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Bought by Her Italian Boss

By:Dani Collins

Bought by Her Italian Boss
Dani Collins


GWYN ELLIS LOOKED from the screen to Nadine Billaud, the public  relations manager for Donatelli International, then back to the screen.

"This is you, oui?" Nadine prodded.

Gwyn couldn't speak. Her heart had begun slamming inside her rib cage  the moment she had recognized herself. Cold sweat coated her skin. Air  wouldn't squeeze past her locked throat, let alone words.

That was her. Naked. Right there on that computer, the line of her bare  bottom clear as the crack of dawn, neatly framed by her hot pink thong.  Everyone had a backside that looked more or less like that, but she was  extremely selective about showing hers to anyone. She certainly didn't  email shots like this to men she barely knew. Or post them online.

Her whole body felt like a frozen electrical current was vibrating through her, paralyzing her.

The photo changed and that bare torso with the sheet rumpled across her  upper thighs was all her, too. The way her breasts lifted as she arched  her back and ran fingers through her hair bordered on deliberately  erotic, coupled with that blissful, upturned expression. She looked like  she'd been making love all day-as if she even knew what that felt like!

Then the final one came up again. She was adjusting the band of her hot  pink undies across her cocked hip, looking like she was teasingly  deciding whether to keep them on or remove them, eyes still lazily  drooped and soft satisfaction painted across her lips.

The lighting was golden and her skin faintly gleamed-with oil, she  realized as her brain began to function past the shock. These had been  taken at the spa where she'd had a massage, trying to fix the ache  between her shoulder blades that had been torturing her for weeks. She  was sitting up and dressing after her appointment, relaxed and  comfortable in what she had perceived as complete privacy.

The massage table had been cropped from the images, leaving muted  sage-green walls and indistinct, blurred flowers in the background. It  could have been a hotel room, a bedroom-whatever the viewer wanted to  imagine.

Her stomach roiled. She thought she might be hyperventilating because  she could hear a distant hiss. She wanted to throw up, pass out, die.  Please God, take me now.

"Mademoiselle?" Nadine badgered.

"Yes," she stammered. "It's me." Then, as the sheer mortification of the  whole thing struck, she added a strident, "Can you close that, please?"

She glanced at Signor Fabrizio, her supervisor. He sat next to her with a supercilious expression on his middle-aged face.

"Why are you showing those like that? With him in here?" Gwyn asked. "Couldn't we have done this privately?"

"They're available to anyone with an online connection. I've seen them,"  Fabrizio said pithily. "I brought them to Nadine's attention."

He'd already taken a long look? Gross.

Tears hit her eyes like the cut of a hard, biting wind. An equally  brutal blow seemed to land in her stomach, pushing nausea higher into  the back of her throat.

"Surely you knew this could happen when you took those photos and sent them to Mr. Jensen?" Nadine said.

Nadine had kept her snooty nose high in the air from the moment Gwyn had  followed Fabrizio into her office. Fabrizio kept giving her darkly smug  looks, like he was staring right through her perfectly respectable blue  pencil skirt and matching jacket.

He made her skin crawl.

And worry for her job. Her palms were sweating.

"I didn't take those photos," she said as strongly as her tight throat  would allow. "And you think I would send something like that to a  client? They're-oh, for the love of God." She heard the door opening  behind her and shot to her feet, reaching to push the lid of Nadine's  laptop down herself, wishing the images could be quashed that easily.

Deep in the back of her psyche, she knew she was going to cry. Soon.  Pressure was building behind her collarbone, compressing her lungs,  pushing behind her eyes. But for the moment she was in a type of shock.  Like she'd been shot and still had the strength to run before the true  depth of her injuries debilitated her.

"Signor Donatelli." Nadine rose. "Thank you for coming."

"You notified him?" Signor Fabrizio jerked to his feet, sounding dismayed.

Whatever remained of Gwyn's composure went into free fall. The owner of  the bank was here? She tried to gather herself to face yet another  denigrating expression.

"It's protocol with something this dangerous to the bank's reputation,"  Nadine said stiffly, adding to the weight on Gwyn's heart.

"She's being dismissed," Fabrizio hurried to assure Signor Donatelli. "I was about to tell her to collect her things."                       


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.