One Night To Wedding Vows - Ким Лоренс - Читать онлайн любовный роман

В женской библиотеке Мир Женщины кроме возможности читать онлайн также можно скачать любовный роман - One Night To Wedding Vows - Ким Лоренс бесплатно.

Правообладателям | Топ-100 любовных романов

One Night To Wedding Vows - Ким Лоренс - Читать любовный роман онлайн в женской библиотеке LadyLib.Net
One Night To Wedding Vows - Ким Лоренс - Скачать любовный роман в женской библиотеке LadyLib.Net

Лоренс Ким

One Night To Wedding Vows

Читать онлайн

Аннотация к роману
«One Night To Wedding Vows» - Ким Лоренс

Vows made to be broken…Despite her wild reputation, Lara Gray is a virgin. So when she’s swept off her feet by the most gorgeous man in Rome, Raoul Di Vittorio, she is shocked by the passion awakened within her after just one night.But what Lara doesn’t know is that Raoul needs a temporary wife after his last disastrous marriage blew up in smoke. Stunning, sophisticated Lara might be the ideal woman, but first this tenacious tycoon must persuade her down the aisle and show her exactly what the benefits of being the new Mrs Di Vittorio can be!Discover more at
Следующая страница

1 Страница

‘Last night we had a good time.’

Lara struggled to fight her way out of the images that flickered relentlessly through her head.

‘I made you forget.’

Where she began and he ended.

‘And you returned the favour.’

The glitter in Raoul’s eyes was mesmerising as with his elbows on the table he leaned in, his dark stare mesmerising. The butterfly kicks had been a struggle to handle, but now her stomach dissolved.

‘So what do you think?’

She blinked like someone waking up and choked out, ‘It was sex and it was one night.’ She shook her head and loosed a shocked, incredulous laugh. ‘What you’re suggesting … beyond being certifiably insane—’

‘Could work. I’m not asking for you to sign over your life.’

‘Isn’t that what marriage usually entails?’

Conveniently wedded, passionately bedded!

Whether there’s a debt to be paid, a will to be obeyed or a business to be saved …

She’s got no choice but to say, ‘I do’!

But these billionaire bridegrooms have got another think coming if they think marriage will be easy …

Soon their convenient brides become the object of an inconvenient desire!

Find out what happens after the vows in

Untouched Until Marriage by Chantelle Shaw

The Billionaire’s Defiant Acquisition by Sharon Kendrick

One Night to Wedding Vows by Kim Lawrence

Look for more stories coming soon!

One Night to Wedding Vows

Kim Lawrence

KIM LAWRENCE lives on a farm in Anglesey with her university lecturer husband, assorted pets who arrived as strays and never left, and sometimes one or both of her boomerang sons. When she’s not writing she loves to be outdoors gardening, or walking on one of the beaches for which the island is famous—along with being the place where Prince William and Catherine made their first home!




Title Page

About the Author















THE PLACE DIDN’T fall silent as Sergio Di Vittorio walked through the casino but there was a discernible hush in the room, an air of expectancy as the elderly aristocrat walked in ahead of two tall, dark, suited figures. The heavier set of the two stayed by the entrance while the other followed his employer, remaining a respectful pace behind the older man as he continued his regal progress.

From where he was standing, one shoulder propped against a marble pillar, Raoul’s sensually designed lips curved in a cynical smile from which affection was not totally absent as he watched his grandfather’s stately arrival. In the periphery of his vision he remained aware of the middle-aged guy, eyes glazed with febrile excitement, who continued to throw good money after bad on the roulette wheel. It had been like watching a car crash, now only a matter of how many innocent victims he’d take with him...a wife, a kid...


The reckless gleam in Raoul’s own deep-set dark eyes owed more to the brandy in his hand than the spin of a wheel. Each to his own drug of choice, Raoul thought, with a lazy tolerance. He turned, a faint ironic smile of self-mockery curving his lips as he found himself automatically straightening his spine as his grandfather got closer. Old habits die hard, he thought to himself, and his grandfather had strong views on good posture.

The autocratic head of the diverse family businesses and guardian of the family name had strong views on most things. Gambling, for one. Not really surprising considering his only son, Raoul and Jamie’s father, had blown his brains out when the full extent of his gambling debts became public.

Sergio could have hushed up the scandal and covered his son’s debts—the amount involved was small change to him—but instead he had chosen to tell his son to stand on his own two feet and be a man.

Did he regret it?

Did he blame himself?

Raoul doubted it. Sergio’s self-belief did not allow for doubts. Raoul’s youthful anger had been reserved for the father who had taken the easy way out and left them. It was hard for a kid to comprehend that level of self-destructive desperation, or to get his head around the fact that addicts were inherently selfish. Even the years of adult understanding did not take away the bitterness or the memories of a lonely child, but Jamie had always been there for him, the older brother who had fought his battles until Raoul had got big and tough enough to hold his own.

The long fingers of the hand Raoul dug into the pocket of his tailored dark trousers flexed as his mind drifted back. He could almost feel his brother’s warm fingers tightening around his own as their grandfather broke the news. The moment was etched in his memory: the single tear rolling, in what had seemed like slow motion, down his older brother’s face; the metronomic tick of a clock on the wall; his grandfather’s deep voice explaining that they would be living with him now.

Confusion and fear had clutched at his stomach, the heavy ache of a sob in his throat held there by the desperate need to please his grandfather. He’d saved his tears for the privacy of his pillow.

Raoul pulled his drifting thoughts back to the present, his mouth a hard line as his heavy-lidded, cynical stare drifted to the glass he lifted in a silent salute: absent friends! As the years went on, the pillow had given way to brandy. Or maybe he had simply lost the ability to cry altogether. Maybe he’d lost the ability to feel as normal people did.

Tears would not bring his brother back. Jamie was gone.

He lowered his gaze, his chest lifting as the dark mesh of his lashes shut out the grief. He refused to acknowledge the buffeting of a fresh wave of despair that no amount of brandy could numb.

‘You were missed at the wake.’ Sergio tilted his head to the spinning roulette wheel. ‘So, you have decided to follow in your father’s footsteps?’

With a jerk Raoul’s head came up. ‘It is always an option, I suppose,’ he drawled. ‘And you know what they addictive personality is hereditary.’

Sergio responded to the remark with one of his inimitable shrugs. ‘I considered the possibility.’

The frank admission wrenched a hard, cracked laugh from Raoul’s throat. ‘Of course you did.’

‘No, you both escaped the taint but you are an adrenaline junkie, just like Ja—’ The old man stopped and swallowed hard several times before continuing. ‘Your brother always said that— He... Jam...’

Unable to watch his grandfather struggle for control, Raoul cut across him, throwing out harshly, ‘That if I didn’t kill myself climbing it would be behind the wheel of one of my cars.’

For a moment his brother’s voice sounded so real that he almost turned expecting to see the familiar smiling face—you’re an adrenaline junkie, little brother, and one of these days you’ll kill yourself... The irony was like a punch to the gut.

But Jamie had been the one to die young, not because he had taken a corner too fast but because life was just not fair.

Raoul took a deep swallow of the brandy swirling in his glass as anger circled in his head. It took a few jaw-clenching seconds before he trusted his voice to continue.

‘I never expected to see you slumming it in a place like this, but I have to admit you do know how to make an entrance.’ It was true. Even in his eighties Sergio Di Vittorio made an imposing figure, dressed as always in black, the abundant silver-streaked, collar-length hair catching the light cast by the glittering chandeliers overhead.

If his emotions hadn’t flatlined he might be curious about why his grandfather was here but Raoul continued to feel nothing. He took a swallow of brandy and checked—yes, nothing.

This lying to himself was actually something he might be quite good at.

‘People were asking after you.’

Raoul tipped his head down. Sergio was a tall man, six feet, deep chested and broad of shoulder, but Raoul had been four inches taller than his grandfather since he was fifteen. It still felt somehow not quite right, almost disrespectful, to look down on him.

‘Good party, was it?’ He slumped back against the column, the lazy posture giving him less height advantage. He raised his glass to his lips, the gesture going some way to hiding his expression as he thought, When did you get so damned old?

There was nothing like a funeral to make a person aware of their own mortality and that of those they loved...precious few of whom were left.

He pushed away the dark thought and took another slug of the brandy. It slid down his throat, settling in his stomach with a warmth that did nothing to alleviate the coldness that permeated his entire body, a coldness that had nothing to do with the temperature in the room.

Sergio impatiently waved away a suited figure who started to approach, and his bodyguard made sure no more attempts were made.

‘We need to talk.’

Raoul had never reacted well to orders. But this was his grandfather so he ignored how the command chafed, allowing his attention to be drawn by the cry of the middle-aged guy at the roulette wheel. It was hard to tell if it was jubilance or misery, but the distraction had served its purpose.


Raoul gave himself a mental shake and turned back to his grandfather. ‘We are talking.’

Sergio’s lips thinned in predictable annoyance. ‘In private.’ He made a sharp stabbing gesture with his leonine head indicating that Raoul should follow and walked off.

After a pause Raoul levered himself off the cold surface, flexed his shoulder blades, and did so.

Once the door of the panelled, private room was closed Sergio wasted no time.

‘Your brother is dead.’

Any number of bitter, sarcastic responses occurred to Raoul but he clamped his lips tight on them. He had been the one who had discovered his brother’s lifeless body on the floor of his kitchen and the image still wouldn’t let go. An aneurysm the post mortem said. It seemed his brother had been walking around with a ticking time bomb in his chest for years and he hadn’t even known it was there.

‘You here to tell me life goes on?’ He’d read up on it and discovered that what had killed Jamie wasn’t that uncommon. Now he found himself walking down the street looking into faces of strangers and wondering who would be next.

‘Not for everyone. I’m dying.’

Raoul, who had walked over to the velvet-draped window, spun back, fighting off the childish desire to cover his ears. After a moment’s silence he shrugged and dropped his long, lean length into one of the leather sofas.

‘We are all dying.’

Or was it only the people he loved?

He closed his eyes and did a silent body count...the mother he barely remembered, his father, his brother, his wife... No! She didn’t count. He hadn’t loved Lucy by the end. In fact, he had loathed her, but she was gone and they all had one thing in common: him.

Perhaps I should come with a government health warning?

The black humour of the thought drew a harsh laugh from his stiff lips while in his head the scornful voice retorted, Perhaps you should stop feeling so bloody sorry for yourself?

‘It’s cancer,’ his grandfather said, at Raoul’s response. ‘Inoperable. Their best bet is that I have six months.’ The older man delivered the information without emotion. ‘Though I’ve never trusted quacks.’

Raoul surged to his feet, denial in every muscle of his taut, powerful body. ‘That isn’t possible.’ Their eyes, both pairs dark and shot with silver flecks, connected and after a moment of contact Raoul swallowed.

‘Sorry.’ His teeth clenched at the laughable inadequacy of the word.

But Sergio simply brushed away the comment with a gesture of his hand. ‘Continuity is important to me—you know what I’m talking about.’

Raoul exhaled a long, slow, measured breath and thought, Hell, not this, not now!

‘Your brother was never going to provide an heir.’

Raoul said nothing. This was the closest the older man had ever come to acknowledging his brother’s sexuality. He’d never called Jamie’s long-term partner, Roberto, anything other than his friend. Raoul felt a stab of guilt. He should have stayed for Rob at least—the man had been utterly devastated at the funeral service.

‘Jamie is barely cold...’ But his skin had been like marble when... Raoul cleared his throat. ‘Can’t this wait?’

‘Time is not a luxury I have.’ Sergio saw his grandson wince and took a step forward, adopting the stare that made powerful men sweat, and laid his hands on his grandson’s shoulders. ‘I made allowances for you after... Lucy died.’ Raoul’s hooded gaze dropped, a nerve along his jaw clenched. ‘But you have to move on.’

‘I have moved on.’

A sound of distaste escaped the old man’s lips before he turned away. ‘I’m not talking about screwing around.’

The uncharacteristic crudeness from his grandfather’s lips wiped the last shreds of alcohol-induced haze from Raoul’s brain. ‘There is no doubt about the diagnosis?’


‘Sorry,’ he said again, knowing that any more tactile or emotional gestures would not be appreciated. His grandfather had a volcanic temperament but he had never encouraged physical displays of emotion in either of his grandsons. It hadn’t stopped Jamie, but he... It hadn’t come naturally to Raoul. He had learned the advantages of not showing his feelings—his robot face, Lucy had called it. Half her twisted pleasure had been seeing her victims suffer.

The older man tipped his head in acknowledgement. ‘It will all come to you now. Whether,’ he added before the flare of anger in his grandson’s dark eyes could spark into flame, ‘you want it or not. You will be a powerful man.’

The last man standing.

Whether I want it or not...and I don’t!

‘That power brings responsibility,’ Sergio warned.

It wasn’t the time to point out that many considered Raoul a powerful man already. While Jamie had chosen to work for his grandfather, after Harvard Raoul had joined a New York law firm, refused the opportunity to become the youngest partner in the history of that prestigious firm and had instead struck out on his own, ignoring all the voices that said he’d regret it.

No voices now, when just a few years later he had offices in several global capitals with a client list of some of the richest companies and private individuals in the world.

The perfect life, but without the rush of the courtroom he was bored out of his mind! At some point he had stopped being a litigator and become a glorified manager. But his brother was the only person Raoul had confided his frustration to. Damn you! Why did you have to go?

‘And wealth, of course, but more importantly you will carry on the name. And don’t launch into one of your egalitarian rants—’

Raoul cut across him. ‘Is this where you say something that begins with, if you want to make a dying old man happy...?’


‘So, moral blackmail.’ He spoke without resentment; he could see the logic in his grandfather’s approach.

‘I may never see my grandchildren.’

He lowered his gaze, though not before Raoul had seen a sheen form in the old man’s eyes. But when he looked up again the only thing in those deep-set eyes was a familiar ruthless determination. Raoul dropped the hand he had stretched out and rubbed it along his thigh, his square fingertips white as he pressed into muscle. He sighed.

‘But I have time enough to see you married to a woman who will give you children. You can’t recapture what you had with Lucy and it’s about time you accepted it.’

An image floated into Raoul’s head, a laughing face, perfect and beautiful, the way the world had seen his wife... Recapture...? Only an insane person would want to recapture the life of undiluted hell he had lived with his blackmailing, toxic wife.

Raoul was not insane!

His marriage had not left him a woman hater. He liked women; women were gorgeous! The problem was him. It was a fact painfully proven that when he allowed himself to be emotionally involved with a woman, he simply couldn’t trust his own judgement. It was fatally flawed.

So when his grandfather had accused him of screwing around he had not been wrong, nor had it been an accident. Casual sex satisfied a basic need, and if occasionally he was conscious—regardless of how great the sex—of a nebulous something missing, it was something that he was willing to live without.

‘Anyone in mind?’

His grandfather ignored the sarcastic tone. ‘Obviously the choice is yours.’

‘Generous of you.’

‘This is not a joke. Our family name is not a joke. I do not want to die with a playboy grandson as my sole legacy in life. It’s time you faced up to your responsibilities.’

Raoul bit back a retort that hovered over his tongue, hands digging deep in his pockets as he walked towards the ornate marble fireplace. ‘So what do you suggest—should I draw up a job spec and work my way through a shortlist of applicants? Or are you, God forbid, suggesting I follow my heart?’ The sarcasm spilled over, but Raoul didn’t care. The day couldn’t get any worse now.

Again his tone fell on infertile ground; instead his grandfather looked thoughtful.

‘That is actually not such a bad idea.’

‘What, following my heart?’ His experience with Lucy had cured Raoul of any trust in following his heart. The fact that there had been clues with Lucy only rubbed salt in the wound, clues that in any other situation he would not have ignored, but he had been in love and seen only what he had wanted. ‘Or advertising?’

The older man flashed him a look. ‘Sometimes putting things down in writing focuses the mind. After all, your wife will require certain q...qualities...’ Without warning Sergio reached out for support, a sound close to a groan escaping his clamped teeth.

It was all so unexpected that for a moment Raoul froze. Then as the old man staggered the paralysis broke. The resentment of moments earlier evaporated as he sprinted to his grandfather’s side, reaching him before he crumpled.

A supportive arm across Sergio’s back helped lift him into the nearest chair. Raoul was shocked to feel through the tailored suit, not the solidity and strength that had always been there, but sharp ribs.

This was real. It was happening.

For the first time the reality hit him. His grandfather had been the one constant in his life and now he was dying and nothing Raoul could do would stop it.

The same way he hadn’t been able to stop his mother being just another statistic in a flu epidemic, his father shooting out his brains or his brother’s big heart bursting. It seemed like a lot of death and loss for one person to take. A curling wave of anger and helplessness washed over him.

He really was the last man standing. He could get drunk and feel sorry for himself or he could... He looked at his grandfather and felt an overwhelming wave of love for the tough, proud old man.

He could do something. His grandfather had just told him what he could do, not to stop him dying but to make him die content. He wouldn’t have thought twice if it were bone marrow or a kidney he was being asked for, so why hesitate now?

Because losing his right hand would be easy compared to what his grandfather was asking. Marriage had taught him that he could not trust his own judgement when his heart was engaged. And that you could never really know another person, never trust them. So gambling your future and giving up your freedom was insane.

There had to be an alternative and when he sobered up it would be obvious...

‘I’ll get an ambulance.’

‘No...’ The hand that covered his was shaking but the voice was stronger now and emphatic as he repeated the prohibition. ‘No, no hospitals. It’s passed.’ The hand that still grasped his grandson’s tightened. ‘I can’t make you do of all days... Jamie would have called me a selfish old—’

‘Jamie loved you,’ Raoul cut in roughly.

‘Your brother loved life.’

Raoul nodded and pretended not to see the tears on the old man’s cheeks. ‘And you’re not saying anything I haven’t considered myself.’ The expression on his grandfather’s grey-tinged face made Raoul glad of the lie.

‘You have?’

‘I’m not getting any younger.’

‘And you want a family?’

Raoul tipped his head, recalling a time when that had been true.

‘It is a natural instinct.’

Any instincts he might have possessed had not survived his short marriage to Lucy. Lucy, who’d had a talent and a no-holds-barred policy when it came to inflicting pain in retribution for perceived slights and insults. A year must have passed before, in one of her rages, she had revealed the abortion she had had during the early months of their marriage.

‘You think I’d get fat and ugly just to give you a brat!’ she’d screamed.

He pushed away the echo in his mind and the image of the lovely face twisted in spite and malice. It was an image he could escape temporarily in the beds of warm, willing women. But it was a good thing that it would never really leave his mind—that way he knew he was never going to risk losing his heart. He visualised that organ safely enclosed in steel; there wasn’t a woman alive who could put a dent in his armour.

‘Are you sure I can’t...?’

‘Carlo...’ dabbing a hand to the sweat beading his upper lip, Sergio nodded towards the closed door ‘...knows what to do. You...’ Dark eyes sought those of his grandson. ‘You know,’ he continued huskily, ‘what you can do for me. No matter what, you and your brother have given my life a meaning, a richness that it would otherwise have lacked.’ The dark eyes clouded as he shook his head. ‘I was a bad father.’

Raoul looked into the face of the man who had struggled to show affection, but had always been there for his grandsons. A surge of emotion left an aching occlusion in his throat. A lie was a little thing to pay back the debt he owed this man. He was never going to marry, to fall in love, but what was the harm letting him think...?

‘Then I must learn by your mistakes?’

‘I’m sure you’ll make your own.’ A thoughtful expression crossed his heavily lined face. ‘Is there anyone?’

Raoul forced a laugh, his dark brows lifting as he responded. ‘You will be the first to know and that is a promise.’

‘You probably don’t want my advice, but I’ll give it anyway. Don’t make your final selection on looks alone. Obviously no one would expect you to marry someone you didn’t find attractive...’

‘That’s a relief.’

‘It may seem cold-blooded but—’

‘Shall I take notes?’ This conversation would have been one to share with his brother. Jamie would have appreciated it; he and his brother shared the same sense of humour—had shared. The flicker of ironic amusement faded from his eyes.

‘Practicality is not a dirty word. You shouldn’t leave the important things in life to blind luck. Oh, I know you struck lucky once but you can’t rely on that happening again.’

Not on my watch, Raoul thought grimly.

‘Marriage should be approached like any other contract.’

Sergio’s voice was stronger but his skin was still cast with a worrying greyish tinge. ‘I’m sure you’re right,’ Raoul conceded, then, seeing the suspicious light in his grandparent’s eyes, realised he’d agreed too easily. ‘Shall I call Carlo now?’

Without waiting for a reply he opened the door and spoke to the man stationed outside.

Before his grandfather had time to relaunch his campaign for a grandchild, a maid who had obviously been waiting in the wings for a nod from the bodyguard appeared carrying a tea tray. Carlo followed her in.

The maid vanished and the big protective figure poured tea, slipping something from a blister pack into his employer’s hand before he nodded and left.

‘Man of few words.’

The tea seemed to have restored his grandfather, who snorted. ‘Coming from you that is amusing, but then your brother was always the talker, I remember—’

Raoul had heard the stories many times before. Some he’d experienced firsthand, but he let his grandfather talk. He seemed to find relating Jamie’s exploits cathartic, the boy he had been and the man he had become, a man Sergio had been proud of. Well, in a professional capacity, at least. By the time he got up from his chair—under his own steam—he looked more himself.

On the point of leaving the room Raoul paused and turned back, his expression intense. Bracing himself to lie through his teeth about his readiness to marry and procreate, Raoul was surprised and relieved when his grandfather asked his opinion on a very different subject.

‘I would value your input on something. I was thinking of donating a new wing in your brother’s name to the university hospital. Do you think he would have liked that?’

‘I think he would have liked that very much, but surely Roberto would be a better person to speak to about it?’ His brother’s partner was a consultant neurologist at the hospital.

His grandfather looked thoughtful for a moment before nodding. ‘He spoke well at the funeral.’

Raoul agreed.

‘I might do that. Come walk with me to the car.’

Glad to hear the familiar note of imperious command back in the old man’s voice, Raoul followed his grandfather out of the room and through the brightly lit casino.

Out of the air-conditioned cool Raoul barely registered the warmth of the evening but within seconds his grandfather’s skin was filmed with moisture. Nevertheless, he rejected the arm Raoul offered with a grunt, moving towards the limo that drew up.

‘I’ll call tomorrow?’

His grandfather shook his head. ‘Next week, as planned. I’m not dying yet.’

Watching the car pull away, Raoul found himself wondering if lying to a dying man could ever be considered the right thing to do.

The question was academic—it was done and he doubted it would be the first lie he told. But how many more would he have to tell, and how far down this road would he need to go to allow his grandfather to die happy?

With an impatient click of his long fingers he started to walk. There was no harm in humouring his grandfather, and Raoul was sure he could string it out until... He didn’t want to think about another death today, another loss.

‘Dio!’ he murmured under his breath as he locked away the memories. To think about the children he might have had, the life he might have led was pointless, that future was lost to him.

He had a new future. Thinking of it stretching out ahead of him, he was conscious of an empty feeling in his chest. He might not have auditioned for the role, but it was his. He was the last man standing, or at least the last Di Vittorio standing, which to his grandfather meant the same thing.


Получить полную версию книги можно по ссылке - Здесь

Следующая страница

Ваши комментарии
к роману One Night To Wedding Vows - Ким Лоренс

Комментарии к роману "One Night To Wedding Vows - Ким Лоренс" отсутствуют

Ваше имя


Введите сумму чисел с картинки