The Mediterranean Billionaire's Blackmail Bargain

By: Abby Green

CHAPTER ONE




‘I AMquite certain that if I had fathered a child I would be well aware of the fact, which, needless to say, would be none of your business, as you are a complete stranger. Now take your hand off me immediately.’

Alicia Parker was still stunned into immobility by the sheer audacity of her actions, which had stopped this man in his tracks. She looked up into a face so savagely handsome that the breath left her body. All her poor muddled, overtired and over-wrought brain could formulate were impressions. Tall. Broad. Dark. Gorgeous. Sexy. Powerful. Sexy. Powerful.

Eyes as cold and dark as the night stared down with uncompromising arrogance and supreme assurance that she—and her preposterous accusation—were so far removed from his gilded life that she must be certifiably mad to accost him like this. His look could have turned her to ice…and yet, awfully, Alicia didn’t feel cold. She felt hot. All over.

And as she watched, struck dumb by any number of things, the very least of which was his overwhelming presence, Dante D’Aquanni calmly and disdainfully extricated the expensive cloth of his suit from her white knuckle grip, flicked a glance to his minions nearby and strode off and out of the mammoth building which housed his offices in London.

He was gone, as if spirited away, without a backward glance at the petite, dishevelled woman who stood gaping at his departing back. Who’d had only the briefest of chances to get out a few words, her attempt to make him listen having failed abysmally.

Within seconds Alicia was surrounded by great hulking security guards and, without knowing exactly how, she found herself outside in the teeming rain and what had just happened seemed like a blur…or a bad dream…



Alicia’s soft mouth tightened into a grim line. Unfortunately, that day a week ago hadn’t been a bad dream. It was a stark reality and the reason why she was now seated in a tiny rental car across the road from an exclusively opulent hotel near the shores of Lake Como in Italy. She even had the remnants of a cold as a result of getting soaked to the skin that day. Dante D’Aquanni had refused to hear her out then, but he wouldn’t—couldn’t—refuse to listen to her here…

The sun had set some hours ago, but the sky was still a dark, bruised violet colour. That magical moment when day teetered into night had come and gone, its beauty unnoticed. And, across the road, the hotel quite literally glittered with luxuriousness, adding to this heightened sense of beauty.

Alicia was terrified. She was trying not to be bowled over by it. Trying not to let the pristine streets intimidate her, the unmistakable handsome foreigness of the smartly dressed people coming in and out of the hotel. But still not him…yet. This was a million miles away from anywhere she’d ever been, or anywhere she was ever likely to be. She closed her eyes for a second; they were gritty with tiredness, every limb ached with exhaustion. She knew she wasn’t far from collapse, but didn’t have the luxury of time to sleep, to catch her breath. She was existing in a haze, anger at his recent curt dismissal and sheer nerves keeping her going.

This was the only solution, and the only way she was going to get to see him, to force him to admit his responsibility. To admit to fathering her sister’s unborn child. A sudden image of Melanie’s small, pale face against the hospital bed linen made Alicia’s breath stop painfully. She closed her eyes but the image got stronger and she could see with alarming vividness, the scary profusion of tubes and wires that had snaked around her too thin body with its small bump. Alicia felt tears threaten; if anything happened to her…She couldn’t let it. Her eyes snapped open. She needed money now for Melanie’s treatment and Dante D’Aquanni would be made to accept the part he’d played in this chain of events. Would be made to pay. He was their only option. Alicia was desperate.

Her sister had been involved in a horrific car crash while on her way to see this very man and somehow, miraculously, she and her baby had survived. But she had suffered a fractured pelvis, among other more minor internal injuries. With the complication of being pregnant, the result was that they desperately needed to get Melanie into the care of a consultant who had expert experience with pregnancies which had suffered trauma. He was based in central London and Alicia knew well that this kind of care came privately and with a hefty price tag.

With no other close family and no friends who had anything approaching that kind of money to call upon, it had left her no choice but to take this course of action. The ward sister, an old friend of Alicia’s from her nursing training days, had assured her that Melanie was stable and could be left for a short time. That assurance had led her to feel confident enough to make this drastic, desperate step, along with the promise that she would be notified the minute that any change occurred in Mel’s condition.

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