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Грэхем Линн

Mediterranean Millionaires

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DONALD HAMILTON slowly shook his distinguished head. ‘I’ll have nothing left, not even my independence.’

‘The valuations aren’t what you hoped? Even for the city apartment?’ Gwenna questioned anxiously.

‘I would say that the figures are anything but generous.’

Gwenna frowned. ‘Of course property prices have fallen in some areas. How did the Massey garden and nursery fare in the valuation stakes?’

‘The estate is listed and protected by law,’ Donald reminded her. ‘That keeps its value low because there are too many rules preventing more profitable types of development. The nursery is a small enterprise. You’ve worked wonders there but…’

‘It’s hardly big business,’ Gwenna filled in heavily.

‘Even so, if selling up protects me from having to make a court appearance, how can I possibly complain?’ her father asked her in a more upbeat tone. ‘As for what you told me about you and the owner of Rialto, that’s made all this even more amazing.’

Amazing? It seemed an odd choice of word. Gwenna coloured, her lashes concealing her bemused eyes. She was still wondering if the older man had quite grasped what she had delicately endeavoured to tell him with regard to her future association with Angelo Riccardi. In an effort to conceal her confusion, she bent down to pet Piglet, who was slumped at her feet.

‘You’re a beautiful woman and all grown up now.’ Donald Hamilton treated his daughter to a distinctly misty-eyed appraisal. ‘I mustn’t forget that. I’m not at all surprised that a man of Angelo Riccardi’s calibre should notice you and go for you in a big way.’

‘Well…he did notice me,’ his daughter muttered half under her breath, reckoning that her father could not possibly have registered the sort of liaison that she was being offered. No doubt that was a mercy, for she had worried about him kicking up a fuss even though she had packaged the unlovely truth with the pretence that she had been similarly impressed by Angelo Riccardi.

‘Perhaps you could have a little word with him about the valuations,’ the older man murmured casually. ‘Not right now, necessarily, but possibly in a week or two.’

Having tensed, Gwenna slowly lifted her head. ‘Have a word with him?’

‘You can’t be that naïve,’ Donald Hamilton said with a chuckle. ‘Obviously you’ve got influence with the man in the seat of power.’

‘I don’t think you can say that—’

‘This is not the time for false modesty,’ her father told her a touch irritably. ‘Choose your moment to speak to him about how unhappy you are over the treatment of your family. My word, do I have to paint pictures for you? Have you any idea what my life is going to be like when I don’t have a penny to call my own? When I’m forced to live off your stepmother like some ghastly ageing gigolo?’ But Gwenna was both taken aback and dismayed by his assumption that she would be able to persuade Angelo Riccardi to offer the older man a better price for his properties. She was very pale. ‘Look, I’m sorry…I hadn’t thought that far ahead yet. All I’ve been thinking about is keeping you out of prison.’

Donald Hamilton winced as though she had been guilty of a gross lack of tact. ‘I think that risk has been safely laid to rest now and life does go on,’ he declared. ‘It is going to be very difficult for me to find another job.’

‘Yes, I suppose it will be. But how are you expecting me to help out by speaking to Angelo Riccardi?’ Gwenna asked apprehensively.

Her father grimaced. ‘You can be very naïve, Gwenna. For as long as you have Riccardi’s interest the world will be your oyster. Ideally I would like my job back at Furnridge Leather.’

Gwenna was staggered by that announcement. ‘Your old job?’

‘Yes.’ Impervious to her incredulity, Donald Hamilton added, ‘That would silence the scandalmongers. And help me get back on my feet again.’

Gwenna swallowed hard. ‘I honestly don’t think that I could do anything to help you to get your old job back.’

‘Well, if not it, something of equivalent status elsewhere. Why so shocked?’ he queried with dissatisfaction. ‘It would be no big deal to Riccardi to do one little favour for you.

For once, Gwenna found it a relief to be joined by Eva and her stepsisters. She did not know how to tell her father that she did not have the influence he imagined, but she did feel that his expectations were unrealistic. At the same time, she strove to make allowances for his state of mind. He was under enormous pressure and the troubled state of his relationship with his wife was not helping.

‘Nice to see that you’re still running round in your dreary old Barbour and jeans like Little Miss Ordinary.’ Penelope treated Gwenna to a sour appraisal. ‘When does Angelo Riccardi wave his magic wand and turn you into a sex kitten? Or does mud turn him on?’

Gwenna had no wish to consider what might turn Angelo Riccardi on. Ever since that startling kiss, she had blanked him out of her mind. The discovery that he could dredge such a physical response from her had been deeply unwelcome. Indeed she was mortified to her core to appreciate that she was not impervious to his sexual charge. But, equally, forewarned was forearmed, and she had no plans to gratify his ego in that manner again.

‘You lucky, lucky cow,’ Wanda groaned with unhidden envy. ‘When I think of the effort I make to look beautiful, it’s depressing that you can go out looking like a dog’s dinner and still pull a billionaire.’

‘It won’t last five minutes,’ her stepmother, Eva, forecast with a dismissive but speaking distaste that raised goose bumps of chagrin below Gwenna’s skin. ‘These things never do.’

‘I’d better go. I’ve got orders to take to the post office,’ Gwenna muttered, keen to make her escape from the trio of cold, critical gazes fixed to her. Her stepmother’s contempt bit deepest of all.

‘Don’t forget what I’m going through here,’ her father urged, having taken the unusual step of accompanying his daughter to the door.

‘Of course, I won’t.’ Gwenna was touched by the affectionate hug he gave her.

‘See if you can work out something on my behalf with Riccardi.’

Gwenna drove slowly back to the nursery in the van. There was nothing more that she could do for her father at present, she thought unhappily. He was going to have to deal with the fact that his life was never going to be the same again, but that would take time. Her brow was pounding out her tension. Reasoning was a challenge when she felt as though the shock of recent events had set up a barrier between her and her wits. She was still struggling to accept that, in the space of ten days, her whole life had fallen down round her like a house of cards and with it the future that she had taken for granted. The village where she had lived from birth would no longer be her home. She would be barred from the gardens where she had grown up and happily worked whenever she had a moment free. The business she had laboured so hard to build would pass on to a stranger and might not even survive. After all, the profit margins at the nursery were low and, with Joyce on maternity leave, she was working alone.

Her mobile phone rang just as she finished packing the orders from the mail-order catalogue in the rear storeroom. It was Toby. Smiling with pleasure, she relaxed and went into the shop to chat and savour every piece of his news. He told her that he was in Germany. A landscape architect, Toby James had already made his name in design and he often accepted commissions abroad. Gwenna had first met him at college and saw a lot less of him than she would have liked.

‘A mate of a mate saw the story about your father in the paper and passed it on,’ Toby volunteered. ‘You must be really torn up about this. Why didn’t you tell me about it yourself?’

Piglet had started barking in the storeroom and she called out to him to hush. ‘There was no point spreading the bad news.’

‘How often have I cried on your shoulder?’ he censured.

‘Only once,’ she sighed, recalling that night with pained regret. ‘The nursery and the gardens are being sold.’

‘That is a total disaster…I can’t believe it!’

Gwenna pictured Toby raking an impatient hand through his brown hair, his green eyes glinting with concern and disappointment on her behalf. He was very attractive and tremendous fun. They had so much in common and she even got on like a house on fire with his family. It had taken a long time for her to register that their close friendship was destined to go no further because, although few people appreciated the fact, Toby was gay. By the time she’d found out she had been head over heels in love with him and had yet to meet the man who could compete with Toby’s hold on her affections, although goodness knew she had tried.

While Gwenna was enjoying her conversation with Toby, Angelo was descending from his limo that had purred to a halt outside. He surveyed his surroundings with huge disdain. The nursery as such was composed of ramshackle sheds and an ancient greenhouse. He strolled towards the open door of the shop and just as he began to frown at the strong perfume in the air he saw Gwenna. Endless long slim legs clad in slim-fit jeans, blonde hair in a pony-tail, she was leaning back against the counter, a glorious smile lighting up her lovely face. She was chattering, unaware of his presence. Instantly he knew that he would not be satisfied until she smiled at him like that.

‘It feels like a hundred years ago since I saw you…I miss you.’

Stilling in the doorway, Angelo began to listen. He was fifteen feet from her and she still hadn’t noticed him. That had never happened to him before. The average woman went on hyper-alert when he entered the building, never mind the same room. She was locked onto that phone as if it were her lover. Or, as if she were talking to her lover, eyes shining, voice husky, giggly, her entire manner in feminine flirt mode. His eyes turned to chips of black ice.

‘Things are kind of up in the air right now,’ Gwenna confided, having told Toby only what she deemed necessary for him to know, which was not a lot. ‘We’ll catch up when you get back.’

Gwenna did not know what it was that made her look up and when she did she jerked and almost dropped the phone. Shock gripped her vocal cords and her lungs. Angelo Riccardi was standing in the doorway, a long black cashmere overcoat hanging loose over his dark pinstripe suit, strikingly elegant, even more strikingly handsome.

‘Toby…I have to go…someone’s come into the shop,’ Gwenna announced in a clumsy staccato rush of unease, eyes wide and defensive. Her smile had fallen off her lips as if she had been slapped.

Angelo strolled in. ‘Who’s Toby?’ he enquired lazily.

‘A friend.’ Gwenna crammed the phone back in her pocket. ‘How can I help you?’

‘Are you going to ask me that in bed?’ Angelo murmured. ‘I’m not a customer.’

Hot pink washed her cheeks and only slowly receded. Her bright blue eyes touched on his and fled again, her hands clenching because he’d had the cruelty to mention what she had steadfastly refused to think about. She applied her tried-and-tested least-said-soonest-mended formula to her thoughts. As a young child she had learned the futility of excessive anticipation and worry when she was powerless to alter things. Now a tiny pulse beat out her extreme tension in the blue-veined hollow beneath her collar-bone. Even without looking at him, she felt the high-octane hum of energy that laced the atmosphere around him. It put her entire body into a crazy state of anticipation: her muscles were rigid, her breathing audible and her breasts felt heavy, her nipples tingling.

‘I’d like you to show me around the estate,’ Angelo imparted.

‘There’s not much of an estate left.’

‘Whatever. I need fresh air. I can hardly breathe for the perfume in here.’ Before he stepped outside, Angelo directed a cutting glance in the direction of the headily scented bowls of rosebuds and other mixtures set out by the counter.

‘I make pot-pourri. It’s a big seller. My customers come from miles away to buy from me,’ Gwenna told him.

Angelo said nothing. With difficulty she silenced the self-protective words on her tongue. His uninterest was blatant but she reminded herself that she owed it to the Massey Garden committee to check out his intentions in advance of the takeover. She let Piglet out of the storeroom. The little dog headed for Angelo, hovered in unsuccessful hope of an acknowledgement, and then raced out in a delighted fury of barking to investigate the strangers outside. The parking area out front was, at first glance, packed with cars and men.

‘Who are all these people?’ Gwenna frowned.


Gwenna was tempted to make a tart comment, relating to his undoubted need to take such precautions. His brilliant tawny scrutiny met hers. ‘Much better not,’he said softly. ‘It’s never a good idea to put me in a bad mood.’

Momentarily she shut her eyes, disconcerted by the speed with which he had read her and almost equally shaken by her ongoing need to fight with him. On the other hand the idea of giving way to the chill of fear that he evoked scared her even more. ‘Only a tiny part of the gardens has been restored. I use part of the old kitchen garden to display the plants I grow in their natural habitat—’

‘I wouldn’t have said that this was your natural habitat.’

‘Well, then, you’d be wrong—’

‘I’m very rarely wrong about anything.’

Gwenna hung onto her temper with difficulty. He had come to a halt and he cast a long dark shadow.

In silence, Angelo reached for her hand and she had to combat a strong urge to whip it out of reach. Long brown fingers encircled her wrist with complete cool and exposed the roughened skin on her palms and the ragged state of her nails. ‘When I realised that you ran the nursery, I didn’t appreciate that that entailed working the ground like a navvy.’

Off-balanced by that physical contact, Gwenna breathed unevenly. ‘That’s what I enjoy the most.’

‘You’ve led a restricted life.’

‘I don’t think so.’

‘You’re very stubborn.’ Stunning dark eyes linked with hers and her chest went tight round the quickened pound of her heartbeat, until she was aware of nothing but him. He carried her fingers to his handsome mouth and pressed his lips softly to them in an elegant gesture that had immense style and assurance. ‘I like it. In a world of yes-women, you shine like a star, gioia.’

Shivering, she jerked her hand back but she could still feel the touch of his lips on her skin like a fiery brand of intent. A hard, tight knot of heat sat low in her tummy. Nothing fazed him. His ruthlessness was like a steel wall of chain-mail. That she knew it and was still capable of responding to him with excitement shamed her to the core. Excitement? He’d kissed her hand and the sizzle in the air blew her mind. What did that say about her? That she had spent too long dreaming about a man she could never have? She forced a breath into her straining lungs and started talking fast about the garden and the restoration plans and funds that were already in place.

Angelo listened without interest or comment. He had no intention of agreeing commitment to a project that on the face of it offered no useful advantage or prospect of profit. He wasn’t into green spaces. He had never had the time or patience to stand still and smell the roses or admire a view. Her love and enthusiasm for the hilly overgrown acres surrounding them were patent. But his mind was occupied with less innocent pleasures. He was wondering how she could look so marvellous when she was dressed like a tramp. He was keen to see her all packaged and groomed to her feminine best for his benefit. He was recalling the faint evocative perfume he had smelled on her skin, suspecting that it might possibly be the unspoilt aroma of simple soap. He was constantly noticing and being irritated by the skittish way she backed off on her long coltish legs every time he got within two feet of her.

‘Stop that.’

‘Stop what?’ she exclaimed.

Angelo closed a restraining hand over hers and anchored her to his side.

‘Mr Riccardi…’

And that formal mode of address filled him with such ferocious dissatisfaction that he hauled her to him and kissed her luscious pink lips with all the fierce desire that he usually kept in iron-clad restraint.

A muffled gasp of fright escaped her before the descent of his hard, hungry mouth silenced her. He stole her words, her breath, her ability to think and her legs threatened to buckle under her with the shock of it. The shattering swell of excitement snatched her up into a maelstrom. The sensual thrust of his tongue into the damp interior of her mouth set her body alight with reckless response. He backed her up against the old stone wall behind her. Firm hands cupped her denim-clad buttocks, lifting her off her feet into stirring contact with his erection. Seductive sensation made her tingle all over. His passion was raw and thrilling and terrifyingly new to her.

Suddenly, Angelo lifted his dark head and vented what sounded like an Italian expletive. ‘Your dog’s bitten me…’

Momentarily speechless, Gwenna blinked and focused with difficulty on the sight of Piglet growling like mad and hauling frantically at the hem of Angelo’s immaculate trousers. ‘Oh, my word, he really doesn’t like you…’ Crouching down, trembling all over like a wobbly jelly inside and out, she was grateful for the excuse to lift the little dog up in her arms.

‘Inferno! Is that it? No, “Are you hurt? Bleeding? In need of a tetanus shot?”’ Angelo Riccardi drawled with icy sarcasm.

‘I’m really sorry…are you okay?’

‘I don’t think I’ll bleed to death. And the shots are up to date,’ Angelo said very drily, unable to avoid noticing how the dog was being gently petted and soothed. He could have sworn there was a triumphant smirk in those little round doggy eyes. The fever in his blood had made him act without thinking and that awareness angered him. What was it about her? He looked forward to the aftermath of total conquest when he would no longer want her.

Legs feeling shaky, Gwenna thanked heaven for her pet’s opportune intervention and moved away. Putting Piglet back onto his four stubby legs, Gwenna straightened with reluctance. She was seriously ashamed of her own behaviour and not enough of a hypocrite to tell off her pet. Not when she was convinced that Piglet had saved her from losing her virginity. She did not believe that Angelo Riccardi would have called a decent halt. He did what he liked when he liked. He had hauled her into his arms like a Viking on the rampage. He was violently oversexed. Those daunting truths had sunk in on her. Her mouth felt hot and swollen and she was afraid to look at him. ‘The gardens are a wasteland beyond the wall. There’s really not anything more to show you.’

‘The ancestral mansion?’

A few minutes later she came to a halt a hundred yards from the large shell of the Regency house where her mother had been born. Its ruinous state had embittered Isabel Massey, who had never got over the conviction that fate had dealt her a very poor hand. In comparison, Gwenna regarded that part of her family’s history with rueful acceptance, for the truth was that her Massey ancestors had been hopeless social climbers who had never been able to afford to maintain the white elephant they had built.

‘What’s the inside like?’

‘A wreck. It had to be boarded up years ago for safety.’

‘This is only a flying visit,’ Angelo murmured on the walk back to the nursery. ‘I should mention that your father has been called to a meeting this afternoon.’

Gwenna tensed. ‘Am I allowed to ask what the meeting is about?’

‘The fact that he hasn’t given a truthful account of his property holdings.’

Her cheeks flamed, surprise and anger assailing her. ‘That’s an out-and-out lie!’

Angelo regarded her with impassive cool. ‘I don’t like people who waste my time.’

‘But Dad hasn’t been wasting your time and he hasn’t lied to you either!’ Her china-blue eyes sparking, Gwenna curled her hands into protective fists by her side. ‘You can’t assume he’s deceived you just because he made the mistake of helping himself to cash at Furnridge Leather.’

‘I’m not. Your father was told that he had to make a full disclosure of his assets.’

‘And he has done so.’

‘While carefully omitting details of the other London apartment he owns.’

‘He only has one, for goodness’ sake!’

‘He’s fortunate to own a second, as there is still a shortfall in the amount he has to repay.’

Gwenna sucked in a steadying breath. ‘You’ve got it wrong.’

‘I’m afraid not. My information about the second town property is from an impeccable source.’ Angelo watched the fraught look of sudden uncertainty and dismay tauten her fine bone structure. She could not hide her sorrow. He could have told her that her loyalty and affection were wasted on so undeserving a cause. Donald Hamilton had an unbroken record of lying, cheating and robbing those foolish enough to place their trust in him.

Worrying at her lower lip, Gwenna turned her head away because her eyes were stinging with tears. Like it or not, there was something horribly convincing about Angelo’s supreme confidence. ‘If you’re right, I really don’t know what to say.’

‘Our deal will still stand. Your father will sign over the agreed assets and we will draw a line below this matter.’

Gwenna swallowed convulsively. ‘In the circumstances that’s very generous of you.’

Angelo smiled. His smile would have chilled an iceberg. Events were moving exactly to plan. He was well aware that Donald Hamilton had committed at least one other offence, which would eventually surface. When it did, a court case and a custodial sentence would be a virtual certainty. By the time Angelo had finished, his quarry would have lost everything he valued.

‘My father is not a bad man, just a foolish one. I don’t know what’s got into him…maybe it’s some kind of mid-life crisis,’ Gwenna reasoned in desperation. ‘I honestly can’t explain why he’s done what he’s done, or why he seems to be acting like his own worst enemy right now. But I can tell you that he’s been an absolutely marvellous father to me. He’s done so much work in the community as well.’

Angelo found himself focusing on the sincere glow of conviction in her damp eyes. She was like a distress beacon radiating emotion. She was not putting on a show for his benefit. He was fascinated by the feelings she could not hide. His bed partners always had a hard glossy shell that matched his renowned self-containment. Full of ideals and optimism as she was, she was ridiculously vulnerable. In a few months’ time, possibly even sooner, she would be sadder and wiser. A faint stab of regret assailed him that that should be the case. Perturbed by that unwelcome jab of seeming sensitivity, he crushed it dead.

‘I’ve organised accommodation for you.’ Angelo turned to a subject of greater interest to him.

Gwenna froze, silky brown lashes screening her gaze to conceal her reaction to the sudden impact of that announcement. ‘What sort of accommodation and where?’

‘A penthouse in London…I like lofty spaces.’

‘I don’t…is there a garden? Piglet will need a garden,’ Gwenna told him tightly.

‘Piglet?’ Angelo queried.

‘My dog.’

‘I’ll pick up the bill for his stay in a pet hotel,’ Angelo imparted in a dry tone of dismissal.

‘No. He has to stay with me. He pines and refuses to eat when I’m not around,’ Gwenna responded with unhidden anxiety. ‘I know it might sound silly to someone who’s not sentimental about pets…but he’s a very emotional dog.’

Angelo settled his black gaze on the ugly little dog messily digging up the border behind her back. The dog with a foolish owner twisted round its short but crooked tail. No way was he prepared to share house-room even briefly with her pet. ‘He goes to the hotel. My staff will choose the very best available.’

‘But if I’m not there he won’t eat—’


‘It’s not nonsense—’

‘I’m not into animals indoors,’ Angelo pronounced with finality.

Gwenna breathed in very deep and reminded herself that it was two years since Piglet had starved himself to skin and bone while she was on holiday. The following year, Toby had helped her to get the little dog a pet passport so that he could travel with his mistress. But now it was very much to be hoped that he had got over such excessive reliance on her for his sense of security. She could feel her eyes prickling at the prospect of life without Piglet and would have died sooner than betray her weakness. Angelo Riccardi would be fed up with her within the space of a week, she told herself comfortingly. She would bore him to death.

‘Do I have any say about anything?’ she enquired flatly.

Angelo thought hard about that. If he had had a chain attached to her ankle, he would have been set on removing links to restrict her freedom even more. It was an unfamiliar attitude to a male accustomed to easy conquest and it annoyed him. ‘Your accommodation?’

Gwenna went for that assurance at speed because she saw no reason why she should be anything other than difficult. After all, she was in no hurry to fulfil the agreement he had enforced. ‘I want to live somewhere with a garden,’ she told him with complete truth. ‘I’ll go mad if I’m in the city and shut in between four walls.’

‘There’s a pool with a roof that rolls back.’

‘I want a garden…even a condemned man gets one last request.’

‘You’re not facing a firing squad.’ Angelo treated her to a fulminating appraisal. A garden? What the hell did she want with a garden? That was not a reasonable request. That would take more time to organise and waiting for her was killing him by inches. Ever since he had first seen her, a parade of disturbingly erotic images had kept up a constant assault on his concentration. He was tired of that mental invasion and unlikely ever to be a convert to the art of patience.

‘How soon will you come to me?’ Angelo prompted levelly.

Unnerved by that bold question, Gwenna made the mistake of looking directly at him. She clashed with stunning tawny eyes hot with hunger and her face flamed at what he let her see there. Her entire skin surface prickled and tightened over her bones.

‘Don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean.’ A rougher edge had entered his dark-timbred drawl.

‘When I have to…when I have no choice.’

‘The answer of a pure and virtuous virgin facing ravishment about a century ago.’ His cynical smile of insolent amusement made the blood burn hotter than ever in her cheeks. ‘Take a reality check. You’re not in that category.’

‘You think you know everything, don’t you?’ Furious resentment raced through Gwenna. ‘But you don’t. For what it’s worth, I am in that category!’

His hard gaze narrowed, black spiky lashes lowering to intensify the black glitter of his potent scrutiny. He studied her in the charged silence and she dragged her attention from him, ferocious embarrassment and anger engulfing her.

‘Don’t you dare make any snide comments,’ she warned him fiercely.

Angelo was travelling from stunned surprise over her claim to a powerful surge of satisfaction. Was this the source of her unusually strong attraction for him? Had he somehow sensed the subtle distinction between her and the other women he had known? She was different, the exact opposite of his usual sexually adept partners. A virgin. Asking her to go back to London with him for a couple of hours to fill in the time before his flight to New York now struck him as very inappropriate, even tacky. For a split second the entire scenario felt tacky, but when he looked at her he blocked out that thought before it could get a toehold. He had never felt such an urgent desire for a woman and now that he understood that the source of her reluctance was inexperience the need to possess her had an even sharper edge. She was not indifferent or impervious to him. She was just shy, and he was willing to admit that he wasn’t used to shy women.

The silence had settled like a blanket. His lack of comment suddenly infuriated her and made her feel foolish. She so wished that she had not blurted out one of her biggest secrets. ‘Look, I have loads of work to do,’ she muttered curtly. ‘When do you expect me to come to London?’

‘Next week. You’ll be informed of the arrangements.’ Angelo withdrew a card from his pocket. ‘Should you wish to talk to me…here’s my private number. You’ll be able to reach me no matter where I am.’

Gwenna accepted the card, unable to imagine why she would ever wish to voluntarily seek contact with him. Her troubled thoughts were fixed to a much more important issue and, finally, she took her courage into both hands and just asked outright, ‘What are you planning to do with this place?’

Angelo shrugged, his expression noncommittal.

His indifference to the future of the historic gardens pierced Gwenna to the heart and sank even her lowliest expectations to rock-bottom. His lack of interest was monumental and unapologetic. He didn’t do polite pretences. She reckoned that he was probably the last man alive likely to shell out cash on a venture that would struggle to survive outside the main tourist season.

Before he climbed into the limo, Angelo glanced back in her direction. She didn’t return the compliment. Scooping up the muddy little dog, which was belligerently intent on barking at the nearest car, she vanished back into the shop at speed. His aggressive jaw line clenched.


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