The Masterful Italian

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Mastering her to keep her safe. Alessandro is out for revenge.

When an explosion ruins his attempt at securing evidence from an informant, he meets Giselle, a beautiful young surgeon. She tries to save his dying informant, unsuccessfully. Unable to locate the evidence on the dying man’s body, he suspects the man passed the tape off to Giselle.

Forced on the run, she takes refuge with Alessandro and the Mafia where she must surrender to his dominant control.

Giselle finds herself falling quickly for Alessandro who will stop at nothing to get the tape, protect her from his mafia grandfather, Vadala, and take her to his bed.

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Published 14 August 2020
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EAN13 9781645634409
Language English

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THE MASTERFUL ITALIAN
An Italian Mafia Romance
CORDELIA GREGORYPublished by Blushing Books
An Imprint of
ABCD Graphics and Design, Inc.
A Virginia Corporation
977 Seminole Trail #233
Charlottesville, VA 22901
©2020
All rights reserved.
No part of the book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and
retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The trademark Blushing
Books is pending in the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Cordelia Gregory
The Masterful Italian
EBook ISBN: 978-1-64563-440-9
Print ISBN: 978-1-64563-441-6
Audio ISBN: 978-1-64563-442-3
v1
Cover Art by ABCD Graphics & Design
This book contains fantasy themes appropriate for mature readers only. Nothing in this book
should be interpreted as Blushing Books' or the author's advocating any non-consensual
sexual activity.C o n t e n t s
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Cordelia Gregory
Blushing Books
Blushing Books NewsletterChapter 1
London, July 1996
sudden blue flash dazzled Alessandro’s eyes, momentarily blinding him in its
vivid colour. Before he could determine its source, the ground beneath his feet
shook and the world around him began to explode and splinter. Air rushedA
from the darkness to punch him hard in the chest. The last thing he remembered was
being thrown backwards up into the air to be dashed against the wall of an office
building.
Moments later, he regained consciousness to find an assortment of glass, plaster
and paper debris lying over his fallen crumpled body. He put his hand to his aching
head as he made a stiff effort to sit up. He turned his head sharply to the source of
hurried footsteps approaching from the top end of the London alleyway in which he had
been walking. Vainly, he attempted to focus his blurring vision on the figure.
The figure cleared to reveal a man passing by, blooding streaming in a torrent down
his face. He was crying loudly and didn’t seem to know where he was going as he
stumbled on and out of the small street. The faintly lit evening had turned grey with
smoke and there was a smell of gas. For a moment, Alessandro thought he was
dreaming. None of it seemed real, it couldn’t be, he wasn’t sure. He wiped at the small
trickle of blood coming from his forehead and considered how lucky he was at having
survived the explosion.
He cleared away the debris and slowly stood, wiping the dust and plaster from his
navy suit. There was a distant wail of police sirens and a chorus of car alarms going off
as he hurriedly made his way to the opposite end of the alley wondering if the man he
had arranged to meet outside a restaurant in the next street was still alive.
Alessandro heard a woman shouting as he rounded the corner. Quickly he looked
for her and spied her leaning over the prostrate form of a man lying in the middle of a
road. She was desperately trying to revive him with mouth to mouth and heart
massage. The small Italian restaurant he’d frequented so often was blown through and
its huge glass windows lay in shards all over the road. A large one lay imbedded in the
injured man’s chest. He was a bloody mess and Alessandro doubted whether the
woman’s efforts to save his life weren’t a waste of time.
He made his way towards her, stepping over the rubble. A street lamp was bent
double, the light holder having been broken but the light was still shining. It creaked
eerily in the warm July evening breeze, casting shadows of yellow light in the grey
cloud that now hung low all around him. He found himself stopping to step over thebody of a young woman and two of her severed limbs. There were several other bodies
littering the street all in the same state of dissection.
Finally, he reached the frantic brunette counting out loud as she continued to give
the injured man heart massage. Alessandro Maderno was no stranger to death or those
who sought to set its curse upon others. He was often one of its messengers in his line
of work, but still he found himself wincing at the futility of death’s random set of
innocent victims. At least when he brought death to an individual, there was a reason, a
purpose, a due to be paid, even a justice to it.
He felt blood dampen his forehead and ran his fingers through his soft black hair
finding the cut. He would need stitches. He was lucky that was all he had needed. Not
many people seemed to have survived the explosion in this street. He would be damn
lucky if his informant was alive. More than likely he was lying in several pieces just like
the others strewn around him. He approached the woman and felt the warmth of a
blazing fire against his face. He turned to stare into the glow of flames that roared in the
gutted hole of what used to be one of his favourite restaurants. He needed to get her
away from it. The smell of gas was much stronger here.
He looked down at the man and cursed under his breath. It was his informant, Paul
Wakem. The man’s eyes were staring wide and vacant of life, yet still the pretty young
woman was doing all she could to save him and refusing to admit defeat.
He called down to her, but she didn’t seem to hear him or even notice his presence.
He bent down and took Paul’s pulse in his wrist just to make sure. He was gone.
“He’s dead. You need to stop now. There is nothing more you can do for him,” he
told the woman gently, laying his hand lightly on her arm.
It was of little use. She was in shock. Her hands were covered in blood as she
continued resuscitation and tears streamed unnoticed down her cheeks. His heart leapt
out in sympathy. He leaned over and more firmly took hold of her arms commanding
her to stop. She looked up at him with confused and startled brown eyes as if she had
only just realised he was there. Bewildered and dazed with shock and no doubt blood
loss from the large wound in her forehead, she allowed him to prise her hands away
from Paul’s body.
“Is he really dead?” she asked. “I tried but I couldn’t seem to help him. What kind of
a doctor am I? I tried but I couldn’t help anyone here,” she told him with a shaky voice
that was on the verge of cracking into hysteria. “Maybe I shouldn’t give up like I did with
that man and that little girl over there.”
Alessandro gave her a sympathetic look as he glanced at the mangled bodies she
referred to. No wonder she was traumatised. He caught hold of her shoulders as she
moved away from him to work on Paul again. This time, he wasn’t giving her any
choice. He pulled her roughly towards him, his intention to get her on her feet and away
from the fire that raged in what was left of the restaurant before something blew in
there. But the lady was a fighter and wasn’t going to come easily.
“He’s dead. There’s nothing more you can do,” he shouted at her, giving her a
shake when she struggled fiercely in his hold. “I can smell gas. That restaurant is going
to blow any second. I am not going to let you die.”
He wondered if she would be able to stand. Her body was trembling like a
pneumatic drill and her head kept tilting backwards as though she were about to lose
consciousness. That nasty gash to her forehead was streaming with blood. She neededa doctor quick.
“I can’t just leave him there. I don’t even know who he is...”
Alessandro growled.
“Lady, you are testing my patience. Stay put. I will find out who he is...”
It was a great excuse to look in Paul’s jacket pockets. Paul was supposed to bring
him something tonight. Hard evidence he said, “Enough for you to bring down your
grandfather and start a war between all the families. Just what you’ve always wanted.”
It had been an effort to wait until that evening. He searched in Paul’s pockets but
there was nothing. He turned and looked at the woman, wondering. Had she taken it?
No, it was a crazy thought. She was distraught. Besides, she didn’t know anything. Still
he had an uneasy feeling at the way she avoided his eyes when he looked at her.
“He hasn’t got any ID. I don’t know who he is,” he told her, standing, watching her
fold and unfold her arms in an agitated restless manner.
“I want to stay with them until the paramedics come. I don’t want to leave them on
their own. I shouldn’t. I’m a doctor,” she told him, running her hands through her short
chestnut flicked out hair.
He had to get her out of there. She was going a nasty shade of white. He stood up
and swept his hand around her face gently lifting it to him to capture her dazed
attention.
Alessandro spoke softly but with determination. “No. I am not letting you stay here.
You’ve done all you could. You need medical attention. And it’s dangerous.”
The moment he spoke, another explosion echoed from the distance somewhere in
the city. The woman jumped as the ground shook once more. Alessandro found himself
impulsively pulling her into the safety of his arms, holding her protectively against him.
“What was that?” she asked against his shoulder, tears in her voice.
“Another explosion.”
“What’s happening to us?”
“Someone is trying to make a point and overdoing it,” he informed her coldly. “Come
on, let’s get out of here.”
He swept his arm around her waist, keeping her close and supported, conscious
she was ready to pass out and began leading her back the way he came. Relieved she
was now too weak to offer him any resistance. They hadn’t reached the end of the
street when Alessandro heard the pounding of heavy feet through the debris and the
fire of a handgun. Instinctively, he pushed the woman against the side of one of the
buildings out of the way as he pulled out his own gun, but it was too late. The bullet
sliced through her arm raising an anguished squeal of unexpected pain. He caught her
over his arm as she slumped and pushed her down into the shadow cast by the wall of
the building closest to them in the heavy smog. He stood in front of her, gun aimed,
waiting for the men to come out of the fog. It seemed his grandfather was on to him and
not even a terrorist bomb was going to stop him from making his grandson see the
error of his ways.Chapter 2
lessandro aimed. It was stupid. The smog was growing dense and the lack of
light was irritating. He’d be lucky if he hit anything. He moved back against the
woman and into the shadows hearing his assailants run towards him. A quickA
glance at the girl told him she was still alert despite her injuries. He put his finger to his
lips and motioned for her to be quiet as she pressed her back against the wall for
support and stared at him in bemused alarm. He turned quickly, hearing the first man
approach and brought the butt of his Glock down hard on the back of the man’s neck
with deft force.
The man dropped to the ground hard and out cold. The second was on him before
he could let out a breath. Alessandro raised his leg in a perfect arc and executed a neat
roundhouse kick, knocking the man’s handgun from his hand. Startled, the man fought
to recover quickly and launched himself at Alessandro, driving his head into his
stomach and pushing him backwards against the girl.
She gave a squeal and moved out of the way. Alessandro struggled hard. The guy
was big, built like a brick shit house. It was Gregorio, one of his grandfather’s best men.
He wound his hand around Alessandro’s throat and gripped hard, banging the younger
man’s head off the wall. Alessandro pushed back against the man’s chest with his arm
to gain his freedom, trying to aim his Glock as his assailant tried to wrestle it from his
grasp with his free hand.
If Gregorio succeeded in subduing him, he’d drag Alessandro back to his
grandfather like a trophy but the girl... He’d kill her without hesitation. The realisation
renewed Alessandro’s waning energy. He was her only hope for survival. Out the
corner of her eye, he could see her frantically looking for something to hit Gregorio with.
He needed her to stay back. She wouldn’t be any good to him in that state. She would
just get herself killed.
He growled as he felt his throat constrict and fought to get his breath. If the bastard
kept this up, he’d be unconscious. He kicked out at the guy, refusing to give in. But he
felt his grip on the Glock slipping as his consciousness ebbed away. Gregorio banged
Alessandro’s arm against the wall in a constant brutal motion. Despite Alessandro’s
effort to retain his hold, the handgun fell to the ground. Shit was he in trouble now.
Gregorio leaned down to pick it up. Alessandro struggled for all his life’s worth,
trying to kick the gun away with his feet as darkness began to creep into the sides of
his vision. His blurring eyes frantically sought out the girl. He hoped she’d had the
fucking sense to run. Gregorio picked up the gun and that’s when Alessandro found out
where the girl had gone. She stood behind his assailant whacking him on the head andback with what was left of a wooden chair as if there was no tomorrow.
The guy swore, stooping with each blow and let go of Alessandro’s throat turning
swiftly to swipe the back of his hand across her face. The blow was enough to knock
her to the ground semi conscious. It was all Alessandro needed. He bent quickly to
retrieve his handgun and took the safety off. As the man turned back to him, he aimed
it at him square.
“Tell my grandfather I will not be forced back into his stinking family,” he panted, his
hand to his throat as he fought to catch his breath once more. “Tell him I won’t rest until
he is a dead man. Got that?” Alessandro snapped.
The man shook his head and gave Alessandro a look of disgust. He spoke English
with a heavy Venetian accent. “I do not understand your disrespect to Signor Vadala. If
you were my own, I would have cut off your head for your dishonour to the family. I will
deliver no such message.”
“Maybe this will change your mind.” Alessandro coldly redirected his aim towards
the man’s leg and discharged a bullet into his kneecap. Gregorio sank to the
rubblestrewn ground crying like a baby with pain. Alessandro leaned over him to pull him up
by the shirt collar and got in his face. “You tell that bullshitter that I’m coming for him.
You come after me again or go after the girl, and I’ll kill you next time.”
Gregorio spat his response in Alessandro’s face. “You can’t escape the family. Do
your duty and come home. He wants you to take over the business when he’s gone.
Why he should still love you as one of his own...?”
“Shut your mouth and get up before I decide to take your other kneecap away.”
Alessandro pulled the man up by his collar and aimed the handgun at the back of
his head, fighting back the urge to blow his head off.
“He wants to give you everything,” the man panted. “You are heir to the Vadala
family and all that he owns.” There was incredulity in Gregorio’s tone.
“I belong to my father’s family. The Madernos.”
“When your grandfather finishes wiping out your family, you will have to return and
know your place. Your mother learnt the hard way what it meant to leave the family and
bring it disgrace.”
Rage boiled over in Alessandro’s mind. He knew the bastard was trying to push his
buttons but the memory of his mother being mowed down on the road by a hit and run
driver all those years ago, automatically began to replay in his mind. It never stopped. It
was always there waiting for a reason to come out and torment him. Remind him of his
real duty, to exact revenge on her behalf.
“Your mother was a stupid, dumb bitch. Come back now or your father will pay for
your mistake. Maybe this woman as well.”
Alessandro pushed him away and without hesitation shot his other leg in the thigh.
He let him fall to the ground once again so that he might tower over Gregorio’s panting,
blabbering form.
“Move now. Crawl if you have to. If I catch you harming the woman or going
anywhere near my father, I will come for you and then your own family. Do I make
myself clear?”
There was a strangled mumble from the man. Alessandro repeated his question
pressing the gun into his temple. His voice was deep with menace. “I said, do I make
myself clear?”“Yes, yes,” the man blurted out in anger, a beaded sweat breaking out on his
forehead as he fought to endure the agony of his injuries.
“Now move.”
It was a miracle the man could stand let alone move, but he did walk back in the
direction of the fire as Alessandro continued to aim at him. There was a loud bang from
the restaurant and fire blew out of it making the man jump and seek cover before
picking up speed. He’d narrowly missed being burnt. The burst of flames lit up the
street in the gloom, revealing the gaping building fronts with paper and plaster raining
down from the blown in offices.
The building in front of them was still intact but only just. The whole front of it
seemed to be moving with fragments of brick escaping down onto the street. He had a
bad feeling that they didn’t have much time. The woman gave an agitated gasp at the
small explosion, reminding Alessandro of her presence. He turned and put the safety
back on his handgun before putting it back inside his jacket and hurried to take hold of
her arm.
But when he approached her, she took two steps back alarmed, clearly horror
stricken by his treatment of the man. Any trust she had for him, he’d just blown it out of
the water. Damn it, he didn’t have time for this.
“Stay away from me,” she screamed at him, putting her blood stained hands to her
head. “Who the hell are you? You shot him. Who the hell goes chasing someone with a
gun after an explosion? I’m getting out of here.”
She turned around and began to stumble away. She could hardly move. Blood was
seeping from her arm and head.
“No, you need my help. You have to trust me. I won’t hurt you.”
Without his assistance, she would collapse and probably bleed to death.
“No, I’ll be fine. Leave me alone. I am going to tell the police...”
He strode towards her and caught hold of her wrist on her injured arm and pulled
her back against his chest. She gave an anguished cry of pain.
“It won’t do you any good.” He told her, steadying her slumping form against him as
he bent his head to take a closer look at the bullet hole in her arm. Thankfully, it wasn’t
as bad as he had anticipated. It had simply cut through her flesh and nothing else. He
spoke softly. “Now let me help you. I won’t harm you. I promise.”
There was a noise. Low and grumbling, just like thunder. He felt the woman’s body
stiffen against his chest.
“What was that noise? No more bombs. I can’t stand it,” she said angrily.
Alessandro looked back at the building that was a neighbour of the restaurant and
stretched to where they stood in the narrow neck of the small street. The front of it was
shaking for real now. It was coming down.
Alessandro’s movements were lightening quick. He wound his arm around the
young woman’s small waist as the ground started to shake underneath their feet and
lifted her up against his side. He ran as best he could over the rubble acutely aware
that the falling building appeared to be chasing them.
Bricks and mortar fell around them, striking his back, choking his lungs with the
dust. He couldn’t help wondering if he and the girl were going to come out of this one
alive. Then he saw it. A small hole, ground level. It led down to some cellar doors in the
side of the building across the road. He hoped this office building was intact and had noplans to topple.
He lowered the girl to the floor and pushed her until she fell inside. He followed. It
was just big enough for them both to fit and shelter from the falling office block. He
pulled the coughing woman against him and curled over her, gallantly protecting her
from the falling debris. His heart was thudding. There seemed to be no end to the
collapse. There was a scraping noise and a creaking that accompanied it. He glanced
back. The girl must have done as well because she gasped as the falling rubble
pushed a parked car towards the hole in which they had taken refuge.
Shit, was this really it? Not now, not when he was so close to finishing his
grandfather. Alessandro held the girl tighter feeling his body shake with her own as the
car careered towards them. He couldn’t breathe. They both instinctively jumped as the
car slammed against the entrance to the small hole littering rubble all around it to block
their safe exit. Everything went black.Chapter 3
London, July 1996
lessandro opened his eyes and tried to focus in the dust filled darkness. The
girl was coughing. He glanced back. There was no way they were getting out
the way they came in without help. The side of the car was tilted towards themA
and the fallen brick had done its best to fill the small hole in which they sat.
The girl suddenly made to outstretch her arms but the brick was packed too tight
around them to allow the action. She whimpered. His vision was becoming accustomed
to the light and he could see her hands shaking. She fought to turn herself in his grasp.
“No, don’t move. Stay still. If you make any sudden movements, you might bring the
brick in on top of us,” he instructed, catching hold of her hand.
“We’re trapped in here,” she gasped, snatching her hand away. She quickly turned
to the doors. “What’s the chance that these doors are open?” she panted.
On closer inspection the rough green doors didn’t look big enough for someone to fit
through to Alessandro. If they tried, they would have to crawl. More likely the office
building used to be a pub and that was where they rolled the beer barrels down to the
cellar. Still, it might be their only way out.
“Nil, I guess.”
“I still want to try. Humour me,” she persisted.
“It will be a waste of time,” he told her flatly.
“I can’t stand the thought of having to acknowledge that we are buried alive in here.
Please help me delay the inevitable,” she panted with a small amount of humour in her
voice.
“Ok, but nice and slow. No sudden movements.”
He allowed her to slowly turn from her sideways position in his arms towards the
doors and lean over. With shaking hands, she pushed at it. When it didn’t budge, she
tried again. She gave a frustrated growl and grunted with the exertion on her injured
arm.
“It’s no good.”
He sighed. “I told you so.”
“Maybe we should try to kick it in.”
The girl started to try to stretch her legs out as far as possible, pushing back on him.
He tightened his grip on her waist in warning.
“Stop. I told you no sudden movements, or we won’t get out of here alive,” he
commanded.“Let me try. We have to do something. I can’t just sit in here and wait until we run
out of oxygen or something.”
She had a point. He tried to move his own legs but they were wedged in tight, his
knees bent around the girl, his feet pressed upwards against the side of the cubbyhole.
He nodded at her and helped her turn around fully. Slowly she leaned back against him
and lifted her leg and kicked at the door with all she had.
Nothing. Dust began to fall around them from the rubble as it moved against him.
His body was just about all but keeping the rubble from falling in on them. He eyed it
suspiciously as she tried again. She kicked it several times, each action becoming
more frustrated and erratic. Their brick prison began to shake making him shout at her
to stop. When she wouldn’t listen, he caught hold of her leg and forced her to turn
around back to her sideways position against his body.
“There’s nothing we can do. We will just have to sit tight until the emergency
services get here. They’ll find us,” he told her, beginning to feel hot in their small prison.
“I can’t just sit here and give up,” she shouted.
“You are going to have to. From the way you kept working on Paul, I can tell you
don’t know when to give up and realise there is nothing more you can do,” he said with
impatience.
She sat forward holding her injured arm, twisting her head around as far as she
could to see him over her shoulder.
“You knew him?”
Damn. He shouldn’t have opened his fucking mouth. But he decided that maybe he
could play this revelation to his advantage and work out if the girl had taken the
evidence from Paul. Perhaps, he’d entrusted her with it just before he’d died. It was
worth a shot.
“Yes. I was going to meet him. We were friends.”
“Really? You don’t seem that cut up about his death?” she challenged.
“Like I’ve had time to be. What’s your name?”
“Giselle. Yours?
“Alessandro. That’s a pretty name, Giselle. Did Paul give you something before he
died? He was supposed to...”
She was angry.
“Your friend has just died and you sound more concerned about something he was
supposed to give you? And why did you pretend not to know him? Some friend you are.
Ow...”
“What is it?”
“My arm and head. They hurt like hell. I can’t believe I got shot.”
Her voice sounded breathy and drowsy. She was losing too much blood. The
paramedics needed to arrive pronto. He strained his ears listening for voices. Nothing.
He felt a cramp beginning to creep up his legs and shifted his body once, twice.
“What are you doing?” she hissed at him.
“Nothing,” he grumbled. “I’m getting a cramp.”
“Don’t move again. It feels as though you are rubbing yourself against me.”
“What? What the hell are you on? It’s not like I want to touch you up. Like I could in
here?” he mocked sarcastically.
She winced loudly with pain and brought her hand to her head.He was concerned. He caught her hand and pulled it away from her head and spoke
softly. “Come on, lie back against me and relax. The paramedics will get here, I
promise you.”
He guided her reluctant body back against his chest with a firm grip. “I don’t bite.”
“No, you just shoot people.”
“Shh, let me have a look at your arm.”
Her head fell heavily against his chest. Blood from the cut on her forehead was
streaming down her face and her shirtsleeve was soaked. He took hold of the material
and ripped it open. She jumped in his arms but offered no objection. Her head moved
listlessly from side to side against his chest. He pulled at the tie around his neck and
pulled it away undone from his collar. Quickly he tied it around her arm above the
wound to stem the blood flow and ignored her cry of pain. She was pretty out of it now.
“Hey don’t go to sleep on me. Stay awake,” he urged, worried she was about to lose
consciousness. He swept his hand around her waist again and gave her a squeeze
around her middle. She moved and cursed him, but it did the trick.
“I hate just sitting here. I hate small spaces. Who do you think set off the bombs? It
has to be the IRA,” she questioned in a strained whisper, the pain clearly audible in her
voice.
“Might be but then that environmental group Voice Of The Earth has been
threatening action for a while. Maybe it’s them.”
“All those lives gone in a few seconds. It’s too much to bear.” She paused. “I’m so
hot. Do you think we’ll make it?”
She seemed to have forgotten her concerns about him knowing Paul with her pain.
“Damn right we will,” he told her confidently, but he was beginning to wonder. It was
getting harder to breathe and the dust was choking his lungs. He couldn’t hear anyone
out there. “Come on, talk to me. How old are you?”
“None of your business,” she said with drowsy humour. He sensed her smiling.
“I reckon you are similar to me, twenty-seven or maybe twenty-eight?”
“Twenty-eight.”
“One year older than me.”
“Does that make you a toy boy then? I want to go to sleep now.”
Her words were slurring. Alessandro felt afraid for her. He liked her humour, liked
the way she’d hung around when he was in trouble and helped to save his arse.
He lightly swept his fingers around the side of her face and stroked her cheek in a
gentle soothing motion as he kept her head resting against him. She turned slightly,
pressing the side of her face against his chest and he found himself warming to her
need for comfort.
“You are one gutsy lady. Most people would have took off at the sight of a gun. But
there you were banging a broken chair across the back of one of the most dangerous
men I know.”
“It’s not in my nature to run away.”
“No. But it might have been better if you had done. Are you sure Paul didn’t give you
anything?”
“No, I’m sure,” she said with irritation, but still he doubted her. There was something
uneasy in her tone and the way she snapped at him told him she was hiding something
just like him. The way she hadn’t pushed him further about knowing Paul had alreadymade him suspicious. He didn’t persist any further. The time wasn’t right.
“Ok, shh. Take it easy,” he whispered, kissing the top of her head to gentle her
protest.
“I’m frightened,” she said out of the blue. “The last time I was in an enclosed space,
bad things happened.”
She sounded delirious. He became curious.
“Shh, you’re safe with me. What happened?”
“I don’t want to talk about it. I’m too hot.”
He watched her move her hand to her throat and pull at the collar of her shirt. One
of the buttons came undone and exposed her cleavage. He couldn’t help but look
down. Hell, it was in his nature. It was automatic. That’s when he saw it. A small
package smeared with blood tucked inside her left bra cup. Excitement streaked
through his veins. So, Paul had given her something.
He considered simply taking it from her but then he didn’t want to hurt her or make
her frightened of him. He would have to wait. At least he knew she had it, safely tucked
in that rather magnificent pert cleavage. He couldn’t think of anywhere safer or where
he would like to be if he was that package. He smiled to himself. She was one
formidable woman. She’d probably bite him or something if he even tried. He wondered
what Paul must have said for her to lie and keep her possession of it secret.
He glanced down again, temptation and frustration to have it beginning to get the
better of him. He was relieved for Giselle’s sake that he was thwarted from acting by
the sound of voices outside of their claustrophobic prison. He began shouting loudly
and before long, both he and Giselle were pulled from the rubble. He was just going to
have to find another way of retrieving the package before she gave it to the wrong
people or his grandfather decided to kill her for it.Chapter 4
here were two male police officers assisting the firefighters and paramedics
who pulled them out of the rubble. They started asking uncomfortable
questions about Giselle’s bullet wound. Alessandro was ready to come out withT
some farfetched cock and bull story or failing that, making a run for it when the pretty
lady decided to save his bacon. He remembered raising his eyebrows at her as she
panted out her story with such fervour and animation that anyone should have believed
her.
“I don’t know where they came from. There were two of them. One started shooting.
I got shot. I thought that was it. If this man hadn’t come along and helped me take
cover, I would have been dead. He saved my life.”
Alessandro’s eyes widened with surprise as he stepped into the ambulance after
they’d put her in lying on a gurney. He sat down across from her with one of the police
officers, eyeing her quizzically. But she would not meet his eyes. Why the hell was she
helping him yet again?
“I owe him my life.”
Alessandro wanted to laugh for one mad moment. Don’t overdo it, honey. I owe you
mine.
Yet the police officer wouldn’t stop asking her questions and he and the male
paramedic attending her were becoming angry at the man’s persistence as they drove
off at speed.
“I don’t know who they were or why they were shooting at me? Don’t you think I
would tell you if I knew?” she told him wearily, obviously beginning to feel the effects of
the morphine she’d been given for her pain. “Maybe they were involved in the
bombing...” she trailed off, her eyes closing momentarily with drowsiness.
“That is what I am trying to ascertain, Miss Balmain,” the officer said with barely
disguised impatience.
“Why don’t you give her a break? She’s injured. She’s told you everything she can,”
Alessandro urged, wary of the officer’s constant questioning.
The man narrowed his eyes at Alessandro.
“Look, sir, London hasn’t been bombed this much since the bloody Blitz, and if there
are two gunmen running about the debris, then we need to know.”
Alessandro gestured with his hand towards Giselle.
“But she’s told you all she can. I saw them shooting at her. Like she says, we took
cover in that doorway and the building caved in around us, pushing one of the parked
cars at us. We thought we were going to die.”The officer shook his head as they both watched the paramedic cover Giselle’s
mouth with an oxygen mask.
“I need more information from you both.”
“But there is no more to give!” Alessandro feigned exasperation and annoyance.
“Enough, Constable,” the paramedic ordered, replacing his plastic gloves to have a
look at Alessandro’s cut. This woman has been shot, and she has a bad concussion.
She needs to rest, and I need to take a look at this gentleman’s head now I’ve got her
stable. You can talk to them again after they have received treatment in the hospital
and not before.”
Silence and no more questions. Alessandro felt relieved. He glanced over at Giselle
and found her watching him with her sleepy eyes. She suddenly looked afraid. He gave
her a gentle smile of reassurance and thanks. He noticed her finger was tapping with
agitation on top of her stomach. His father did that. He always finger tapped when he
was angry and trying to keep it under wraps or anxious. He wondered which emotion
Giselle was feeling. Probably both. Something made him reach out and stretch his arm
across the small enclosed space in which they travelled to catch hold of her finger
tapping hand. She didn’t object as he gave it a gentle squeeze and held on to it tight.
The first explosion in which Alessandro and Giselle had been caught up in hadn’t
been far from the river and it was to University College hospital they travelled. The
whole place was in chaos, but Alessandro found that he and Giselle were dealt with
promptly. At least two of the doctors appeared to know Giselle and were alarmed when
she was brought in. Alessandro wondered if this was the hospital in which she worked
as a doctor.
They were parted before he could find out and after he was treated, it took some
initiative to lose the persistent policeman and find out where they had taken her. He
found himself worried about the small beautiful woman who had protected him. He
needed to keep her in sight. Despite his warnings to Gregorio, his grandfather would
not hesitate to kill her. Not to mention, Alessandro wanted that damned package and
he wouldn’t be happy until he had taken it from her.
He eventually found her in a private room. He was about to go in when a tall woman
who bore a striking resemblance to Giselle and a fair-headed man with short hair
stepped outside of her hospital room. He bore all characteristics of a plain clothes CID
police officer. Alessandro slipped back behind the corner and discreetly watched them,
listening in on their conversation.
“You have to talk to her, Jane. We need to know what she saw. I am sure she is
hiding something from us? None of it adds up. Why would they just shoot at her
indiscriminately? They have to have a reason. Why her? I want to talk to this man she
was with,” the fair headed man was saying.
Alessandro watched him scrunch up a paper cup with undisguised irritation and
throw it into a nearby bin.
“Don’t be so hard on her. Although, I have to admit it does seem as though she is
hiding something. It’s not like her. Then after what she has been through tonight...
When are you going to tell her we are together? I hate all of this sneaking around,” the
woman returned in a shaky desperate voice.
The man pulled the woman into his arms and kissed her gently.
“Soon. I promise. Tonight would be cruel after all she has been through.”