Seduced by the HeroBy: Pamela Yaye
The stranger knocked Dionne to the ground, grabbed her purse, and jumped into her car. Seconds later, he started the engine and sped out of the parking lot in her silver Lexus SUV.
Immanuel wanted to chase him down and kick his ass for assaulting a defenseless woman, but he couldn’t leave Dionne alone. He didn’t stop running until he reached her side. She was unconscious, lying motionless on the ground. Her face was swollen, her bottom lip was cut, and her designer clothes were stained with dirt.
Struggling to catch his breath, Immanuel dropped to his knees, gathered Dionne in his arms and searched the parking lot for help.
Pain racked Dionne’s body, stabbed every inch of her five-foot-two frame, making it impossible to move. She tried to open her eyes, but couldn’t. Her limbs were cold, shivering uncontrollably, and her forearms ached. Where am I?
Sniffing the air, she detected the faint scent of flowers, and a delicious, masculine cologne that evoked thoughts of French kisses, red wine and dirty dancing. Cologne?
Panic soaked her skin. Her head felt groggy, as if she’d had one too many cocktails last night during happy hour. Did I have a one-night stand? Did I follow some guy home from the bar? Am I lying in bed with him right now? Dionne deleted the thought, refused to believe it, not even for a second. She’d never hook up with a random stranger, and besides, she’d worked at the office late last night, not gone for drinks at her favorite martini bar with her sisters.
Listening intently, Dionne soaked in the world around her. She heard the buzz and whirl of monitors and machines, a TV blaring, felt a coarse material rubbing against her skin. An intercom came on, and realization dawned. I’m in the hospital. Why? What happened? Was I in a car accident? Did I crash my Lexus— Before Dionne could finish the thought, memories flooded her mind. Leaving her office...someone sneaking up behind her...fighting him off...the crippling blow to the head.
Dionne struggled to get air into her lungs. It felt as though a bowling ball were sitting on her chest. Taking a deep breath, she broke free of the violent images holding her hostage. She wouldn’t think about it. Wouldn’t allow her attacker to victimize her in the privacy of her thoughts. Holding herself tight, she told herself she’d survived, that everything was okay. She was alive, safe, and he couldn’t hurt her anymore.
With great difficulty, Dionne forced her eyes open. The room was bright, the air still and quiet. She lifted her blanket and gasped when she saw the cuts and bruises all over her body. The wristband on her left arm listed her name and health care number. More questions remained. Dionne continued to take in her surroundings. A wooden chair sat at the foot of the bed, a crystal vase overflowing with roses was displayed on the side table, and a tall, slim man in a black power suit stood in front of the window.
Dionne narrowed her gaze, sized him up. She needed to know who the stranger was and why he was in her hospital room. Was he a cop? Giving herself permission to stare, she admired his profile. The man was a force. A six-foot-six Adonis with olive skin, a full head of jet-black hair and a lean physique. He had specks of salt in his goatee and an imposing presence. He was a man of influence, someone who made things happen, who wasn’t afraid of taking swift and decisive action. Dionne guessed he was in his thirties, but wouldn’t be surprised to learn he was older. Is he a doctor? she wondered, noting his designer threads.
The stranger must have sensed her watching him, because he turned toward the bed and met her gaze. The faint scar along his left cheek only enhanced his rugged, masculine look, and his piercing blue eyes were lethal weapons.
A slow, easy smile crept across his lips.
Dionne’s heart skipped a beat, drummed in her ears. She instantly recognized him, knew exactly who the drop-dead sexy stranger was. He wasn’t a doctor. He was a Morretti. Had to be. No doubt about it. He had a straight nose and a strong jawline, and looked like an older version of Emilio.
Months earlier, before things went south with her employee Brad McClendon, Dionne had researched Mastermind Operations online. She’d planned to hire Immanuel Morretti’s security company to help Brad find his estranged wife and sons. But since Brad had quit and taken his celebrity clients with him, she’d changed her mind about helping him reconnect with his family.
Dionne thought hard. She never forgot a name or a face and recalled everything she’d read about the Italian businessman on his agency’s website. He’d spent five years in the Italian military in the special forces division, and had worked for a decade as a personal bodyguard before opening his security business in Venice. On the website, she’d seen pictures of Immanuel with dignitaries, celebrities and high-ranking government officials, and according to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, his agency was second to none.