‘Why?’

 ‘Better to let him get it out of his system now than at the wedding.’


 ‘He’s not coming to the wedding. I’ve told him he’s not welcome.’

 Even though the movement hurt, he couldn’t stop the smile forming. ‘You don’t mean that.’

 ‘Don’t I?’

 ‘No, you don’t.’ He knew how close the Mondelli siblings were.

 ‘I told you, I don’t like being told what to do. I’ve had it up to here with my brother thinking he can run my life.’ She slumped onto the single sofa and rubbed her eyes, smudging her make-up. ‘Did you know I always refused to do any work for the House of Mondelli?’

 ‘I was aware of that—Rocco always said he thought it was a shame, as your fashion shoots are some of the best in the business.’

 ‘He said that?’ A look of pleasure flashed over her, quickly replaced by another grimace. ‘A few months ago he asked me to do all the photography for the new launch he was working on. For the first time, I said yes. I thought our relationship had reached the stage where he regarded me as his equal, as Alessandra Mondelli, not just as his little sister. I wanted to be employed for the quality of my work, not out of nepotism. I should have known better. He still thinks he knows best and can ride roughshod over my feelings.’

 She made a noise that sounded like a choking growl and slumped on the sofa, bending her head forward, her long hair falling like a sheet before her until she tossed her head back and sighed. ‘I love my brother but he has to accept I’m not a child any more. I’m an adult. I make my own decisions. He doesn’t have to like them but he has to at least respect them and if he can’t do that then he can keep away.’

 ‘Our news was a shock to him. He’ll come round.’

 ‘I don’t care if he does.’ She blinked rapidly and swallowed. ‘So much for averting a scandal; how long do you think it’ll be before the press learns he hit you?’

 ‘There’s no need for the press to know anything.’

 She arched a perfectly plucked dark brow. ‘We were seen by at least a dozen people leaving the House of Mondelli, you with an ice pack stuck to your nose. Have you looked in the mirror?’ She didn’t give him the chance to reply. ‘You’ve already got two black eyes forming. How are you going to explain that away?’

 ‘I wear exceedingly dark sunglasses. No one will see my eyes.’

 ‘That’s not even funny.’

 Seeing she was working herself into a state, he leaned forward and spoke forcefully. ‘There will be no scandal. We will cut the press off at its head.’

 ‘How?’

 ‘By announcing our marriage. We will send out a press release today.’

 She pulled a face. ‘If we announce it now, the press will go into a frenzy.’

 ‘They will,’ he agreed. During their many phone conversations over the past ten days they’d discussed how to handle the press and had agreed to delay notifying them until a week before the wedding, at which point Alessandra would join him in Athens. All the guests they planned to invite could be relied on for their discretion. ‘But it will be a controlled frenzy and give them something to write about that should, hopefully, supersede any rumour that may come about your brother hitting me. You will have to travel to Athens with me...’

 ‘Absolutely not.’

 ‘You’ve already agreed to join me there.’

 ‘But not for another week.’

 ‘It will be safer for you. Here, you’re too exposed. The paparazzi can doorstep you.’

 ‘I don’t care.’ Eyes blazing, she folded her arms across her chest. ‘I can’t go anywhere. I have work commitments. Lots of them. It’s been hard enough trying to rearrange my schedule for the wedding and honeymoon but at least I’ve been able to give the editors and fashion houses I freelance for some notice. For me to come to Athens today means letting them all down at the last minute.’

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