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Dark Masquerade: A Bad Boy Billionaire Romance
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When I took the job, I had no idea what it would bring.
These two men have a history. I know that. But where do I fit into that, I don’t know.
Somebody does. Someone is watching me.
Both of them are gorgeous, sexy and rich as hell—not that money matters to me …
Both of them are pursuing me …and it should be every girl’s dream, but …
I’m in too deep. If I follow my heart, I could be living a life of love, incredible sex, and of happiness …or I could be dead within days.
What do I do?
Dark Masquerade is a full-length standalone novel with a guaranteed HEA and no cliffhanger.
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Elliana Moretti pulled her too-thin coat around her as she hurried over the bridges and through the small streets of Venice to work. An ice storm had blown through the city, and as usual, Elli had been completely unprepared for it.
At twenty-eight, Elli had made a name for herself as a tenacious investigative journalist, focused entirely on her career. Her beauty was useful, getting her through the door of places she might otherwise have been refused from, but once she had her prey on her hook, her intelligence and talent were what most people admired about her. Vivienne Marche, publishing maven, had seen those qualities when Elli had applied for an internship with her. Elli had worked for Vivienne for five years at their San Francisco office before they both relocated back to Elli’s hometown to start the new magazine.
Today, the magazine, a women-led political and social monthly, was hosting a lunch for Aldo Costanza, an American-Italian philanthropist billionaire who had recently relocated to Venice from Rome. Vivienne had told Elli that the man was thinking of investing heavily in the magazine.
“It would mean the magazine could go international.” Vivienne was excited. Elli could see that. “It would mean I could send my top journalist abroad to dig out the stories she really wants to write,” Vivienne added, with a meaningful look at a grinning Elli.
“Well, in that case …” Elli chuckled, enthused by her boss’s excitement.
Now, as Elli walked briskly through the frozen Venice streets, she was trying to compile in her head a list of stories she had wanted to go deep into and the possibilities that lay ahead. She was so lost in thought that she didn’t see the car as she walked across the road. Someone shouted a warning, and she looked up to see the car bearing down on her. She jumped back and slipped, crashing to the cold, hard ground and slamming her head against the stone. The car skimmed past her without stopping.
For a second, dazed, she lay there, head whirling, until she felt someone crouch down beside her. “Are you all right?”
Elli pushed herself into a sitting position, still stunned. A man peered down at her. “You’re bleeding, Bella.”
He pulled a clean, white handkerchief from his pocket and pressed it to her temple. “Should I call an ambulance?”
Elli was horrified and tried to get up. “No, I’m fine. Thank you for stopping to help me. It was just a fall …” She swallowed hard when she saw the amount of blood on the man’s handkerchief and her head whirled.
“Sweet one, I think we should go get you checked out anyway …you might need stitches.”
In one swift movement, he swept her up into his arms and was carrying her toward his huge, black Mercedes. Elli wanted to protest, but she couldn’t form the words. God, her head was killing her …damn, what if she’d cracked her skull? Today, of all days? Of anyone, Elli would hate to let Vivienne down; her boss was like her big sister as well as her mentor and her heroine.
The man put her in the back of his car and got in beside her, calling an order to his driver. He cradled her in his arms. Elli felt her body get cold—was she in shock? It was just a fall, goddamn it …but her head whirled and she felt faint and nauseous. Her companion stroked her hair back from the wound.
“Sweetheart, you must stay awake for me. What’s your name?”
“A name as beautiful as its owner.”
He had a nice voice, she thought fuzzily. But now there were black spots in her vision and her chest felt tight.
“Elliana, don’t faint on me now …”
His voice faded into the recesses of her memory as she slipped away into darkness.
Elli woke on a gurney in a hospital room. She blinked a couple of times and felt pain sear through her skull. She moaned quietly, then heard a scrape of a chair on linoleum.
“Elli? Welcome back.”
Turning her head caused a jolt of pain that nearly drew the curtains back over her eyes once more.
“Stay still,” the voice warned, coming closer until the face attached to it swam into view.
Elli squinted, making out dark hazel eyes, stubble, and light brown hair cropped close to his head. He looked vaguely familiar. Somewhere at the back of her battered brain, she also registered that he was seriously good looking, but it hurt too much to put that into any kind of context.
The man leaned down, bringing those warm eyes that much closer, and gently brushed her cheek with his knuckle. Heat flared through her for a moment, bright enough to dislodge the dizziness. “Stay still, Bella,” he repeated softly. “You have a bad concussion.”
“What happened?” she asked in confusion.
“You were very nearly hit by a car. It could have been far worse, but you have a severe concussion, Bella,” he repeated. “They’ve stitched your head wound. You’ll be okay, but you’ll have to stay here for a day or two.”