‘Just dinner.’ She glanced at her watch, then echoed his thoughts. ‘Nothing more.’
‘You have my word.’
She looked back at him and frowned. Briefly he caught a glimpse of vulnerability in the blue of her eyes as they met his, but then the glittering of icicles in hers froze him out. ‘Why should I trust you? I don’t know anything about you, Mr Dragunov. For a man with such a successful company, it is hard to find any information about you.’
So she had been researching him. She might have turned down the very generous amount he’d offered for her company to represent his, but she had still been interested enough to find out more. As always, money talked. ‘I think you will find, the same can be said of yourself, Ms Di Sione.’
He knew all the ways to keep information under the radar, away from prying eyes, and from the subtle way she ran her company, it was a skill she, too, possessed.
‘Which means, you have tried to find out more about me? Just as I have, about you.’ This time there was a hint of amusement in her voice, the slightest curve of her lips. What would it be like to kiss them, to feel them soften beneath his? He erased the thought from his mind quickly, annoyed this fiery woman was getting to him.
‘Isn’t that what business is all about? Knowing who your enemies are?’ He certainly knew who his enemies were. He’d known since he was just twelve years old, since his parents had died within months of each other. After the loss of the family business and home, he’d had to watch his father spiral into drunken oblivion, too depressed to care how sick his wife had become. Liev had been powerless to help and found himself alone with nowhere but the streets to live, forced to steal just to survive.
Those memories were etched in his mind, the scars going deep. The rage his father had shown, shocking him and his mother. The happy family they had once been, with the bright and prosperous future, was snatched away as even before his parents’ deaths he’d had to fend for himself, his mother too sick and his father too intoxicated.
Oh, yes, he knew who his enemy was.
He doubted she had any idea what an enemy was, having grown up cosseted and protected from the big bad world by her family name. She would have wanted for nothing, would have had every luxury possible. The only thing in common they shared was the loss of their parents. Other than that they were worlds apart.
‘Enemies?’ Her eyes widened, the true extent of their blue showing clearly. ‘Is that what we are?’
He looked at her, irritated he’d forgotten himself and spoken the truth. ‘How could any man make an enemy of such a beautiful woman as you?’
To his amazement, she laughed, a soft gentle sound, which nudged at memories of happiness from long ago. ‘Now you have gone too far, Mr Dragunov.’ Her words were stern, but her smile lit up her face and the cold mask she hid behind slipped briefly away, revealing a very beautiful and alluring woman.
‘Until this evening, Ms Di Sione.’
Before he could say anything else, or allow her to hypnotise him into forgetting precisely what he wanted, he left, assured that by the end of the evening she would be running a very prestigious and lucrative campaign for his company. His first step towards revenge against the company which had destroyed his parents would finally be under way.
* * *
‘Are you sure you are quite well?’ Bianca asked Allegra as her sister almost flopped down into a chair of the members’ lounge with exhaustion. The conference had been a huge success, but she’d never seen her sister look so tired. She would normally be on a high after such an evening.
Grandfather’s illness was obviously taking its toll, or rather his almost insistent requests that the treasures, his Lost Mistresses, be found. It had been a shock to discover that Matteo, her older brother, had also been asked to find one. As children they’d listened to Grandfather’s tales of the precious trinkets he’d been forced to sell when he’d first arrived in America, but they didn’t know the full story. Like Allegra and Matteo, she intended to do all she could to reunite Grandfather with the bracelet he’d told her of.
‘Of course I am. Anyway, there are more important things to discuss, like who was that you were talking to earlier?’