The Mediterranean Billionaire's Blackmail Bargain

By: Abby Green

The woman smiled, her eyes crinkling in her brown face, seemingly oblivious that Alicia was no guest of the master. She put down the tray and gestured to Alicia’s clothes. She obviously meant for her to take them off. Alicia backed away and put her hands up.

‘No, no…they’re fine, really…’ She wished she knew some Italian. But the woman was clearly not taking no for an answer. She took Alicia by the hand and led her to the bed, pulling her sweatshirt up and, before Alicia could protest, too weak in all honesty, the woman had whipped it off.

Her trousers were next and soon she stood in just her underwear. The woman pointed at the tray, which also held some cotton wool and antiseptic. She gestured to the cut on Alicia’s face and tutted. Alicia touched it, feeling the raised and congealed welt. She hadn’t even noticed. The housekeeper disappeared into an en suite bathroom and returned with a luxurious white robe, which she left on the bed.

Then she gathered up Alicia’s clothes and left the room, the ominous turning of the key making her come to her senses again. Nothing had changed; she was still a prisoner. She sat on the bed, arms wrapped around herself. She wanted to ignore the plate piled high with fragrant, steaming pasta. Wanted to conduct a hunger strike. But she knew how weakened she was. She needed her strength to be able to deal with Dante D’Aquanni again.

And when she saw her reflection in the mirror of the bathroom a short time later, she was glad she had eaten because she nearly fainted all over again at the sight of the scarecrow that greeted her.

Dante turned the key quietly and opened the door. It was much later that night. The light in the room was dim. He walked in and stood by the bed, hands deep in the pockets of his trousers. He had convinced himself that what had happened to him when he’d kissed the woman earlier had been as a result of the surreal circumstances. But now, as he looked down at her, he felt a disconcerting pulse throb to life in his blood. For a screaming virago, there was something curiously innocent about her.

In a bathrobe which swamped her petite frame, her hair was no longer an indistinct bundled up mess. It was a mass of dark blonde ringlets spread on the pillow behind her. With the grime and dust washed away he could see her face properly for the first time; she was actually extremely pretty.

She looked as if she’d gone to sleep despite herself, as if she’d fought it. Her hands were balled up, making her look as if she was ready, even now, to take on some attacker. The raised red welt on her cheek made him feel curiously concerned. He cursed himself.

His gaze travelled down; one slim leg, with a perfectly shaped calf and silky-smooth skin peeped out from the folds of the robe. Her foot was tiny, no bigger than a child’s. Her breaths were deep and even. She was in a heavy sleep and had been for hours. He knew, as his housekeeper had informed him. This perplexed him. It didn’t fit with the image of someone who’d just trespassed and hurled accusations at him concerning paternity. If anything, it damned her more because she was obviously complacent enough to sleep.

He tensed almost violently when she muttered something in her sleep and moved restlessly. When she settled again, the robe had gaped open and one small, yet surprisingly lush breast was bared. Crowned with a dusky pink crest, the slope was pert and curved so enticingly that Dante stared, transfixed and shocked, as that desire rocked through his body again and he had a sudden urgent hunger to rouse that tip to hard life, to see the rest of her naked body. It was a totally inappropriate and unwelcome desire.

Again the insidious thought mocked him—this was the kind of desire that had proved so elusive that evening. The kind of desire he hadn’t felt for so long that he almost didn’t recognize it. It was primitive, guttural, base. Far from his initial conviction that she wasn’t feminine, the sleeping form of the woman screamed with a delicately curved femininity that he’d never encountered. And he could remember all too well how easy it had been to lift her slight form against his body, how she’d felt, how those soft, warm lips had opened up beneath his own…

That thought, and his fast growing arousal, propelled Dante back from the bed and out of the room, closing the door, his hand turning the key in the lock quickly, almost as if the woman on the other side was a witch who would materialize in front of him.

When he got to the bottom of the staircase his security guard was waiting, still looking shamefaced after having had to search and find the breach in security. He handed Dante a folder. ‘The information you were looking for. She’s related to a Melanie Parker who works in your London offices. Alicia Parker is a qualified nurse, and in the last twelve months there were at least six nurses called A Parker registered in various places, from a private nursing home in Devon to a relief organization in Africa. Within twenty four hours we should know which one she is.’

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