Home > His Expectant Lover (The Alfieri Saga #7)

His Expectant Lover (The Alfieri Saga #7)
Author: Elizabeth Lennox

Chapter 1


“Oh darling, isn’t that one pretty?” Shannon Flemming said, grabbing Antonio’s arm so she could surreptitiously press her breast against his strong bicep and remind him of her attributes.

Antonio barely glanced up, irritated that she was interrupting his concentration as he texted instructions to his vice president. He didn’t give a damn about the stick thin model traipsing down the runway or whatever outrageous outfit she might be wearing. “It’s fine,” he replied with an unconsciously bored voice, looking back down at his cell phone to finish the message. He could care less what she bought. Her whining, needy tone of voice was getting on his nerves lately, not to mention her attempts to manipulate him.

Antonio Alfieri realized that Shannon had become more tedious over the past few weeks, demanding more than he was willing to give her. She wanted permanence. He wanted a seductive mistress to take his mind off of business for a few hours. Shannon had fulfilled that role initially, but lately she had been wheedling for more. He suddenly decided that whatever designer dresses she chose today would be her send-off.

He didn’t mind spending money on a woman as long as they understood that money was all he would give them. His heart would never become involved. He’d done that once and he’d vowed that he would never become emotionally involved again.

“Goodness, she’s short!” Shannon snorted maliciously, laughter rising from her sneering comment. “And she’s fat!”

That caught Antonio’s attention. A short, fat model on one of the most illustrious catwalks in the industry?

Looking up, he turned to watch the next model. The woman walking down the catwalk startled him. She wasn’t fat, not in his opinion. She was….shockingly beautiful. Her dark hair slid down her back like a caress and not even the garish stage makeup could detract from her delicate features. Yes, she was significantly shorter than the other women who had come before her in the show, but Antonio instantly realized why St. Luc, one of the biggest designers in the fashion world, had chosen a woman like this. She wore the finale dress, the dress meant to wow the audience with its outrageous design. And yes, it was shocking. While most models starved themselves to achieve a painfully slender figure with no breasts and hip bones that stuck out like a starved animal, this woman was all softness. In contrast to the other models, her breasts, while not overly large, were absolutely perfect for her figure. The more defined curves definitely showed off the sinful dress to perfection, he thought as his eyes moved down the model’s figure with more than a spark of interest.

Antonio watched intently as she took delicate, almost hesitant steps down the catwalk. His eyes watched her face, amused that she was practically smiling. The other models all looked angry, probably because they hadn’t eaten anything in the last three years. But this woman smiled at the audience as if she were excited to be wearing St. Luc’s “piece de resistance”.

Her full breasts were almost completely visible through the mesh fabric of the dress, but all the interesting parts were covered, just barely, with strategic bead work. The seductive image of the model in the see-through dress and impossibly high heels caused an instant reaction in Antonio. She was wearing almost nothing but her smile, and instinctively, he knew that many of the other men in the audience were eying this lovely little woman. She was a scrumptious dessert surrounded by celery stalks. She was sweetness and instant gratification, while all the other women were tasteless roughage.

He wanted her, he thought. He wanted to feel those soft breasts in his hands, to discover the nipples that were currently hidden by the beading. And he wanted to see her face without all of that brash stage makeup. Damn, he’d never had a reaction to a woman like this. Not even…

He pushed that experience out of his mind and focused all of his considerable attention on the woman walking down the catwalk. She was almost at the end of the walkway now, but she would stop at that point, pose several times and then make her way back towards him. The other models were already filing out onto the stage for one last look, but he ignored them, focusing only on her.

The stick-figure models wouldn’t have done that dress justice, he thought. The mesh fabric was meant to entice, to display the curves of the wearer. The other models simply didn’t have the requisite curves to show the dress off to its best advantage. Not like this woman.

He recognized the moment she noticed him because she almost stumbled as their eyes locked. She caught herself, but he wouldn’t release her eyes. She walked, staring right back at him until she couldn’t see him any longer. Back at the front of the stage, she turned to the audience again, all of whom were standing while the models reveled in the resounding applause. It might be his imagination, but he sensed an almost palpable anger from the taller models towards the shorter woman who was chosen to wear the extraordinary “big reveal”. He noticed several of the taller models cast furious glances towards the shorter, highlighted woman, sending their envious daggers onto her delicate shoulders.

The audience loved the show and several had audibly oohed and aahed about the final dress. Women were bending heads towards their checkbooks, trying to calculate if they could fit the dress into their budget. Antonio stood as well, but his eyes were on the one woman, daring her to look at him. When she did, he even caught the sharp intake of her breath, her smile wavered and his body reacted harder to her delightful response.

Shannon’s whiny voice broke through his concentration, her tone almost jarring in intensity and irritation. “Come darling, we get to go backstage now and drink champagne.” Shannon grabbed his arm and tugged him along. Normally, he would have turned and left, gone back to his office. He had more important things to do than to act as Shannon’s walking checkbook. Shannon knew this and also was aware that she would only be allowed backstage if she were attached to Antonio’s arm. His obscene wealth and dangerous power in the business world had given her entrée into areas she would never rate on her own, even as an award winning actress.

While beautiful women vied for his attention, the business world shied away from gaining his notice. Over the years, Antonio had earned a reputation as merciless, sometimes even brutal, in business. When he decided to acquire a company, the executive officers trembled in fear. His ability to strategically position and grow his subsidiary companies was a prodigious boon for both stakeholders and the average worker – creating profit for one and career opportunities for the other. But CEOs and executive personnel lost their jobs, the one thing they were clinging to that gave them status, since their mismanagement created the conditions that Antonio seized upon.

He had no heart, it was rumored. When he bought a company, he went in and slashed costs, eliminated workers who weren’t producing adequately and swept out whatever inept management team was in place. His callous reorganization of the company created results, not sympathy. So yes, he was heartless. And he didn’t care.

Walking backstage with Shannon, he quickly looked around, intent on finding his target. Only the elite were allowed back here where models were still in their finale creations, moving among the wealthy patrons. St. Luc knew how to advertise his clothes, Antonio thought. The shorter woman had stood out on stage because of her stature but backstage, her height was a disadvantage. At least to him and he was more than a head taller than almost everyone in the room. Antonio couldn’t find her amid the chaos and post show excitement. There was plenty of champagne and other, non-legal stimulants, he noticed. Shannon had thankfully gone off to find her own amusement, which left Antonio free to move through the large, well lit area more easily.

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