Leah’s Seduction 5
Leah is unwilling to return to New York with Gianni’s dark secret still between them.
A holiday trip to Tuscany offers a romantic respite from the pressures of New York, and Leah feels closer to Gianni. At the end of her patience, she demands to know what is behind the locked door. Still emotionally withdrawn, Gianni is backed into a corner. If he doesn’t tell Leah, he knows he will lose her.
When Leah’s frustration is too much, she gives Gianni an ultimatum at the risk of losing him completely. Will her demand cause him to abandon her, and devastate them both?
“Having been away in the romance of Tuscany, it was difficult to let go of the intimacy they had found there. The pressures they had escaped would return, and the room in the condo that Gianni refused to talk about would still be locked. As would his heart. Leah couldn’t tolerate the emotional distance between them, which she knew would resurface once they were home.
Nor could she bear to see Gianni shoulder the burden alone any longer. The private moments they had shared in the quiet valley had bonded her to him in a new way. The pleasures he had bestowed allowed Leah to feel the depth of raw need. And she was more desperate than before to break through to him.”
Wanting Leah more every day, Gianni is hit unexpectedly with all the emotions she held inside too long. Faced with having to reveal his past or lose Leah, he has to make a tough decision.
Gianni took Leah to another lovely place “Tuscany”. A place every girl dream about going on a romantic getaway. The love they share is unbelievable. I hope it never changes, the way he shows her how important she is to him, even if he doesn’t say the words, we know that he loves her deep inside him. The step he made by telling her about his ex was one that will change their whole lives. I cannot wait to read the next book. Sophie D.
This series just gets better and better! I wish the entire series was out now that we know what was behind the locked door. What is next for Gianna and Leah? Can’t wait to find out!! Love this series! Michele L.
Leah’s Seduction – Book 5
Leah had been writing more often in her journal. After Gianni had refused to confide in her about the locked room, she hadn’t pressed. Not yet, anyway. She couldn’t let that go, but was biding her time. In the journal she had written: I can’t stand to see the sadness in Gianni’s eyes. I’ll find a way to make him share the burden with me.
Over the months, Leah had become more involved with the operations at Barrington. Her boss made no effort to hide anything from her, although he didn’t express any gratitude for her value to the company either.
It didn’t bother her. Leah was intent on getting experience in the industry, and had bigger plans for her career than doing Vadim’s bidding. It was winter, and Leah held her head down against the wind on her way to work.
Entering, she stamped her feet and rubbed her gloved hands together. “Aah, it’s cold out there.”
Aida smiled. “Yes, this is our coldest day, I think.”
“Anything new?” Leah said.
The clerk nodded her head toward Vadim’s office. “He wants to see you.”
Leah sighed. “Okay, let me dump my stuff off, and get out of this coat. Then I’ll go see what he wants.”
They shared a knowing look, then Leah went to her office. She did a quick email check before going to see Vadim. It wasn’t unusual for him to want to see her, since they worked together on most of the marketing for the showroom.
Often it wasn’t pleasant, and Leah could not predict his mood.
Pushing his door open, she said, “You wanted to see me?”
Her boss seemed particularly satisfied with himself about something. “Yes, yes. Sit down.”
Leah sat stiffly in the chair across from him. She had grown used to his oversized office, and it no longer impressed her. “What is it?”
Vadim needed to work on his people skills, although he seemed to have no interest in doing so. Taking note of his challenging look, she wondered, and not for the first time, how buyers put up with his attitude.
Maybe he was different with them. The former Russian military officer in him overshadowed his present-day businessman demeanor, making him harsh and arrogant. Vadim spoke to her like she was insignificant. That was how he usually spoke to her.
He shoved some papers at her, and she saw photographs of large, warehouse-type buildings. Vadim leaned back in his chair with a smug expression.
Leah moved them closer. “What are these?”
“Our new showrooms.”
She took time to look at the pictures, seeing that the buildings were in need of serious renovation before any showroom could be opened there. It seemed that Vadim had taken Gianni’s bait. When he had told Byron Clifton that GR planned to buy these buildings, Vadim had unwisely scooped them.
Playing along, not wanting to give away Gianni’s ruse, she said, “Where are they?”
Leaning on the desk, Vadim said, “One is in Spain, and the other Germany. They are in smaller towns. With the fashion revival in those countries, I was quick to grab these properties. They were a steal, and I’m starting on the renovations now.”
She didn’t say so, but the only revival was going to be the one Barrington would have to attempt if Vadim continued to blindly follow Gianni’s tips, letting greed overpower his decisions. If he poured money into these buildings, Mason Barrington’s business was going to have to rally to avoid financial disaster.
“What do you need me for?”
He narrowed his eyes. “Remember the fashion show I sent you to recently?”
“The one with the high-end designers, and the expensive custom fashions?”
Vadim nodded. “Well, I sent you there for a reason. I read your memo about the show. You say only the wealthy can afford to buy. But you erred.”
“That is how it has been. But what you don’t know is the coming trend. There’s a change in buying habits forthcoming, and women will be willing to spend more in order to own top-end fashions. That’s why you are my coordinator, and I am the manager. I see things you don’t.”
It took conscious effort not to smile. Clearly, once Vadim had taken the bait served to him by Gianni, he had raced ahead. Taking no time to think, or access the veracity of what he’d been told, her boss could only think of usurping success from GR.
It didn’t take a genius to see that it would be his undoing. Leah bit back a caustic response. Instead, she ignored his derision of her. “And what would you like me to do for Barrington, based on your new information?”
“I want you to buy those high-end fashions. In fact, I want you to secure an exclusive for Barrington.”
She had to hear him say it. “You want the entire line?”
“Yes. I don’t want to make it easy for the competition.”
Even though that was exactly what he was doing. But Leah didn’t say so. “I’ll get right on it.” She stood, and Vadim said nothing more, so she left his office. She didn’t grin until she was halfway down the hall.
The foolhardy business decisions were going to be the demise of Barrington, if Vadim wasn’t careful. And obviously, it was too late for that. The thought of losing her job if the company folded didn’t seem so bad. It paled in comparison to the satisfaction Leah would have when Vadim realized, after the fact, that he had been an idiot.
One afternoon, Kyra modeled new designs at GR Showroom for some buyers. It was a small event, by invitation only. Leah attended just to watch, interested in the new fashions Gianni was showcasing. After the buyers were ushered away from the stage for refreshments, and to place their orders, Leah went to the dressing room to see her friend.
“How did I do?” Kyra said. Her hair was twisted up, and she wore a satin robe, while removing some of the heavy makeup.
“Amazing.” Leah took a chair beside her. “Those evening gowns were stunning. And they looked even better on you.”
Kyra grinned. “That’s my job. I hope Gianni makes a lot of sales.”
“No doubt he will. The buyers looked pleased, and I overheard some of their comments. It was a successful show, I’m sure.”
“I’m meeting some friends for dinner. Would you like to come with us?”
Leah shook her head. “Sounds great, but Gianni’s taking me out.”
“You guys are doing good, right? I mean, after meeting his parents and all, you must feel pretty secure in the relationship.”
Since she omitted telling her friend every detail about Gianni’s issues, Leah couldn’t expect her to know that she didn’t feel all that secure. So far, they were together. But if he didn’t share his past, things would blow up sooner or later.
But there was no way to communicate that to Kyra right then. “It was a big step meeting his parents, like I told you. But I don’t know that it changed anything. We are okay, though. How about you? Any love interests on the horizon?”
Kyra changed into her jeans and sweater while she talked. “Not yet. I’m not really looking. I’m having fun just going out with my friends for now. It will happen, if it’s supposed to.”
“That’s a good attitude.”
Her friend slipped on her leather high-heeled boots. “What else have I got? I can’t do any more of the random dating, letting men fawn all over me, and show me off. I’m just tired of it. There’s got to be more to a relationship than that.”
Knowing what a good person Kyra was, it was hard to think of her being used or mistreated. “There will be more for you. I know it. You are smart to hold out.”
Kyra ran her fingers through her long hair to fluff out the curls. “It took me a while to get smart.”
They left the dressing room and spotted Gianni crossing the showroom floor. “Great show, Kyra. I’ll have to hire you more often.” He walked over and gave her a friendly hug.
“Thank you, Gianni. I can always use the work.” She smiled at him, then turned to Leah. “Gotta run.” Glancing at both of them, she added, “Have a good dinner.”
Leah gave her a quick hug, then Kyra left. Looking up at Gianni, she said, “Where are we dining this evening?”
He put his arms around her. “What’s your pleasure?”
She leaned up on her toes to kiss him. “Mmm, when you put it that way…”
His eyes gleamed. “Food…think food.”
Leah laughed. “Okay, well, how about that Italian place we tried last week? I could do that again.”
Over dinner at the Italian restaurant, they talked about Vadim’s actions, and how fast things were moving. “He isn’t wasting any time, is he?” Gianni said.
“No, he isn’t. And I had a hard time not laughing when he asked me to purchase those fashions. I mean, what is he thinking?”
Gianni’s lips thinned into a tight smile. “He’s not. And that’s the point. At this rate, it will all be over soon.”
“What do you think will happen?”
“It’s hard to say for sure. I don’t know the complete financial picture at Barrington. Although I have some idea. I doubt Mason can withstand too much of a loss. With the industry as competitive as it has been, only a few businesses are seeing enough profit to feel secure.”
“So it could wipe him out?”
“That’s a possibility. But he might realize his error in time, or try to recover before it’s too late. We will just have to wait and see.”
“For a smart man, he is proving to be quite gullible.”
“True. Sometimes once a man sees dollar signs, he loses all good sense.”
Dinner was pleasant, and the restaurant cozy. Leah pressed her knee against Gianni’s under the table, and he fingered the inner side of her wrist. A simple meal with him was so much more. Being together hadn’t stopped being special.
After the meal and a bottle of Chianti, they slid into the limo and headed for Leah’s apartment. Usually, Gianni would drop her off, but instead he came in with her. He couldn’t resist. Once he started kissing her in the foyer, he didn’t stop.
Pushing her against the wall, Gianni began stripping off her clothes, then his. They ended up in her tiny loft bed, but he didn’t seem to mind. Lovemaking on her small mattress was fierce and needy. It was the first time Gianni had been with her in her bed.
Falling asleep in his arms later, Leah was moved by the fact that he stayed over. The small quarters didn’t dissuade him. Gianni never mentioned it. When they collapsed into each other’s arms, he covered them with the sheet, and before long, he was breathing deeply.
The next morning, she woke up to find Gianni at the bottom of the narrow wooden stairs leading to the loft. There was something about seeing him put on the same clothes he had worn the night before that was touching.
With the warmth in his eyes and his tousled hair, Gianni looked like any boyfriend getting dressed to go after a hot night at his girlfriend’s house. In many ways, he was just so normal. Even though he wasn’t like any man she had known before.
He came back up the steps to kiss her. “I have to stop by my condo to shower before I go to the showroom,” he said. “Or…maybe I’ll just crawl back in there with you.” He held her chin and kissed her lips again.
“You’ll call me later?”
Gianni smiled. “Yes, I will. I don’t know how today is going to go. I have several meetings. But hopefully it won’t run too late.” His eyes sparkled. “I miss you already.”
Leah watched him go back down, and heard when the door shut behind him. “I love you,” she said. But only she heard. She hugged her pillow to her chest, staying in bed just a few more minutes, thinking about the night they had spent together. Then she leaned over and smelled the sheets, taking in the lingering aroma of the man she was crazy about.