The Highest Price to Pay

All about the money?

Blaise Chevalier intends to discard Ella Stanton's failing business—that is, until he meets her! Cast in the same fiery mold, she's an intriguing adversary.

Proud and beautiful, Ella's determined to prove Blaise wrong…if she can just ignore the flicker of attraction burning between them!

Excerpt

Alessia Battaglia adjusted her veil, the whisper thin fabric skimming over the delicate skin of her neck. Like a lover’s kiss. Soft. Gentle.

She closed her eyes, and she could feel it.

Hot, warm lips on her bare flesh. A firm, masculine hand at her waist.

She opened her eyes again and bent down, adjusting the delicate buckle on her white satin heels.

Her lover’s hands on her ankle, removing her high heels. Leaving her naked in front of him, naked before a man for the first time. But there was no time for nerves. There was nothing more than the heat between them. Years of fantasy, years of longing.

Alessia swallowed and took the bouquet of blood red roses from the chair they were resting on. She looked down at the blossoms. She’d bruised some of them by laying them down that way.

Brushing her fingertips over the crushed velvet petals brought another wave of memory. A wave of sensation.

Her lover’s mouth at her breast, her fingers woven through his thick dark hair.

“Alessia?”

Her head snapped up and she saw her wedding coordinator standing in the doorway, one hand covering her headset.

“Yes?”

“It’s time.”

Alessia nodded, and headed toward the doorway, her shoes loud on the marble floor of the basilica. She exited the room that had been set aside for her to get ready in, and went into the vast foyer. It was empty now, all of the guests in the sanctuary, waiting for the ceremony.

She let out a long breath, the sound loud in the empty, high-ceilinged room. Then she started her walk toward the sanctuary. Pillars lined the walk, inlaid with gold and stones. She stopped for a moment, hoping to find some comfort, some peace, in the biblical scenes depicted on the walls.

Her eyes fell to a detailed painting of a garden. Of Eve handing Adam the apple.

“Please. Just one night.” 

“Only one, cara mia?” 

“That’s all I have.” 

A searing kiss, like nothing she’d every experience before. Better than any fantasy. 

Her breath caught and she turned away from the painting, continuing on, continuing to the small antechamber outside of the sanctuary.

Her father was there, crisp, pressed. Antonioni Battaglia looked every inch the respectable citizen everyone knew he was not. And the wedding, so formal, so traditional, was another statement of his power. Power that he longed to increase, with the Corretti fortune and status.

That desire was the reason she was here.

“You are very much like your mother.”

She wondered if there was any truth to the words, or he was just saying them because it was the right thing to say. Tenderness was something her father had never seemed capable of.

“Thank you,” she said, looking down at her bouquet.

“This is what’s right for the family.”

She knew it was. Knew that it was the key to ensuring that her brothers and sisters were cared for. And that was, after all, what she’d done since her mother died in childbirth. Pietro, Giana, Marco and Eva were the brightest lights in her existence, and she would do, had done, whatever she could to ensure they had the best life possible.

And still, regret settled on her like a cloak, and memory…memory clouded the present. Memories of her lover. His hands, his body, his passion.

If only her lover, and the man waiting behind the doors to the sanctuary, waiting to marry her, were the same.

“I know,” she said, fighting against the desolation inside of her. The emptiness.

The double doors parted, revealing an impossibly long aisle. The music changed, everyone, all twelve-hundred guests, who had come to watch the union of the Battaglia family and their much-hated rivals-turned-allies, the Corretti’s, looking at her.

She held her head up, trying to breathe. The corset bodice of her dress threatened to choke her. The lace, which formed a high collar, and sleeves that ended in a point over her hands, was heavy, scratchy against her skin. The yards of fabric clung to her, heat making her feel light headed.

It was a beautiful dress, but it was too fussy for her. Too heavy. But the dress wasn’t about her. The wedding wasn’t about her.

Her father walked into the sanctuary behind her, but he didn’t take her arm. He had given her away when he’d signed his agreement with the late Salvatore Corretti. He didn’t need to do it again. He didn’t move to take a seat either, rather he prowled around the back of the pews, up the side of the church, his steps a parallel to hers. That was Antonioni Battaglia all over. Watching to proceedings, ensuring all went well. Watching her. Making sure she did as she was told.

A drop of sweat rolled down her back and another flash of memory hit her hard.

His sweat slicked skin beneath her fingertips. Her nails digging into his shoulders. Her thighs wrapped around lean, masculine hips…

She blinked and looked up at Alessandro. Her groom. The man she was about to make vows to.

God forgive me.

Had she not been holding the roses, she would have crossed herself.

And then she felt him. As though he had reached out and put his hands on her.

She looked at the Corretti side, and her heart stopped for a moment. Matteo.

Her lover. Her groom’s enemy.

Matteo was arresting as ever, with the power to draw the breath from her lungs. Tall and broad, his physique outlined to perfection by his custom made suit. Olive skin, a square cut jaw. Lips that delivered pleasure in beautiful and torturous ways.

But this man standing in the the pews was not the man who’d shared her bed that night a month ago. He was different. Rage, dark and bottomless, burned from his eyes, his jaw tight. She had thought, had almost hoped, that he wouldn’t care about her being promised to Alessandro. That a night of passion with her would be like a night with any other woman.

Yes, that thought had hurt, but it had been better than this. Than him looking at her like he hated her.

She could remember those dark eyes meeting hers with a different kind of fire. Lust. Need. A bleak desperation that had echoed inside of her. And she could remember them clouded by desire, his expression pained as she’d touched him, tasted him.

She looked back to Alessandro. But she could still feel Matteo looking at her. And she had to look back. She always had to look at Matteo Corretti. For as long as she could remember, she’d been drawn to him.

And for one night, she’d had him.

Now…now she would never have him again.

Her steps faltered, her high heel turning sideways beneath her. She stumbled, caught herself, her eyes locking with Matteo’s again.

Dio, it was hot. And her dress was suffocating her now. The veil too heavy on her head, the lace at her throat threatening to choke her.

She stopped walking, the war within her threatening to tear her to pieces.

 

 

Matteo Corretti thought he would gag on his anger. Watching her walk toward Alessandro, his cousin, his rival in business and now, because of this, his enemy.

Watching Alessia Battaglia make her way to Alessandro, to bind herself to him.

She was Matteo’s. His lover. His woman. The most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his life. It wasn’t simply the smooth perfection of her golden skin, not just the exquisite cheekbones and full, rose colored lips. It was something that existed beneath her skin, a vitality and passion that had by turns, fascinated and confused him.

Her every laugh, every smile, every mundane action, was filled with more life, more joy, than his most memorable moments. It was why, from the first time he’d sneaked a look at her as a boy, he had been transfixed.

Far from the monster he’d been made to believe the Battaglia’s were, she had been an angel in his eyes.

But he had never touched her. Never breached the unspoken command issued by his father and grandfather. Because she was a Battaglia and he a Corretti, the bad blood between them going back more than fifty years. He had been forbidden from even speaking to her and as a boy he had only violated that order once.

And now, when Salvatore had thought it might benefit him, now she was being traded to Alessandro like cattle. He tightened his hands into fists, anger, anger like he hadn’t felt in more than thirteen years curling in his gut. The kind of rage he normally kept packed in ice was roaring through him. He feared it might explode, and he knew what happened when it did.

He could not be held responsible for what he might do if he had to watch Alessandro touch Alessia. Kiss her.

And then Alessia froze in place, her big, dark eyes darting from Alessandro, and back to him. Those eyes. Those eyes were always in his dreams.

Her hand dropped to her side, and then she released her hold on her bouquet of roses, the sound of them hitting the stone floor loud in the sudden silence of the room.

And then she turned, gripping the front of her heavy lace skirt, and ran back down the aisle. The white fabric billowed around her as she ran. She only looked behind her once. Wide, frightened eyes meeting his.

“Alessia!” He couldn’t stop himself. Her name burst from his lips, and his body burst from its position in the pews. And he was running too. “Alessia!”

And then the roar of the congregation drowned out his words. But still he ran. People were standing now, filing into the aisle, blocking his path. The faces of the crowd were a blur, he wasn’t aware of who he touched, who he moved out of his way, in his pursuit of the bride.

When he finally burst through the exterior doors of the basilica, Alessia was getting into the backseat of the limo that was waiting to carry her and her groom away after the ceremony, trying to get her massive skirt and train into the vehicle with her. When she saw him, everything in her face changed. A hope in her eyes that grabbed him deep in his chest and twisted his heart. Hard.

“Matteo.”

“What are you doing, Alessia?”

“I have to go,” she said, her eyes focused behind him now, fearful. Of her father he knew. He was gripped then, by a sudden need. To erase her fears. To keep her from ever needing to be afraid again.

“Where?” he asked, his voice rough.

“The airport. Meet me.”

“Alessia…”

“Matteo, please. I’ll wait.” She shut the door to the limo and the car pulled out of the parking lot, just as her father exited the church.

“You!” Antonioni turned on him. “What have you done?”

And Alessandro appeared behind him, his eyes blazing with fury. “Yes, cousin, what have you done?”

 

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