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Consequence of His Revenge

By:Dani Collins

CHAPTER ONE

“HOW COULD YOU fire me? I haven’t even started work yet!”

Cameo Fagan tried to keep her voice to a hiss so it wouldn’t echo across the hotel lobby, but she couldn’t keep the panic out of her tone. She had already given up her job at the other hotel and, far worse, she had given up her apartment.

“Technically it’s a withdrawal of the offer of employment,” Karen hurried to say, holding out a splayed hand that begged for calm. She was the HR manager for the Tabor chain of boutique Canadian hotels. A mutual friend had put them in touch six months ago, when the renovations had been in full swing at this Whistler location. The Tabor was holding a soft opening on Monday with a gala for their official opening in two weeks.

Cami had thought she and Karen got on like a house on fire. She’d pretty much been hired on the spot.

“But...” She waved toward the narrow hall behind the front desk. It led to the offices and the very basic, but extremely affordable, staff quarters in the basement of the hotel. “I was going to move in this weekend.”

Karen gave her a helpless look. She knew as well as Cami did that apartments in Whistler were impossible to find, especially on short notice. “It wasn’t my decision. I’m really sorry.”

“Whose was it? Because I don’t understand.” Don’t cry, she willed herself. The universe did not have a plan to constantly pull the rug every time things started to go her way. She refused to think like that.

Even though it often felt exactly like that.

Karen glanced around the lobby where a handful of decorators were measuring and holding up swatches while workmen were putting the finishing touches on the fireplace mantel.

Lowering her voice even more, Karen said, “It hasn’t been announced yet, but Tabor was bought out by an Italian firm. I guess the previous owners were in trouble after all of this.” She lifted her gaze to the mural painted on the ceiling, one of many high-end touches included in the refurbishment.

That indication of deep pockets was why Cami had been willing to give up her very good job and take a chance here. Now her stomach clenched.

Italian? Or Sicilian?

“Are the new owners starting from scratch with the hiring? Because I’ll interview again. I don’t mind.”

Karen’s shoulders fell and she shifted uncomfortably. “It was, um, you he didn’t want. Specifically.”

“Me!” Cami’s references were stellar, her work ethic highly praised. She went the extra mile every time. “He thinks I’m too young?” She’d run into that before, but when she explained how much experience she had, she was usually given a chance. It couldn’t be sexism. Karen seemed to be keeping her management position.

“I’m really sorry.” Karen looked and sounded sincere. “I don’t understand it myself, but I submitted the list of hires and yours was the only name he scratched. He was quite adamant.”

“Who?” Cami didn’t want to believe she could still be haunted by the Gallos, but her heart was plummeting into her shoes. The universe didn’t have it in for her. Nor did the Italians. One Sicilian seemed to, though.

The elevator pinged, cutting off whatever Karen was about to say. Her gaze slid to the opening doors. “Him,” Karen said. “Dante Gallo.”

Cami didn’t have to ask which man Karen meant. Everyone in the group wore smart business attire, but one wore his bespoke suit with more assertiveness and style on a frame that was tall and alpha-postured. His jaw had a shadow of sculpted stubble and his dark hair was close-cropped, but devilish. His stern brows and sharp gaze stole any hint of approachability from his otherwise beautiful features. He was both gorgeous and severe. The kind of man used to getting his way by any means necessary, powerful and confident enough to make life-altering decisions in a blink. The women trailing him were flushed and sparkly-eyed, the men awestruck and quick-stepping, anxious to please.

Cami was awestruck herself, even feeling a coil of something in her abdomen that was sensual and wicked and wrong, especially when his predatory attention swiveled to her the way a hawk’s head turned when a hare caught its attention.

Her heartbeat picked up as his focus honed in.

The entire planet stopped spinning as their gazes clashed. Or, rather, she felt as though they were caught in some kind of time slip. Everything continued to whirl around them in a whistling blur while thick amber soaked in, filling her veins with a honeyed sweetness that held them suspended in a muted world. Her vision dimmed at the edges, glowing golden. She stopped breathing. Something ancient resonated in her, a vibration as old as life itself.

That internal quiver expanded. Sensual warmth suffused her in a way that had never happened. She told herself this acute awareness of self and him was the heat of surprised recognition and anticipation of a confrontation. Animosity, not attraction. She had stalked him a couple of times online and had imagined a face-to-face conversation a million times. This was shock at finally having her opportunity, not fascination.

Definitely not desire pinching a betraying sting between her thighs.

She clawed back from her lack of self-control and found her resolve. This time, she wouldn’t be leveled without a whimper of protest. Maybe he had a right to be angry with her father, but this grudge had gone on long enough. Did he really think he could destroy her just because of her name?

As her pulse beat a war drum in her ears, she waited for recognition to dawn in his features.

It didn’t come, which was insult to injury. Her confidence began to waver while tendrils of vulnerability crept in.

Then she realized his gaze was heating with interest. Male interest. His forbidding mouth relaxed the way a man’s did when a woman invited him to approach because attraction was reciprocated.

The sizzle under her skin became a conflagration, heating her all over, teaching her by fire that she was part of the human race after all. She did a lot of people-watching from behind her hospitality counters and was always intrigued by the way people coupled up. It baffled her because she had never felt such a simple and immediate pull herself. A receptiveness that couldn’t be hidden.

Today, it happened. Basic animal magnetism took hold of her, shocking in its power because it was completely against her will. Mortifying, since she was the one providing the entertainment for Karen and anyone else who wanted to notice. She was sending all the wrong signals with her dumbfounded, dazzled stare, but her gaze was glued to his.

A slither of defenselessness went through her. She didn’t want to react this way! Trolling online hadn’t prepared her for the force of masculinity that came off him, though. He made her ultra-aware of her femininity. Her body made tiny adjustments, standing taller, stomach tightening. Her fingers itched to touch her hair.

The reaction was as disarming as he was, causing a fresh shyness to burn her cheeks.

Nerves, she insisted to herself. Pique. Genuine frustration at losing the job she had thought would finally give her the chance to get ahead. All because of him, she reminded herself, and used her animosity to grapple past her overwhelmed senses. And yes, maybe she owned some of the responsibility for his grudge, but no. She had tried really hard to fix things. Enough was enough.

She forced herself to step one foot in front of the other, advancing on the lion whose tail was flicking in lazy concentration. He looked entirely too powerful and ferocious. Too hungry. Each step brought her into a light and heat that threatened to sear her to her soul, but she ignored the adrenaline and excitement coursing through her arteries.

While he wore a hint of a smug smile because she was approaching him and not making him work for it.

“Mr. Gallo.” Her voice seemed to fade as she spoke. She had to clear her throat. “Might I have a word?”

* * *

No one had spoken to him in such an imperative tone since he was a child. Dante bristled, but the reflexive assertion of superiority that rose to his lips didn’t emerge.

Like most men, he categorized women very quickly into yes, no, or off-limits. Wedding ring? No. Coworker? Off-limits—for now.

Neatly packaged brunette with skin like fresh cream, a figure that didn’t stop, and rose petal lips that managed to hold a curve of innocence and sin at the same time? One who moved with a dancer’s grace and possessed the strength of character to look him in the eye without flinching?

“Yes” wasn’t a strong enough word. She was a new category. Have to have. Mine.

That lightning-quick bite of hunger was disturbing. He had a healthy sex drive—very healthy—but one he easily controlled, always relegating it to nonwork hours.

Yet with this woman his brain switched off, and his libido quickened in anticipation. Why? He searched for what made her different. Her clothes were low-end, but well-chosen to showcase her figure. Her breasts bounced a little, ample and firm, making him wonder about her bra. Lace? Demi-cup? Her round hips promised a nice plump ass atop those trim thighs, making the words, “Turn around,” simmer in his throat.

The particular shade of plum of her blazer framed a thin, white line against her collarbone. A scar? A twist of protectiveness went through him. He had a strong impulse to brush back her rich, dark hair and kiss that spot. Make it better.

Embers of desire glowed hotter in his belly, thinking of the ways he would pet her and stroke her until neither of them knew anything but pleasure. Until they drowned in it. He liked the look of her wavy tresses. The spill of her hair moving as she walked. No hairspray. He could run his hands through that shiny fall, gather those silky strands in his fist as he held her still for a kiss that would appease and ignite...

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