Elizabeth Lennox - The Berutelli Escape #2 - The Billionaire's Secretive Enchantress
The Billionaire's Secretive Enchantress (The Berutelli Escape #2)
Sierra stared at her sister closely, not understanding what was wrong. Something had disturbed her normally unflappable sister and it scared her. “Marissa, what’s happened?”
She felt her sister shiver and a moment later, Marissa simply disappeared into the house. Sierra watched carefully, glancing at her father to see if he’d seen the escape as well. Hopefully not and Marissa could make a clean getaway. But as Sierra surveyed the crowd of people around her father’s luxurious pool, her father’s suspicious eyes were following his eldest daughter closely. The look she saw in those dark, evil depths indicated that he definitely wasn’t happy about his eldest daughter’s disappearance.
Sierra was just about to try and get her sister’s attention, to call Marissa back but her eyes, and her breath, were snagged by a tall, gorgeous man who stepped out onto the flagstone patio at that moment. She gasped, her body frozen in stunned fascination as the strange, attractive man looked around, his eyes seeming to take in all of the important details. Unfortunately, Sierra wasn’t one of those details, but why would she be? A man as striking as he was wouldn’t look twice at a young, skinny teenager who hadn’t a hope of blossoming into the kind of woman who probably caught his eye. Even at eighteen, Sierra hadn’t formed the curves of a woman, not even a hint of what might happen. It hadn’t ever bothered her until this moment, until she’d seen this man. And had his eyes pass over her, barely even seeing her.
She wasn’t a raving beauty. Her best asset, her long, brown hair, was tied behind her and braided down her back. That left her skinny, gangly arms and legs left for him to see and they weren’t very interesting. She sometimes thought her eyes were pretty, but there was only so much one could do with boring, blue eyes.
In that same instant, her father noticed the man as well and Sierra’s heart sank with disappointment. With a lurch, her father stepped around his contemptible minions hovering like gnats around the bar and moved over to the tall, dark haired stranger, greeting him effusively and Sierra wished with all her heart that this one man with his earthy looks, handsome demeanor and bulging muscles that strained the fine cotton shirt stretched over his broad shoulders, wasn’t one of her father’s pathetic, rock-slithering underlings.
Sierra watched him with a sinking heart, wondering why he would even associate with her father and his ilk. The stranger certainly didn’t look like the rest of the men surrounding the pool with their gaudy, thick, gold chains and their ill-fitting shirts, most of them with bellies that protruded repulsively over their belts. No, this new man appeared to be refined, dignified. He had no paunch at all. In fact, she suspected that he actually had ridges on that flat stomach of his. There was just something about the way he held himself, the way he walked, with confidence and elegance, that told her he worked out a great deal and took too much pride in his appearance to allow himself to get flabby.
In addition, there wasn’t any jewelry on him at all, not even a tacky, pretentious, pinky ring. His white, tailored shirt was tucked neatly into his pressed slacks without any overlap. In fact, he looked more muscular than all of the men combined.
In a word, he was gorgeous!
But what was he doing here? Her father seemed to be excited to see him and she watched with growing disappointment as her father walked the man over to the others by the bar, all of them looking eager to greet this new person into their midst simply because her father was introducing him to everyone. That was a sure sign that the stranger was important.
The men who hung around her father might not be the best and brightest at math or science, but they were experts at reading body language, understanding politics and sucking up to the important people. In other words, they had street smarts. They knew how to survive.
Sort of, she thought with sadness since there had been men at her father’s previous parties who were just as street savvy but had mysteriously disappeared.
Briefly, she noticed the man’s dark eyes glance in her direction. Did he hesitate when he saw her? Or was it just her hopeful imagination? The moment was brief and, all too quickly, her father was leading the handsome stranger in the opposite direction. When the two disappeared into the house, heading towards her father’s office, Sierra felt her heart melt because the only people who went into her father’s office were underlings or business associates. Either option was…unfortunate.
She felt her body deflate as if it were a balloon, disappointment at the reality that the one man she’d met who looked fascinating, who instantly made her heart race with excitement simply because he was close by, was nothing more than a minion or yet another petty criminal in a pathetic army of unintelligent, irresponsible brutes.
In the past, she had tried very hard to love her father, but it was difficult when she completely disagreed with everything he stood for. The man had built an empire on crime and brutality and the more she discovered about his business enterprises, the less she respected him.
It wasn’t even that he brought the brutality home. After her mother’s death from cancer when she was two, Sierra and her sister had basically been raised by nannies. Her father was negligent at the best of times.
But that one man, with his tall, confident stride, his square jawline and intelligent looking eyes, he’d been different! Surely he couldn’t be…
She stopped commiserating her loss when she caught a movement out of the corner of her eye.
Why were three of her father’s men walking towards his office? And why the rush?
She stared at the door through which her father and the stranger had disappeared, trying to tell herself not to worry. Something told her to go through that door, to stop…whatever was happening inside that dreaded office. But one of her older cousins chose that moment to come over and tease her about school, obviously trying to distract her from what might be happening.
She kept up the chatter but her awareness of the ongoing conversation never left her mind. Looking around at the cluster of men surrounding the bar, she didn’t like the way they were all watching the door either. It looked like several of them were expecting something dramatic to happen, something that might be hazardous to one’s health. Specifically, the man’s health who had disappeared with her father.