‘Dance with me,’ he whispered against her mouth, pulling her down to the floor with him.
‘Any time,’ she promised.
Because the music between them played for ever.
* * * * *
Read on for an extract from TO BLACKMAIL A DI SIONE by Rachael Thomas.
To Blackmail a Di Sione
by Rachael Thomas
BIANCA DI SIONE SCANNED the busy conference room from her vantage point at the back, looking for her sister Allegra. The buzz of voices became louder as the room filled but she was too preoccupied to notice. She couldn’t quite shake off the sensation that things weren’t right with her sister. Not that she’d mentioned anything to her. That would be so unlike Allegra.
As the conference got under way, Bianca saw Allegra walking onto the stage and knew something was wrong. She was pale beneath the polished exterior she always showed to the world and Bianca felt guilty. She was about to add to that worry. The weight of their terminally ill grandfather’s request would only exacerbate whatever worried Allegra, but she had to talk to her. She needed to confide in someone and Allegra had always been that person. She’d stepped into the role of mother after the tragic loss of their parents when they were young and had always been there for her.
The final speaker was introduced but Bianca couldn’t concentrate; her mind kept replaying what her grandfather had asked of her last week. He’d been so frail, so weak, she hadn’t wanted to press him for more information, but now wished she had. All she had to go on was the tale of his Lost Mistresses, which she and her brothers and sisters had grown up on. Even more intriguing, she wasn’t the only grandchild to be sent on a mission to retrieve one of these Lost Mistresses, but she did understand how important they were to him. She recalled the many times he’d told them that these precious pieces were how he’d managed to set up Di Sione Shipping when he arrived in America. He’d always referred to them as their legacy.
‘Ms Di Sione. This is an unexpected pleasure.’
That voice, that accent which hadn’t quite had the roughened edges smoothed from it, startled her from her reverie. She turned and looked up into the hard but undeniably handsome face of Liev Dragunov.
He looked immaculate, his dark suit emphasising the hardness which sparked from his ice-grey eyes, his brown hair short and as severe as his expression. He looked formidable. Just as he had the first day she’d met him, when he’d approached her company to represent his. The firm line of his mouth hinted that a smile lingered just beneath the surface. Inwardly her heart plummeted. She didn’t need this, not today. Couldn’t the man take no for an answer?
‘Mr Dragunov. I trust you are here for legitimate reasons.’ The same unease she’d felt the very first time he’d stood in her office last week shivered down her spine. She even began to wonder if she was losing her ability to read a person. Allegra was being unusually evasive, probably due to all the travelling she’d done recently. But this man, with his commanding presence and dominating aura, unsettled her far too much.
‘Everything I do has a legitimate reason.’ Was that an undertone of threat in his accented voice?
She lifted a brow in speculation as she looked at him, not totally immune to his bad-boy looks. Her gaze slid discreetly over him as he surveyed the room. He pulled at the cuffs of his white shirt, visible beneath his dark suit, as if he was preparing himself for some kind of battle or confrontation. In response she found herself compelled to stand just a little taller, as if hoping to match his height.
‘That may be so, but what possible reason could you have to be here, Mr Dragunov? Geneva is a long way from New York.’ He turned his attention back to her and she looked directly into his eyes, resisting the urge to shiver at the coldness in them. Instead she kept her chin lifted and her face a mask of composure, hiding her unease, something she’d become more than adept at over the years.
‘As I made a sizeable donation to the Di Sione Foundation, I think it is prudent to see what work is being done. Would you not agree, Ms Di Sione?’ He moved a little closer to her, lowering his voice, and even though his polite smile didn’t falter she sensed something more.