Roccanti's Marriage RevengeBy: Lynne Graham
‘I set you up,’ Vitale volunteered grimly, spelling out the facts without hesitation. ‘From start to finish. Contacting your design firm, bringing you out here—’
In receipt of that admission, Zara had slowly turned white as snow. ‘Sleeping with me?’ she interrupted jerkily, distaste scissoring through her like a blade. ‘Was that part of the set-up? If you wanted Sergios to dump me, ensuring embarrassing pictures of his future bride misbehaving appear in some tabloid rag would be a good start.’
‘I thought so too, but believe it or not,’ Vitale imparted grittily, ‘I had no wish to hurt you personally. Your father has always been my target.’
‘My father?’ Zara could feel her muscles stiffen in shock as she sat there, spine rigid, feet set as neatly together as a small child told to sit still at church, her hands so tightly clasped together in an effort at self-control that her fingers ached. ‘Why would my father have been your target?’
VITALE ROCCANTI was a banker descended from a very old and aristocratic European family. Opening the private investigator’s file on his desk, he studied the photograph of four people seated at a dining table. The Greek billionaire, Sergios Demonides, was entertaining Monty Blake, the British owner of the Royale hotel chain, his highly ornamental wife, Ingrid and their daughter, Zara.
Zara, nicknamed Tinkerbelle by the media for her celebrity status, her silver-gilt-coloured hair and fairy-like proportions, wore what appeared to be an engagement ring. Evidently the rumours of a buyout anchored by a family alliance were true. Most probably Demonides’ loathing for publicity lay behind the lack of an official announcement but it certainly did look as though a marriage was on the cards.
Vitale, renowned for his shrewd brain and ruthless pursuit of profit, frowned. His lean, darkly handsome face hardened, his firm mouth compressing. His dark gaze flared gold with angry bitterness because it could only sicken him to see Monty Blake still smiling and at the top of his game. For a fleeting instant he allowed himself to recall the loving sister who had drowned when he was thirteen years old and his stomach clenched at the recollection of the savage loss that had left him alone in an inhospitable world. His sister had been the only person who had ever truly loved him. And the moment that he had worked towards for the better part of twenty years had finally arrived, for Blake looked to be on the brink of his greatest ever triumph. If Vitale waited any longer his prey might well become untouchable as the father-in-law of so powerful a man as Sergios Demonides. Yet how had Blake contrived to catch a fish as big as Demonides in his net? Apart from the little known fact that the Royale hotel chain had once belonged to Demonides’ grandfather, what was the connection?
Were the oft-publicised charms of Tinkerbelle, whose brain was said to be as lightweight as her body, the only source of Blake’s unexpected good fortune? Was she truly the sole attraction? Vitale had never let a woman come between him and his wits and would have assumed that Demonides had equal common sense. His mouth curled with derision. If he ensured that the engagement was broken the business deal might well go belly up as well and he would bring down Monty Blake, who desperately needed a buyer.
Vitale had never dreamt that he would have to get personal or indeed so unpleasantly close to his quarry to gain the revenge that his very soul craved for closure, but he remained convinced that Monty Blake’s cruelty demanded an equal response. Should not the punishment be made to fit the crime? This was not the time to be fastidious, he reflected harshly. He could not afford to respect such boundaries. No, he only had one option: he would have to play dirty to punish the man who had abandoned his sister and her unborn child to their wretched fate.
A man who had always enjoyed enormous success with women, Vitale studied his prey, Tinkerbelle. His shapely mouth quirked. In his opinion she fell easily into the acceptable damage category. And wasn’t suffering supposed to form character? Huge blue eyes wide in her heart shaped face, Blake’s daughter was undeniably beautiful, but she also looked as shallow as a puddle and was anything but a blushing virgin with tender feelings. Undoubtedly she would regret the loss of so wealthy a catch as Demonides but Vitale imagined that, like her glossy mother, she had the hide of a rhinoceros and the heart of a stone and would bounce back very quickly from the disappointment. And if he left her a little wiser, that would surely only be to her advantage …