After losing Sophia three years ago in such a bitter and tragic way, he had all but relinquished any hope for future happiness anyway. When Katherine had left him that morning in Milan, after his initial confusion and frustration Luca had told himself to just put it down to experience and forget her. If he had wanted to locate her he could easily have asked friends at the party—the friends he had practically ignored all evening because he’d been so enthralled by her—for more information to help track her down. But at the time Luca had determinedly resisted the impulse. That night of the party he had found something of his wife’s that had stirred up some painful memories, and no doubt that was what had driven him into the arms of a woman he barely knew. Usually he was much more circumspect, and took time to get to know a woman before he took her to bed. It had certainly taught him a valuable lesson about the consequences of giving way to pure lust and emotion!

Once again Luca drove his restless hands through his tousled dark hair and shook his head at his remembered experience of a regrettable loss of control. Whatever reason Katherine had for showing up to work as his PA, from now on he would definitely be judging her on her professional acumen and not his attraction for her, he vowed!


THE door between her boss’s office and hers remained ominously open, and Kate deliberately didn’t glance towards it as often as her sometimes racing heart dictated. Even though—perversely, perhaps—she longed for a glimpse of the man occupying the adjoining room. The man who barked out instructions as though he cared little how she received them, and who clearly intended to treat her like someone well beneath him on the social strata while she was working for him.

She might well have despaired when she recalled the warmth Luca had exhibited towards her the night they had made love, but Kate refused to do so. Feeling sorry for herself would get her nowhere. But her already delicate stomach had churned many times that morning when she thought in distress about the secret she kept. A secret that she now likened to carrying smuggled contraband through a highly volatile airport Customs on red alert after the less than overjoyed way Luca had reacted to seeing her again.

That magical night in Milan seemed like the most incredible dreamlike fantasy when she considered the mistrustful and disapproving air he was treating her with now. And if he were already suspicious of her motives for being there, what would he be like when he heard the astounding news she was waiting to reveal?

The revelation was something Kate had wanted to tell him about, but she had not been able to because she had simply had no way of contacting him. After getting a job in the States, her friend Melissa had unexpectedly left Italy, and had not yet contacted Kate with her new address or phone number. And she had been unable to recall the full address of the mansion where the party had been that night—let alone the place of work where Melissa had been employed! All avenues leading to contact with Luca had been closed to her, it seemed, and Kate had told herself time and time again that it was her own stupid fault for not leaving him a way to contact her.

Back in the present, she forced herself to deal with the tasks in front of her and knew she would have to bide her time as far as choosing the right moment to break her news to Luca. The thing was, apart from anything else, she really needed this job and had no intention of failing his little ‘trial’. The agency was paying her the top rate for this particular assignment, and the extra money would definitely come in handy given the situation that faced her. In fact that was an understatement. She’d been trying to save as much as she could, but living in London was expensive, and the amount she had squirrelled away so far would hardly help her exist for a month without a job, let alone for the foreseeable future! The dilemma had already given Kate many sleepless nights.

Putting her worries aside, it didn’t take her long to find her usual professional stride, yet there was no let-up as far as her stomach was concerned. Her insides continued to turn over like some demented Ferris wheel, not letting her forget for even a second that she was effectively living with a ticking bomb until she spoke to Luca.

‘Come into my office, would you?’

Luca didn’t wait for Kate to rise from her desk. After briefly putting his head round the door he immediately returned to his room. The plush domain, with its modern, state-of-the-art furniture and its tastefully framed prints of grand public buildings and luxurious homes clearly designed for a fabulously wealthy clientele, proudly reflected his firm’s impressive architectural achievements and the fact that they were amongst the top echelon of the experts in their field. Lucy—the employment agency manager—had been eager to point out how incredibly successful the De Rossi empire was when she had outlined the details of the job to Kate.