Betrayed by His Kiss

By: Amanda McCabe

In a city of shadows…

Orlando Landucci knows all too well what darkness lies beneath Florence’s dazzling splendor. And when his beloved sister is torn from him, he will stop at nothing to avenge her death.

…only a kiss can light up the darkness

But from the moment he lays eyes on innocent Isabella Spinola, something inside him shifts. She is the kin of his sworn enemy, yet he feels compelled to protect her. With every forbidden kiss Orlando’s sense of betrayal deepens, so when the time for vengeance comes, will their bond be enough to banish the shadows forever?

“McCabe’s story charms readers.”

—RT Book Reviews on Running from Scandal

That kiss had been like nothing else she had ever known, or could even imagine.

The very ground beneath her feet had swollen like the wave of a flooding river and burst, drowning her, and nothing could surely be the same again. It was as if she glimpsed the emotions only evoked by paint or charcoal on canvas.

Yet then he had vanished. Disappeared as if he was one of her dreams, half-hidden, desperately sought, but always elusive.

She closed her eyes for an instant, and in that darkness she saw again the way he looked at her after they kissed. The sadness and longing, the burning fire of passion, that made her want nothing more than to leap into those flames and be completely consumed.

She knew she couldn’t have been fooled by that glow in his eyes. There was no artifice there in that instant, only raw, burning life.

Yet there was that fathomless darkness, too. That darkness that had frightened her the first time she met him and she saw the depths of anger he held deep inside himself. That was there as well, fighting with the light of desire.

* * *

Betrayed by His Kiss

Harlequin® Historical #1206—October 2014



The church was silent and marble-cold. Candles were lit over the altar, sparkling on the gilded image of the Virgin Mary surrounded by saints and solemn angels, but everything else was in darkness. Orlando Landucci was alone.

Except for the woman who lay on her lonely bier before the altar steps. His sister, gone from him now.

He knelt beside her, his hands clasped before him, but he could not pray. Even in this holy place he couldn’t let go of the fierce anger burning inside of him.

Maria Lorenza’s face, so delicately pretty in life, was pale and still. Her blond hair was hidden by the white linen wrappings and her brown eyes were closed for ever. A rosary was threaded through her cold fingers. Perhaps she was at peace now, at last. Her torment had been so great for so long. Yet how could she be, when her murderer was still out there?

Matteo Strozzi had not held the poison bottle to her lips, but he had surely guided her hand as she swallowed. The memory of his betrayal haunted even after all those months. The deep-dyed villain.

She wouldn’t take Orlando’s help before, but he would give it to her now. He owed it to her for the sisterly love she had long given him.

As he tucked a small bouquet of spring flowers into her hands with the rosary, he remembered Maria Lorenza as she had once been. The two of them as children, climbing trees, chasing through the barley fields, laughing. Her whispered jests and giggles in their father’s chapel, when they were meant to be solemn. Her tears, the raw fear in her eyes, when Matteo Strozzi had betrayed her and she had only Orlando to turn to.

Maria Lorenza had been there as long as Orlando could remember. His sweet, beautiful baby sister. She never deserved the torment that had driven her to this.

A baby’s piercing cry suddenly broke the silence of the church. Orlando pushed himself to his feet and turned to see one of the nuns standing in the doorway. Maria’s new daughter was cradled in her arms, a fragile new life that bloomed in the face of her mother’s death. His niece, who had only him now to look after her. Who had lost her mother in the most horrible of ways. Maria had been so sure she could not look after her child, that the shame of having a bastard daughter would drown them both, and thus she had chosen to leave them all. She could bear the humiliation no longer.

Matteo Strozzi had caused all of this. And he would pay. Orlando would make sure of that.

Chapter One

The Tuscan countryside—spring 1478

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