Tall, dark and dangerous--the man from Mont Avellana...
Black-hearted billionaire Domenic Vincini wants the lush riches of rival island Niroli, including the jewel in Niroli's crown--Princess Isabella Fierezza. She's forbidden, but to Domenic, a man scarred inside and out, that makes her innocence all the more appealing. If Isabella gives in to temptation she'll tie herself--and her kingdom--to its sworn enemy....
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October 01, 2007
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Excerpt from The Tycoon's Princess Bride by Natasha Oakley
Her Royal Highness, Princess Isabella of Niroli knew from the flashing pinprick of green light in the far right-hand corner of the conference room that she was being watched.
And she didn't like it. Not one bit. She straightened her spine in one tiny, barely perceptible movement and let absolutely no emotion appear on her face. She was used to surveillance. Telephoto lenses were aggressively focussed on her every time she stepped out of doors and even the fairly basic security system in her family's fourteenth century castle was considerably more sophisticated than the one protecting Domenic Vincini's inner sanctum.
That blinking green light made her feel irritated. She twisted the fine platinum bangle of her wrist watch so the diamond encrusted face was uppermost and looked at the time.
How much longer was she prepared to wait for Signore Vincini to put in an appearance? Five minutes? Ten? How many before she appeared too desperate?
Maybe it was already too late to think about that? Maybe by forcing this meeting she'd already undermined her barAnd, in all those months, she'd not once met Signore Vincini, the power behind the Vincini Group and the man who would ultimately make the decision.
She'd been warned that he was a man who could not be forced...or cajoled. Rumour had it that he worked like an automaton and made his judgements without reference to anything other than the 'bottom line'. In recent years he'd stopped visiting his proposed investments or, indeed, the existing hotels he owned across the Mediterranean, yet he somehow managed to keep a finger on the pulse.
Back on Niroli that had sounded exaggerated. Surely a development the size of the one they proposed would warrant a more personal involvement...but, what if it was true?
Perhaps her 'charm offensive' was, at best, pointless and at worst...
She didn't want to think about failure. Isabella stared unseeing across the width of the conference room. There was so much resting on her ability to bring this deal together-- not least her own future on Niroli. Her hand moved to twist her watch round once more. She'd give him another five minutes and then--
'Your Royal Highness?'
Isabella turned at the sound of a hesitant voice. The quietly handsome man who'd ushered her into the room twenty minutes earlier let go of the door handle and unconsciously flexed his fingers.
'M-may I offer you something to drink, Your Highness?' 'Nothing, thank you.' She smiled, and then watched with resignation the slow blush that moved up from his neck.
Why did men react like that? She'd chosen her clothes so carefully in the hope she'd be seen as something other than an elegant coat hanger. There wasn't much else she could do, short of sticking a paper bag over her head and wearing a bin liner--which probably wouldn't help her be taken seriously either.
'S-signore Vincini wondered...if...' he cleared his throat '...I might assist you? R-rather than keep you waiting any longer.'
Her eyes flicked up to the pulsing green light. Was Domenic Vincini watching this? Somehow she felt certain he was--an all-seeing omnipotent being. 'I'll wait.'
'I've been asked to say that Signore Vincini is delayed indefinitely. He sends his apologies and--'
'Then I'll wait indefinitely,' she said, cutting him off, her voice uncharacteristically crisp.
Isabella watched the nervous bob of his Adam's apple and allowed herself to feel a moment's sympathy, but not so much that she'd do as he wanted. She couldn't.
Whatever Signore Vincini felt about her being here, there was no point in trying to explain the complex rivalry that existed between Niroli and Mont Avellana to this man. He wouldn't understand.
No one born away from the islands would appreciate the depth of mistrust. It had been built over centuries and was practically sewn into the fabric of daily life. And, in her opinion, it was time it stopped.
She picked up her briefcase and set it out on the table. With practised fingers she manipulated the combination lock and opened the case out. 'Perhaps I might have a glass of water after all?'
A sharp frown snapped across Domenic Vincini's face as his half-sister perched her bottom on the edge of his wide desk. 'Is there something you want?'