A Pawn in the Playboy's Game(7)

By: Cathy Williams

‘This is too much! Where is Roberto?’

‘Roberto?’ He couldn’t remember Freya addressing his father by his first name. Eyes narrowed now on her flushed face, Alessandro slowly pushed himself away from the counter and strolled towards her.

Like a predator with prey in its sight, he circled her before coming to a stop right in front of her, arms still folded, and this time his expression was thoughtful.

‘Interesting,’ he mused softly.

‘What? What’s interesting?’ Laura inched back a little because his presence was so suffocating. She worked out that it wasn’t just to do with the fact that the man was sinfully, unfairly sexy. There was also something about him, something intangible that sent shivers racing up and down her spine.

‘Interesting that the hired help is now on a first-name basis with my father, who is a very rich man indeed.’

‘I’m not following you.’

‘Young girl...reasonably attractive...elderly man...loaded... I’m doing the maths and not liking the solution to the conundrum.’

Blood leached out of her face and there was a roaring in her ears. ‘Are you accusing me of...of...of...?’

‘I know. Incomprehensible, isn’t it? My father is pushing eighty, has more money than he knows what to do with, and a whippersnapper who couldn’t be more than...what?...twenty-two addresses him by his first name and seems pretty desperate to see him because, presumably, you know he’ll rescue you from an uncomfortable situation. Smacks of unhealthy cosiness but, then, maybe I’m just being unfairly cynical.’

‘Twenty-six, actually. I’m twenty-six.’ A gold-digger? Was that what she was being accused of? A reasonably attractive gold-digger? Could there be any more insults stashed up his sleeve?

‘Twenty-two...twenty-six. Doesn’t really make much of a difference. You’re still young enough to be his granddaughter. Thank God I’ve come along and seen for myself what goes on here.’

‘And I’m not the hired help.’

‘No?’ Alessandro’s eyebrows shot up. Hired help or no hired help, the woman was still an opportunist, although he had to admit that the old man had reasonably good taste. Up close, her eyes were even more amazing, her skin satiny smooth with a sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of her nose, and her mouth...

His eyes dipped lazily to her mouth, which was full and perfectly shaped.

She might not be a model but she certainly wasn’t a woman you would throw out of your bed on a rainy night.

She was fresh-faced and that in itself was oddly appealing. No wonder she had managed to inveigle herself into his father’s good graces. God knew how much she had managed to con out of him thus far.

‘No!’ Her skin burned under his scrutiny but she maintained eye contact, even though every nerve in her body was reacting with tight hostility to his accusations.

‘So who are you?’

‘I’m Laura. I’m a friend. As you would discover if you went and got him!’

‘Oh, I’ll get him,’ Alessandro said in a voice that made her teeth snap together in impotent fury. ‘Just as soon as you and I have had a nice little chat. So why don’t you have a seat at the table, Laura, and we’ll...how do I put this?...get to know one another... No, wrong choice of words. I’ll get to know you and you’ll get to understand where I’m coming from.’

He smiled and she stared back angrily at him because chilling though the smile was it was still horribly, horribly sexy.

‘Fine,’ she snapped, because if he wanted to have a word with her, he’d find that she had a few words of her own to share. She stalked off towards the kitchen table and in one easy movement yanked off the annoying waterproof and turned to face him with a toss of her head. ‘And then I want to see your father.’


‘YOU KNOW WHO I AM.’ This was getting better and better. He had no idea who she was and yet she knew who he was. If she was a friend, then she was a special one, because he knew his father and one thing was for sure—Roberto Falcone was tight-lipped when it came to conversation. He was a man, and had always been a man, who spoke only when the situation demanded speech.

Alessandro could remember many a meal consumed in silence once the formalities of polite conversation had been exhausted.

‘Of course I know who you are. Why wouldn’t I? You’re Alessandro, the son who never comes up to Scotland if he can help it.’

Alessandro flushed darkly. ‘My father said that?’

‘He didn’t have to. You import your father down to London when you want to see him because it’s easier. When was the last time you were here anyway?’

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