The Disobedient MistressBy: Lynne Graham
L EONE A NDRACCHI lounged back in his comfortable leather chair and surveyed the woman whom he would use as a weapon in his quest for revenge.
Across the busy room, Misty Carlton was keeping her catering staff hard at work dispensing refreshments. She wore her copper hair in a no-nonsense style. Her grey suit and sensible shoes were neither feminine nor flattering and her pale face was unadorned by make-up. Her whole appearance suggested a businesslike and serious young woman keen not to draw attention to her sex, and her cover seemed to work for Leone had yet to see a single one of his executives attempt to flirt with her.
Was every man in the room with the exception of himself blind? Did only he see the promise of those silver-grey eyes and the voluptuous fullness of that lush pink mouth? Dressed in appropriate clothing, she would be stunning, far more arresting than any conventional beauty for her colouring gave her a fey, sensual quality that was unusual. He was already picturing her slender curves embellished by silk lingerie and her long, slim, coltish legs sheathed in cobweb-fine stockings and complemented by very high heels. She was tall but he was taller still and she would not need to wear flat shoes around him. A self-mocking smile lurked in the depths of Leone’s dark-as-night eyes as he conceded that he had yet to mentally clothe her beyond the level of her undergarments. But then he was a Sicilian to the backbone and all Sicilian men knew how to truly appreciate an attractive woman.
Within a couple of weeks at most, Misty Carlton would be one of the most talked-about women in London. As his mistress, she’d find her name would hit the gossip columns and the paparazzi would go digging into her background and if their quest was inefficient, he would ensure that a tip was dropped in the right quarter. Having established her identity to his own satisfaction, he had left the revealing links in place. Indeed, everything that would happen in the near future had been decided almost six months earlier when he had first found her and worked out how best to lure her into the position of a sitting duck waiting for him to take aim and fire. Which was right where she was at this particular moment, Leone savoured.
Misty Carlton was the illegitimate daughter of the man against whom Leone had sworn vengeance in his sister’s name: Oliver Sargent. The smooth-talking politician, who had founded his reputation as a respectable family man by preaching moral standards and who lived an exceedingly nice life on his inherited wealth. Oliver Sargent, who was a hypocrite, a seducer of teenagers and ultimately little better than a murderer. Oliver Sargent, who had left Battista to die alone in the shattered remnants of her car sooner than call the emergency services and risk a scandal.
Leone’s dark, chiselled face was sombre. Though it was almost a year since his sister’s funeral, Leone’s gut still twisted with pain whenever he allowed himself to remember how Battista’s life had been wilfully, cruelly and mercilessly sacrificed. The doctors had told him that had she been discovered sooner she might have survived the crash. That summer, she had only been nineteen years old, a politics student doing research work on Sargent’s staff.
A beautiful, idealistic girl with bright brown eyes, long black curly hair and a very trusting nature. Within weeks of her beginning her volunteer placement, Leone had been heartily sick of the sound of Sargent’s name but it had not occurred to him that a bad case of hero worship might put Battista at risk. After all, Oliver Sargent was a married man and a quarter of a century older than his kid sister. He had overlooked the fact that Sargent was a handsome charmer, who could easily pass for being a great deal younger than he actually was.
Unaware of quite how intimidating his grim expression was, Leone focused in some surprise on the pastries being offered to him, for the almond biscuits and custard tarts were traditional Sicilian treats. The slender hand holding the plate was shaking almost imperceptibly but his gaze was keen. He glanced up into Misty Carlton’s drawn face, recognising the marks of strain there in the bluish shadows beneath her eyes and the tense set of her delicate jawbone. She had brown lashes as long as a child’s and she was trembling. But then she was desperate. He knew that for he had planned it that way. She was on the very brink of losing the business that she had worked so hard to build up. He held her in the palm of his hand.