Bedroom bargain…baby deal…
Cesario di Silvestri isn’t just fast with woman, he’s supersonic. After mere minutes spent in his charismatic presence, many of Europe’s most glamorous woman tumble into his bed… With the exception of one – shy vet Jessica Martin, who refuses to become his weekend plaything. But when Jess’s feckless relatives steal from Halston Hall, Cesario’s country retreat, he has all the ammunition he needs! For now he’ll enjoy her creamy-skinned beauty, but in the future he’ll need an heir…
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CESARIO DI SILVESTRI could not sleep.
Events in recent months had brought him to a personal crossroads, at which he had acted with innate decisiveness: he had stripped the chaff from his life in order to focus his energy on what really mattered, only to appreciate that, while he had worked tirelessly to become an extraordinarily wealthy tycoon, he had put next to no work at all into his private life. The only close friend he fully trusted still was Stefano, the cousin he had grown up with.
He’d had many women in his bed, but only one whom he’d loved—and he had treated her so carelessly that she had fallen in love with someone else.
He was thirty-three years old and he had never even come close to marrying. What did that say about him?
Was he a natural loner or simply a commitment-phobe? He groaned out loud, exasperated by the constant flow of philosophical thoughts that had recently dogged him, because all his life, to date, he had been a doer rather than a thinker: a great sportsman, a dynamic and cold-blooded businessman. Giving up on sleep, Cesario pulled on some shorts and strode through his magnificent Moroccan villa, impervious to the opulent trappings of the billionaire’s lifestyle that had lately come to mean so little to him. He filled a tumbler with ice cold water and drank it down thirstily.
As he had admitted to Stefano, by this age he would have liked to have had a child, only not with the kind of woman who cared more about money than anything else. For such a woman would only raise her child with the same shallow self-seeking values.
‘But it’s not too late for you to start a family,’ Stefano had declared with conviction. ‘Nothing is set in stone, Cesario. Do what you want, not as you think you should.’
Hearing the shrill of his cell phone, Cesario headed back upstairs, wondering which of his staff thought it necessary to call him in the middle of the night. But there was nothing frivolous about that call from Rigo Castello, his security chief. Rigo was phoning to tell him that he’d just been robbed: a painting, a recent acquisition worth a cool half-million pounds, had been stolen from Halston Hall, his English country home, and apparently the theft had been an inside job. Cold outrage swept Cesario at that concluding fact. He didn’t get mad, he got even. He paid his employees handsomely and treated them well and in return he expected loyalty. When the guilty party was finally identified, Cesario would ensure that the full weight of the law was brought to bear on him…
But, within a few minutes, his outrage and annoyance subsided to a bearable level and a grim smile began to tug at his handsome mouth as he contemplated his now inevitable visit to his beautiful Elizabethan home in England. There he would undoubtedly run into his very beautiful Madonna of the stable yard again, as his horses required her regular attention. And unlike the many women he had known and deemed to be almost interchangeable, his English Madonna did rejoice in one unique quality: she was the only woman who had ever said no to Cesario di Silvestri…and utterly infuriated and frustrated him. One dinner date and he’d been history, rejected out of hand by a woman for the first time in his life and he still had no idea why. For Cesario, who was by nature fiercely competitive, she would always be a mystery and a challenge…
A small, slightly built brunette with her long dark curly hair caught up in a practical ponytail, Jess kept up a constant stream of soothing chatter while she wielded the shears over the cowering dog’s matted coat.
The job had to be done. As the sheepdog’s painfully emaciated body was revealed Jess’s soft full mouth hardened; the suffering of animals always upset her and she had trained as a veterinary surgeon in an effort to do what she could to help in the way of welfare.
Her volunteer helper at weekends, a pretty blonde schoolgirl, helped to keep the dog steady. ‘How is he?’ Kylie asked with concern.
Jess sent the teenager a wry look. ‘Not bad for his age. He’s an old dog. He’ll be fine once I’ve seen to his sores and fed him up a bit.’
‘But the older ones are very hard to rehome.’ Kylie sighed.
‘You never know,’ Jess said with determined optimism, though actually she did know very well. The little tribe of dogs she had personally rescued in recent years were a motley group, each of which was either older, maimed or suffering from behavioural problems. Few people were willing to take a chance on such dogs.
When Jess had embarked on her first job in the village of Charlbury St Helens, she had lived above the vet’s surgery where she worked. But she’d had to find other accommodation when the practice’s senior partner had decided to expand the business and turned the small flat into an office suite instead. Jess had been lucky enough to find a run-down cottage with a collection of old sheds to rent just outside the village. Although her home was not much to look at and offered only basic comforts, it came with two fields and the landlord had agreed to her opening a small animal sanctuary there. Even though she earned a good salary she was always broke, because every penny she could spare went towards animal feed and medical supplies.