The Mediterranean Billionaire's Blackmail Bargain

By: Abby Green

She looked quickly at the hotel’s intricately carved doors again, afraid that she might have missed him. Nothing. She’d followed him earlier from his villa on the shores of the lake to the hotel, where he had met a stunning brunette on the steps. She could only imagine what they would be doing now and wondered if Dante D’Aquanni would be taking her back to his villa or entertaining her in an opulent suite inside. Alicia worried her lower lip. She prayed that he wouldn’t bring her back—Alicia needed him on his own.

Something caught the corner of her eye and she looked across the road again. A valet was bringing a low-slung, gleaming silver car to a halt outside the door, which was opening. Her eyes widened in apprehension—his car. And then he appeared. Mere feet away. Coming out of the hotel in a black tuxedo, the bow-tie undone at his neck. Certainly looking more dishevelled than when he’d gone in. The beautiful brunette accompanied him down the steps in a glittering silver sheath of a dress, also looking sexily tousled, long, dark lustrous hair around her shoulders. She looked thoroughly bedded.

Alicia wanted to feel revolted, but as she watched the woman twine sinuous arms around his neck and press close, all she did feel was a tingling awareness and something much more disturbing. She felt bewildered for a moment by the confusing emotion. The man’s overpoweringly good looks and charisma, which she could remember like a brand from the previous week reached out to her from across the road.

Like any protective, loving older sister, she believed Melanie was beautiful and that everyone else loved her too…but Alicia knew well that she and her sister were not the type of women to turn this man’s head. He was out of their league, on a level that hadn’t even been invented yet. A grim hardness settled in her chest…That was exactly why he had discarded Melanie with such callous ruthlessness.

The valet had opened the driver’s door of the open-top sports car. Dante D’Aquanni extricated himself from the woman and, with a brief kiss on her cheek, strode down the steps and to his car. After discreetly giving a tip to the valet, he slid into the driver’s seat and, with a muted roar of the throttle, sped off.

The woman stood on the steps looking after the car, a look of comic chagrin on her beautiful face before she flounced back up the steps and disappeared, no doubt back to the suite from where they’d just emerged. It was only then that Alicia came to, shaken out of the crazy reverie that seemed to have taken hold. Hands shaking, she turned the key in the ignition and pulled out of her parking space. What was wrong with her? She needed all her concentration just to navigate in the unfamiliar car.

She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw red traffic lights ahead and the familiar lines of the powerful sports car. The light went green and he pulled off again.

She pictured all too easily the supreme nonchalance of his movements as he had come down the steps of the hotel just moments before. The way he’d coolly discarded the woman. It seemed to mock her now. This man didn’t have a care in the world. So utterly confident that he could wreak havoc, walk away and believe himself to be protected.

Her phone rang shrilly on the seat beside her and she picked it up, listening for a second before saying briefly, ‘Just follow me, I’ll show you where we can get in.’ She looked back and, sure enough, another car was not far behind. She cursed herself; she’d almost forgotten about the others. She couldn’t let this man scramble her thoughts.

Fear gripped her at what she was about to do but she willed it down. She couldn’t lose her bottle now. Not when she’d come so far. Not when she’d gone to so much trouble to find out where he was going on holiday, any one of his palatial homes being a possibility.

The road beside Lake Como at any other time might have been a magical route, but she couldn’t enjoy the scenery, the way the rising moon was bathing everything in a dark, inky-blue light. All she could focus on were the car lights ahead of her.

She knew that the back of his villa faced on to the shores of the Lake, of which he had an unimpeded view. And that apparently one of his favourite times was dusk: he would watch the lights twinkle and come on across the still waters from his terrace, which was covered with antique drapes. Or at least that was the picture of the man that the gushing article had painted. Idyllic. A man who could have anything he desired at the click of his fingers. Alicia knew all about the exclusivity of the Lake Como villas. They were never advertised for sale, it was all word of mouth, buyers carefully vetted. And prices invariably soared into the high millions.

But then, for a multi-billionaire who controlled the largest, most successful construction company in the world, who would expect anything less? Her hands tightened on the steering wheel. She didn’t imagine that he would have the callused hands of his workers.

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