The Italian's Deal for I Do(3)

By: Jennifer Hayward

Memento vivere was the Columbia Four’s code. Remember to live. Which meant living big, risking big and always having one another’s back.

“Shall we begin?”

Adamo, Giovanni’s sage sixty-five-year-old longtime friend, who was not only a brilliant lawyer but a formidable business brain, tilted his chin at him in an expectant look. Rocco nodded and focused his attention on the lawyer. “Go ahead.”

Adamo glanced down at the papers in front of him. “In terms of the properties, Giovanni has split them between you and Alessandra. I’m sure this is no surprise, as you’ve talked to him about it. Alessandra will receive the house in St. Barts and the apartment in Paris, while you will take ownership of Villa Mondelli and the house in New York.”

Rocco inclined his head. Alessandra, a world-class photographer who traveled the world doing shoots, had always joked Villa Mondelli was too big for her, that she’d rattle around its sprawling acres by herself, while it was the only place on earth Rocco felt he could truly breathe.

He cocked a brow at the lawyer. “My father?”

“The current arrangement will continue. Giovanni left a sum of money in Sandro’s name for you to administer.”

Like a child unable to manage his own pocket money. Rocco had long given up on the idea that his father could manage anything, but he wondered if somewhere inside him he was waiting for the day Sandro would apologize for gambling away their family home. For handing them over to Giovanni when he could no longer cope. That someday he might step forward and shock them all. Until then, his father had been provided with an apartment in the city, a weekly shipment of groceries and a limited amount of spending money that inevitably went to gambling rather than to his own personal grooming.

When that ran out, he would slink back asking for more, and when he was told no, he did things like showing up drunk and disheveled at Alessandra’s twenty-fifth birthday party, embarrassing them all.

Mouth set, he gestured for Adamo to continue.

The lawyer looked down at the papers. “There is another apartment in Milan. Giovanni purchased it a year ago. It is not accounted for in the will.”

“Another apartment?” Rocco frowned. His grandfather had never liked to stay in the city. He preferred to drive to the villa each day or take the company helicopter.

The lawyer’s olive skin took on a ruddy hue, his gaze glancing off Rocco as he looked up. “It’s in Giovanni’s name, but a woman has been living there. I had someone look into it. Her name is Olivia Fitzgerald.”

Rocco sucked in a breath. “Olivia Fitzgerald, the model?”

“We think so. It took some digging. She’s not using her real name.”

He stared at Adamo as if he’d just told him the Pope was turning Protestant. Olivia Fitzgerald, one of the world’s top supermodels, signed to a competitor five years ago and unattainable to the House of Mondelli, had dropped off the face of the earth a year ago. Hadn’t worked a day since, reneging on a three-million-dollar contract with a French cosmetics company. And Giovanni had been keeping her in an apartment in this city? While the tabloids scoured the earth for her...

His gaze met the lawyer’s as he came to the inevitable conclusion.

“He was involved with her.”

Adamo’s cheeks flushed even darker. “In some way, yes. The neighbors say he spent time with her in the apartment. They were seen arm in arm, going for dinner.”

Rocco pressed his hands to his temples. Giovanni, his seventy-year-old grandfather, had taken a twenty-something-year-old mistress? One of the world’s great supermodels... A party girl extraordinaire who’d apparently frittered her way out of her million-dollar bank balances as fast as she’d filled them. It seemed preposterous. Was he even living on the same planet he had been a week ago?

Promise me you will take care of Olivia.

Cristo. It was true. Blood rushed through his head, pulsing at his temples. As if he would continue to allow his grandfather’s former lover to live on Mondelli property now that Giovanni was gone. A woman who had taken up with him in a transparent attempt to avail herself of his fortune.