Bought by Her Italian Boss(2)

By: Dani Collins

Time stopped as Gwyn processed that she was being fired. Stupid her, she had thought she was being called in to talk about a client’s possible misappropriation of funds, not to be disgraced in front of the entire world.

Literally the entire world. This was what online bullying felt like. This was persecution. A witch hunt. Stoning. She couldn’t take in how monumentally unjust this was.

The only experience she could liken it to was when her mother had been diagnosed. Words were being said, facts stated that couldn’t be denied, but she had no real grasp of how the next minute or week or the rest of her life would play out from this moment forward.

She didn’t want to face it, but she had no choice.

And the silence around her told her they were all waiting for her to do so.

Very slowly, she turned to the man who’d just entered, but it wasn’t Paolo Donatelli, president and head of the family that owned Donatelli International. No, it was far worse.

Vittorio Donatelli. Paolo’s cousin, second-in-command as VP of operations. A man of, arguably, even more stunningly good looks, at least in her estimation. His features were as refined and handsome as his Italian heritage demanded. He was clean-shaven, excruciatingly well dressed in a tailored suit and wore an air of arrogance that came as much from his lean height as his aloof expression. His ability to dominate any situation was obvious in the way they all stood in silence, waiting for him to speak.

He didn’t know her from Adam, she knew that. She’d smiled brightly at him not long after arriving here in Milan, forgetting that secret crushes didn’t know they were the object of such yearnings. He’d looked right through her and it had stung. Quite badly, illogically.

“Nadine. Oscar,” Vittorio said with a brief flick of his gaze to the other occupants of the room before coming back to give Gwyn a piercing stare from his bronze eyes.

Her heart gave a skip between pounds, reacting to him even when she was verging on hysteria. Her mouth was so dry she couldn’t make it stretch into a smile. She doubted she would ever smile again. The strange buzz inside her intensified.

“Miss Ellis,” he said with a hostile nod of acknowledgment.

He knew her name from Nadine’s report, she supposed. The furious accusation in his eyes told her he’d seen the photos. Of course he’d seen them. That’s why he had stooped from the lofty heights of the top floor to the midlevel of the Donatelli Tower.

Gwyn’s shallow breaths halted and her knees quivered. She was weirdly shocked by how defenseless the idea of his seeing her naked made her feel, but the effect this very perfect stranger had had on her from the start was unprecedented. She’d seen him stride through the offices in Charleston once and that simple glimpse of an incredibly handsome and dynamic man had made her view the postings at the head office in Milan that much more favorably than any other branch in the organization. She had wanted to advance, would have taken whatever promotions she could land, but this was her dream location.

Because it gave her the chance to see him.

Be careful what you wish for. She mashed her lips together into a hard, steady line, heart scored, then turned her face away, trying to recover.

He was, quite obviously, nothing like the man she’d constructed in her mind. Italian men were warm and gregarious and adored women, she had thought, expecting he’d flirt with her if they ever actually spoke. She had expected him to give her a chance to intrigue him, despite the fact that she worked for him.

But the man she had been obsessing over had not only glimpsed her naked, he was completely unmoved by what he’d seen. He was repelled. Blamed her. Was privately calling her a whore and worse—

She stopped herself from spiraling. The pieces of her shattered world were being kicked around enough. She had to keep a grip.

But she wasn’t used to being rejected out of hand, seeing no interest whatsoever from a man. The reaction was usually the opposite. Her body had always pulled a certain amount of male attention. She didn’t encourage it and was pretty boring personality-wise. She worked in banking, for heaven’s sake. Her hair was the most common brown you could find and she wasn’t terribly pretty. Her face was only elevated from plain to pleasant by her mother’s exceptionally good skin and a cheery nature that usually kept a smile on her mouth. So she shouldn’t be that surprised when a man who could have his pick of women showed no interest in her.

It made her ache all the same.

Think, she ordered herself, but it was hard when she was stuck in this swamp of feeling so thoroughly scorned by a man who enthralled her.

“I want a lawyer,” she managed to say.

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