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Грэхем Линн

Mediterranean Millionaires

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DONALD HAMILTON leafed frantically through the file Gwenna had presented him with. Finally he thrust it down on the table. His complexion had taken on an unhealthy grey hue, his shock palpable. ‘Did Angelo Riccardi put all that stuff together for you?’

‘Yes,’ Gwenna breathed. ‘Please don’t tell me any lies. I need to hear the truth.’

‘It looks a lot worse than it is,’ Donald declared defensively. ‘Let me explain how it happened—’

‘It wasn’t something that just happened. Don’t talk as though it was something that you had no control over,’ Gwenna broke in tautly. ‘You forged my mother’s will so that I was left penniless. That’s what it comes down to!’

‘You’re making too much of this,’ the older man argued vehemently. ‘It all started out quite innocently. When you were a baby, I tried to persuade your mother, Isabel, into a business partnership. I hoped that together we could build houses on the Massey estate.’

‘Build?’ Gwenna parroted. ‘But it’s against the law to develop a site that’s been listed as being of historical significance.’

‘It was over twenty years ago and the estate wasn’t listed then,’ he reminded her doggedly. ‘I wanted to make some money for us all. Isabel was as poor as a church mouse, but she went crazy when I suggested the property deal. Playing lady of the manor, even if the big house was in ruins, was very important to your mother.’

‘I know,’ Gwenna acknowledged reluctantly.

‘By the time you were born, my relationship with Isabel was only a friendship,’ Donald Hamilton contended.

That was not how Gwenna remembered it. The affair had waxed and waned according to her father’s mood. Her mother’s bitterness had escalated when she had finally begun to appreciate that the man she had loved for so long had never cared for her the way she cared for him.

‘My first marriage was a disaster and I wanted a divorce. Developing the Massey estate seemed like my only escape route,’ the older man continued with determination. ‘I needed to make a lot of money. I had a wife to keep, I had you and your mother to support and, by then, I’d also met another woman.’

Gwenna could not say that she was surprised by that admission. ‘Didn’t that happen to you rather too often? Off with the old, on with the new?’

Her father grimaced. ‘I don’t expect you to understand but Fiorella was different. She was an Italian, very glamorous. I hoped to marry her but that affair blew up in my face—’

Gwenna frowned. ‘I don’t see what all this has got to do with my mother’s will.’

‘I’m trying to explain why I did what I did.’

Unimpressed by what struck her as a clumsy attempt to somehow excuse the inexcusable, Gwenna stared at the damning file, which lay on the coffee table. Beneath the table, Piglet sighed in his sleep. She was beginning to wonder why she had even bothered coming to see her father. She felt empty. Nothing he could say was going to make her feel better about the fact that he had stolen her birthright and held onto it for so many years at her expense. She had felt so guilty about his first marriage breaking up. He had allowed her to believe that her adoption had led to his divorce. Yet he had just admitted that he had wanted out of that marriage.

Things she had closed her eyes to, comparisons that it hurt to make, were now crowding in on her. Her stepsisters had grown up in a lovely big house with their mother and her father, while Gwenna had been exiled to a down-market boarding-school that she’d hated. During the holidays, her presence in her father’s marital home had been barely tolerated by her stepfamily. Gwenna had scrimped and saved and worked part-time through all her college courses. From the age of eighteen, she had lived in a cramped and shabby little flat that was basically just the roof space above a glorified shed of a shop and she had run the nursery for a meagre wage. Yet a mere word of approbation from her father had been sufficient to keep her walking on air for days afterwards.

‘Gwenna…’ Donald Hamilton spoke with unusual urgency.

‘You have to listen to me.’

‘If you want me to listen, tell me something relevant. The story of your romance with some glamorous Italian woman isn’t,’ she muttered with distaste.

‘In this case, it is,’he insisted. ‘One day three men walked into my office in broad daylight and told me I’d been messing around with a very important man’s daughter, who already had a husband. I was warned that if I wanted to stay alive and prosper I had to get out of Fiorella’s life.’

‘Really?’ Gwenna only registered that her father had been indulging in an affair with a married woman and she thought it served him right if he had for once been called to account for his behaviour. ‘Maybe my mum would have had a happier life if she’d had a father capable of pulling the same stunt.’

‘For heaven’s sake, Gwenna. They put a gun to my head— I thought I was going to die!’ Donald Hamilton protested furiously. ‘They were violent criminals.’

‘I’m sure,’ Gwenna sighed, wondering where the tall tale would go next.

‘I was managing Fiorella’s money and she was a wealthy woman. Her father’s thugs demanded that I hand over all of that money. They escorted me to the bank and waited while I made arrangements to withdraw her cash. But she’d already spent a good deal of it and the men threatened to come back and visit me a third time if I didn’t cover the amount that had been spent. I had to pay up. They bled me dry. Needless to say I cut loose fast from Fiorella, but I was financially ruined.’

‘I’m sorry…I don’t believe any of this and I don’t know how you can expect me to.’

‘Your mother’s solicitor worked in the same practice as I did. He was elderly, overdue for retirement. It was easy to remove papers from his safe,’ the older man admitted. ‘I approached a loan company in London and pretended I owned the Massey estate. Using it as security, I borrowed a large sum of money. I had to have some way of meeting my obligations at home. Remember you and your mother were my dependants then.’

Gwenna frowned, finally grasping the connection, even if she didn’t credit the preceding story. ‘How could you do that to my mother? Was she just one more person to be used and fleeced? Is there anyone you won’t use?’

‘When your mother died, there was still an outstanding loan against the estate and I had to cover up the evidence of that. What choice did I have? I may have forged that will but I did it with the best of intentions. I had such wonderful plans.’

A ragged laugh fell from her lips. ‘Mum wanted me to have the estate, not you.’

‘I gave you a home. I adopted you,’ her father reminded her without hesitation. ‘I hoped to develop the estate and you would have benefited from that too, if it had come off.’

‘I don’t think so. I was just a means to an end and a cheap way to keep the nursery going.’ Gwenna lifted the file and got up on stiff legs. ‘I’m taking the Jeep. It’s mine.’

‘You can’t leave like this. What’s going to happen now?’ Vaulting to his feet, the older man skimmed an apprehensive glance out the window.

She followed his gaze. Angelo was leaning up against the long gleaming bonnet of his ridiculously sumptuous car. She realised that she didn’t care what action Angelo took over her parent’s most recent act of fraud. Presumably Angelo would relish the opportunity to prosecute him. That was fine by her but it also meant that her private agreement with Angelo would be null and void. Her father would be arrested and charged and he would go to court. And if she could not or would not intervene that meant that she was free again, as free as a bird, she registered numbly.

‘That’s Angelo Riccardi?’ her father queried, his frown deepening. ‘He looks younger than he does in newsprint. He reminds me of someone. Why don’t you invite him in?’

‘I don’t want to,’ she admitted without apology.

She walked out to the kitchen, grabbed the keys to the old four-wheel drive and went straight out to the yard at the back. She drove round the house, braking to a halt beside the limo before she could lose her nerve. With clumsy fingers, she frantically lowered the creaking window.

The epitome of cool, Angelo elevated an enquiring brow. ‘Is that a roadworthy vehicle?’

‘Don’t be a snob,’ Gwenna breathed tightly. ‘Well, I suppose this is it. Our arrangement is over.’

Disturbed by the hollow, unfocused look in her eyes, Angelo cut in. ‘Over?’

‘You can press charges against my father. I don’t care any more.’

His dark, lustrous eyes glittered. ‘You don’t mean that—’

‘Yes, I do. He’s a horrible man,’ she said flatly. ‘I’m certainly not going to sacrifice my life to keep him out of prison, so go ahead and prosecute him.’

‘I wasn’t referring to your father. It’s the, “over” angle that I was questioning,’ Angelo countered with pronounced care. ‘You and me…’

Gwenna stared out the windscreen, her classic profile pale and tight. ‘There is no you and me,’ she whispered.’ There was an arrangement and now it’s finished. If the will was forged, the Massey estate is mine and just as soon as the legal work’s done and your staff move on, I’ll be taking over there again.’

‘This is not the place to stage this discussion—’

‘I don’t have to discuss it. You can keep the clothes and forward the rest of my stuff to the nursery.’ With that final assurance, Gwenna angled her vehicle round the nose of the limo and sped off down the drive.

Angelo was thunderstruck by the turn of events. She had taken him by surprise. How had that happened? He was always ahead of the game. Why hadn’t it occurred to him that she might walk away once she stopped caring about what happened to her father? When had he lost his grip to that extent?

Piglet appeared round the corner of the house and ran past him in frenzied pursuit of Gwenna’s old banger of a car. Left behind, the little dog had had a hair-raising encounter with the white Persian who ruled the Hamilton kitchen and he had fled through the cat flap.

For about ten seconds, Angelo stared after the dog in frowning surprise, and then, seeing the distraught little animal charging right out into the road, he unfroze and sprinted down the drive. Shouting at his team, Franco took off after him. The older man reached the roadside just in time to see his employer make a dive for Piglet, who was running frantically through the traffic. Scooping the little animal up, Angelo tossed him onto the grass verge and almost lost his balance in the process. As he rocked back on his heels, he was clipped by the wing of a car. Flung up over the bonnet, he came crashing down again to the accompaniment of squealing brakes and strident shouts. He lay still on the road, blood seeping from the side of his head. Shaking and whining with fright, Piglet sought security from the only familiar face and darted nervously into the shelter of Angelo’s body to lick at his hand.

Gwenna had almost driven right through the village before she realised that she had not a clue where to go. At first she did not want to think about anything that had happened that morning. Every thought seemed laden with the threat of hurt and she felt curiously unable to cope even with the comparatively minor decision of where to go next.

The familiar sight of the Massey Manor gates took care of that concern for her. That part of the estate was closed to vehicular traffic and she parked outside, scrambling out to walk up the rough lane that had once been the entrance drive to the house. For the first time she wondered if her inability to think and react normally related to shock. Shock at her father’s treachery and greed?

Shock at the revelation that she was, after all, the rightful owner of the estate that had been in her family for generations? Of course that fact would have to be ratified by a court of law before it was officially hers but, even so, it was good news, wasn’t it? Nobody would ever be able to take the estate away from her again and in her hands it would be safe. The plant nursery would belong to her once more. It had made a reasonable income. When she was no longer required to pass over all the profits to her father, she would be able to build up the business and look forward to more comfortable takings in the future.

Yet even those rousing prospects failed to comfort her. What she had learned about her only surviving parent had devastated her. Worse still she was looking back and seeing that, although she had chosen to avoid acknowledging it, she had always been a rank outsider in her father’s family circle. She had hovered on the sidelines, eager to please, desperate to make a place for herself at the Old Rectory and most often ignored, dismissed or scorned.

She wandered round the overgrown grounds of the estate for quite a while and the familiarity of her surroundings helped her to calm down somewhat. Perhaps, she finally conceded, she was also a little bit in shock at the concept of a life that no longer contained Angelo. How had he managed to become so entwined with her every thought and expectation? Why could she not imagine a future without him? Her mind served up a compelling image of Angelo. Aggressive and dynamic, he lived and moved at a fast pace. His electric energy, high expectations and impatience were symptomatic of his genius. He was only still and silent when he was asleep. At last she let herself contemplate the prospect of never seeing Angelo again and she realised with greater shock than ever that it hurt much more than anything else had that day. She pressed clammy hands to her tear-wet cheeks and sank down shakily on the worn sun-warmed steps of the old house.

When had she stopped hating Angelo? And why hadn’t she realised that she had long since stopped hating him? At what point had Toby begun to feel like a much loved friend rather than the source of her unfulfilled dreams? How could she have fallen in love with Angelo? She fought all the time with him! He always knew best about everything! What interests did they share? But she got quite a buzz out of fighting with him, didn’t she? He was incredibly attractive and sexy and he made everything seem wildly exciting. Was it an infatuation? Well, she was soon going to have the chance to find out, wasn’t she? She had just dumped him.

Could she change her mind about that? Would that be foolish? Pathetic? Or was it her duty to go cold turkey and get over him? Why, oh, why had she left her phone in the car? Suppose Angelo had called her?

It was at that point that Gwenna finally registered Piglet’s absence and realised that she had left her pet behind at the Old Rectory. What a state she must have been in to walk out of there and just forget about poor Piglet! Rising upright and dusting down her dress, she went back down the lane and found Toby walking round her car and peering in.

‘Looking for me?’ she asked, unlocking the driver’s door and immediately reaching for her phone.

‘I was surprised to see your car parked here…’

There were a number of missed calls on her phone and she was about to access them to check out the caller when she noticed the odd note in Toby’s voice. ‘What’s up?’

‘I assumed you’d be at the hospital.’ Toby was watching her closely for signs of reaction. ‘You don’t know, do you? Angelo’s been involved in an accident.’

Her tummy flipped and her head swam. Angelo…accident. She stared at Toby in horror. ‘An accident? Where? When?’

‘Your stepmother saw it happen. She was coming home with her shopping—’

‘Never mind where she was coming from—just tell me about Angelo! Is he all right?’

‘Look, I’ll take you to the hospital now.’ Toby tucked her into the passenger seat of his low-slung sports car.

‘Toby!’ she prompted sickly. ‘Just tell me!’

Toby drove out onto the road and cleared his throat. ‘Eva said he was unconscious. He was hit by a car—’

‘You mean his car was hit—’

‘Angelo wasn’t in his car. It’s possibly not the moment to mention it, but Piglet’s all in one piece.’

‘What’s Piglet got to do with it?’

So Toby told her that Angelo had saved her dog’s life. Angelo, who had once referred to her pet as a piranha fish on four legs. She felt sick with fear and horribly guilty.

‘It was an item on the lunchtime news. I didn’t quite appreciate how important the guy was—’

‘Where is he?’ Gwenna interrupted.

‘I’m taking you straight there.’

Her mobile rang and she snatched it up. It was Franco. She was grateful for his calm but disturbed to hear that Angelo had still not regained consciousness. Having warned her that the press were gathering at the front of the hospital, Franco arranged to meet her in a less public location.

‘I’ve told everyone that you’re Mr Riccardi’s partner,’ Franco confessed, within a minute of their harried meeting.

Considering the connotations of that label and deeming them an outright lie in her case, Gwenna bit her lip. ‘I don’t think that…I mean—’

‘That’s the only way you’ll be allowed to see him, Miss Hamilton. Lawyers are already on their way here to take charge.’

Gwenna stepped into the lift. The only way you’ll be allowed to see him. The risk of being barred from seeing Angelo was quite enough to silence her qualms. ‘Lawyers?’

‘Decisions have to be made quickly about Mr Riccardi’s treatment. You care about him. I trust you to make the right choices.’ Franco looked grave. ‘If you don’t accept the responsibility, other interests could step in and take over here very quickly.’

Gwenna was startled by that warning, but she respected a candour that cut right through to what was really important. In the absence of family, Angelo’s lawyers would hold sway and evidently Franco distrusted them. Angelo was hugely wealthy. Might that influence the quality of the choices made on his behalf? Angelo reposed great trust in his chief of security. Gwenna didn’t understand why Franco was so worried but she recognised his sincere concern for Angelo and hastily nodded agreement.

Franco guided her through a throng of people and into the presence of a harassed doctor, who was eager to issue a report on Angelo’s condition. He thought Angelo’s head injury should be scanned, which meant taking him to another hospital. But the lawyers were fighting over whether or not Angelo should be moved. Time was passing and the doctor was worried about the delay.

‘Go ahead and make the arrangements for the scan,’ Gwenna instructed.

‘You’ll take responsibility?’

‘Yes, may I see him now?’ Gwenna was struggling to contain her fierce impatience.

Angelo was pale, the side of his face cut and badly bruised and he was very, very still. She closed her hand over his limp brown fingers curled on top of the sheet. Swallowing convulsively, she sat down by the bed. Angelo just about tolerated Piglet, yet he had put himself in jeopardy to save the little dog from being run over. Angelo had done a crazy but wonderful thing. And he could only have done it for her benefit. Wiping her eyes, she mustered a steadying breath and began to pray. Very few minutes passed before the nursing staff came in to prepare Angelo to be airlifted to a city hospital.

Angelo surfaced from what felt like the worst hangover of all time with a splitting headache. He was in the act of mastering a surge of nausea when he registered that a man was speaking in a sharp hectoring tone and that a hand was tightening on one of his as if he were a lifeline.

‘I’m afraid you’re going to hear my opinion whether you want it or not, Miss Hamilton,’ the suave lawyer intoned with contempt. ‘The scan was a waste of time. You let a junior doctor dictate a decision that may have seriously damaged Mr Riccardi’s prospects of recovery.’

‘That hospital didn’t have the facilities to carry out a proper investigation. At that point, I felt that there was no time to waste.’ Gwenna was wondering how many hours it was since she had last slept, for her head felt too heavy to be supported by her neck. Dawn light was filtering through the curtains.

‘You acted without authority and with my express disagreement. Who are you? His partner?’ the lawyer derided. ‘Don’t make me laugh! You’re the daughter of a criminal, and only one more in a long line of little—’

The thick black fringe of Angelo’s lashes lifted to reveal the blazing impact of his gaze. ‘Dio mio! Stop right there if you want to stay employed,’he growled hoarsely. ‘Treat Miss Hamilton with respect. You do not abuse or bully her. Is that understood?’

Gwenna was only dimly aware of the other man’s shaken apologies and immediate retreat. She was so overjoyed that Angelo had recovered consciousness that she was incapable of appreciating anything else. Her eyes filled with tears of relief. ‘I was scared you were never going to wake up. I’ll ring the bell for the nurse.’

‘Not yet.’ Angelo surveyed her, taking in the tousled honey tumble of her hair, her mascara-smudged-and-shadowed eyes and her unflattering pallor. He had never seen her look less beautiful and could not comprehend why, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, she should look so wonderful to him. ‘How long have I been out of it for?’

‘Almost eighteen hours.’

She was still wearing the same clothes. Most probably, he reflected, she had not even looked in a mirror, for she was not vain. ‘Have you been with me all that time?’

‘Yes, of course.’

She had not left his side. She had sat up all night. He could not imagine a single woman of his acquaintance caring so little for her appearance or comfort and he was touched. ‘You fought with my lawyers for my benefit. That was very brave,’ he pronounced, retaining a firm grip on her hand. ‘Did you shout at them?’


‘So, it’s only me you shout at.’

Tears ready to overflow, she shook her head in wordless defeat at the over-emotional state she was in.

‘It’s a distinction that makes me feel special, bellezza mia,’ Angelo declared, wondering why he liked the fact that she was crying over him.

Gwenna darted an uncomfortable glance at him and then lowered her lashes. ‘After what I said, you must be wondering what I’m doing here.’

‘You’re here now,’ Angelo cut in with the faintest suggestion of haste. ‘Planning to go anywhere?’

And it was as if a door swept open in front of her without warning and he was already walking through it and away from her. The future had been static and unthreatening while Angelo was out for the count. Now life was beckoning again and the decision was hers. Yes to Angelo’s question would mean turning her back on her misgivings and letting her heart guide her. If she listened to common sense, she would tell him no. She did not know if she could ever forgive him for the way things had started out. But the alternative was to leave him and she could not face that. Love, she was discovering, was much more complex than she had once fondly believed and it had stolen her freedom of choice.

‘I still want you to come to Sardinia with me,’ Angelo imparted huskily. ‘I’m not putting any pressure on you. You owe me nothing.’

But she only had to look at that lean, dark, devastating face to feel the magnetic pull of the pressure he exerted without even trying. When he said that she owed him nothing he was coming as close as he was prepared to come to the fact that he had plunged her into a highly immoral arrangement. But he wasn’t saying sorry and he probably never would. Yet she still needed him, still wanted him, she acknowledged guiltily. At that moment nothing else mattered. With a preliminary knock the consultant and his staff strode in. She had to give up her seat to let them carry out their checks on Angelo but his brilliant dark gaze did not stray from her.

‘I’m waiting for an answer,’ he told her as if they were still alone.

And she gave the only answer she could give.

But it was eight full days before they managed to get together again in Sardinia. A strike by an airline that Angelo owned resulted in chaos for thousands of travellers and Angelo left hospital and flew straight to Paris to take part in talks to end the crisis. As a result, Gwenna did not see him again until she landed at Olbia on the Costa Smeralda coast. Piglet, equipped with his official pet passport, travelled out in the cargo hold of the same plane. A slender but shapely figure clad in white linen cropped trousers and a white lace top, Gwenna attracted a good deal of male attention at the airport. Eyes starry, she jumped into the passenger seat of Angelo’s Range Rover.

‘You look fantastic,’ he ground out sexily before he took her strawberry-tinted mouth in a devastatingly sensual kiss that set every nerve-ending she possessed alight and left her quivering.

His villa rejoiced in a stunning site on the limestone cliffs of the Golfo di Orosei. The property was surrounded by vibrantly colourful tropical gardens. A twisting secret path hedged in by vegetation led down through a grove of ancient cork oaks to a private beach of white sand. The magnificent house was staggeringly opulent. The overhanging roof, natural stone walls and wood floors kept the interior cool while huge comfortable sofas heaped with cushions made it inviting.

‘And this…’ Angelo trailed out the word with purring satisfaction at the conclusion of the grand tour ‘…is the master bedroom.’

At the press of a button, the wall of glass that overlooked the sunlit stone veranda split into two sections that slid back into recesses at either side. A hint of a breeze sent the diaphanous drapes fluttering. Gwenna strolled out to enjoy the dazzling view of the Mediterranean. In the sunlight, the sea had a sparkling turquoise brilliance.

‘I’m in paradise,’ Gwenna sighed, revelling in the warmth of the sun on her skin. ‘I love the sound of the waves. It’s so soothing. Mum used to have a friend with a house at the beach and when we went to visit we stayed over. I used to fall asleep listening to the surf.’

‘How well do you swim?’

‘Like a mermaid…why do you never mention your family?’ Gwenna asked abruptly.

His lean body tensed as he closed his arms round her. ‘What is there to say? After my mother died, I stayed in foster homes between school terms. I never knew my father.’

‘That’s a shame.’

‘Think of the grief your father has caused you, cara mia.’

‘That’s true.’

Angelo turned her slowly round. Dark eyes smouldering beneath his black lashes, he dropped a kiss on top of her head. ‘Chill,’ he urged huskily.

He tugged loose the ties on her lace top. The heady strength of anticipation made her breath catch in her throat. Heat was slowly uncoiling in her pelvis, sending out wicked little tendrils of sensual awareness to every part of her. The swollen peaks of her breasts pushed against the lining on her top.

‘No bra…’ Angelo registered with appreciation, sliding the edges of the lace apart as if she were his one and only gift and he was in no hurry to unwrap her. As the full perfection of the pouting swells was revealed, he expelled his breath on an admiring hiss. But the sensual appeal of the protruding velvety pink peaks wrested a hungry groan from him. He unzipped her cropped trousers, pushed them off her hips.

The burn of his gaze on her nakedness made her tingle. A clenching sensation pulsed between her thighs and she reacted to the surge of moist response there with heightened colour and an almost soundless gasp.

‘You like being stripped.’ Angelo pulled her to him and toyed with her achingly tender nipples. Exquisite sensation flooded her trembling body.

‘Yes.’ She was both shamed and excited by that new knowledge about herself. Supporting her, he let his sensual mouth engulf an engorged rose crest while he scored a forefinger back and forth across the damp band of silk stretched tight over her secret place. Involuntary whimpers of sound were forced from her. Her legs went weak and he lifted her to carry her over to the bed.

‘You’re so ready for me,’ Angelo stood over her, wrenching off his clothes.

He too was fiercely aroused and she began to conduct her own exploration. Bending her head, she pleasured him with the sensuality that he had taught her.

‘I want more…I want to be inside you,’ Angelo growled, breaking free to tumble her back against the pillows.

As he spread her slender thighs every individual fibre in her body was leaping with eager excitement. She angled her hips up in helpless supplication for his possession. He came into her hard and fast and hungry. Sweet pleasure engulfed her in a haze of passion. Tormenting sensation piled on sensation. She was frantic, her responses getting stronger and wilder. It was as if her system were on fast-forward and she was wildly out of control by the time that he sent her hurtling into an explosive climax. Hearing him cry out her name as he shuddered over her, she felt intensely happy.

‘I apologise…that was a little rough and ready, bellezza mia,’ Angelo groaned, studying her with melting tawny eyes that were slightly dazed.

Gwenna gave a delighted little shimmy beneath him and hugged him tight. If that was rough and ready, she could only look forward to refined.

Angelo tipped up her face. ‘I mean it. That was more of a quick snack than the banquet I planned.’

Noting that the bruises were fading fast from his temples and cheekbone and feeling incredibly tender towards him, Gwenna grinned up at him. ‘You are always so ambitious—’

‘I wanted you to know how much I—’

‘Missed me?’ she slotted in buoyantly.

‘How much I appreciate you,’ Angelo contradicted a shade stiffly, beautiful eyes guarded, for it felt like a major statement to him.

Smothering a yawn, Gwenna let her eyelids drift down. ‘I’m so sleepy.’

Angelo stared down at her in frustration. ‘I really appreciate you…’

‘Whatever,’ she mumbled, drowsily unimpressed.


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