The Mediterranean Billionaire's Blackmail BargainBy: Abby Green
Alicia remembered the panic that had galvanized her actions, the fear that had been barely in check when she’d seen him. She’d had to stop him somehow and, as much as she might have wanted to be civil, she hadn’t been allowed. She strove for calm now.
‘I tried to make an appointment to see you in your office but it would have been easier to get an audience with the Pope.’
He snorted inelegantly and in the next second moved so fast that Alicia was caught totally by surprise.
He had slipped her bag from her shoulders and upended it on to the floor in seconds. After a moment of shock she stepped forward. ‘How dare you—’
But he held her back easily with one hand and the feel of that hand against her belly made her jump back like a scalded cat.
She watched as he flicked through the contents of her bag. Her wallet had a shockingly small amount of money. The printout of her one way ticket to Milan—she hadn’t been able to get a return as the world and its wife were there that weekend for a football game. Her phone. A credit card.
Dante threw the paltry things back into her holdall and stood easily, towering over her as he inspected her driver’s licence. He quirked a brow and looked at her.
She nodded jerkily. Surely the name would register with him? It didn’t seem to. He advanced dangerously and she moved back, feeling more and more light-headed.
‘So, what exactly are you up to, coming here with a one-way ticket? Were you hoping your little trip would be so successful that you’d score a lift back on my private jet…or score me? Is that your plan? To seduce me and really get pregnant so your bizarre claims are founded on truth?’
Alicia’s mouth opened but, before she could say a word, he was continuing, his words falling and stinging her flesh.
‘If that was what you’d planned, then you’re doing a woeful job. I don’t go for dramatics and unkempt shrieking fishwives are not my type.’
Alicia stopped moving. She glared up at him, adrenalin surging through her quivering five foot two frame. Her voice shook with emotion.
‘Melanie. Melanie Parker is her name. Does that even ring a bell with you? Or do you categorize your lovers by their social standing, in which case I’d imagine Melanie came somewhere near the bottom of the heap—’
‘What did you say?’ he asked sharply, stopping in his tracks.
Alicia was stymied for a second. He looked genuinely confused. And then she did see a flicker of something cross his face. Recognition. Anger surged all over again; apparently Melanie hadn’t made that much of an impression.
‘You are unbelievable. You can sleep with someone and not even recall their name unless pushed?’
He closed the distance between them and took her shoulders roughly. She bit back a gasp. As if he realized how delicate she was, he dropped his hands abruptly and she stumbled back, but kept standing even though everything swayed ominously for a second. She could not be weak. Not here, not now. She had to be strong for Melanie.
Dante’s face felt rigid with rage and anger. He didn’t believe what she said for a second…but that name…it did ring a bell—a loud one. Not that he was going to admit that now, not until he had more independently trustworthy information. This woman was up to something and he felt very sure it had to do with money.
He enunciated his words very slowly. ‘Be clear. I have very little patience left. What is it you want?’
Alicia tilted her chin up and she unconsciously confirmed his prediction. ‘What I want, Mr D’Aquanni, is money. I need money for my sister’s care. If you don’t give it to me—to us—then her unborn child is in serious danger of not coming to term.’ Her voice shook ominously. ‘Your baby. Or don’t you even care about that?’
Dante frowned. ‘What on earth are you talking about, woman?’ She was talking in riddles. Perhaps she was a little crazy? She also looked as if a gust of wind would knock her down and he steeled himself not to give in to the delicate image she was trying to project.
‘Care—what are you talking about?’
The harsh quality of his voice shocked Alicia out of the stupor that had rendered her momentarily speechless. Of course. How would he know that Melanie had been in the accident?
She spoke, but increasingly she was feeling more and more detached from her body. ‘Melanie…Melanie was in an accident. She was on her way to see you, and a lorry skidded on the motorway in front of her; it jackknifed right back—’
At that moment everything seemed to hit Alicia at once. The magnitude of what she’d just done. What she’d been through in the past week since she’d arrived home from Africa. The fact that she was here. What had just happened out on the front steps.