The Tycoon's Shock Heir(2)

By: Bella Frances

He let the sentence dangle in the air. Even over the thousand miles that separated them he could imagine the mixture of heartache and hunger on his mother’s face.

‘You’re absolutely sure about that?’

He paused. There was no point in pretending.

‘We’re the only ones properly in the running. I heard Claudio’s going to throw his hat in the ring. But he’s poison. His reputation has travelled to Switzerland, I guarantee it. He hasn’t got a chance.’

‘Matty, I don’t want you to get involved.’

Her tone sank further than the ground beneath the plane.

‘Mamma. You know this is the one that matters. Claudio walked away with half our clients and now I’m going to get them back. If we merge with Arturo we’ll be unstoppable. I can do this. I promise you.’

‘I don’t want you to promise anything, Matty. I don’t want you losing your mind the way your father did. It’s not worth it. Nothing’s worth it.’

He sighed and released his hand from the bottle. He had known she’d feel like this and he couldn’t blame her, but they’d never get another chance.

‘I can’t let it pass—you know that,’ he said quietly. ‘Come on, Mamma. For Dad. We can’t let Claudio get one over on us again.’

He waited for her to speak, but the plane climbed through silence. He could imagine the worry knitting her fine brows, twin tracks of loss and anguish. The look that had haunted her for years.

But she was Coral Rossini. And he was her son...

‘You’re right. We can’t let that happen,’ she said finally. ‘We can’t sit back and let him walk all over us again.’

‘Exactly,’ he said, letting out a breath.

‘But you have to promise me that if he tries to do anything you’ll walk away. Matteo. Promise me. I can’t lose a husband and a son.’

The image of his father lying across the dashboard of his car flashed through his mind and he clenched his jaw so hard he could almost taste metal. Metal that he would use to grind Claudio’s bones to dust. One day.

‘You have nothing to fear, Mamma.’

‘I have everything to fear. I couldn’t bear anything to happen to you.’

The break in her voice killed him. She had more strength and resilience than anyone else alive. The fact that they could even say the name ‘Claudio’ in a conversation now was testament to how far they’d come. That man had been closer than family, his father’s best friend, his trusted lawyer then partner, and he’d sold them out—right under their noses. No one had been able to believe he’d set it all up and got away with it. And the rest. The unspeakable dark shadow he’d cast over their lives.

All they could do was put one foot in front of the other and try to salvage Banca Casa di Rossini—the two-hundred-year-old private bank of the Italian super-rich.

‘Nothing’s going to happen other than us taking the bank back to where it should be. Even if we don’t get all of Arturo’s clients we’ll outrank Claudio. And that’s all that matters, isn’t it?’

The plane hit a patch of turbulence and Matty looked out at the thick grey cloud wrapping itself over the Italian countryside, Not even a thunderstorm was going to dim his spirits. Not with this rainbow on the horizon. Handing their crock of gold back to his mother had been his dream for years.

‘What about the name? We might need to change the bank’s name. Have you thought of that?’

‘I’m ahead of you. If it comes to it, I’ll do it. BAR. Banca Arturo Rossini. How does that sound?’

‘Oh, Matty...’

He heard the wistful note in her voice. He felt it too. The bank went back generations, was respected the world over. But it was live or die. There was no third way.

‘It’s not what I want, but if it’s the only way... We really do have a chance with this, don’t we?’

Matty looked up as the woman in red walked past him down the aisle, the satin of her dress catching the light with every slow, steady step. His eyes zoned in on her legs again. They were quite something. And the way the skirt swished gently above her elegant calves with every step she took triggered a strong response. An unwelcome response.

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