Bought by Her Italian BossBy: Dani Collins
GWYN ELLIS LOOKED from the screen to Nadine Billaud, the public relations manager for Donatelli International, then back to the screen.
“This is you, oui?” Nadine prodded.
Gwyn couldn’t speak. Her heart had begun slamming inside her rib cage the moment she had recognized herself. Cold sweat coated her skin. Air wouldn’t squeeze past her locked throat, let alone words.
That was her. Naked. Right there on that computer, the line of her bare bottom clear as the crack of dawn, neatly framed by her hot pink thong. Everyone had a backside that looked more or less like that, but she was extremely selective about showing hers to anyone. She certainly didn’t email shots like this to men she barely knew. Or post them online.
Her whole body felt like a frozen electrical current was vibrating through her, paralyzing her.
The photo changed and that bare torso with the sheet rumpled across her upper thighs was all her, too. The way her breasts lifted as she arched her back and ran fingers through her hair bordered on deliberately erotic, coupled with that blissful, upturned expression. She looked like she’d been making love all day—as if she even knew what that felt like!
Then the final one came up again. She was adjusting the band of her hot pink undies across her cocked hip, looking like she was teasingly deciding whether to keep them on or remove them, eyes still lazily drooped and soft satisfaction painted across her lips.
The lighting was golden and her skin faintly gleamed—with oil, she realized as her brain began to function past the shock. These had been taken at the spa where she’d had a massage, trying to fix the ache between her shoulder blades that had been torturing her for weeks. She was sitting up and dressing after her appointment, relaxed and comfortable in what she had perceived as complete privacy.
The massage table had been cropped from the images, leaving muted sage-green walls and indistinct, blurred flowers in the background. It could have been a hotel room, a bedroom—whatever the viewer wanted to imagine.
Her stomach roiled. She thought she might be hyperventilating because she could hear a distant hiss. She wanted to throw up, pass out, die. Please God, take me now.
“Mademoiselle?” Nadine badgered.
“Yes,” she stammered. “It’s me.” Then, as the sheer mortification of the whole thing struck, she added a strident, “Can you close that, please?”
She glanced at Signor Fabrizio, her supervisor. He sat next to her with a supercilious expression on his middle-aged face.
“Why are you showing those like that? With him in here?” Gwyn asked. “Couldn’t we have done this privately?”
“They’re available to anyone with an online connection. I’ve seen them,” Fabrizio said pithily. “I brought them to Nadine’s attention.”
He’d already taken a long look? Gross.
Tears hit her eyes like the cut of a hard, biting wind. An equally brutal blow seemed to land in her stomach, pushing nausea higher into the back of her throat.
“Surely you knew this could happen when you took those photos and sent them to Mr. Jensen?” Nadine said.
Nadine had kept her snooty nose high in the air from the moment Gwyn had followed Fabrizio into her office. Fabrizio kept giving her darkly smug looks, like he was staring right through her perfectly respectable blue pencil skirt and matching jacket.
He made her skin crawl.
And worry for her job. Her palms were sweating.
“I didn’t take those photos,” she said as strongly as her tight throat would allow. “And you think I would send something like that to a client? They’re—oh, for the love of God.” She heard the door opening behind her and shot to her feet, reaching to push the lid of Nadine’s laptop down herself, wishing the images could be quashed that easily.
Deep in the back of her psyche, she knew she was going to cry. Soon. Pressure was building behind her collarbone, compressing her lungs, pushing behind her eyes. But for the moment she was in a type of shock. Like she’d been shot and still had the strength to run before the true depth of her injuries debilitated her.
“Signor Donatelli.” Nadine rose. “Thank you for coming.”
“You notified him?” Signor Fabrizio jerked to his feet, sounding dismayed.
Whatever remained of Gwyn’s composure went into free fall. The owner of the bank was here? She tried to gather herself to face yet another denigrating expression.
“It’s protocol with something this dangerous to the bank’s reputation,” Nadine said stiffly, adding to the weight on Gwyn’s heart.
“She’s being dismissed,” Fabrizio hurried to assure Signor Donatelli. “I was about to tell her to collect her things.”