His Unexpected LegacyBy: Chantelle Shaw
EARL’S DAUGHTER BAGS Sicilian Billionaire!
The lurid tabloid headline caught Kristen’s attention as she hurried past the newspaper kiosk at Camden Town tube station. Maybe it was the word Sicilian that made her stop and buy a copy of the paper, although it did not cross her mind that the headline could be referring to Sergio. It was only when she had jammed herself into a packed train carriage and managed to unfold the paper that she saw his photograph—and for a few seconds her heart stopped beating. Conflicting emotions surged through her as she stared at the image of her son’s father. She had not expected Nico to bear such a strong resemblance to Sergio but the likeness between the three-year-old boy and the swarthy Sicilian was uncanny.
Kristen’s first instinct was to tear her eyes from the page but curiosity compelled her to study the photograph and the caption beneath it:
Lady Felicity Denholm was spotted with her new fiancé, Italian business tycoon Sergio Castellano, when the couple visited the London Palladium earlier this week.
The text beside the picture continued:
Earl Denholm is reported to be delighted that his youngest daughter is to marry one of Italy’s richest men. The Castellano Group owns a chain of luxury hotel and leisure complexes around the world. Sergio heads the property development side of the business, while his twin brother Salvatore runs the family’s world-famous vineyards at the Castellano estate in Sicily.
Wedged between a businessman wielding a large briefcase and a teenager wearing an enormous backpack, Kristen gripped the support rail as the train picked up speed. It was becoming something of a habit to learn of Sergio’s marriage plans in the press, she thought bitterly. She remembered how shocked and hurt she had felt four years ago when she had read about his engagement to a beautiful Sicilian woman, barely two months after their relationship had ended. Presumably his first marriage had not lasted long if he was now about to marry a member of the English aristocracy.
In the photograph Felicity Denholm was clinging to Sergio’s arm and wore the triumphant smile of a cat that had drunk all the cream, Kristen noted sourly. Sergio was even more stunningly good-looking than he had been four years ago. His black tuxedo moulded his broad shoulders and emphasised his powerful physique. But it was his face that trapped Kristen’s attention. Blessed with a perfectly chiselled bone-structure, his features were leaner than she remembered. Harder. And, although in the picture he was smiling, nothing could detract from the implacable resoluteness of his jaw.
He was a man who knew his own mind and who pursued his goals with ruthless determination, proclaimed his dark, curiously expressionless eyes. They appeared to be black, but Kristen knew that his eyes were actually the colour of bitter chocolate and could, on rare occasions, soften and invite you to drown in their depths.
Memories flooded her mind of the golden summer she had spent in Sicily four years ago. She had met Sergio soon after she had arrived and the attraction between them had been instant and electrifying. She remembered the first time he had kissed her. They had been talking and laughing together, when he had suddenly dipped his head and brushed his mouth across hers. Even now, the memory was so intense that her stomach clenched. The kiss had been so beautiful and she had realised at that moment that she was in love. Foolishly, she had believed that Sergio shared the sentiment, but for him she had simply been a fleeting diversion from his jet-setting lifestyle.
It was a relief when the train pulled into Tottenham Court Road station and she shoved the newspaper into her bag as she was swept along with the throng of commuters towards the escalator. But the leaden sensation in Kristen’s chest remained when she reached the street, and a few minutes later she walked through the doors of Fast-track Sports Physiotherapy Clinic and was greeted with a concerned look from her boss, Stephanie Bower.
‘I take it from your expression that Nico didn’t want to go to day-care again?’ Steph’s eyes narrowed on Kristen’s tense face. ‘Or are you ill? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.’
‘Actually, I’ve seen Nico’s father.’ The words spilled from Kristen before she could prevent them, the sense of shock that still gripped her causing her to abandon her usual reticence about her private life.