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The Italian's Inherited Mistress

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«The Italian's Inherited Mistress» - Линн Грэхем

From untouched virgin…To the Italian’s mistress!Yearning for a fresh start, Isla Stewart escapes to her recently inherited Sicilian villa. The last person she expects to meet there is Alissandru Rossetti, the ruthless billionaire who once helicoptered into her life, and changed it irrevocably with his sizzling seduction! Alissandru wants what’s rightfully his—Isla’s inheritance. But with the attraction between them as scorching as ever, what Alissandru wants more is Isla…back in his bed!Get swept away by this classic tale of innocence and passion!
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From untouched virgin...

To the Italian’s mistress!

Yearning for a fresh start, Isla Stewart escapes to her recently inherited Sicilian villa. The last person she expects to meet there is Alissandru Rossetti, the ruthless billionaire who once helicoptered into her life, and changed it irrevocably with his sizzling seduction! Alissandru wants what’s rightfully his—Isla’s inheritance. But with the attraction between them as scorching as ever, what Alissandru wants more is Isla...back in his bed!

Get swept away by this classic tale of innocence and passion!

LYNNE GRAHAM was born in Northern Ireland and has been a keen romance reader since her teens. She is very happily married to an understanding husband, who has learned to cook since she started to write! Her five children keep her on her toes. She has a very large dog who knocks everything over, a very small terrier who barks a lot and two cats. When time allows, Lynne is a keen gardener.

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Discover more at

The Italian’s Inherited Mistress

Lynne Graham

ISBN: 978-1-474-07279-3


© 2018 Lynne Graham

Published in Great Britain 2018

by Mills & Boon, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers 1 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9GF

All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. This edition is published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, locations and incidents are purely fictional and bear no relationship to any real life individuals, living or dead, or to any actual places, business establishments, locations, events or incidents. Any resemblance is entirely coincidental.

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Back Cover Text

About the Author


Title Page





html#litres_trial_promo" id="back_litres_trial_promo"> CHAPTER FOUR








About the Publisher


‘THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE... I don’t believe it!’ Alissandru Rossetti erupted from his chair in the midst of the reading of his brother’s will, rigid with outraged disbelief. ‘Why tjhe hell would Paulu leave that little slut anything?’ he demanded of the room at large.

Fortunately, his mother, Constantia, and the family lawyer, Marco Morelli, were the only parties present because all attempts to contact the main beneficiary of the will had proved fruitless. Disconcerted by that revealing word, ‘main’, Alissandru had merely frowned, thinking it would be just like his late brother Paulu to have left his worldly goods to some do-good favourite charity. After all, he and his wife Tania had died together and their marriage had been childless and Alissandru, his twin, had no need of any inheritance, being not only the elder twin and owner of the family estate in Sicily but also a billionaire in his own right.

‘Take a deep breath, Alissandru,’ Constantia urged, well acquainted with her surviving son’s sizzling temper. ‘Paulu had the right to leave his estate where he wished and we do not know that Tania’s sister is deserving of so unpleasant a label.’

Alissandru was pacing the small legal office, a form of behaviour that was distinctly intimidating in a confined space because he was several inches over six feet tall, a lean, powerful figure, dressed in one of the elegant tailored black suits he favoured. That funereal colour had earned him the nickname ‘The Raven’ in the City of London, where his aggressive and hugely successful business instincts were famous, as befitted a renowned entrepreneur in the new technology field. Pacing that office, he reminded the family lawyer of a prowling tiger penned up in a cage.

Not deserving? Alissandru thought in outrage, recalling that little red-headed teenager, Isla Stewart, at his brother’s wedding six long years before. At barely sixteen years old, she had been rocking a sexually provocative outfit, parading her nubile curves and shapely legs in a clear sexual offer to the highest bidder, he reflected in disgust. Later that day too, he had seen her emerging from one of the bedrooms in a dishevelled state, only moments before one of his cousins left the same room, straightening his cuffs and tidying his hair. Obviously Isla was just like her sister, Tania, who had been brazen, wanton and dishonest.

‘I was not aware that Paulu was in any form of contact with Tania’s sister,’ Alissandru admitted curtly. ‘No doubt she pulled the wool over his trusting eyes as easily as her sister did and wheedled her way into his soft heart.’

Very real grief fractured Alissandru’s hard driven drawl as he spoke because he had loved his twin a great deal and could still, even six weeks after the helicopter crash that had claimed the lives of both Paulu and Tania, not quite believe that he would never ever speak to him again. Even worse, Alissandru could not shake the guilt of knowing that he had been powerless to protect his brother from that designing harpy, Tania Stewart. Sadly, Paulu’s last years had been deeply unhappy, but he had refused to divorce the sleazy underwear model he had married in such haste, believing that she was pregnant...only, surprise, surprise, Alissandru recalled cynically, that had proved to be a false alarm.

Tania had gone on to destroy his brother’s life with her wild extravagance, her shrewish tantrums and, finally, her infidelity. Yet throughout those excesses, Paulu had steadily continued to adore Tania as though she were a goddess amongst women. But then, unhappily for him, Paulu had been a gentle soul, very caring, loyal and committed. As unlike Alissandru in every way as day was to night. Yet Alissandru had treasured those stark differences and had trusted Paulu in a way he had trusted no other living person. And although he was enraged at his conviction that yet another Stewart woman had somehow contrived to mislead and manipulate his brother into drawing up such a will, there was yet another part of him which, sadly, felt betrayed by his sibling.

After all, Paulu had known how much the family estate meant to Alissandru and yet he had left his home on the Sicilian estate and all his money to Tania’s sister. A lottery win for the sister, a slap in the face for Alissandru even though he knew his brother would have sooner cut off his hand than hurt him. Paulu, being Paulu, however, could never have dreamt that so tragic an accident might take both his and his wife’s lives together, clearing the way for Paulu’s sister-in-law to inherit what should never ever have become hers.

‘Paulu visited Isla a few times in London during that period’ Contantia hesitated, choosing her words with particular tact ‘.

..that he and Tania were separated. He was fond of the girl.’

‘He never mentioned it to me!’ Alissandru bit out explosively, his dark eyes flashing and his lean, darkly handsome features clenching hard at the image of yet another Stewart woman having woven her seductive, cloying charm over his impressionable brother in pursuit of profit. Paulu had always been a soft touch for a sob story, Alissandru conceded grimly.

Speaking for himself, however, Alissandru had never been that foolish. He liked women but women loved him, hunting him like a rare breed because he was rich and single. In his younger days he had heard every sob story going and once or twice, in his inexperience, had even fallen for such ploys, but it had been years since he had been that naive or imprudent. These days he chose his lovers from his own stratum in society. Women with their own wealth or very demanding careers were a safer bet for the kind of casual light affair in which Alissandru specialised. They understood that he wasn’t ready to settle down and practised the same discretion that he did.

‘Knowing how you felt about Tania, Paulu wouldn’t have mentioned it,’ his mother pointed out gently. ‘What will you do?’

‘Buy Paulu’s house back from her...what else?’ Alissandru pronounced with an angry shrug at the infuriating prospect of having to enrich a Stewart woman yet again. How many times had he paid Tania’s debts to protect his brother and shield him from her insatiable demands? But what else could he do in the present? Tania was dead and buried and her sister had not even bothered to attend the funeral, all attempts to contact her directly at her last-known address having failed. That fact alone really said it all about the weak bond between the sisters, didn’t it?

‘We’ll have to track Tania’s little sister down,’ Alissandru breathed in a raw driven undertone of menace.

* * *

Isla blew on her frozen fingers, the gathering wind chilling her face below her woolly bobble hat as she fed the hens in haste and gathered the eggs. She would have to bake to use them up, she thought cheerfully, and then she immediately felt guilty for having a happy thought when her only sister and her brother-in-law were dead.

And even worse, she wouldn’t even have known that it had happened, had not a kind neighbour driven over a week earlier to break that tragic news in person. Her aunt and uncle, who owned the Highland croft in Scotland where Isla was staying, but who were currently visiting her aunt’s family in New Zealand, had read on the Internet about the news of Paulu and Tania’s death in a helicopter crash. They had immediately contacted their neighbour and had then phoned to ask if Isla wanted them to come home so that she could travel out to Italy.

But what would have been the point in that trip when she had already missed the funerals? Isla asked herself heavily. It was the great sadness of her life that she had never got to know her only sibling. Of course, they had grown up apart and Tania had been ten years older, and Isla was the daughter who was an unplanned and not very welcome late arrival following their father’s premature death. Their mother, Morag, already struggling to survive, had headed down to London with Tania to find work while accepting her own mother’s offer to take care of her new baby until such time as the little family of mother and daughters could be reunited.

Only unfortunately that reunion had never happened. Isla had grown up in the same Highland croft as her mother had with grandparents who were effectively her parents. Morag had made occasional visits at Christmas, gifting Isla with vague memories of a soft-faced woman with red curly hair like her own and a much taller, leggy, blonde sister, who even as an adolescent had blossomed into a classic beauty. Tania had left home at a very young age to become a model, and not long afterwards Isla’s mother had passed away from the kidney complaint she had long suffered from. Indeed, the first time Isla had communicated directly with her sister had been when Tania phoned the croft to invite Isla to her wedding in Sicily.

Isla had been embarrassed that her grandparents were not also being invited but the elderly couple had insisted that she go alone because Tania was generously offering to pay for her kid sister’s travel costs. Being fair-minded people, her grandparents had also pointed out that Tania had never had the opportunity to get to know any of them and that they were all next door to being strangers even if they were bound by blood.

Isla still cringed at the memory of how out of her depth she had felt attending that opulent wedding with all its important moneyed guests and of the unpleasant experience she had suffered when cornered by a predatory older man. But, worst of all, the longed-for connection with her only sibling had signally failed to materialise from her visit. Indeed, Tania’s attitude to life in general had shocked Isla.

‘No, you can thank Paulu for your invite,’ Tania had breezed. ‘He said I had to have some family member present and I decided a teenager was a far better bet than the boring old fossils in the croft Ma used to rattle on about. I’m moving up in life with this marriage. I don’t want poverty-stricken relatives with a thick Scottish brogue reducing my status in our guests’ eyes!’

Tania had merely been outspoken, Isla had decided forgivingly, the product of a liberal and far less old-fashioned upbringing.

‘That girl ran wild,’ her grandma had once insisted. ‘Your mother couldn’t control her or give her enough of what she wanted.’

‘But what did Tania want?’ Isla had asked in her disappointment after her sister’s wedding when there had been no mention of the sisters ever meeting again.

‘Och, the only dream that one ever had was to be rich and famous.’ Her grandma had chuckled. ‘And by the sound of the wedding you described, that pretty face of hers got her exactly what she always wanted.’

Only that hadn’t been true either, Isla reasoned wryly, recalling her next meeting with her sister several years later, after she too had moved down to London. Her grandparents had died within weeks of each other and her uncle had taken over the croft. Her uncle had urged her to stay with them but, after months of having helped her grandmother nurse her grandfather while he was dying and still sad over the loss of them both, Isla had believed that she needed to move out of her comfort zone at the croft and seek independence.

‘Paulu misrepresented himself,’ Tania had insisted with scorn after announcing that she had left her husband and the marital home. ‘He can’t give me what he promised. He can’t afford to!’

And shortly after that, Paulu had come to visit Isla in her humble bedsit to seek advice about her volatile sister. A lovely, lovely man, she thought sadly, so much in love with Tania and so desperate to do whatever it might take to win her back. Her eyes stung as she thought that at least Paulu had got the love of his life back before their deaths, had reclaimed that happiness before fate had cut their respective lives brutally short. She had liked Paulu, had actually got to know him much better than she had ever got to know her sister.

Had Paulu followed Isla’s feisty advice on how to recapture Tania’s interest? She supposed she would never know now.

In the snug croft kitchen, she fed the turf fire and shed her outdoor layers with relief. She loved being at the croft, but she missed her city social life with friends. Living where she had grown up meant that even a cinema trip to Oban required extensive planning and a very long drive. In another few weeks, though, she would be heading south again, her promise to her relatives fulfilled. Her aunt and uncle were lovely people; however, they were childless and had nobody but Isla to rely on if they wanted to leave home. It was over twenty years since her aunt had last visited New Zealand and Isla had been happy to help to make that dream come true, especially when that request had come at a time when the café where she had long worked as a waitress was closing and the rent had gone sky-high on her bedsit.

Her uncle’s sheep and hens couldn’t be left to take care of themselves, especially not in winter or when bad weather was expected, she reflected, casting a nervous glance out at the grey laden sky: heavy snow had been forecast.

She still smiled while watching her dog, Puggle, daringly nestle his tiny body in beside her uncle’s elderly and increasingly deaf dog, Shep, the collie who herded the sheep. Puggle adored heat but the little dog was Isla’s most impractical acquisition ever. Abandoned on a road somewhere near the croft, he had turned up shivering and starving the week Isla had arrived and she didn’t know how on earth she was going to keep him when she returned to London, but his perky little wagging tail, enormous eyes and ridiculously huge ears had sneaked into her heart before she’d known what was happening. He was a very mixed breed with perhaps a dash of chihuahua and poodle because, besides the ears, he had a very curly coat but he also had very short legs and odd spotty black-and-white colouring. Regrettably, it seemed nobody was searching for him because she had notified the relevant authorities and had heard nothing back from any source.

The noisy sound of a helicopter overhead made her frown because the sheep hated loud noises, but she already knew, having checked, that the herd was safely nestled in the big shelter in their pasture, their reading of the temperature as good as any forecaster’s. Minutes later, when she was brewing a cup of tea, she was startled when Puggle began barking seconds before two loud knocks thundered on the sturdy wooden front door.

Assuming it was her uncle’s nearest neighbour, who had kindly been keeping an eye on her in the isolated croft, Isla sped to the door and yanked it straight open, only to fall back in shock.

It was him... Alissandru—Paulu’s brother—the insanely hot and gorgeous twin who had knocked Isla for six the first time she’d seen him when she was a naive teenager. There Alissandru was, inconceivably, on the croft’s doorstep, jet-black hair ruffling in the wind, dark eyes set below level ebony brows, flawless classic features bronzed by a warmer climate. A strikingly beautiful male, Isla had thought at that wedding while he stalked about the place like a brooding volcano, emanating the most extraordinary intensity of emotion. But Tania had hated Alissandru, she reminded herself ruefully, blaming Alissandru for everything that went wrong in her marriage to his brother.

Alissandru focussed on his quarry, Isla, dressed unexpectedly in a long tatty sweater and gym pants, not even shoes on her tiny feet. A woman down on her luck, he decided instantly. Why else would she be back in the family home in the back end of nowhere? An explosion of red curls tumbled down to her slight shoulders, eyes the same purplish blue as violets huge against the porcelain perfection of her skin, her full plump pink lips slightly agape. Another beauty like her evil sister, Alissandru reasoned, refusing to react in any way to the sudden surge of desire. He was a man with all a man’s physical weaknesses and responding to a lovely face and beautiful hair was simply proof of a healthy libido, nothing to beat himself up about.

‘Er... Alissandru?’ she questioned incredulously, doubting her recognition because his arrival was so very surprising. They might have been linked by their siblings’ marriage but she had never actually spoken to Alissandru before because he had regally ignored her at that long-ago wedding.

‘May I come in?’ Alissandru demanded imperiously, stifling the urge to shiver even in the black cashmere overcoat he wore over his suit.

Isla remembered her manners and stepped back, muttering, ‘Of course...of course. It’s freezing, isn’t it?’

Alissandru scanned the humble interior, unimpressed at the sight of the one large cluttered room that acted as kitchen, dining and living area. Yes, definitely down on her luck when she was living in such a dump. Some man had probably got wise to her and thrown her out, he thought without hesitation. He was quite sure that the news of her inheritance would make her day and it galled him to be the one forced to make that revelation.

‘Er... I was just making tea. Would you like a cup?’ she asked hesitantly.

Alissandru flung his handsome dark head back, leaving her uneasily aware of how tall he was below the low ceiling above. His seemingly dark eyes flared to a vivid gold that was stunning below the lights she had on to combat the winter darkness that folded in so early in the day this far north. Unable to stifle the need, she stared, transfixed by those amazing eyes, gloriously fringed and accentuated with spiky inky lashes. Hurriedly, she turned her attention to making a pot of tea, every brain cell scrambled by his appearance into sheer stupidity as she grasped what she should have been saying first.

‘I’m so sorry about your loss,’ Isla muttered uncomfortably. ‘Paulu was a very special person and I liked him a great deal.’

‘Did you indeed?’ Alissandru flared back at her, eyes sparking bright as the sun in his darkly handsome features, an oddity in his stance and intonation that struck a wrong note. ‘Tell me, when did you start sleeping with him?’

In total shock at that offensive question, Isla froze. ‘I beg your pardon?’ she mumbled as she made the tea with her back turned to him, thinking she must have misheard him.

‘I asked you when you began sleeping with my brother. I’m genuinely curious because guilt would explain a lot,’ Alissandru admitted grittily, wishing she would turn back round again because he wanted to see her face.

‘Guilt?’ Still very much at sea as to what could possibly have brought Alissandru Rossetti to her door to abuse her with such horrifying enquiries, Isla gave up on the tea-making and flipped round. ‘What on earth are you talking about? That was a disgusting question to ask me about the man who was married to my only sister!’ she snapped back at him, colour flushing her triangular face, the colour of both anger and embarrassment.

Alissandru shrugged a broad shoulder as he took off his heavy coat and draped it over the back of a chair at the kitchen table. ‘It was an honest question. Naturally, I’m curious and I can’t ask Paulu.’

A slight quiver in his accented drawl attracted Isla’s attention to the reality that Alissandru had been hit very hard by the loss of his twin, much harder than she had been hit by the loss of a sister she had only met on a handful of occasions. Alissandru Rossetti was grieving, and her anger dwindled a little in response to that awareness.

‘I don’t know why you would even think to ask me a question like that,’ Isla admitted more levelly while watching him as though he were an unexploded firework still fizzing dangerously.

Paulu had once told her despairingly that Alissandru could not comprehend the love that Paulu had for Tania because he had never been in love and lacked the emotional depth to even fall in love, but Isla, at only her second look at Alissandru, thoroughly disagreed with that belief. In Alissandru, Isla saw a highly volatile male who literally seethed with emotion, every flashing tautening of his features, every spark of brightness in his extraordinary eyes telegraphing that reality.

He stood poised there below the stark light above him, blue-black hair gleaming with the gloss of expensive silk, the smooth hard planes of his flawless face the colour of bronze and doing nothing to hide the strength of his grim jaw line or the angle of his arrogant aristocratic nose, while the faint shadowing of stubble growth darkening the skin round his mouth only highlighted the sensuality of his chiselled lips. Heat mushroomed inside Isla, increasing her discomfiture.

So, she genuinely didn’t know about the will? Did he look that stupid?

Alissandru tensed, hating the role forced on him by circumstance, wide shoulders straightening, long, powerful legs bracing with instinctive distaste. ‘I asked that question because in his will Paulu left everything he possessed in this world to you.’

Isla’s lips fell open in disbelief and she stared back at him in silence for several seconds before stumbling into speech again. ‘, he couldn’t have done that...for goodness’ sake, why would he have done that? That would be crazy!’

Alissandru hitched an unimpressed ebony brow. ‘And you’re still trying to say you didn’t have sex with him? Not even when he was getting friendly with you while he and Tania were separated? I’m sure only a purist would condemn you for loosening the knicker elastic at that point when he was legally almost a free man...’

Isla finally unfroze with those deeply offensive and aggressive words still echoing in her incredulous ears. She marched over to the door and dragged it wide, ushering in a blast of icy air that made Alissandru Rossetti shiver. ‘Get out!’ she told him fiercely. ‘Get out and never come near me again!’

Impervious to the command, Alissandru merely laughed. ‘Yes, let’s take the gloves off, cara. Let me see the real Isla Stewart!’

Puggle was growling soft and low and circling Alissandru’s feet while being ignored.

‘Out!’ Isla said again with biting emphasis, blue eyes purple with fury.

Still as a granite pillar, Alissandru surveyed her with cynical amusement, much as though he were watching an entertaining play. Maddened by that lack of reaction, Isla grabbed up his fancy overcoat and pitched it out of the door onto the frozen ground outside. ‘Leave!’ she repeated doggedly.

Alissandru shrugged again with blatant unconcern. ‘I have nowhere to go until the helicopter comes back to pick me up in an hour’s time,’ he told her.

‘Then you should work at being a politer visitor. I’ve had enough of you for one day!’ Isla replied with spirit. ‘You’re the most hateful man and I’m finally seeing why my sister loathed you.’

‘Do we have to bring that whore into the conversation?’ Alissandru asked so smoothly she almost missed the word.

And Isla just lost it at that point. Her sister was dead and she deeply regretted that fact because it meant that she could no longer hope to attain the relationship she had longed to have with Tania. His lack of respect for the departed was too much to be borne and she rushed at him, attempting to slap him, getting caught up instead by two powerful arms that held her back.

‘You absolute bastard!’ she shouted at him in tears. ‘How dare you call Tania that when she’s gone?’

‘I said it to her face as well. The married man she deserted Paulu for was neither the first lover she took nor the last during their marriage,’ Alissandru informed her smoothly, and then he released her again, pressing her firmly back from him as though even being that close to her was distasteful. ‘Tania slept more often with other men than she did with her husband. You can’t expect me to sanctify her memory now that she’s gone.’

Isla lost every scrap of colour at those words and backed away in haste from her visitor. Was it true? How could she know? Tania had always done what she wanted to do, regardless of morality or loyalty. Isla had recognised that disturbing trait in her sibling and had refused to dwell on it, telling herself that it was none of her business because she had been keener to see similarity rather than a vast gulf of understanding stretching between herself and her sister.

‘Paulu would’ve told me,’ Isla muttered in desperation.

‘Paulu didn’t know everything that she got up to but I did. I saw no reason to humiliate him with the truth,’ Alissandru confessed harshly. ‘He suffered enough at her hands without me piling on the agony.’

And the wild defensive rage drained from Isla in that moment. What on earth were they doing? Fighting over a troubled marriage when both parties had since passed away? It was insanity. Alissandru was grieving, she reminded herself reluctantly, bitter as hell about his twin’s need for Tania when clearly he himself—in his brother’s shoes—would have dumped Tania the first chance he got. He was not a forgiving man, not a man capable of overlooking moral frailties in others.

‘Oh, go and fetch your coat back in, for goodness’ sake!’ Isla urged him impatiently. ‘We’ll have tea but if you want to stay under this roof you will not insult my late sister that clear? You have your view of her but I have my own and I will not have you sullying the few memories I have of her.’

Alissandru studied her set face. It was heart-shaped, full of determination and unconcealed exasperation. In all his life no woman had ever looked at Alissandru Rossetti as Isla did at that moment. As if she was thoroughly fed up with him and being the bigger person in her self-control and practicality. Her bright eyes challenged his, her head at a defiant angle as she awaited his response. Alissandru retrieved his coat. Per Dio, even inside the house he was cold!

An odd little creature, he reasoned as he scooped up his coat with a frown. No glamour, no grooming, no flirtation or fawning either. He didn’t drink tea! He was Sicilian. He drank the best coffee and the purest grappa. It was, however, possible that in a temper he had been ruder than was wise in the circumstances, he conceded grudgingly. He had a very bad temper. He knew that; everyone knew that about him and made allowances. She didn’t, though—she had talked down to him as though he were an angry, uncontrollable child. He was enraged by that little speech she had made; Alissandru’s lean dark features froze into icy proud immobility and he stepped back indoors to head straight for the smoking fire. On his passage there, however, something bit at his ankle and he bent down with a Sicilian curse to smack away the little animal with the sharp teeth set into his leg.

‘No!’ Isla thundered at him, charging across the room to scoop up the weird little dog but only after slipping a finger into its mouth to detach its resolute teeth from Alissandru’s silk sock and the bruised flesh beneath. ‘Puggle’s only a puppy. He doesn’t know any better.’

‘He bit me!’ Alissandru snarled.

‘You deserved to be bitten and bitten hard!’ Isla told him roundly, cradling the strange little animal to her chest as if it were a baby. ‘Stay away from him.’

‘I don’t like dogs,’ Alissandru informed her drily.

Isla dealt him an irritated glance. ‘Tell me something that surprises me,’ she suggested just as drily.

Huge ears set wide above his curly head, Puggle rested big round dark eyes on his victim from the safety of Isla’s arms and if a dog could be said to smile, Puggle the puppy was smiling.


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