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At The Boss's Beck And Call(2)

By:Anna Cleary

‘And who is this?’ he continued smoothly down the list, as though Lara Meadows had never made a fool of him. Never caused him to feel-whatever it had been. Never brought him to his emotional knees like some love-crazed Don José bellowing from the opera stage about his Carmen. ‘And this one? Tell me about him.’

Amazing, to find Lara after all this time. What were the odds she’d be working for the very company they’d settled on as their foothold in the southern hemisphere? He narrowed his eyes. If this were the same Lara. His Larissa.

The nerve twisted. Though surely she’d be married by now, unless she’d kept her maiden name after her marriage?

To some poor fool, some sucker who didn’t mind being let down.

And of course Bill would have liked her very much. It was probably liking her that had brought the guy to his ruin. He glanced at the secretary’s eager face, weighing up whether to hazard a question, then discarded the notion. It was exactly what the woman was longing for. Any tiny morsel, no matter how trivial, to whisper about the visiting boss to the staff.

And he felt no interest in Lara Meadows. That moment in time when her capricious whims, her irrational Hollywood-inspired tests had burned deep into his essential being was past. A woman incapable of valuing the sincerity of an honest man was below the radar of his consciousness.

Still, he wouldn’t be human if he couldn’t appreciate the irony in the situation. Whether she’d known it or not, Ms Meadows had once held his fate in her hands. Now, he held her livelihood in his. If he were one of those mediaeval Vincentis given to vendettas…

Revenge, a dish best served cold, had often been his mother’s dry observation. Were six years long enough to cool a blaze that had consumed him and reduced his dignity to ashes? Or so he’d thought at the time.

Alessandro shrugged, amused at his momentary regression to youthful passion. On second thoughts, it would be interesting to see her again. See how she would look.

How she would face him.

Anyway, Lara reflected, scanning her face in the lift mirror, by this time he could be bald, or morbidly paunched. Her memories of him might have been distorted by time.

On the approach to the conference room, though, her legs grew wobbly and reluctant with dread. But face it. Despite everything, she was excited. The thought of seeing him again was rushing through her like a summer storm.

Although, could she really expect Alessandro to remember her with the same intensity as she remembered him? With what she knew about him now, he might not remember her at all. Six years was a long time for an international playboy to hold an idea.

She paused outside and made an effort to calm her breathing, but ever since the news had broken the old video show in her head wouldn’t stop spinning through the reels.#p#分页标题#e#

Six years ago. Her first and only international book conference. The publishing company she’d been with at the time wouldn’t have been able to afford to send her if it hadn’t been held here in Sydney. It had been her first conference. Her first…


That initial, fantastic connection at the cocktail party. The amused glance he’d exchanged with her over the ridiculous sci-fi diva with the hair. The strawberry daiquiri he’d wangled for her. He’d screwed up his handsome face at her choice but she’d pretended to enjoy it. Then the charmed days that had followed. The long walks. The intense conversations about literature, music, Shakespeare-everything she was most passionate about.

Alessandro refused to describe himself as Italian, or Venetian. He was a citizen of the world, he’d told her with a laugh, yet he’d treated her ideas with such respect, as if they were as clever and original as his own. She’d never been so riveted by conversation with anyone. So excited, so-enchanted. Every word he’d uttered had held her on the most delicious hook.

And when she’d found out the origin of his family name…

She’d looked it up on the internet. No wonder she’d been starry-eyed. He’d been reluctant to answer her bombardment of questions at first, but he’d finally relented and told her a little about his branch of the Venetian Vincentis. His forefathers had been marquises since the earliest days of the Venetian Republic. Those early marquises had been among the noble families responsible for electing each Doge as head of the country, and had served on the Council that had assisted the Doge to govern Venice.

All the way back to the earliest records each of Alessandro’s forefathers had been designated Marchese d’Isole Veneziane Minori, which meant Marquis of the Minor Venetian Isles. So beautiful. So romantic.