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HACKER SAFE certified sites prevent over 99% of hacker crime.

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Italian Boss, Housekeeper Bride [Secure eReader]
eBook by Sharon Kendrick

eBook Category: Romance/Romance
eBook Description: From mousy housekeeper.... Italian billionaire Raffaele de Ferretti had many beautiful women at his beck and call. But when he needed a fiancee of convenience, the only woman for the job was his mousy, dowdy housekeeper! ....to sexy siren! Natasha needed a makeover--and what a result! Raffaele had no idea such a beautiful, sexy woman had been right under his nose all this time! They had to pretend to be engaged, but neither of them had to fake the explosive attraction that sparked between them...

eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Presents
Fictionwise Release Date: December 2007


28 Reader Ratings:
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CHAPTER ONE

NATASHA didn't have to see his face to know something was wrong.

She could tell from the slamming of the door and the heavy footfalls in the hall. From the momentary hesitation which was not like Raffaele at all. The barely muffled curse; some Italian expletive, she thought. She listened while he hung his suit jacket up in the hall and heard him go into his study. Then silence—and something very much like fear stirred within her and she didn't understand why.

He had been away to America—where he owned real-estate on both the east and west coast—and whenever he returned from a trip he always came to find her. To ask her how she'd been. How Sam was.

Sometimes, if he was flying by commercial rather than private jet, he would even remember to bring the child some soft toy or game that he'd bought at the airport. Once she had seen him remove a shiny gold box of perfume from his briefcase, and her heart had begun to thud with a ridiculous excitement. But she had never seen it again.

The scent had not been destined for Natasha. Presumably it had gone to the leggy supermodel he had been seeing at the time—the one who'd always used to leave a stocking or a scarf behind in the bathroom, like some territorial trophy, marking out her pitch.

The study was still ominously silent, and Natasha began making a pot of mega-strong coffee—just as Raffaele had taught her to when she'd first gone to work for him. Wasn't it crazy how memories could stay stuck fast in your head, even though they meant nothing? Natasha could still remember the shiver she'd felt as he'd bent close to her, too close for her comfort—though, not, it had seemed, for his. He had been too intent on showing her what to do to notice the mousy-looking woman at his side.

His voice had dipped, like soft velvet underpinned with steel. 'In Italy we say that the coffee should look like ink and taste like heaven. Very strong and very dark—like the best kind of man. You understand? Capisci?' And the black eyes had glittered at her in mocking question, as if it amused him that a woman should need to be taught how to make coffee.

But she had. Oh, she had. Back then she had needed teaching about pretty much everything that someone like Raffaele took for granted. While he was used to only the very best, she'd always been the kind of person who usually spooned instant out of a jar—until the time had come when she'd had barely enough money to buy any. Just thinking about the mess she had found herself in still had the power to make her tremble with apprehension. She never wanted to go back there—to those days of hunger and uncertainty and real fear—to before Raffaele had stepped in to save her.

Was that why she'd put him on a pedestal ever since?

Natasha placed the coffee and cup on the tray, along with two of the small almond biscuits which were Raffaele's favourites. She had learnt how to make those, too, from the Italian cookbook he had bought her one Christmas.

Then she checked her appearance in the kitchen mirror, just as any employee would do before going in to see their boss—even if they didn't happen to live in the same house, as Natasha did.

She would do. Her pale brown hair was neat, her dress carefully ironed and her features unadorned by make-up. She looked efficient and unthreatening. The way she liked it.

Going bare-faced was a habit she'd gotten into when Sam was a baby, when she'd been terrified of being judged by other people more than she already had been. She had wanted to send out the message that being a struggling single mother didn't mean she was sexually available.

Besides, Natasha had learnt that it was easier if you kept things simple. There were advantages to almost everything in life—it all boiled down to your attitude. No make-up meant more time in the morning—just as tying her hair back did. She looked just what she hoped she was—a respected and respectable member of Raffaele's staff.

'Natasha!'

She heard his peremptory summons couched in the distinctively accented voice as it carried down to the basement. Hastily, she picked up the tray and carried it upstairs to his study, but in the doorway she paused, her attention caught and arrested by the sight of him. Natasha frowned. Her instinct had been right—there was something wrong.

Raffaele de Feretti. Billionaire. Bachelor. Boss. And the man she had quietly loved from almost since the first time she'd set eyes on him. But who wouldn't love him? Not loving him would have presented a greater challenge—despite his arrogance and that disdainful air he had sometimes, when he wasn't really listening to what you said.

He hadn't heard her now and was standing with his back to her, gazing out onto the drenched garden at the centre of the London square, where raindrops dripped down the trees like a woman's tears.

Today the garden was deserted, but on fine days you could see nannies with their boisterous young charges running around the paths to the tiny playground section at the far end. Or mothers with prams, before they went back to work—as many of the mothers around this affluent part of the city seemed to do whether it was because they needed the variety or because they wanted the independence. Natasha could never quite work it out. She used to think that it would be bliss not to have to work, but that was probably because the option had never been open to her.

Copyright © 2007 by Sharon Kendrick.


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