A Dark Sicilian Secret(2)

And no one would stop him.

“I can. Let me suggest you begin with an apology,” he said almost gently. “It would be a start.”

Jillian threw back her shoulders and steeled herself against that deep, husky voice of his, forcing her gaze to his throat. What harm could there be in that? And yet it was impossible to look at his throat—strong and bronzed by sun—without seeing the square chin or the broad shoulders encased in charcoal-black.

And even limiting herself to that very narrow region, her stomach plummeted. Because Vittorio was still everything that overwhelmed her. Impossibly physical and primal, he was the true alpha male. No one was stronger. No one more powerful. She’d tumbled into his bed within hours of meeting him and she’d never done that before. For God’s sake, she’d never even come close to making love before but something about Vitt made her drop her guard. With him, she felt safe. Near him, she’d felt secure.

“If anyone ought to apologize, it should be you.”


“You misrepresented yourself, Vittorio—”


“—and you’ve hunted me like an animal for the past eleven months,” she said, her voice hard, her tone clipped. She would not fall to her knees. She would not beg. She would fight him to the bitter end.

He shrugged. “You chose to run. You had my son. What else did you expect me to do?”

“It must thrill you to have such power over helpless women and children!” she flashed, raising her voice to be heard over the wind and the great angry walls of water crashing onto the beach below.

“You’re far from helpless, Jill. You’re one of the strongest, shrewdest women I’ve ever met, with the skills of a professional con artist.”

“I’m not a con artist.”

“Then why the alias of April Holliday? And how did you manage to create such a persona? It takes money and connections to pull off what you nearly pulled off—”

“Nearly. That is the key word, isn’t it?”

He shrugged again. “That’s for another discussion. Right now I’d like to get out of the rain—”

“You’re free to go.”

“I’m going nowhere without you. And I don’t like you standing so close to the edge of the cliff. Come away. You worry me,” he said, extending a hand to her.

She ignored his hand, and glanced up instead, her gaze taking in the long, lean jaw, the angled cheekbone, the very sensual lips above his firm chin, and all it took was that one glance for her to go hot, then cold, and hot all over again.

“And you terrify me,” she answered bitterly, looking swiftly away, knowing that his lips had kissed her everywhere, exploring her body with mind-blowing detail. He’d brought her to her first orgasm with his mouth and tongue and she’d been mortified when she’d screamed as she came. She hadn’t imagined pleasure so intense or sensation so strong. She’d never known anything could shatter her control. But then, she hadn’t ever imagined a man like Vittorio.

But the truth was, she wasn’t terrified of him. She was terrified of herself when around him. Because in Bellagio, Vittorio undid her. With just one look, he weakened her resolve. One kiss, and he shattered her independence. From the first time they’d made love, she wanted him far too much, realizing she needed him more than she’d ever needed anyone.

“You’re ridiculous,” he chided, his tone exasperated. “Have I ever hurt you, or laid a hand on you—other than to pleasure you?”

She closed her eyes as her legs wobbled beneath her. During their two weeks together, two incredible weeks, he had only shown her kindness, and tenderness, and passion. Yes, he’d had his secrets. He’d been mysterious. But she’d ignored her concerns and followed her heart. “No.”

“But you ran. And worse, you’ve kept my only child, my son, from me. How is that fair?”

She couldn’t answer because already his voice was doing that strange seduction, where he peeled away her rigid control, stripping away her defenses. He’d done it that very first day she’d met him in the hotel lobby in Istanbul. One introduction, one brief conversation, one invitation to dinner and then she lost her head completely. Took leave from her job. Moved into his villa at Lake Como. Imagined she was in love…something Jillian didn’t even believe in. Romantic love was silly and foolish and destructive. Romantic love was for other people, people who didn’t know better. She’d thought she knew better.

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