Summer with the MillionaireBy: Jessica Gilmore
The room seemed distant, fuzzy. Her stomach churned as heat enveloped her, her palms clammy, her throat dry. Minty opened her mouth and then shut it. What could she say? She couldn’t believe he was even mentioning that night.
After all, she had spent six years trying to forget every single second of it.
But there was no way she was going to let Luca Di Tore know just how his actions had affected her.
She barely admitted it to herself.
Minty lifted her chin and looked directly at him, as if it didn’t matter at all. ‘I was young, Luca. Scared. Grieving. I didn’t know what I was doing.’
Hadn’t known what they were doing. Hadn’t known how her childhood adversary had suddenly become someone she was so, so tempted to cling to. Someone she needed. Wanted. Trusted.
He’d soon proved her wrong.
‘Not that young, Minty. You were engaged a month later. That was your first engagement, I believe,’ he added.
Minty swallowed a half-hysterical giggle. As if her engagement to Barty could be compared to what had nearly happened with Luca. Barty had been safe, undemanding, still a boy. She hadn’t needed him, hadn’t expected anything from him other than fun and flirtation.
She had wanted everything from Luca.
Until the moment he’d pushed her away. Until she had looked up to see nothing but horror in his eyes.
She pushed the unwanted memories away. She needed this to work; needed to find out if she was anything more than a pretty face and an old name, more than a trust-fund baby with a tabloid-friendly romantic history. ‘Rose wanted me to be part of the business,’ she said softly. ‘That was why she left me half her share.’
Luca stared back, indecision in his eyes. She knew he wanted nothing more than to give her her marching orders, put her back on a plane and order her to never set foot in Oschia again. But she had played her trump card, gambled it all on his sense of honour, his respect for the woman who had raised him.
He shut his eyes then they snapped open, all indecision gone. ‘Okay,’ Luca said. ‘You have two weeks. Two weeks to show me you can do the job. If you do, you can stay.’
Jubilation filled her. He was giving her a chance. Minty jumped to her feet and ran round the desk, flinging her arms around the tall figure. ‘Thank you,’ she said. ‘Thank you, you won’t regret it.’ She leant in, her face pressed against the cotton of his shirt, and before she could stop herself she inhaled. The fresh fragrance of his clean shirt mingled with the sharp freshness of his aftershave, mixed up with something warm, spicy. Something uniquely male. The smell shot through her, sending a jolt of sensual awareness right down to her toes.
She was all too aware of him, of the muscles under her hands, of his height, his strength. The leg pressed against hers, the flatness of his belly. If she raised her head just a little, she knew her mouth would be tantalisingly close to the pulse at his throat.
What was she doing? She dropped her hands and stumbled back.
He was as still as the Renaissance statue he resembled. His was face unreadable, his eyes shuttered.
Minty swallowed and moistened her lips. ‘It means a lot,’ she said. ‘Your faith.’
‘Don’t get carried away.’ She flinched. Was that a reference to her inappropriate bodily contact? ‘I have very little faith in you. And don’t think you can just start at the top. I served an apprenticeship here while you lazed by the pool and chatted up all the local boys. I have worked in every single department, from deliveries to stock management, learned how everything works. You’ll do the same over the next two weeks. One bad report, just one, and it’s all over. You sell your shares back to me and never come near me or my company again. Is that understood?’
A gamble. This was Minty’s language. Her ancestors had won—and lost—fortunes on the turn of a dice or a card. A Davenport never refused a wager. And they always played to win.
‘Understood,’ she said, holding her hand out to him. ‘We have a deal. If I lose, you buy my share at full market price, not a penny less. Not that I intend to lose.’ She grinned, all her old confidence rushing back. This was a challenge she could sink her teeth into. This was going to be fun.