Risky Negotiations (The Attracelli Family #3) read online by Elizabeth Lennox
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Risky Negotiations (The Attracelli Family #3)
Author: Elizabeth Lennox

Elizabeth Lennox - The Attracelli Family #3 - Risky Negotiations

Risky Negotiations (The Attracelli Family #3)
Elizabeth Lennox

romance/billionaire

 

Prologue

The deep voice of the minister resonated throughout the beautifully decorated church, his eyes glancing over the congregation. “If there is anyone who thinks this union should not take place, speak now or forever hold your peace,” the minister said and waited a moment, looking out to the pews filled with people. Only the candles flickered in response and the petals on the hundreds of flowers waited anxiously.

Laci held her breath but not in anticipation of an objection. There was a gorgeous man directly in front of her. His direct gaze with intense, dark blue eyes flustered her and warmed her skin. He was the most attractive man she had ever seen in her life. He was tall, at least six feet three inches with jet black hair, dark eyes that almost appeared black, his skin was dark and he had the broadest shoulders – she doubted there was any padding in the tuxedo adorning his gorgeous body.

And she had no idea what his name was.

He looked vaguely like the president of ATI but that couldn’t be possible. Salvatore Attracelli had to be older than this man standing on the other side of the groom. He ran a multi-billion dollar a year conglomerate that employed thousands of people all over the world. This man was too young to be Salvatore. And too sexy. Heads of international companies were old and stuffy, out of shape, boring even. This man was virile and muscular in all the right places under that tuxedo. The man standing in front of her was probably one of the younger brothers that all worked in ATI as well.

The minister’s voice interrupted her thoughts. Laci was brought back to the present and the solemnity of the moment by his next words. “By the power vested in me by the Commonwealth of Virginia, I now pronounce you husband and wife.” The minister smiled widely as he continued, “You may now kiss the bride.”

Laci sighed deeply as she watched her older sister Victoria, radiant and one of the happiest brides she’d ever seen, kiss her new husband, Thomas Attracelli, while the rest of the audience cheered. She was very happy for her sister, had even suggested that Victoria think of Thomas as a significant other months before when Victoria had first joined his team as an internal auditor for ATI.

Victoria, Laci’s older sister by five years, and her new husband Thomas were walking down the aisle, now newly married and obviously deliriously happy.

Laci was the Maid of Honor in this huge parade and the moment when she would have to face the gorgeous man was coming soon. She hid behind feigned confidence as she took the offered hand of the sexy Best Man so he could escort her down the aisle behind the bride and groom. She hoped he didn’t see through her bravado, but the enigmatic smile on his face made her doubt her ability to hide her interest and her timidity. She laid her hand carefully on his arm, praying he couldn’t detect the small tremor his closeness generated.

She jumped slightly when he spoke, both because of his words and her tension at his closeness. “Aren’t you happy for them?” his deep voice asked as he bent down to whisper in her ear.

“Of course!” she gasped, glancing shyly up at the man and forcing a wider smile on her face. “Why do you ask?” She couldn’t hold his gaze though. There was something about this man that made her feel like she was looking onto her first grade school crush. Her stomach felt like it was filled with butterflies and she suspected that her palms were sweaty but she hoped not. That would be the ultimate embarrassment.

Laci impatiently brushed a strand of hair back over her shoulder wishing she had stood her ground against her sister and pinned her waist length, curling hair up in a bun as she normally wore it. Having it hang down her back, with the curls going every which way wasn’t very sophisticated. And this man seemed very sophisticated.

“You seemed distracted during the ceremony,” his deep voice said, in explanation for his question.

Laci blushed and glanced down at the floor, hoping he didn’t notice the color in her cheeks. “No, I’m very happy for both of them. I wish they’d gotten together months ago.”

He guided her to their place in the receiving line and she didn’t have a chance to answer since the guests were now filing out of the church and each wanted to say hello to either Laci or the man next to her.

Laci hadn’t been at the rehearsal dinner last night because her flight had been delayed from Michigan due to snow. They were standing in the receiving line for only five minutes before someone greeted him and she was able to learn his name. Salvatore Attracelli? The man who ran ATI, one of the largest conglomerates in the United States? She had known that Thomas worked for ATI which was run by his older brother. For some reason, she’d always pictured Salvatore as an older man, stilled in tradition and responsibility. From the way Victoria talked about him, she thought of him as nice, but kind of a stick in the mud. She’d even seen his picture on the internet. This urbane, sexy man standing next to her and introducing her to several of his friends and acquaintances as they passed hardly seemed like the man on the internet site.

Laci could not imagine this man as a stick in the mud. He practically reeked sexuality in a classy but blatant sort of way.

Shaking herself out of her reverie, Laci shook the next person’s hand as they stepped in front of her. She was probably just overly tired, she thought as she pushed her hair back over her shoulder again and her elbow accidentally brushed up against his arm. She smiled up her apology, ignored the tingling in her arm, and turned to the next guest.

Her reaction to his smile and the reassuring arm that moved behind her to rest on the small of her back was out of proportion to the gesture, she told herself. “Pull yourself together, Laci” she mentally chided herself. “You’ve been studying for finals and then the Bar exam for weeks, and have been going on four hours of sleep a night for the past three weeks. Of course a gentle hand is going to affect you but there is no need to embarrass yourself and your older sister.”

Laci plastered a smile on her face and nodded at whatever the woman in front of her was saying. She glanced down the line and was grateful to see the end finally in sight.

“Almost done,” Sal’s deep voice said in her ear. “Can you make it?”

“I think so,” she whispered back, smothering a laugh since she’d been caught hoping for an escape, “as long as no one else asked me if I’m excited for my sister. I’ve only answered that about two hundred and fifty times. Two hundred and fifty one…I’m not responsible for my actions,” she whispered, wrinkling her nose slightly. “Was I that obvious?”

“You look about ready to wilt,” he said but his eyes were laughing, telling her that he was silently agreeing with her comment on the repetitive questions.

The next few hours were a blur. The only two things she remembered were his name, Salvatore Attracelli, and standing in his strong, secure embrace, enjoying the muscular arms holding her gently as they danced for a few brief moments during the dance for the Maid of Honor and Best Man. He was the first true gentleman she’d ever met and she savored the feeling of dancing in his arms. He held her as if she were a priceless piece of china.

Most of the men she dated pushed and pressured her as much as possible, trying to control her in some way. She must present a challenge to them because she was usually fighting against their restrictions, both physical and emotional. But this man held her gently and confidently within his strong embrace. It was a feeling she wasn’t used to but could easily learn to appreciate.

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