Resisting the Sicilian Playboy

By: Amanda Cinelli

CHAPTER ONE

 DARA DEVLIN HAD found herself in a few sticky situations in this job, but this had to be by far the worst.

 A professional event planner should never gatecrash. It had to be written somewhere in the company handbook. Yet here she was, straddling the second-floor balcony ledge of Milan’s most exclusive nightclub in four-inch designer heels.

 All in the name of business, of course.

 The heels had certainly slowed progress up the slippery emergency ladder, but leaving them in the alley below was unthinkable. A woman stood by her shoes, no matter how sticky the situation. And this situation most definitely qualified as sticky.

 Handbag in one hand, she silently willed her skirt not to tear as she manoeuvred herself less than gracefully over the cold stone ledge, landing on hard marble tiles. Her watch showed it was just past ten. An unfashionably early time to be going clubbing in this part of the world, but dancing wasn’t on her agenda tonight.

 The city’s premier celebrity hotspot, Platinum I, was celebrating its grand reopening this weekend and entry was strictly invitation only. No amount of her Irish charm would sway the arrogant hostess with her little black clipboard.

 Nevertheless, Dara was determined to get into this party one way or another. She was only in town for the weekend before she had to head back south to her company’s office in Syracuse. Failing this task just wasn’t an option.

 When her various contacts had said Leonardo Valente was untouchable, she had accepted the challenge with enthusiasm. She had the opportunity to plan the most high-profile wedding of her career—all she needed was one man’s co-operation.

 How hard could it be?

 Even after three weeks of rejected e-mails and dead-end phone calls she had refused to give up. Armed with her tablet computer and her snazziest designer suit, she had foolishly believed she could just travel to his Milan office and demand to be seen.

 The joke was on her. Because it seemed that Leonardo Valente’s office didn’t even exist. The address on his secretary’s e-mail had led her to a professional call-answering headquarters, where her enquiries had all been rejected point-blank.

 It was just plain good luck that she had found out about tonight. The first club in the worldwide Platinum chain was turning ten years old and celebrating with a star-studded relaunch weekend.

 Her grasp on the Italian language was far from perfect, but one thing was certain: Leonardo Valente was here tonight, inside these walls. All she had to do was find a way inside.

 She looked around the empty terrace and felt her stomach tighten. She had hoped it would be some sort of outdoor seating area where she could just climb over the wall and melt into the crowd. She bit her lip. It was still some part of the club, and it was her only hope of getting inside.

 The wall of the building was made almost entirely out of glass, each pane a deep glossy black, making it impossible to see what was inside. The thump of music had been deafening down on the ground, but on this terrace it was completely muffled.

 She ignored the uncomfortable twitch in her stomach, putting it down to nerves. She was sneaking into an exclusive event, after all—nerves were to be expected. In life sometimes you had to break the rules to get ahead, but this pretty much went against every fibre of her goody-two-shoes nature.

 Pushing a strand of blonde hair from her face, she placed one hand on the window. Her pale skin reflected brightly in the black glass, her steel-grey eyes calm and focused as she made her way slowly from pane to pane. She began pressing her fingertips along each narrow gap, searching for a hinge, a hook—something that hinted at an opening.

 After she had exhausted every possible angle, she stepped back and surveyed the rest of the terrace with a frown. It made no sense. Surely there had to be a way to get inside.

 She felt a sudden irrational urge to kick the glass and force her way in. But that would never do. Dara Devlin quite simply did not lose her cool—no matter how rough the situation was getting. It was the main reason brides from all over the world called her to plan their dream Sicilian weddings.

 With a deep, calming breath, she forced herself to think. While climbing up here had definitely been worth a shot, unfortunately she was now two storeys up and not going anywhere fast. Her hands gripped the cold stone as she peered over the ledge. The street looked much further down from up here, and she was suddenly feeling a lot less brave.

 ‘Signorina, is there a particular reason you are sneaking around out here in the darkness?’

 The deep, sensual voice came suddenly from behind her, making her breath catch painfully in her throat.

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