Yes, well...ahem. Now to give you some idea about the story:
Life is good for Lorenzo Monferrato. He has a doting mother, a wife who loves him, and a daughter who thinks the sun rises and sets around her daddy.
His development company flourishes, and is now worth over a billion dollars. The only downside to his days is Amber, his over-protective secretary, who is in love with him and deludes herself that Lorenzo would return her feelings if only his wife were out of the picture. He realizes he needs a male Personal Assistant, not a pushy secretary.
Lissa Monferrato is happy--she has a to-die-for husband, a daughter she dotes on, and a delightful mother-in-law.
When a new project in Atlanta forces Lorenzo to take Amber, she harasses him sexually, and he fires her instantly. He hires a male Personal Assistant, but Amber is not done. Will Lorenzo’s world be turned upside down? What else is Amber plotting for him? More importantly, is Lissa in danger?
Ocean Breeze, Florida
“Yes? What is it?” Lorenzo Monferrato looked up irritably from the file he was reading.
Amber Wright, his personal assistant, was breathing fast, sounding apologetic. “I’ve just run up from the general office floor, Lorenzo—quicker than the elevator, for one floor. The mail room advised me a letter had come for you by courier, so I went down for it. It’s from Tampa Realty’s lawyer, marked Private & Confidential… I thought it might be the deed to that tract of Tarpon Springs land.”
“Well, let’s see if you’re right.” Lorenzo quickly opened the envelope, unfolding the pages and flicking through them. “Yes, it is. Good.” He stuffed the pages back in the envelope, handing it to Amber. “Courier it to Marcella Mellis so she can do her legal stuff for me. And get Nick Thalassinos on the line, will you.”
“I’ll take it to Ms. Mellis’s office in my lunch break.” When she saw Lorenzo shrug, she went on. “Is Nick interested in developing the land to add to his Akropolis Hotel’s amenities?”
Lorenzo frowned. Amber was good at her work, but sometimes she tried to get more involved than he wanted her to be—guessing at his intentions. None of her business that he and Nick liked being partners when there was an unusual property to be developed. “Just get Nick for me.”
Amber nodded, quickly leaving Lorenzo’s office, head down. Damn, she’s so oversensitive. Now I’ll have to apologize for being curt with her. He wished she would develop a slightly thicker skin… Or that he had a male P.A…
His desk phone buzzed. “Mr. Thalassinos for you.” Amber’s voice was very formal. He frowned, deciding to ignore her.
“Nick, it’s Lorenzo. Tampa Realty’s lawyer sent the deed over to me. We’ve got that land.”
~That’s great. Wanna take a look at it, tomorrow?~
Lorenzo smiled. He enjoyed deals where Nick was his partner. “Okay. I’ve got the tentative plans drawn up. We can look at the property and mentally place the buildings…”
~Sounds good, Lorenzo. Can’t wait to see what you came up with…~ Evidently, Nick wasn’t busy and ready to chat. ~Listen, how do you feel about making it a family trip? You know Nadine’s had bronchitis, and she’s slow to get her energy back. I was thinking she likes it so much at our condo in the Akropolis, I could take her—leave Matt and Irène with their nanny. I’ll reserve a suite for you in the hotel itself. D’you want just Lissa, or will she want to bring F-Felice?~
Lorenzo smiled ruefully. “Believe me, I want just Lissa, but… And you’re right, our daughter's name is Felice—we call her Fliss. You realize I had to name her for my mother. I was relieved when Lissa didn’t mind—I’d expected that she’d insist on her mother’s name—Zizi—being first, but…”
~Lissa’s mother is not exactly the motherly type, from what Nadine says. No doubt you’ve discovered that for yourself…~
Lorenzo grinned. “I rejoice to say that, to date, I’ve never met her. Hearing about her was quite enough. When we invited her to our wedding, she was surfing on Oahu with a much younger boyfriend, and refused to curtail their time there.”
Nick whistled gently between his teeth. ~Lucky you, according to Nadine. Moreover, Zizi is an abbreviation, not a name.~
Lorenzo nodded. “That was going to be my point too—but I never had to make it. When I suggested Felice, Lissa nodded happily. ‘Fine,’ she said. When I suggested Zizi for Felice’s second name, she said she’d prefer it if we picked a name we both liked the sound of. So our daughter is Felice Ariadne.”
~Italian and Greek, nice. Well? Shall we make it a family trip or would you prefer a quick business visit?~
“Great idea, making it a family trip. I think Lissa will want to bring Fliss. She’s just two years old, and we’ve never left her overnight with her nanny. Would that put the crimp in your plan to bring Nadine and not the kids?”
There was a brief pause. Finally, Nick said, ~You do what you have to do, of course, Lorenzo. I’ll try to get Nadine to leave the kids at home. That way the trip will be relaxing for her.~
Lorenzo said ruefully, “I know what you mean—believe me, I’d like to get Lissa to go away with me for even a few days, just by ourselves. But she would worry about Fliss, so I might as well accept that she’ll want to bring her. I was thinking, since this will be a family trip, shall we leave the planning to our wives?”
~That’s probably a wise suggestion. I’ll ask Nadine to set it up with Lissa. Maybe when she hears that Nadine is coming without the kids, she’ll want to leave your daughter at home, too?~
Lorenzo grinned. “I live in hope.”
They disconnected, and Lorenzo got up from his chair, putting the file he’d been reading into his briefcase. He called, “Amber?”
She appeared instantly in the doorway. “Yes, Lorenzo?”
Nick and I are going to take a look at that land in Tarpon Springs—probably tomorrow or day after.”
Amber nodded. “For how many days should I pack?”
Lorenzo frowned, shaking his head. “I’m taking my wife and Fliss—it’ll be a family trip for Nick and me.”
Amber gazed at him, her expression stricken. “But you need me to take notes, check things…do things for you…”
Lorenzo shook his head again. “Not this time, Amber. You just hold the fort here. If I should need anything, I can call you, have you dig up the info and phone me back.”
Amber nodded—reluctantly, it seemed to him. “I guess that would work…” She gave Lorenzo an odd little smile. “I bet you’ll miss me—you’ve never gone on a field trip without me.”
Lorenzo frowned. “Yes, I have. I handled that huge West Palm Beach development with my wife taking the notes, and so on.”
Dismayed on hearing that Lorenzo could do without her—she gazed at him, taking in his rangy height, his athlete’s shape—wide shoulders, narrow hips, long legs. And his handsome face—eyes dark as midnight, half-hidden by long, curling lashes—winged, silky brows—a straight nose with unexpectedly sensitive nostrils—a mouth to die for… And that slight cleft in his chin…. She hastily stopped daydreaming when she heard Lorenzo’s voice, several degrees cooler than usual.
“You forget that my wife was P.A. to that Greek realty tycoon, Gianaris, in Manhattan. If I need anything on this trip, Lissa will again call on her old skills to help me out.”
“You’re saying she is more competent than I?” Deeply upset, Amber tossed her russet curls—her grey eyes suddenly bleak as slate.
Lorenzo frowned. At times, Amber could be a right royal pest. “Don’t put words into my mouth, Amber. I’ve given you my decision. Don’t always try to change my mind or second-guess me. I can’t tell you how irritating that is.”
Amber seemed to shrink within herself where she stood. “I’m sorry. I was only thinking of you—how used you are to having me with you, doing things for you…”
“Yes, well, this time I’ll have to muddle through with my wife’s help.” He saw Amber take a deep breath, evidently ready to argue with him. A moment later, he saw her change her mind, exhaling slowly.
“Yes, of course,” she said.