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Italian Boss's Mistress by Lynne Graham

Chapter One
"Wrecked!" screamed the caption beneath the photo of a woman bein b!ndled" lassy eyed
into the back of a police car#
"Checosachafacenda $"%is black eyes litterin" Gio&anni threw down the newspaper and
t!rned to his spin doctor# "Let's hope this is the last of it#"
"'o!'&e spoken to the police$" asked L!cas#
"(i#)he lawyers say chares will be dropped if she oes into rehab"" Gio&anni said rimly#
"(he's finally accepted that she has a problem# B!tMadre di*io + it has taken lon eno!h!"
,fter years of denial" his fraile step+sister had taken the first" tentati&e step on the road to
reco&ery# B!t despite the s!nshine that streamed thro!h the windows of his
bea!tif!lLondonho!se" Gio&anni co!ldn't shake off his dis-!iet#
"B!t what the hell do I do now$" he -!estioned" his dark feat!res hardenin as he anticipated
the tro!bles ahead# "%ow do I stop the snappers from campin o!tside the clinic and bribin
patients to sell ossip$ My sister needs protectin from the sharkswho inhabit her world" and
God knows there's nobody else lookin o!t for her#"
"We need to kill the story"" said L!cas" -!ietly#
"%ow$"
"We i&e the press an e&en bier one#, di&ersionary tactic#"
Gio&anni narrowed his eyes# ",nd what co!ld be bier than this$"
"'o! are#"
"./plain"" Gio&anni said tersely#
")hey want a story abo!t yo!r fab!lo!sly lamoro!s family#"
",nd fab!lo!sly c!rsed"" echoed Gio&anni sardonically# "*on't foret that#"
L!cas shr!ed# "*r!s are bi" b!t yo!'re one of the world's most eliible bachelors# 'o!r
enaement story wo!ld wipe e&erythin else off the front pae#"
".naement story$"Gio&anni sat down and stretched o!t his lon les as he st!died his spin
doctor tho!htf!lly# "What black arts are yo! concoctin now" L!cas$" he m!rm!red#
",n enaement of con&enience"" replied the other man smoothly#
In spite of e&erythin" Gio&anni a&e a short la!h# ",ren't yo! forettin somethin$ )here's no
one who fits the bill# In fact" there's no partic!lar woman in my life#" 0elationships bored him +
and scared the life o!t of him# %e'd spent his early years a&oidin the fallo!t of partnerships"
which always seemed flawed and !ltimately doomed####
"Which is what wo!ld make it s!ch a ood story"" persisted L!cas# "It wo!ld be so o!t of
character#"
"I may want to protect my step+sister"" said Gio&anni rimly" "b!t there's a limit to what I'm
prepared to do#"
"1o one's askin yo! to o thro!h with it"" placated L!cas# "2!st 3oin in with the ame" that's
all# B!y the rin# 4lay cat and mo!se with the cameras# )he press will o wild and by the time
they'&e finished chasin yo!" Miranda will be clean and sober# We can et her dischared
somewhere -!iet and yo! can call the whole thin off#"
Gio&anni a&e a stare that wo!ld ha&e intimidated most men# ",nd who's oin to aree to be
my wife$" he -!estioned sarcastically#",ny briht ideas$"
L!cas smiled# "Oh" come on" Gio&anni + yo! practically ha&e to fiht them off!"
Gio&anni shr!ed# It was tr!e# %e co!ld ha&e his pick of any woman he wanted + whene&er"
where&er and howe&er he wanted# If word went o!t that he was lookin for a bride" then they
wo!ld be linin !p aro!nd the block# Women flocked to him like ants to 3am + attracted to his
ood looks and leendary se/+appeal" as well as his massi&e bank acco!nt and starry address+
book#
,nd therein lay the problem#
%e flicked L!cas a -!estionin look# ",nd when it's all o&er$ What woman is oin to take kindly
to bein d!mped$"
"1ot a one###!nless yo! tell her the tr!th first#1!mber+one r!le of spin + don't tell lies5 3!st be
sparin with the facts#"
"B!t that wo!ld mean tr!stin them#"
",nd there isn't anyone###$"
Gio&anni a&e a brittle smile# , woman he co!ld tr!st$ Were there pots of old at the ends of
rainbows$ %is teenae years had been spent watchin a&aricio!s women bleed his father's
fort!ne dry# ,nd when Gio&anni was 3!st si/teen" one of the women had e&en come to his room
late at niht + astonished when the r!ed yo!th had t!rned down her offer of se/#
"1o"" he answered shortly# ")here isn't#"
)he silence that followed was splintered by a smart" seasoned rap on the door#
Gio&anni stretched and yawned# "'es" come in"" he said" witho!t botherin to t!rn ro!nd#
)he woman who p!shed the tea trolley into the eleant drawin room was 3!st short of her
thirtieth birthday and didn't really ha&e a 3ob description#
In the days when e&en the aristocracy had the bare minim!m of people workin for them" Misty
Carmichael had a n!mber of skills at her disposal# (he was able to cook" clean and ser&e food
and sometimes she was called on to do all three in rapid s!ccession#
(he looked across at her not+-!ite+Lord" b!t certainly her master + the arroant b!t drop+dead+
oreo!s Gio&anniCerr!ti # In fo!r years of workin for him" she had tried not to lo&e him" or to
react to him as a woman# It hadn't been easy and it still wasn't" b!t Gio&anni had helped by
manain to make her feel as if she was in&isible#
"Coffee$" she asked#
"4lease"" said Gio&anni absently# "Well" I'll i&e yo!r idea some tho!ht" L!cas#"
B!t L!cas did not reply# %e was watchin the woman as she po!red coffee + the steam makin
her pale cheeks row pink#
Misty offered a plate of tiny macaroons" thinkin how strained Gio&anni looked# "Wo!ld yo! like
a bisc!it$"
"1o" I wo!ldn't"" said Gio&anni impatiently# "'o! know I ne&er eat between meals#"
Irritated" he lanced o&er at L!cas# Why the hell was he starin at Misty like that$ %e followed
the direction of his spin+doctor's eyes and for the first time noticed thatMisty's checked workin
dress was p!llin &ery tihtly across her bottom# )wo tiht lobes thr!stin aainst the man+
made fiber# It was as tho!h he was seein her for the &ery first time and ine/plicably" a ner&e
bean to work in his cheek#
Misty lared at them both# What were they starin at$ %ad her hair s!ddenly t!rned reen$ "Will
that be all$"
".r" yes# )hank yo!#"
L!cas t!rned to Gio&anni" who was still starin atMisty's retreatin bottom#
"Why not her$" he -!estioned simply once she had one#
"%er$" Gio&anni flared his ha!hty nostrils" and la!hed# ",re yo! honestly s!estin I et
enaed to one of the staff$"
)o be contin!ed###
Chapter )wo
"What's wron with ettin enaed to a member of yo!r staff$"
Gio&anni's 3et black eyes narrowed as he stared at his spin doctor# "Madre di*io !'o! are
proposin that I ask Misty Carmichael$ ,re yo! cra6y" L!cas$ (he ser&es the meals!"
")hat co!ld be !sef!l"" said L!cas#
",nd she is a sinle mother!" Gio&anni e/claimed#
"(o$"
"(o I ha&e my rep!tation to think abo!t!"
L!cas shook his head# "B!t this is a bo!s enaement" remember$*esined to take the heat
off yo!r sister's spell in rehab# )he more !ns!itable the candidate" the more press co&erae it
will et# )hink abo!t it" Gio&anni#"
Gio&anni did" his arroant lips c!r&in with distaste# "(he is plain###" he added disparainly#
7rom the other side of the door" Misty fro6e# (he had 3!st crept back to hear the tail end of
Gio&anni's con&ersation#
4lain$
(he bit her lip and blinked rapidly#4lain$
(o it was tr!e what they said + that ea&esdroppers ne&er hear anythin ood abo!t themsel&es#
,nd how! Listenin in to her employer's con&ersation wasn't her !s!al pastime" b!t who co!ld
blame her on this occasion$
)he pec!liar way that Gio&anni and his new spin doctor had been starin at her had been
eno!h to make her feel concerned" and with ood ca!se" she now reconi6ed#
"(o rin and ask her""came L!cas's &oice from the other side of the door#
,sk her what" she wondered$
%!rriedly" Misty p!shed the tea trolley back into the kitchen# )here was only a second to check
her appearance in the mirror before the bell bean to s!mmon her back aain#
7ri66y hair" fl!shed cheeks and 4M( makin her t!mmy look fat# (he winced#4lain indeed# Why
feel ins!lted by Gio&anni's description of her when it was nothin b!t the tr!th$
(he rapped on the door and walked into the spotliht of Gio&anni's bla6in ebony stare which"
!n!s!ally" was fi/ed !nwa&erinly on her#
"I want yo! to do me a fa&or" Misty"" he said" his &el&ety &oice tined with his faint Italian accent#
4erple/ed by his tone" Misty clasped her hands toether at her waist# "M+more cake$" she
asked st!pidly#
Gio&anni a&e an impatient click of ton!e# On many le&els" he and his ho!sekeeper
!nderstood each other perfectly# (he knew his likes and dislikes#When to keep -!iet and when
to speak# 8n!s!ally" he felt he co!ld be himself aro!nd Misty" b!t her -!estion abo!t cake
dro&e home the reat !lf between them#
%ow the hell did he o abo!t askin her somethin like this$ .specially with his enimatic spin
doctor lookin on###
"'o! can lea&e !s now" L!cas"" he ordered#
"(!re#"
Misty allowed herself a sm! moment as L!cas left the room + he wasn't so hih+and+mihty
now" was he$ *ismissed like a ser&ant himself!
"(it down"" said Gio&anni#
Misty was tempted" b!t she resisted# (omethin told her she needed all her wits abo!t her" and
floppin down onto one of those priceless brocade chairs in her workin !niform wo!ld s!rely
!nsettle her e&en more#
.specially with Gio&anni's lon body dominatin her line of &ision with those stron" m!sc!lar
les and the powerf!l 3!t of his pel&is# (he felt an !nwanted prickle of e/citement in her breasts"
and hastily crossed her arms# "I'm fine as I am#"
Gio&anni's eyes narrowed tho!htf!lly as he watched her# )he !nconscio!s way she had
co&ered her breasts with her arms told him e&erythin# (o she wasn't imm!ne to him + b!t there
aain" what woman was$ 7!nny he'd ne&er noticed it before#
,nd when he stopped to think abo!t it" mihtn't her inferior stat!s act!ally work to his
ad&antae$ Beca!se if the woman he in&ol&ed in his scheme was bea!tif!l and his e-!al" he
miht be l!red into makin lo&e to her + complicatin matters more than they needed to
be#Whereas there wo!ld be 6ero temptation from this pleasant b!t &ery ordinary lookin
woman###
)hen he remembered her pert bottom thr!stin aainst the check material of her !niform and
once aain" he felt the heat to his roin# *amn L!cas for drawin his attention to it!
"I want yo! to pretend to be my fianc9e"" he said h!skily#
)here was a momentary" pin+drop silence#
"Is this some kind of 3oke$" she demanded#
"1o" Misty###" It occ!rred to him how rarely he had e&er !sed her name before# ,nd what a
strane name it was# "1o# I am bein deadly serio!s#"
"Why$" she shot o!t#
Gio&anni e/pelled an impatient sih# "I know it m!st so!nd bi6arre + and it is bi6arre# B!t I need
to take the attention off my sister# 'o! know she's been admitted to a clinic$"
"'es#"
"It's 3!st to i&e the press somethin bier to et their teeth into# 'o! know how danero!s
they can be# )hey are sharks"" he finished#
B!t he had no -!alms in throwin her to them! %idin her h!rt" Misty stared at him# "What wo!ld
I ha&e to do$"
Gio&anni rela/ed# 4erhaps this was oin to be easier than he had imained! ":ery little"" he
m!rm!red# "'o! wo!ld wear my rin" of co!rse# ,ppear by my side in p!blic#" %is mo!th c!r&ed
into a half smile# ",nd perhaps yo! co!ld be pers!aded to hold my hand and a6e !p at me with
s!itable adoration from time to time$"
Oh" b!t he m!st think she was born yesterday! )hat mockin tone didn't fool her + not for a
moment# %e was !sed to adoration by the b!cket+load" and no do!bt e/pected plain Misty
Carmichael to sho&el on a whole heap more#
(o what are yo! oin to do abo!t it$she asked herself# Let him trample all o&er yo! with his
handmade Italian shoes$
4eople like yo! don't matter to men like him# 0emember that#
Misty drew a deep breath# ",nd what's in it for me$"
Momentarily" Gio&anni felt wron+footed#,nd oddly disappointed# %ad he tho!ht she miht
aree to the plan o!t of some misdirected sense of loyalty$ Well" that 3!st showed how wron
he co!ld be# %is mo!th thinned into a cynical smile# (he was no different from anyone else#
"'o! will ob&io!sly be paid"" he said tihtly" his eyes borin into her#
Misty stared at him" her flippant tone dis!isin the s!dden dis-!iet she felt# "'o! may not be
able to afford me#"
%is eyes hardened and so did his &oice# "Oh" I can afford anyone" Misty"" he said coolly# %is
mo!th didn't say it" b!t his eyes did#
.specially yo!#
)o be contin!ed###
Chapter )hree
Misty forced herself not to react to the dark flash of contempt in Gio&anni's eyes when she
mentioned money# 4art of her wished that she'd 3!st kept her mo!th sh!t + and yet what did he
e/pect$ )hat she wo!ld o thro!h the hassle of pretendin to be his fianc9e 3!st for the lo&e of
the idea$
Or the lo&e of him$
"(o what's yo!r answer" Misty$" he -!estioned softly# "Or do yo! want to neotiate yo!r price
first$"
Misty shook her head# "'o!'&e ne&er been anythin other than enero!s# %ow lon wo!ld this
pretence ha&e to last$"
",s lon as it takes for my sister to clean !p her act and et dischared"" he said rimly# ")wo
weeks$Maybe three$ Co!ld yo! bear bein in close pro/imity to me for that lon$"
Misty swallowed# *idn't they say be caref!l of what yo! wish for" beca!se it can come tr!e$
Well" now it had# )he man she had worshipped from afar for so lon was soon to slip a sparkler
on her finer" 3!st like she'd always dreamed#
Only the reality wo!ld be as ins!bstantial as her dreams#
,n o!tsider miht ha&e said that she was cra6y to want him + b!t who co!ld blame her$ %adn't
he resc!ed her and i&en a home to her and her infant son$
)he mornin she had been inter&iewed by him" he was wearin a dark b!siness s!it and was
r!nnin late" and frankly she had been s!rprised that a man so ob&io!sly rich and powerf!l was
&ettin a wo!ld+be ho!sekeeper#
"(ec!rity is my concern"" he had rowled" as if readin her tho!hts# ")hat and loyalty + of which
I demand ;<< percent from my staff# Can yo! deli&er that" Ms# Carmichael$"
Misty'steeth had 3!st stopped chatterin" and she was so lad to be o!t of the cold and the rain
that all she co!ld do wasnod her head# ,nd to be honest" she was so desperate for a 3ob that
pro&ided accommodation that she wo!ld ha&e areed to dance naked in the middle of the rain+
washed street if he'd asked her to#
"'+yes" sir"" she manaed#
"'o! don't ha&e to call me sir"" he said" almost ently# "Gio&anni is fine#" %is eyes had narrowed
as they raked o&er her hollow cheeks and her thin coat and cheap shoes# "%ow lon since yo!
ate a decent meal$" he demanded#
Misty'sstomach t!rned o&er and for a moment she really tho!ht she miht faint from h!ner#
B!t it was pointless ettin all fed and settled + not if she wasn't oin to be allowed to stay###
"I ha&e a baby"" she said fiercely#
Gio&anni stifled a roan# Get rid of her#1ow#
"Will that be a problem$" Misty persisted#
%e opened his mo!th to say yes" b!t somethin in her e/pression stopped him# , s!dden look
of defiance had in3ected her defeated air with somethin approachin co!rae + transformin
her half+star&ed frame into a feisty little fihter#
B!t Gio&anni knew that babies born to sinle mothers tended to ha&e bad or sad histories#
"%ow old$"
"*ominic is ten months#"
%e inored the tone of maternal pride#",nd what abo!t the father$"
"%e's###" Misty bit her lip# "%e's no loner on the scene#"
"B!t maybe he wants to be# What's to say he isn't oin to t!rn !p here" banin on the door$
*emandin to see his son$ *emandin to see yo!$"
)he pain onMisty's face came from the reminder that she had been s!ch an appallin 3!de of
character# "1o"" she said -!ietly# "%e won't come ro!nd# %e didn't want to know abo!t the
baby#"
"'o!'re still in lo&e with him$"
Misty shook her head# "1o"" she whispered# (he had been taken in by a heartless" serial
sed!cer# It had not been lo&e + it had been poor 3!dment#
,nd then Gio&anni saw how close to breakin point she was and wondered how he co!ld ha&e
been -!ite so br!tal# (wearin softly" he p!shed her down into a chair#
"Where is###*ominic now$"
"%e's downstairs bein looked after by the cook#"
Madre di*iob!t he had saddled himself withthestrayest of all cats! Brinin her litter with her
and depositin it in his kitchen!
B!t somethin of the baby's pliht reminded him of his own childhood + of all the disr!ption and
fihtin followin his parents' bitter di&orce#
,t that moment he'd decided to take chare and soon had Misty eatin a lare bowl of so!p and
the baby asleep by the rane# (omehow + maically + a proper cot and hih chair were deli&ered
that same e&enin and p!t !pstairs in the two rooms he'd allotted them at the top of his lare
ho!se#
What woman in the world wo!ldn't ha&e lo&ed a man who had done that for her$ 4artic!larly as
*ominic had thri&ed there" like a caref!lly tended plant#
)he ho!se was sit!ated in the heart ofLondonand Gio&anni insisted that n!rsery fees were part
of her salary + Misty knew that she co!ld ne&er ha&e afforded them herself# ,nd when it had
been time for *ominic to start school" Gio&anni had made s!re there was an allowance for his
!niform#Misty's pride had been fierce when she saw him in his little bl!e+and+rey !niform" a
cap sittin atop the thick thatch of hair#
./cept that the fairy+tale had stopped there# )hins had settled down and Gio&anni had taken a
step back and become nothin more than her boss#
%ad she been hopin for more$
'es" yes" yes! Of co!rse she had + no matter how many times she had tried to tell herself that
he ne&er e&en looked at her as a woman# ,nd why wo!ld he look at a woman like her$
Gio&anni knew no more abo!t her than he had on the day she came lookin for a 3ob#
(o maybe this mad scheme made sense# 4erhaps it was 3!st what Misty needed to 3olt her o!t
of her complacency and her r!t#
"'o! still ha&en't i&en me yo!r answer"" said Gio&anni softly#
"B!t what will I tell *ominic$" Misty asked him" bitin her lip#
)o be contin!ed###
Chapter 7o!r
Gio&anni stared at Misty# "What does it matter what yo! tell yo!r son$" he demanded#
Misty a&e a !lp of disbelief# "%e's fi&e years old! *on't yo! ha&eany idea what fi&e+year+old
boys are like$"
"Oddly eno!h" no"" he answered repressi&ely#
"'et pres!mably yo! were once one yo!rself$"
Gio&anni leapt on the word like a do on a bone# "What do yo! meanpres!mably$ "
Misty bit back her instincti&e retort + that emotionally he was so cold" someone miht ha&e
assembled him in a laboratory! ")hen s!rely yo! can remember back to the insec!rities of a little
boy$"
"I don't remember ha&in any"" he said slowly" beca!se the -!estion was so !nlike any he was
e&er asked that it didn't occ!r to him to answer it anythinb!t tr!thf!lly#
,nd Misty co!ld belie&e that# "*id yo! o to school in.nland$" she asked c!rio!sly" aware that
he had let his !ard down and wantin to peep thro!h this rare chink in his armor#
%e shook his dark head# "I started school inItaly + a tiny school in the mo!ntains + close to my
randmother's ho!se#"
It was all too easy to pict!re what the powerf!l billionaire m!st ha&e been like as a little boy#)he
ebony hair and solemn dark eyes###and perhaps the beinnins of the el!si&e smile that wo!ld
latercapit&ate leions of women#
"Is that where yo! li&ed$"
"I was stayin there"" he answered tihtly#
",nd then where$" persisted Misty tentati&ely" reconi6in that she'd learnt more abo!t him in
the past ten min!tes than she had in fo!r years#
Gio&anni stilled# %e didn't re&isit the past too often b!t it seemed that when yo! started down
that road" it athered moment!m and the memories 3!st kept floodin in#
"Later I switched between.nlandand 4aris" then !ni&ersities in the (tates# )hat's the bea!ty of
ha&in parents from different co!ntries + yo! et a &aried ed!cation" e&en if they hate each
other#"
(he heard the pain in his &oice" and it s!rprised her#
Or did yo! think that Gio&anni's power and pri&ilee protected him from pain$mockedan inner
&oice in her head#
",nyway"" hedrawled" his whole demeanor chanin as he met her eyes# "7ascinatin as this is"
I'm still not s!re what the problem is abo!t tellin *ominic# Why tell him anythin$"
"*o yo! think he li&es in a b!bble" and that the parents of his classmates don't read the
papers$" (he drew her chin !p with s!dden determination# "*o yo! ha&e any idea of what the
real world's like$"
Gio&anni smiled# (he was animated#7eisty# (!ddenly" he was taken back to the niht she
arri&ed" like a stray cat with her litter# "Why don't yo! tell me$" he -!estioned softly#
(ho!ld she$ Well" why not$ (he had nothin to lose# "Other women at the school try to befriend
me beca!se I work for yo!#"
Gio&anni's eyes narrowed# "Why wo!ld they do that$"
"Oh"Gio + don't be dense!"
1o one had called himGio for years + and no one hade&er called him dense# "Why$" he
repeated silkily#
"Beca!se yo!'re se/y" rich and sinle and they###" %er &oice trembled# ")hey want yo!!"
)here was a pin+drop silence#
")heywant me$" he repeated incred!lo!sly#
"I sho!ldn't ha&e said that"" she moaned#
B!t Gio&anni didn't appear to be listenin# "*o yo! think that" too$"
"Wh+what$"
%e mo&ed closer +close eno!h for the pale bl!e from her startled eyes to wash o&er him# ")hat
I'm se/y$"
%is sheer manetism alone was eno!h to imprison her" b!t then his arm snaked o!t to wrap
itself aro!nd the narrow indentation of her waist and made the prison physical# )he kind of
prison yo!'d want to escape from###b!t she wanted to stay there fore&er#
"W+what are yo! doin$" she stammered o!t#
%e wasn't s!re# )he only thin he was s!re of was that he now had an erection n!din aainst
his thih" which was threatenin to e/plode# )he p!mp of blood to his roin was makin his
head spin and he shook it in disbelief#
%e had chosen Misty Carmichael to play this role preciselybeca!se she was !ns!itable as his
fianc9e# (o what was he doin comin on to her like it was real$ Like a man who hadn't had se/
in a lon time$
Gio&anni frowned and abr!ptly let her o#
"I sho!ldn't ha&e done that"" he rated#
Misty prayed for the th!nderin in her heart to s!bside# "It was only a hand on my waist"" she
said lihtly" thro!h parched lips# B!t it had been more than that + he knew it" and she knew it#
,nd by playin it down" mihtn't he think that she t!rned on for any man that -!ickly$
"(o will *ominic be disappointed that I'm not really oin to be his new step+daddy$" he -!eried
coolly#
"%ardly#"(he a&e a thin smile# "I 3!st don't want to spin him any lies" that's all#"
"%ow &ery admirable"" he commented#
(he met his mockin look with one of her own# "I may not ha&e made a s!ccess of many areas
of my life"" she said -!ietly" "b!t I ha&e always tried to be a ood mother#"
%er soft dinity made him feel as if he had attempted to score a cheap point and Gio&anni felt
e&en more !nsettled# What was oin on$ %ow come she was makin him feel all thisst!ff$
"Is there nowhere he can o" so as not to disr!pt him too m!ch$"
Misty tho!ht abo!t it for a bit# "I !ess he co!ld o and stay with his odmother inCornwall#"
",nd yo! can tell him that M!mmy's oin to earn eno!h money to take him on a lo&ely
holiday!"
Maybe Gio&anni was tryin to be kind" b!t Misty winced# %e made her so!nd like some kind
ofhooker#
%e was starin at her bare face and fri66y hair# ",nd while we're at it"" he drawled" "yo!'re oin
to need an !rent makeo&er# Beca!se no one will e&er belie&e I want to marry yo!" lookin
likethat# "
)o be contin!ed###
Chapter 7i&e
"1er&o!s$" Gio&anni m!rm!red#
Misty t!rned to look at him" scarcely able to belie&e this was happenin + and toher!)hat the
man at her side 3!st happened to be Gio&anniCerr!ti " the se/y Italian who was one of the
richest men on the planet#
,nd as far as the world was concerned" she was his fianc9e!
"(!rprisinly" I'm ettin !sed to it"" she m!sed#")ho!h I'&e ne&er been to a ball before#"
Gio&anni a&e a half smile# %e had ne&er met a woman who told the tr!th -!ite like Misty# )his
week at dinner" she had charmed a hard+bitten politician by askin him to show her how to eat
an oyster! "Most women wo!ldn't admit to that"" he obser&ed softly#
(he tilted her head to one side# ",t least now yo! know I ha&e an e/c!se if I let yo! down in
p!blic!"
"'o! won't let me down" Misty# I'm confident of that#" %e drifted his eyes o&er her#(lowly#
"Gio###"
"Mmm$"
%is black eyes were s!ddenlysoft" and sweet + like dark treacle# (he wanted to saydon't flirt with
me#./cept that wo!ldn't be tr!e# (he liked it" 3!st like she liked him#)oo m!ch#
Oh" why had she failed to take her st!pid feelins into acco!nt when she'd areed to o alon
with this sham enaement$ ,nd how did she stop wantin make+belie&e to be real and
wonderin what it wo!ld be like when it was o&er$
"*o I###do I look okay$"
",re yo! fishin for compliments$" he m!rm!red#
"1o# Gen!inely seekin reass!rance before yo! parade me past the massed banks of
pressphotoraphers waitin o!tside and then on to meet the most litterin society inLondon#
Oddly eno!h" it isn't a sit!ation I find myself in &ery often#"
%e wondered if he was always this insensiti&e# B!t he didn't !s!ally take a woman's feelins
into acco!nt + he didn't !s!allyha&e to# It was all &ery conf!sin" and lookin at her was
conf!sin him e&en more# Beca!se her appearance was so different since the makeo&er that
L!cas had orani6ed# (he didn't look like Misty" anymore# (he looked###
Gone was the fri66y hair" which he had only e&er seen tied back in a ponytail# 1ow the c!rls
were lossy and to!ched with blond kisses#
Gonewas her !nflatterin !niform and the off+d!ty 3eans he sometimes saw her in# Instead" a
sil&er sheath of a dress cl!n like syr!p to the ripe c!r&es of her body#
B!t it was her eyes that threw him most# %ow come he'd ne&er noticedthose before$ )hat they
were the color of bl!ebells" which had been left o!t in the rain too lon$
%e swallowed# If this was any other woman" he'd ha&e kissed her into compliance and wo!ld
ha&e his finers inside her panties by now# B!t beca!se it was Misty" he knew that intimacy had
to be o!t of bo!nds#Intimacy$
(!rely he meantse/$
"(i""he areed h!skily" his spinnin tho!hts makin him slip into his mother ton!e# "'o!
look###okay#,nd now###yo! are ready$"
Misty nodded# "'es#"
4lacin a !idin arm on her sho!lders" he p!shed open the front door and Misty was transfi/ed
by the force of blindin bl!e flashin lihts that made the nihttime day# (he co!ld hear the click
of the sh!tters like a million demented crickets" while the !s!al ins!ltin -!estions were sho!ted
at them like hecklers from a crowd#
"%ey" Gio&anni + what made yo! fall for her$"
"Is this a real+life Cinderella story" Gio&anni$"
"(he isn't yo!r !s!al type" is she" Gio&anni$"
"%ow does it feel to odownmarket $"
%e felt her tense# "(mile"" he !red softly" the arm aro!nd her tihtenin protecti&ely# ",nd keep
walkin#"
With his to!ch seemin to be the only safe ha&en in this sea of conf!sion" Misty p!lled her
mo!th into a kind ofrict!s as she climbed into the back of the waitin limo!sine# Gio&anni slid in
beside her#
",re yo! okay$" he asked -!ickly# ")hey said some pretty h!rtf!l thins#"
"I'm ettin !sed to them"" she admitted# "B!t how do yo! bear it$"
"What$"
",llthat! "(he wa&ed her hand at the camera lenses" which were pressed aainst the car
windows like alien eyes as it drew away#"(t!pid" !nnecessaryf!ss! "
"B!t press interest oes with the territory"" he defended#
"I wonder"" she answered softly#
"What's that s!pposed to mean$"
Misty leaned back aainst the soft leather seat# "Well" I know that L!cas m!st ha&e tipped them
off toniht" and that's fine beca!se it's all part of the aenda to take the heat off yo!r step+sister#
B!t yo!'re no straner to the papers yo!rself" are yo!$ )here's always snatched photos of yo!
in the ossip col!mns#"
Instincti&ely" he bristled aainst the implied criticism#
"'o! don't appro&e$"
Misty tho!ht abo!t it# "It's not for me to appro&e or disappro&e# 'o!'re a millionaire many times
o&er + a shinin s!ccess in the b!siness world"" she m!sed# "I 3!st wonder why yo! bother
employin a spin doctor" that's all#"
"Beca!se I ha&e to o o!t and eat!,nd I take trips to the theater!" he declared# "Or are yo!
s!estin I li&e the life of a hermit$ It's better for me to !se a spin doctor to manip!late what
ets written abo!t me than to lea&e myself to the mercy of the hacks!"
")hen yo!'re 3!st playin the same ame"" she said serenely" tho!h she hadn't tho!ht abo!t it
likethat before# ",nd yo! can't complain when it doesn't o accordin to yo!r plans#"
)his was !nbelie&able! )he opinionated little min/ was makin him so!nd like some kind of
control freak!
,nd isn't she riht$
"I hired yo! to play my fianc9e"" he rated# "1ot some kind of amate!r shrink!"
Misty opened her mo!th to ob3ect that hehad asked her opinion"then sh!t it aain# )his was not
a relationship and it was not e-!al# %e was payin for her company and nothin more# (he
co!ld see the bla6in lihts o!tside the ballroom and yet more waitin cameras# ,nd s!ddenly"
all her ner&es &anished#
"'o!'re the boss"" she said dem!rely#
In the half liht Gio&anni lowered#"(i"cara "" he rated# "I am#" ,nd with that he p!lled her into
his arms and bean to kiss her#
)o be contin!ed###
Chapter (i/
Gio&anni's mo!th mo&ed e/pertly o&erMisty's " teasin her lips apart while he reached down to
circle his th!mb o&er one nipple with e/-!isite precision#Misty 3erked beneath his to!ch as a
lon+forotten arrow of desire shot thro!h her + the memory of pleas!re almost too m!ch to
bear#
"Gio###" she roaned# ,nd s!ddenly her hands were beneath his dinner 3acket and clawin
frantically at the silk of his shirt#"Oh"Gio# "
(weet hea&en" b!t she was hot! Instincti&ely" Gio&anni to!ched his finer to the fork between
her les" watchin her s-!irm" wantin to tear the dress from her body and to###
"*io"b!t yo! are bea!tif!l"" he said brokenly#
)hey were the words that broke the spell# )hro!h the clamor of her star&ed senses" Misty
became dimly aware that the car was p!llin to a halt# (he tore her mo!th away from his" f!ry
lihtin her eyes as she looked at his fl!shed face#
"Oh###my###God"" she moaned in disbelief#"%ow st!pid of me! )hat wo!ld ha&e made the
mostmar&ello!s photo opport!nity" wo!ldn't it$"
"Opport!nityhad nothin to do with it!" he snapped#
"1o$" (he straihtened her dress and then her hair and a&e him an icy look# %e'd ne&er looked
at hertwice in the fo!r years she'd been workin with him! "2!st o&ercome with passion" were
yo!$"
"(i" cara + I was#:ery m!ch so# I still am" if yo! m!st know#" %e saw her m!tino!s e/pression
and his &oice deepened into a s!ltry whisper# "'o! m!st reali6e how bea!tif!l yo! look toniht#"
B!t it wasn't really her" was it$ It was borrowed" e/pensi&e clothes and a chic makeo&er + and
3!st like Cinderella" she wo!ld be back from riches to ras in no time# "It's 3!st an ill!sion"" she
said tartly as she climbed o!t of the car# "7ine feathers make a fine bird!"
B!t Gio&anni breathed a sih of relief to see her headin for the ballroom# ,fter po!ncin on her
like that" he wo!ldn't ha&e blamed her if she'd told him she wanted to o straiht back home#
,nd in tr!th" wo!ldn't part of him ha&e appro&ed$ (o that he co!ld ha&e one with her###and
they co!ld ha&e ended !p makin lo&e$
Or wo!ld they$
7or the first time in his life" he wasn't s!re that he co!ld et a woman into his bed# (he was an
!nknown factor in more ways than one# , s!rprisinly tho!htf!l and artic!late woman who had
transformed herself" who co!ld i&e asood as she ot#
2!st who was thereal Misty Carmichael$
%e ca!ht !p with her" bem!sed by the lances of the other !ests as he ran after her#"*rink$"
"Champane" please#"
%e took two lasses from a passin tray# ", woman who knows her mind"" he obser&ed#
"It's nice to be on the other side of the tray for once"" she answered lihtly# ",nd please don't
patroni6e me#"
Gio&anni frowned# "I wo!ldn't dream ofpatroni6n yo!#"
"Wo!ldn't yo!$" Misty -!estioned wryly#
4eople cl!stered ro!nd" wantin Gio&anni to introd!ce his fianc9e to them# )here were b!siness
collea!es" aristocratic friends of his parents and more than a few e/ and wo!ld+be irlfriends
who'd clearly had their noses p!t o!t of 3oint#
B!t Misty was charm personified" shakin hands and smilin !ntil her face ached#8ntil Gio&anni
p!t a firm andproprietorial hand at the small of her back#
"*ance with me#"
.n3oyin herself h!ely" Misty t!rned to him" her eyes sparklin# ")hat so!nds more like an
order#"
"I s!ppose that's how he's!sed to talkin to yo!"" shrilled an o&er+thin br!nette beside her#
Misty didn't miss a beat# "I know"" she smiled# "B!t the masterf!l to!ch isterribly attracti&e" don't
yo! think$"
Gio&anni raised his eyebrows as he p!lled her onto the dance floor and into his arms# "(he's a
bitch"" he m!rm!red# "B!t yo! seemed to cope#"
"Why" thank yo!#"
"'o!'re a fast learner" Misty Carmichael"" he obser&ed softly#
(he da66led him with a smile" which hid her heartbreak that thiswas s!ch a ame# ")hat's what
yo!'re payin me for" isn't it$"
%e wanted to tell her to stop remindin him that this was a b!siness arranement + b!t why
sho!ld he do that$ Itwas e/actly that# ,nd maybe he sho!ld et his money's worth####
%e p!lled her aainst him and her pale bl!e eyes widened as she felt the tension and
!nmistakable heat of his body#
"(top it"Gio "" she whispered#
*eliberately" he circled his hips aainst hers# "(top what$" he -!estioned innocently# "We're
only dancin#"
"We're not"" she said weakly# "'o! know we're not#" ,nd her head tipped like an o&er+
hea&yflowerhead to rest on his sho!lder#
%e p!lled her e&en closer so that he co!ld feel the tihtenin of her breasts" and he placed his
mo!th ne/t to her ear# "I'm so hard for yo!" Misty Carmichael# Can yo! feel me$ Can yo!$"
(he sho!ld ha&e told him to o to hell# "'es"" she whispered" thro!h bone+dry lips#
",nd yo! want me 3!st as m!ch"" he contin!ed ine/orably# "I can feel it in yo!r body and smell it"
too# If I threw ca!tion to the wind and kissed yo!" then I'd be able to taste it" too#"
"Gio +"
"What$" he -!estioned" heady now with the sense of se/!al power#
")his is###inappropriate#"
B!t ne&er had he felt s!ch a delicio!s sense of e/citement# Co!ld that be beca!se itwas so
inappropriate" he wondered$ Or beca!se he was still by no means certain that he co!ld ha&e
her$
%ow + i&en his comprehensi&e knowlede of the opposite se/ + co!ld he ens!re that Misty
Carmichael wo!ld be his toniht$ What did e&ery woman in the world fall for$
)enderness#
8nseen" he smiled as he to!ched his lips to her bare sho!lder" and slowly kissed his way all !p
her neck !ntil he felt her sh!dder with !nspoken s!rrender#
"(hall we stay or shall we o$" he -!estioned#
Misty wasn't some na=&e &irin + she knew e/actly what that -!estion meant# )he se/!al
chemistry fi66in between them wasn't in any do!bt + 3!st her own reaction to it#,nd his#
B!t if a man kissed a woman as sweetly asGio had 3!st done" then s!rely hedidn't 3!st see her
as a se/!al trophy$
Weak with lonin" she nodded#
"'es" let's o now"" she whispered#
)o be contin!ed###
Chapter (e&en
Gio&anni slid down the 6ipper ofMisty's dress and it pooled to her feet in a sil&er p!ddle#
"Oh"" she asped" as he to!ched her between the les#"Gio###please!"
"4lease what"cara$ " he asped back" his mo!th roamin reedily o&er her lace+co&ered nipple
like a man who co!ldn't wait# B!t heco!ldn't wait! ,nd his !rency was as !ne/pected as it was
e/citin + if only it wasn't so damned ine/plicable#
"4lease###that$"
"'es!"
",ndthat$ "
Oh" yes# In the dimly lit hallway of Gio&anni's lare ho!se" Misty was torn between hopes and
dreams and fears# (he wanted to be her boss to be !nderstandin# ,nd slow + as if he really
wanted this and had i&en it caref!l tho!ht#
"(ho!ldn't we o !pstairs$" she whispered#
"Why notdo it here first$" he -!estioned# "1one of the staff will dist!rb !s#"
It was a 3oke abo!t her stat!s as his ho!sekeeper" b!t it to!ched a sensiti&e ner&e# ,nd then
Gio&anni was to!chin an e&en more sensiti&e ner&e + slidin her panties down" his finer
alihtin on the &ery center of her womanhood with achin precision#
"*o yo! like that" too$"
"'+yes#"
")o!ch me"" he commanded silkily#
)entati&ely" she felt the rock+hard ride of him" her own pleas!re increasin as he sh!ddered
beneath her rhythmical strokin# "*o yo! likethat$ " she asked ner&o!sly#
"*o Ilike it$" In a min!te he wo!ld b!rst# "8n6ip me!" he rasped#
(he wanted it to be like the million romantic fantasies she'd e&er had abo!t him# B!t she co!ld
see it wasn't oin to happen that way# (wift and perf!nctory wasn't what she wo!ld ha&e
chosen" b!t how co!ld she ref!se him when she had wanted him for so lon$
(lidin his 6ipper down" she whispered her finertips o&er the hard ede of him" prayin that
she wo!ld not disappoint# Wo!ld he !ess how ine/perienced she was$ ")ell me what yo! like""
she said# "What yo! want me to do#"
"2!st that#Oh###" he breathed on a note of wonder" taken aback by her entleness and her
enerosity# %e raised his dark head and stared down at her and frowned# Was that do!bt
clo!din her eyes$
"*io!'o! are not on d!ty now! 0ela/" Misty + for toniht we are e-!als#"
B!t only for toniht" she reminded herself" and Gio&anni did not know the half of it# (he mo&ed
restlessly in his arms as he kissed her" !ntil he s!ddenly tore his mo!th away" scooped her !p
and bean to carry her !pstairs#
Misty'seyes snapped open# "Where are yo! takin me$"
")o bed#"
"B!t I tho!ht yo! said###"
"I know what I said"" he ret!rned fiercely# ",nd I ha&e chaned my mind#"
"2!st like that"" she said weakly# 'et e&en while she re3oiced at his decision" it onlyemphasised
the fact that he was the master + callin all the shots#
%e !ndressed them both" ac-!aintin himself with e&ery c!r&e and shadow of her l!sh body
!ntil he co!ld feel her rela/in beneath his finers#
Misty bit her lip as he mo&ed his dark and olden body o&er her + her emotions so ch!rned !p
that she was !nable to stop them from spillin o!t# "'o! are 3!st so bea!tif!l"" she breathed#
Gio&anni stilled# Most women played ames# )hey held their feelins back in some kind of
se/!al power play" b!t not Misty# %er honesty took his breath away###and yet there was
somethin abo!t her nai&ete that dist!rbed him#
")here's still time to chane yo!r mind" Misty# *o yo! want me to stop$ 1ow" before it's too
late$"
"(top$"(he c!r&ed her hands possessi&ely o&er his b!ttocks" shakin her lon hair so that it
shimmered aainst his bare chest# "1o" I don't want yo! to stop#"
"(!re$"
"Certain#"
")hen I can't wait any loner# I'm oin to make lo&e to yo!" Misty Carmichael# 0ihtnow### "
,nd with that" he thr!st deep inside her# "Oh" yo!'re so hot"" he whispered#",nd tiht# ,nd &ery"
&ery wet#"
%is words t!rned her on e&en more" and Misty melted# %er body felt s!ff!sed with heat and the
knowlede thatGio was 3oined so intimately with her#
%is lips and his hands were e&erywhere" to!chin her in places where she had ne&er been
to!ched + e/citin and ca3olin her as she felt the tension b!ildin and b!ildin#
")hat's w+wonderf!l"" she said brokenly" as somethin she didn't -!ite belie&e bean to tantali6e
her# Like a bl!rred pict!re at last clickin into foc!s# "4lease don't stop#"
%e a&e an odd kind of la!h# ",re yo! kiddin$"
,nd then it happened + wa&e !pon wa&e of it rockin her into a brand+new and rainbow+h!ed
dimension# Misty d! her nails into his arms and bean to cry o!t her pleas!re as she felt him
sh!dder o!t his own f!lfillment# )hen the tears bean to fall" e&en tho!h she tried to stop them#
Gio&anni frowned as he felt their wetness on his sho!lder# "Misty$ Why the hell are yo! cryin$"
(he opened her eyes#"B+beca!se that's ne&er happened to me before#"
%e felt a chill of forebodin# "What hasn't$"
",n###orasm"" she said softly# "I'&e ne&er had one before#"
"%ow come$" hesnapped#
"Beca!se *ominic's father was###well" selfish" I s!ppose#"
"B!t there m!st ha&e been other men#"
"1o#"
"'o! mean that he was yo!ronly lo&er$" he -!estioned incred!lo!sly#
"8ntil now#"(he sihed#"Oh"Gio # It was incredible#'o! were incredible#"
Ice+cold dread now crept o&er him# What the hell had he done$ %ad se/ with a woman who was
liht years away from him in terms of e/perience + a woman na=&e eno!h to start mistakin
se/!al pleas!re for somethindeeper#
,nd she was wearin his rin! )r!e" it was nothin b!t a plot to fool the press" b!t wo!ld Misty
now con&eniently foret that$
,nd if that was the case thenhow the hell was he oin to et rid of her$ (wiftly he withdrew"
a&oidin her fl!shed face by t!rnin to face the wall and yawnin#
"Wo!ld yo! mind oin back to yo!r own room now$" he drawled# "I ha&e a meetin in the
mornin and I really need to et some sleep#"
)o be contin!ed###
Chapter .iht
Misty co!ld scarcely belie&e what Gio&anni was sayin# On tremblin les" she climbed o!t of
bed and stared down at the naked body of her employer with disbelief + knowin that she had
beha&ed no better than a whore#
Only now he was dismissin her like the ser&ant she really was####
"Lea&e$" she echoed" c!r&in her lip with pride + which wasn't easy when she was atherin !p
her clothes scattered all o&er his bedroom" and rememberin that her dress was downstairs
where it had fallen# "Belie&eme" nothin will i&e me reater pleas!re!"
Gio&anni was beinnin to ha&e second tho!hts" for she looked manificent when she was
anry# "1othin at all$" he teased# "I m!st be losin my to!ch#"
"*on't be cheap"" she hissed#
"I may be many thins" b!t I'm not cheap" Misty#"
(o he was e&en !sinthis opport!nity to r!b in the fact that he was payin for her time# ")hat's a
matter of opinion#"
Gio&anni saw the h!rt and the aner" which chased away the rosy fl!sh of se/!al f!lfillment#
,nd as his body stirred" he bean to wonder if he had acted too hastily#
"Well" if yo! promise to let mesleep" then maybe I'll let yo! stay here" after all"" he drawled"
pattin the space on the bed beside him and lintin her a look that had a !aranteed ;<<
percent s!ccess rate#
(he stared at him in disbelief" reali6in that he was serio!s# "I'd rather sleep on a bed ofnails
than et back into bed with yo!!" she spat as she p!lled her panties back on# "'o! can o to
hell + yo! arroantbastard# "
It wasn't the first time that a woman had e/pressed similar sentiments" b!t to see Misty do it
was !nreal# (he'd ins!lted him when he was !sed to her !nswer&in loyalty#Misty + steadfast
and loyal Misty# 8p !ntil a little while ao" he had seen her p!rely in the role of domestic
helper#, stereotype#
B!t now the real woman had stepped o!t from behind it# %e watched her tryin to hook her bra
!p#,nd how#
"Can I help$"
"*on't tempt me"" she warned#
"I tho!ht I 3!st did#"
(he composed her face into a witherin look he had ne&er seen before#
"'es" yo! did" Gio&anni + b!t fort!nately I'm rown !p eno!h to learn from my mistakes# ,nd
that one m!st co!nt as my all+time biest#"
,nd with that" she flo!nced o!t of his bedroom and ran to her own at the far end of the ho!se +
in theser&ants -!arters" she tho!ht bitterly + where she spent a sleepless niht tryin to decide
where she sho!ld o from here#
)he followin mornin" Gio&anni paced the ho!se like a caed tier" and when Misty appeared
he searched her face for cl!es#
"%a&e yo! fori&en me$" he -!estioned softly" b!t 3!st the siht of her was beinnin to make
him ache aain#
Misty had spent the niht decidin how to play this and she was oin to play it cool# (he
co!ldn't o back to how it had been" which meant she had to o forward# (he 3!st wasn't s!re
where that was oin to take her#
"I hadn't really i&en it a lot of tho!ht#"
"Liar"" he ta!nted softly# "Bet yo!'&e been awake all niht lonin for me to dothis### "
)he finer that br!shed slowly o&er her lips was eno!h to make her tremble" b!t Misty 3erked
her mo!th away# "*on't to!ch me#"
%is eyes narrowed# "'o! mean yo!'re backin o!t of o!r deal$"
"1o#" What a cold and calc!latin man he was# "I'm keepin to my side ofit " and I'd appreciate if
yo! kept to yo!rs# I'll contin!e to be yo!r 'fianc9e' !ntil Miranda's o!t of rehab + I'm 3!st takin
se/ o!t of the e-!ation" that's all# B!t since se/ was ne&er s!pposed to be part of the deal" that
sho!ldn't be a problem" sho!ld it$"
"1o problem$" he echoed incred!lo!sly# ",re yo! kiddin$"
(he saw fr!stration darken his eyes and knew a moment of p!re tri!mph before her traitoro!s
body bean to ache for him# 0!thlessly" she s!ppressed it#
"1ot in the slihtest#" (he a&e a prim smile# "We'll carry on pretendin to be in lo&e" only
witho!t any physical complications#"
%is eyeslittered a challene# "Want to bet$"
,nd Misty knew that e&en if the attempt half killed her" she wo!ld resist him# (he had to protect
herself# (hehad to# "I'm not a bettin woman"" she snapped#
)he front door slammed and L!cas walked in with a stack of newspapers#
"What is it$" asked Gio&anni impatiently#
L!cas p!t the papers down# ")his mornin's are the best yet! )ake a look at these#"
Misty stilled" astonished to seeherself plastered across the front paes of all the tabloids#
"Good rief"" she breathed# "Is that really me$"
Gio&anni mo&ed behind her to look o&er her sho!lder#
"It really is"" he m!rm!red" wantin to lift the c!rtain of c!rls and kiss her neck aain#
Misty stared# )he photos m!st ha&e been taken when they were lea&in the ball beca!se they
both looked fl!shed and briht+eyed with se/!al e/citement# Gio&anni's arm was locked aro!nd
her waist and her nipples looked as tho!h someone had splashed them with cold water# Misty
bl!shed#
",nd the cra6iest thin is"" L!cas was sayin" "that yo! really look as tho!h yo!'re in
lo&e#Great actin" I m!st say#"
B!t it was apparent the look in Gio&anni's dark eyes was l!st" not lo&e" and beca!se Misty was
a woman" she was in daner of readin too m!ch into it#
Maybe he had done her a fa&or by kickin her o!t of his bedroom last niht + destroyin the last
of her fantasies with one swift and cr!el blow#
"It's oin to be weird when it's all o&er"" m!sed L!cas# "We'll ha&e to work o!t some kind of
plan#"
"I'&e already ot one"" said Misty -!ickly# "I'll be lea&in#"
)o be contin!ed###
Chapter 1ine
"Misty" I'm askin yo! to reconsider#"
"*on't waste yo!r breath"Gio #"
Impatiently" Gio&anni raked his finers back thro!h his thick" black hair" frownin as he took in
the s!itcases that were stacked ne/t to the door alon with a lamp" a bo/ of books and a few
other s!ndry items#
Misty wasn't 3!st lea&in for a holiday or a few days break while she went to collect her small
son from his odmother's ho!se inCornwall# )here in his hall lay the contents of the home she
had made here for the past fo!r years + the home that she was now plannin to &acate#
"I can't see why yo!'re doin this"" he said st!bbornly#
")hen yo!'re not &ery percepti&e#"
"Why do women always talk in code$" he stormed#
"Beca!se we st!pidly belie&e that men ha&e the emotional intellience not to ha&e e&erythin
spelled o!t for them!"
, ner&e bean to work in his cheek# "Look" Misty + 3!st stay" will yo!$"
Misty shook her head# )his was diffic!lt eno!h# (he was willin herself not to startbl!bbin "
and he was makin it e&en harder for her# B!t she knew that i&in in to him wo!ld !ltimately
et her nowhere and she'd be riht back where she started#Only worse#
Beca!se now she had tasted intimacy with Gio&anni#)r!e" like the enaement itself it had only
been a sham intimacy" b!t it still had the power to throw her emotions off+kilter and rock her
whole world# ,nd she needed to restore some calm aain# (ome order#
"I can't"Gio #" (he looked at him" her heart t!rnin o&er and hopin it didn't show in her face#
"'o!'re too !sed to ettin yo!r own way# )hat's half yo!r tro!ble#"
Gio&anni scowled" knowin that nothin had been riht since the niht he'd kicked her o!t of his
bed# Beca!se despite e&ery effort in the book" he hadn't been able to wear her down and
chane her mind#
Misty had kept her resol&e and resisted him" blockin e&ery enticement to ha&e se/ with him
aain# 7or a man who had ne&er known any kind of re3ection from a woman" it had been a
soberin lesson# B!t he had learned from it" hadn't he$
"I beha&ed tho!htlessly"" he admitted" "for which I ha&e apoloi6ed# (o how lon are yo! oin
to keep this !p$'
"It isn't aame"Gio #"
"'o! mean yo!'re oin to stay mad at me$"
"'o!'re fori&en# Okay$"
")hen stay#"
"1o!"(he sihed# "'o! m!st ha&e realised all alon that it wo!ld be impossible to o back to the
way thins were after all this#"
"2!st beca!se ofone niht$ "
Misty shook her head" the c!rls still loose and s!n kissed# ")hat niht has nothin to do with it#
)he world thinks that we're enaed to be married and soon that enaement is oin to be
broken" now that yo!r step+sister is on the mend# *on't yo! think it's oin to look rather odd if I
slot back into my old position of ho!sekeeper$"
"Who cares how it looks$" Gio&anni demanded#
"I do# ,nd it wo!ldn't feel riht" either"" she ar!ed# "4eople wo!ld be bo!nd to talk and to
-!estion me" and I don't want to be defined by my walk+on part in the life of Gio&anniCerr!ti #"
)hat's what shehad been doin !p !ntil now" and she needed to be free of it# "%ow can I o
back to ser&in yo! meals when I'&e shared them with yo!$ %ow do yo! think it's oin to feel
when e&ent!ally yo! meet someone that yo! reallydo want to marry and I ha&e to start takin
orders fromher$ *on't yo! think that co!ld be a little awkward$"
"I'm not plannin on marryinanyone" " he ob3ected#
"1ot now" yo! mean#"
"Look" I'm not a reat belie&er in happy+e&er+after"" he ritted# "I 3!st know the ho!se wo!ldn't
be the same witho!t yo!" Misty# ,nd the se/ is dynamic + yo! know it is#" %e shr!ed as he
slantedher a look of !ndil!ted pro&ocation# "Why stop somethin that we both en3oy so m!ch$"
Misty stared at him in horror as his words re&erberated aro!nd in her head like a bitter
whirlwind#)he se/ is dynamic# Well" that told here/actly what her appeal to him was#
"WhatGio wants"Gio ets + no matter what the cost to those aro!nd him# Or don't I co!nt$ Is that
why yo!'re so rel!ctant to let me o$ Beca!se ha&in a 'relationship' with someone who works
for yo! means that yo!'re e/c!sed all the normal r!les$ 'o! can treat me howe&er the hell yo!
like beca!se yo!'re payin me$"
Gio&anni shook his head f!rio!sly# "%ow dare yo! talk to me thisway# Other women wo!ld be
bloody ratef!l to wear my rin and to be seen on my arm#"
")hen o and make yo!r delihtf!l offer to one ofthem! " she stormed back# "I don't make ood
choices where men are concerned# I made a mistake with *ominic's father and I'm damned if
I'm oin to repeat it#"
",nd don't compare me to some waster who d!mped yo! while yo! were prenant!"
"'o! only want me beca!se yo! can't ha&e me" Gio&anni"" she said -!ietly# "Once yo!'d ot
me" yo!'d et bored and want todisard me#"
,nd I can't risk that happenin to me# 1ot with yo!# 1ot when it's so likely to happen#It wo!ld
break her" and she co!ld not afford to be broken + not with a child dependin on her" as *ominic
did#
0elationships were hard eno!h# B!t when there was s!ch a f!ndamental ine-!ality as that
which e/isted between her and Gio&anni" and he had emphatically told her that it was the se/
that was reat" which he didn't want to lose####
Well" that was 3!st askin for tro!ble#Bi tro!ble#
Like askin to ha&e yo!r heart broken#
"I'm lea&in"Gio "" she said# ",nd I mean it#"
)o be contin!ed###
Chapter )en
)he bea!tif!l redhead writhed aainst the sheets#
"*o it to me" Gio&anni"" she !red" as she to!ched herself# "*o it to me" baby#"
Gio&anni fro6e in the act of !nb!ttonin his shirt# What thehell was he doin here$ %e stared at
the naked bea!ty" knowin he didn't want her#
"I'&e made a mistake"" he told her bitterly#
O!tside" he stared !p at an ink+black sky dotted with stars#
.&ery problem had a sol!tion#
)he -!estion was whether he had the co!rae to !se it#
%e made himself wait !ntil he was certain and the memory of the naked redhead had been
erased from his mind# )hen" that sleepless niht" he climbed into his car and bean the lon
dri&e toCornwall#
, so!nd woke her#
In her remote cottae" Misty was !sed to hearin the caw of birds and the distant crash of the
wa&es" b!t this so!nd was different# (he looked at her watch and frowned#)hree a#m#
Who was dri&in at this time of niht$
4!llin on a &el&et robe" she crept downstairs 3!st as a car p!lled !p and there was a soft knock
on the door# %er heart bean to th!nder e&en before she heard the distincti&e &oice#
"Misty$"
)here was no point in playin ames by inorin him# (he didn't want to wake *om#
(he opened the door" steelin her heart aainst the tall fi!resillho!etted in the doorway + b!t
she co!ld do nothin to pre&ent its painf!l fl!tter of 3oy when she saw his shadowed face# "What
are yo! doin here"Gio $" she whispered#
",re yo! oin to let me in$"
"What if I say no$"
"Go on# (ay it then"" he challened" his eyes flinty in the moonliht#
Wordlessly" she p!lled the door open and he stepped past her + stron" warm and &irile# %er
instinct was to to!ch him b!t she fo!ht it#Gi&e me strenth" she prayed#
Gio&anni walked into the tiny room where the embers of the fire still lowed# One of *ominic's
drawins h!n on the wall and there was a book open on the window seat#
It looked###
Gio&anni swallowed# It looked like home#
%e t!rned aro!nd# %er hair was loose and she wore bl!e &el&et#Like a medie&al paintin come
to life#
"Why are yo! here$" she -!estioned steadily#
"Why do yo! think$" %e stared into her eyes and his heart t!rned o&er# What a fool he had
been# "I miss yo!"" he said softly#
,ain" she steeled herself# (he had to# "I'd be flattered if I tho!ht there weren't other
ho!sekeepers 3!st as capable as me"" Misty answered coolly" "who can make yo!r coffee the
way yo! like it#"
%e stared at her incred!lo!sly#"Coffee$Madre di*io ! 'o! think I'&e dri&en all this way to talk
abo!t coffee$"
"Is it the se/ then$" she -!estioned# "Well" I'm s!re the n!mber of women waitin to step into
my shoes on the se/!al front is e&en reater#" (he made herself ask the -!estion#"%ow many
women since me" Gio&anni$"
"1one#")here was a pa!se as Gio&anni reconi6ed that how he answered this was important#
)hat only total honesty wo!ld do# "Other women don't work for me" anymore"" he admitted
softly# "7or the first time in my life I can only think abo!t one###and that woman is yo!#"
(he bent to throw a lo on the dyin embers and then blew ently on the fire to start the bla6e
aain# (he wanted to belie&e him + so m!ch + b!t she didn't dare let herself# 7or this time" Misty
had m!ch more to lose than her heart#
"'o! only want me beca!se yo! ha&en't ot me"" she said -!ietly as she straihtened !p to
meet his searchin a6e# "I'm 3!st another ac-!isition on the wish list of a man who has almost
e&erythin# Once yo!'&e ot me" yo!'ll et restless and want to mo&e on# It's the way yo! are +
it's the secret of yo!r s!ccess" Gio&anni#"
"B!t that is where yo!'re wron"caramia# 1othin is the same now yo!'re one#" %e had spent
his life b!ildin fort!nes and defyin odds" b!t p!ttin these feelins into words felt like the
biest mo!ntain he'd e&er had to climb# )o s!r&i&e as a child he'd learned to p!t !p emotional
barriers + which co!ldn't 3!stcome t!mblin down o&erniht# %e swallowed# "It felt so warm and
easy when yo! were aro!nd" Misty# .&erythin is cold and empty now#"
%er lon hair shimmered as she est!red aro!nd her# "B!t I'&e b!ilt !p a ood life here#
*ominic's happy at the local school and I ha&e a 3ob workin at the local craft shop and I'mood
at it# I don'tneed yo!" anymore"Gio " don't yo! see that$"
"I don't want yo! toneed me"" he said softly# "I want yo! to want me + the way that I want yo!#"
%is black eyes b!rned into her# "*o yo! want me" Misty$Beca!se that's the only -!estion that
matters#"
It was one of those definin moments#
(he co!ld t!rn him away and her life wo!ld be safe###yet Misty reconi6ed it wo!ld also be
empty and fore&er filled with an achin reret#
Or she co!ld rab this !ne/pected chance of happiness" and take the risk that e&eryone had to
take when they fell in lo&e#
"Of co!rse I want yo!"" she whispered# "B!t I'm scared#"
%e la!hed as he p!lled her into his arms" closin his eyes as he breathed in the sweet scent of
her hair# "'o! think I'm not$ It's the reason I beha&ed so st!pidly"" he m!rm!red# "B!t I
reconi6e now that it's a healthy kind of scared# Like the first time yo! 3!mp into water o!t of
yo!r depth + as lon as yo! can swim" yo!'ll be 3!st fine#" %e tilted her chin and mo&ed his lips
close to hers# "Can yo! swim" Misty$"
(he wo!nd her arms aro!nd his neck# "Like a fish"" she smiled" as she t!rned her face to his#
%e bent and capt!red her mo!th in a lon kiss and in seconds she was tremblin" robbed of
e&erythin b!t her desire for him#
"Gio$" she whispered !nsteadily" as the flickerin flames ill!minated his dark feat!res#
"(sssh"" he commanded" slippin the &el&et robe from her bare sho!lders# "Come here while I
claim yo!#"
")h+that's a &ery old+fashioned thin to say"" she st!mbled#
%e c!pped her breast and to!ched his lips to it# "(ometimes old+fashioned is best#"
,nd Misty wasn't oin to ar!e with that#
)he .nd