The Italian's Deal for I Do(5)

By: Jennifer Hayward

Renzo Rialto. A difficult, self-important boar of a man who had been a lifelong friend of Giovanni’s, but never a huge fan of him personally, even though he couldn’t fault what he’d done with the bottom line.

He would relish pushing Rocco’s buttons.

He scraped his chair back, stood and paced to the window. Burying his hands in his pockets, he looked down at Via della Spiga, the most famous street in Milan where the House of Mondelli couture collection flew out the door of the Mondelli boutique at five hundred euros apiece. This was the epicenter of power. The playground he had commanded so magnificently since his father had defected from life and his path had been chosen.

He would not be denied his destiny.

And yet, he thought, staring sightlessly down at the stream of chicly dressed shoppers with colorful bags in their hands, his grandfather was making him pay for the aggressive business manner that had made Mondelli a household name. For an error in judgment, a carelessness with women that had never once interfered with his ability to do his job.

Understand why I’ve done the things I’ve done... Giovanni’s dying words echoed into his head. Was this what he’d been talking about? And how did it fit with everything else he’d said? You have become a great man... Trust the man you’ve become.

It made no sense.

Anger mingled with grief so heavy, so all encompassing, he leaned forward and rested his palms on the sill. Did this have to do with his father’s legacy? Had Sandro made his grandfather gun-shy of handing over full responsibility of the company he’d built despite Rocco’s track record? Did he imagine he, as Sandro’s flesh and blood, was capable of the same self-combustion?

He turned and looked at the lawyer. “I am not my father.”

“No, you aren’t,” Adamo agreed calmly. “But you do like to enjoy yourself with that pack of yours.”

Rocco scowled. “The reports of our partying are highly overblown.”

“The women part is not. You forget I’ve known you since you were in pannolino, Rocco.”

He crooked a brow at him. “What would you have me do? Marry one of them?”

Adamo held his gaze. “It would be the smartest thing you could do. Show you have changed. Show you are serious about putting Mondelli first. Marry one of those connected Italian woman you love to date and become a stable family man. You might even find you like it.”

Rocco stared at him. He was serious. Dio. Not ever happening. He’d seen what losing his mother had done to his father, what losing Rosa had done to Giovanni. He didn’t need that kind of grief in his life. He had enough responsibility keeping this company, this family, afloat.

“I would not hold my breath waiting for the silk-covered invitation,” he advised drily. “Do you have any more bombshells for me, or can I pay Renzo Rialto a visit?”

“A few more items of note.”

They went through the immediate to-dos. Rocco picked up his messages after that, went to his car and headed to Rialto’s offices. The retired former CEO of a legendary Italian brand was a thorn in his side, but manage him he would.

He swung the yellow limited edition Aventador, his favorite material possession, onto a main artery, attempting to corral his black temper along the way. He would deal with Rialto, then he would take care of the other complication in his life. Olivia Fitzgerald was about to find her very fine rear end out on the streets of Milan. Just as soon as he found out what kind of game she was playing.


ROCCO HAD EXPECTED Olivia Fitzgerald to be beautiful. She had, after all, a face that had launched a dozen brands to stardom. A toned, curvaceous body that regularly graced the cover of America’s most popular annual swimsuit magazine. Not to mention a tumbling swath of silky golden hair that was reputed to be insured for millions.

But what threw him, as he sat watching her share drinks with her girlfriends at a trattoria in Navigli in the southwest of Milan as dusk closed in over the city, was his reaction to her.

He was seated at a tiny round table close enough that he could hear the husky rasp of her voice as she ordered a glass of Chianti, the textured nuance of it sliding across his skin like a particularly potent aphrodisiac. Close enough that he could see her catlike, truly amazing eyes were of the deepest blue—the color of the glacially sculpted lakes of the Italian Alps that met his eyes when he opened his curtains in the morning.