The Millionaire's Deception

By: Wendy Byrne



From what he could gather after a superficial observation, it appeared to be the local hangout. According to his intel, the average resident was close to retirement age, which worked well for the job he had to do for Probst. People of that age wanted to move south and live the good life. Most of the younger folks in town left years ago when the plant closed its doors. Fortunately for him, that fit into his moneymaking scheme perfectly. Starting with the Frankie Ritacco guy who owned this place. From what he’d learned, if Frankie caved, the rest of the town would fall right in line.

They didn’t call Rafe “the Closer” for nothing. He got paid for getting the job done, and gobbling up this town and its picturesque setting along the Mississippi was part of the plan. A cool two million was his take for getting Frankie to accept the offer.

Which suited him perfectly. It added to the war chest he’d accumulated over the ten years since he’d graduated from college.

Not knowing where his next meal was coming from, or when, while growing up had been the great motivator behind his success, as well as that of his twin brother’s. Being looked on with either pity or disdain had led him to take charge as an adult. Now that he could control his own destiny, he intended it to be exactly how he wanted it to be. Although he and his brother were estranged, he’d kept tabs on Luke’s professional progress. After completing a stint in the Special Forces, Luke had made his mark in the forensic accounting field.

With a healthy bank account, a New York loft, and all the finer things in life, Rafe had set his sights on accumulating as much money as he could. As far as he was concerned, the more money, the better. He needed a cushion so large that it ensured that no matter what happened, he wouldn’t have to worry about money ever again.

And closing high-level deals like this was what he was meant to do. He couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

The guys Probst sent before him didn’t know how to read this situation. They waltzed into town in their Brooks Brothers suits and ties, flashing money and hoping to seal the deal. Instead, they got run out of town by a guy named Frankie wielding a shotgun.

Dumbasses.

He, on the other hand, knew the secret to getting things to fall his way. In order to discover the Achilles’ heel that would force the town to break his way, he had to gather his own intel. The only way to do that was to observe them in their natural environment like a hunter stalking prey.

And the smoking-hot waitress by the nickname of Titi, with legs that seemed to go on forever, wasn’t a bad way to start his observation. He wished she weren’t wearing a pair of Levi’s so he could see those legs in the flesh. And man, that long dark curly hair of hers practically made him salivate.

“How was the frittata?” the woman in question asked while she looked at him with the most amazing brown eyes. Between her eyes and the incredible mass of hair, he wasn’t sure which was sexier.

He forced himself not to focus on the fact that Titi filled out her red T-shirt with Crossroads Café emblazoned across her chest quite nicely. “If that Parmesan cheese you put in there were any fresher, I’d swear I was in Italy.” He glanced around as another group marched through the door. “I’d ask you to sit down but it looks like you have your hands full.”

“Carl will be in shortly to take over kitchen duties.” She smiled and her eyes seemed to twinkle. “He and my pops used to compete as to who was the best cook.”

“Who won?”

“My pops, of course. No one could make lasagna like he did.”

He felt a little bad when she got misty-eyed and drew in a shaky breath. She clearly loved her parents and, based on the tremble of her lips, missed them as well. Still, he had to wonder why she’d stuck around this rinky-dink town after they died. Getting back with her ex-fiancé didn’t seem to be high on her list of priorities. So what was the draw for her?

Clearly, she’d worked at this place for a while. And since Frankie was the owner, Rafe couldn’t help but wonder how much influence Titi might have over the guy. He also had to consider the possibility she was involved with Frankie. That might explain why she’d stick around a town that was destined for change.

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