The Mediterranean Billionaire's Blackmail BargainBy: Abby Green
He knew that his security guard would confiscate the camera, delete the digital images which had surely been taken, but, with technology being what it was, he knew he couldn’t be certain they wouldn’t have obtained an image of that kiss another way.
He had just kissed her in front of these men, they didn’t need an image… This all flashed through his head in a nanosecond.
‘Wait.’ Dante’s voice cracked out. The security man halted.
Alicia was taking all this in but she felt disembodied. His kiss—if you could even call it that—had seared its way into her blood, into her brain, and had lobotomized her ability to speak or function. All she could do was watch helplessly as Dante pulled her tight into his side.
He smiled urbanely, dangerously. ‘I’m afraid that it’s really quite banal. You’ve been used as a pawn in a lovers’ spat. It’s true I was out with Alessandra earlier. She, I’m afraid, was my attempt to make this woman jealous.’ He looked down at Alicia and lifted her hand. It was held in a death grip; she could feel the blood stopping. But to their small audience it must have looked like a tender gesture when he brushed his mouth across her scratched knuckles.
‘And it worked.’
The reporter’s mouth was a round O of shock—presumably, Alicia thought for one clear second, that someone like her had the power to turn his head at all. She would have reacted the same way.
Dante D’Aquanni could have been Oscar nominated, the way he looked away from Alicia with extreme reluctance, but with what she could see very clearly was extreme loathing. His eyes were dark and hard.
The reporter shouted out, ‘Where has she come from?’
‘Come now, a man has to keep some things secret. Do you not think after all these years that I’d have a few evasive tricks up my sleeve? And do you really think that we could have made anything of this relationship if you’d known that I was seeing someone new, someone serious?’
Alicia was so stunned that she couldn’t even begin to see how she could possibly get out of this mess.
Dante hated the woman at his side with a vengeance for bringing this intrusion into his life. How dare she? He was caught between a rock and a hard place. The reporter had his story anyway and if Dante called the police in it would fan the flames of a news item that didn’t even exist!
He smiled again and it was cold. ‘Needless to say, this will be the last time you invade my privacy and if I catch you even attempting to trespass again, you will pay the price.’ Dante tightened his hold on Alicia, making her gasp painfully. ‘You’re lucky that love is making me magnanimous.’
And with that the reporter and his companion were summarily marched down the driveway. Alicia’s legs were very wobbly and she had a taste of just how stupid she’d been in thinking for a second that it had been easy to get in. She’d just been very, very lucky.
ALICIA FELT ANYTHING but lucky now, though, as her head swirled with everything that had just happened and Dante D’Aquanni dropped his hands as though she were infectious.
‘Get inside. Now.’
Alicia opened her mouth. He made a move and she flinched. She didn’t know this man, didn’t know his capacity or otherwise for violence and, right now, he looked murderous.
‘Not a word, lady. Inside. Now.’
Alicia walked into the villa on cotton wool legs. She saw a chair and went and sat down, seriously afraid that she might fall.
‘Get up. Did I say you could sit down?’
Alicia looked up, her face leached of all colour. ‘Please…I—’
Dante strode forward and pulled her out of the chair. Two hands on her arms, holding her like a rag doll. And she felt like a rag doll.
‘How dare you? How dare you invade my private space, bring those miscreants onto my property, a photographer for heaven’s sake—’
Alicia looked up into the harsh features—no less handsome now because of his anger. Even more mesmerizing because of it. From some reserve she called up her own anger, which had been in woefully short supply for the past few minutes. He might have turned the tables but she was still here. He hadn’t turfed her out on the road.
‘I dare, Mr D’Aquanni, because someone I love very much is lying in a hospital bed and she needs help. Help that I can’t give her. As much as it kills me to come here and have to deal with someone as amoral as you, I have no choice.’ Bitterness laced her words. ‘Believe me, it’s not my idea of fun scrabbling around thorn bushes in the dark. I did try to talk to you last week, if you recall, but you wouldn’t listen.’
He delivered a scathing glance up and down. ‘I don’t have time to waste, listening to someone shrieking such unfounded accusations.’