To the Italian’s mistress!
Yearning for a fresh start, Isla Stewart escapes to her recently inherited Sicilian villa. The last person she expects to meet there is Alissandru Rossetti, the ruthless billionaire who once helicoptered into her life, and changed it irrevocably with his sizzling seduction! Alissandru wants what’s rightfully his—Isla’s inheritance. But with the attraction between them as scorching as ever, what Alissandru wants more is Isla…back in his bed! Get swept away by this classic tale of innocence and passion!
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‘THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE… I don’t believe it!’ Alissandru Rossetti erupted from his chair in the midst of the reading of his brother’s will, rigid with outraged disbelief. ‘Why the hell would Paulu leave that little slut anything?’ he demanded of the room at large.
Fortunately, his mother, Constantia, and the family lawyer, Marco Morelli, were the only parties present because all attempts to contact the main beneficiary of the will had proved fruitless. Disconcerted by that revealing word, ‘main’, Alissandru had merely frowned, thinking it would be just like his late brother Paulu to have left his worldly goods to some do-good favourite charity. After all, he and his wife Tania had died together and their marriage had been childless and Alissandru, his twin, had no need of any inheritance, being not only the elder twin and owner of the family estate in Sicily but also a billionaire in his own right.
‘Take a deep breath, Alissandru,’ Constantia urged, well acquainted with her surviving son’s sizzling temper. ‘Paulu had the right to leave his estate where he wished and we do not know that Tania’s sister is deserving of so unpleasant a label.’
Alissandru was pacing the small legal office, a form of behaviour that was distinctly intimidating in a confined space because he was several inches over six feet tall, a lean, powerful figure, dressed in one of the elegant tailored black suits he favoured. That funereal colour had earned him the nickname ‘The Raven’ in the City of London, where his aggressive and hugely successful business instincts were famous, as befitted a renowned entrepreneur in the new technology field. Pacing that office, he reminded the family lawyer of a prowling tiger penned up in a cage.
Not deserving? Alissandru thought in outrage, recalling that little red-headed teenager, Isla Stewart, at his brother’s wedding six long years before. At barely sixteen years old, she had been rocking a sexually provocative outfit, parading her nubile curves and shapely legs in a clear sexual offer to the highest bidder, he reflected in disgust. Later that day too, he had seen her emerging from one of the bedrooms in a dishevelled state, only moments before one of his cousins left the same room, straightening his cuffs and tidying his hair. Obviously Isla was just like her sister, Tania, who had been brazen, wanton and dishonest.
‘I was not aware that Paulu was in any form of contact with Tania’s sister,’ Alissandru admitted curtly. ‘No doubt she pulled the wool over his trusting eyes as easily as her sister did and wheedled her way into his soft heart.’
Very real grief fractured Alissandru’s hard driven drawl as he spoke because he had loved his twin a great deal and could still, even six weeks after the helicopter crash that had claimed the lives of both Paulu and Tania, not quite believe that he would never ever speak to him again. Even worse, Alissandru could not shake the guilt of knowing that he had been powerless to protect his brother from that designing harpy, Tania Stewart. Sadly, Paulu’s last years had been deeply unhappy, but he had refused to divorce the sleazy underwear model he had married in such haste, believing that she was pregnant…only, surprise, surprise, Alissandru recalled cynically, that had proved to be a false alarm.
Tania had gone on to destroy his brother’s life with her wild extravagance, her shrewish tantrums and, finally, her infidelity. Yet throughout those excesses, Paulu had steadily continued to adore Tania as though she were a goddess amongst women. But then, unhappily for him, Paulu had been a gentle soul, very caring, loyal and committed. As unlike Alissandru in every way as day was to night. Yet Alissandru had treasured those stark differences and had trusted Paulu in a way he had trusted no other living person. And although he was enraged at his conviction that yet another Stewart woman had somehow contrived to mislead and manipulate his brother into drawing up such a will, there was yet another part of him which, sadly, felt betrayed by his sibling.
After all, Paulu had known how much the family estate meant to Alissandru and yet he had left his home on the Sicilian estate and all his money to Tania’s sister. A lottery win for the sister, a slap in the face for Alissandru even though he knew his brother would have sooner cut off his hand than hurt him. Paulu, being Paulu, however, could never have dreamt that so tragic an accident might take both his and his wife’s lives together, clearing the way for Paulu’s sister-in-law to inherit what should never ever have become hers.
‘Paulu visited Isla a few times in London during that period that…er…’ Contantia hesitated, choosing her words with particular tact ‘…that he and Tania were separated. He was fond of the girl.’
‘He never mentioned it to me!’ Alissandru bit out explosively, his dark eyes flashing and his lean, darkly handsome features clenching hard at the image of yet another Stewart woman having woven her seductive, cloying charm over his impressionable brother in pursuit of profit. Paulu had always been a soft touch for a sob story, Alissandru conceded grimly.
Speaking for himself, however, Alissandru had never been that foolish. He liked women but women loved him, hunting him like a rare breed because he was rich and single. In his younger days he had heard every sob story going and once or twice, in his inexperience, had even fallen for such ploys, but it had been years since he had been that naive or imprudent. These days he chose his lovers from his own stratum in society. Women with their own wealth or very demanding careers were a safer bet for the kind of casual light affair in which Alissandru specialised. They understood that he wasn’t ready to settle down and practised the same discretion that he did.
‘Knowing how you felt about Tania, Paulu wouldn’t have mentioned it,’ his mother pointed out gently. ‘What will you do?’
‘Buy Paulu’s house back from her…what else?’ Alissandru pronounced with an angry shrug at the infuriating prospect of having to enrich a Stewart woman yet again. How many times had he paid Tania’s debts to protect his brother and shield him from her insatiable demands? But what else could he do in the present? Tania was dead and buried and her sister had not even bothered to attend the funeral, all attempts to contact her directly at her last-known address having failed. That fact alone really said it all about the weak bond between the sisters, didn’t it?
‘We’ll have to track Tania’s little sister down,’ Alissandru breathed in a raw driven undertone of menace.