March 1, 2004

March 1, 2004

The Banker’s Convenient Wife

Brides of L'Amour, book #3


He can’t remember why he wed her–but he’ll still bed her!

Italian-Swiss banker Roel Sabatino has suffered partial memory loss after a car crash. It seems he has a wife but he can’t remember getting married! Hilary is pretty, sweet and ordinary. When Roel tries to take her to bed as any husband would he discovers she’s a virgin! All this is shocking to Roel, though he still recognizes a great deal when he sees one. So why not enjoy all the pleasures that this marriage has to offer, whatever his reasons were for tying the knot?

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‘NATURALLY you will not renew his contract. The Sabatino Bank has no place for inadequate fund managers.’ Lean, dark, handsome face stern, Roel Sabatino was frowning. An international banker and a very busy man, he considered this conversation a waste of his valuable time.

His HR director, Stefan, cleared his throat. ‘I thought…perhaps a little chat might put Rawlinson back on track—’

‘I don’t believe in little chats and I don’t give second chances,’ Roel incised with glacial effect. ‘Neither—you should note—do our clients. The bank’s reputation rests on profit performance.’

Stefan Weber reflected that Roel’s own world-class renown as an expert in the global economy and the field of wealth preservation carried even greater impact. A Swiss billionaire, Roel Sabatino was the descendant of nine unbroken generations of private bankers and acknowledged by all as the most brilliant. Strikingly intelligent and hugely successful as he was, however, Roel was not known for his compassion towards employees with personal problems. In fact he was as much feared as he was admired for his ruthless lack of sentimentality.

Even so, Stefan made one last effort to intervene on the unfortunate member of staff’s behalf. ‘Last month, Rawlinson’s wife walked out on him…’

‘I am his employer, not his counsellor,’ Roel countered in brusque dismissal. ‘His private life is not my concern.’

That point clarified for the benefit of his HR director, Roel left his palatial office by his private lift to travel down to the underground car park. As he swung into his Ferrari his shapely masculine mouth was still set in a grim line of disdain. What kind of a man allowed the loss of a woman to interfere with his work performance to the extent of destroying a once promising career? A weak character guilty of a shameful lack of self-discipline, Roel decided with a contemptuous shake of his proud dark head.

A male who whined about his personal problems and expected special treatment on that basis was complete anathema to Roel. After all, by its very nature life was challenging and, thanks to a childhood of austere joylessness, Roel knew that better than most. His mother had walked out on her son and her marriage when he was a toddler and any suspicion of tender loving care had vanished overnight from his upbringing. Placed in a boarding-school at the age of five, he had been allowed home visits only when his academic results had matched his father’s high expectations. Raised to be tough and unemotional, Roel had learnt when he was very young neither to ask for nor hope for favours in any form.

His car phone rang while he was stuck in Geneva’s lunchtime traffic jam and regretting his decision not to utilise his chauffeur-driven limo. The call was from his lawyer, Paul Correro. When it came to more confidential matters, he preferred to utilise Paul’s discreet services rather than those of the family legal firm.

‘I think it’s my duty as your legal representative to point out that the time has arrived for a certain connection to be quietly terminated.’ Paul’s tone was almost playful.

Roel had gone to university with Paul and he usually enjoyed the other man’s lively sense of humour for nobody else would have dared that level of familiarity with him. However, he was not in the mood to engage in a guessing game.

‘Cut to the chase, Paul,’ he urged.

‘I’ve been thinking of mentioning this for a while…’ Unusually, Paul hesitated. ‘But I was waiting for you to raise the topic first. It’s almost four years now. Isn’t it time to have your marriage of convenience dissolved?’

Taken aback by that reminder, and just when the traffic flow was finally beginning to move again, Roel lifted his foot off the clutch of his car. The Ferrari lurched to a sudden choking halt as the engine cut out and provoked a hail of impatient car horns that outraged Roel’s masculine pride. But he did not utter a single one of the vituperative curses on the tip of his tongue.

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