Christmas in Da Conti's BedBy: Sharon Kendrick
A Christmas gift she can’t refuse…
Billionaire Niccolo Da Conti has everything a man could want—the money, the cars, the business empire—but seeing the unbearably enticing Alannah Collins again has sparked his possessive streak. He’ll hire her, seduce her and cross her off his wish list once and for all!
Alannah knows the danger of working too closely with the sensual Sicilian, but she’d be a fool to refuse his help launching her business. Now, with Niccolo ruthlessly trying to seduce her under the mistletoe, her every defense is threatened. Can she stop him from unwrapping the truths she’s fought to conceal?
“Whoops!” A cool voice cut into his angry tirade, and Niccolo turned to see Alannah Collins strolling into the room without bothering to knock. Suddenly his words were forgotten.
If somebody had asked him his name right then, he thought he might have trouble remembering it. And yet for a moment he almost didn’t recognize her—because in his memory she was wearing very little, and the woman in front of him had barely an inch of flesh on show. It was the sound of her naturally sultry voice that kick-started his memory and his libido. But it didn’t take long for his eyes to reacquaint themselves with her magnificent body—nor to acknowledge the natural sensuality that seemed to shimmer from it in almost tangible waves.
Niccolo swallowed. He had forgotten the pale creaminess of her complexion and the rosiness of her lips. As she moved, he could see the glitter of a little blue dragonfly brooch gleaming on her shirt collar, which matched the amazing color of her eyes. And even though he despised her, he could do nothing about the leap of desire that made his body grow tense. She made him think of things he’d rather not think about—but mostly she made him think about sex.
NICCOLÒ DA CONTI hated marriage, Christmas and love—but most of all he hated it when people didn’t do what he wanted them to.
An unfamiliar feeling of frustration made him bite back a graphic expletive as he paced the floor of the vast New York hotel suite. Outside, skyscrapers and stars glittered against the deepening indigo sky, though not nearly as brightly as the Christmas lights which were already adorning the city.
But Niccolò was oblivious to the party atmosphere, or even to the onset of this most hated time of year. All he could think about was his only sister and wondering why she was being so damned disobedient.
‘I do not want,’ he said, sucking in a ragged breath in an attempt to control his rapidly spiralling temper, ‘some tacky topless model acting as your bridesmaid. I have worked long and hard to establish a degree of respectability in your life, Michela. Do you understand what I’m saying? It cannot be allowed to happen, and what is more—I will not allow it to happen.’
From the other side of the glitzy New York hotel penthouse suite, Michela’s expression remained unchanged as she looked at him.
‘But you can’t stop me from having her, Niccolò,’ she said stubbornly. ‘I’m the bride and it’s my decision. That’s the thing.’
‘You think so?’ His mouth hardened and he felt another hot flicker of rage. ‘I could refuse to pay for this wedding for a start.’
‘But the man I’m marrying is rich enough to carry the cost of the marriage if you decide to take such drastic action.’ Michela hesitated. ‘Though I’m sure you wouldn’t want the world to know that Niccolò da Conti had refused to finance his only sister’s wedding, just because he doesn’t approve of her choice of bridesmaid. Wouldn’t that be a step too far in the modern world—even for a man as old-fashioned as you?’
Niccolò flexed and then relaxed his fingers, wishing there were a nearby punch-bag on which he could vent his mounting frustrations. The world usually ran according to his wishes and he was not used to having them questioned. Bad enough that Alekto Sarantos was acting like some kind of prima donna…without having to cope with the bombshell that Alannah Collins was here.
His mouth tightened with anger as he thought about his sister and the sacrifices he had made. For too long he had fought to keep their tiny family unit intact and he was not prepared to relinquish control over her just yet. Because old habits died hard. He had faced shame and tragedy and had seen them off. He had protected Michela as much as was within his power to do so, and now she was about to enter into marriage, which would see her secure for life. His careful vetting of would-be suitors had paid dividends and she was about to marry into one of the most powerful Italian-American families in New York. She would have the sanctity he had always wished for her and nothing would be allowed to tarnish the occasion. Nothing and no one.