A Dark Sicilian Secret - By Jane Porter
Jillian Smith drew a deep breath as she walked along the jagged cliff overlooking the stormy Pacific Ocean, relishing the fresh air, stunning scenery and a rare moment of freedom. Things were definitely looking up.
She hadn’t seen Vittorio’s men in over nine months and she was certain that if she was careful, they’d never find her here, in this small, private coastal town just a few miles outside Carmel, California.
For one, she didn’t use her name, Jillian Smith, anymore. She had a new identity, April Holliday, and a new look—blonde, tan, as if she were a California native instead of a striking brunette from Detroit. Not that Vitt knew she was from Detroit.
Nor could he know. It was imperative she keep Vittorio, the father of her baby, as far away from her as possible.
He was so dangerous. Such a threat. To her. To Joe. To everything she held dear. She’d loved him, had come so close to imagining a future with him, only to discover that he wasn’t a hero…wasn’t a knight in shining armor but a man like her father. A man who’d made his fortune in organized crime.
Jillian drew a short breath, aware of the tension balling in her shoulders. Relax, she told herself. There’s no reason to be afraid. The danger’s behind you now. Vitt doesn’t know where you are. He can’t take the baby from you. You’re safe. Everything’s good.
She paused along the cliff to stare out at the dark blue water crested with foam. The waves were big today and they crashed against the dark rocks below with power and passion. The sea seemed angry, almost inconsolable, and for a moment she felt the same way.
She’d loved Vitt. And maybe they’d been together only two weeks, but in those two weeks she’d imagined a life with him. Imagined so many possibilities for them.
But then the truth emerged. He wasn’t a hero—no prince on a white stallion—but a terrifying villain.
The first raindrops began to fall and she pushed back her long blond hair from her face, determined to put the past behind her and focus on the present as well as Joe’s future. And Joe would have a great future. She’d make sure he had everything she’d never known—stability, security, a happy home.
Already she’d found a darling rental house just a quarter mile down the road on a quiet cul-de-sac. She’d gotten an amazing job at the Highlands Inn, one of the premier hotels on the Northern California coast, assisting with their marketing and sales. And best of all, she’d found excellent child care so she could work. In fact, lovely Hannah was with Joe now.
The rain pelted down, and the brisk wind whipped at her hair, tugging at her black fisherman’s sweater, but she welcomed the fierce weather, and loved its intensity. She couldn’t help smiling at the ocean, and the endless horizon, imagining life’s possibilities.
“Thinking of jumping, Jill?” A deep male voice spoke behind her.
Her smile vanished as she stiffened in shock, recognizing the smooth, accented voice immediately.
She hadn’t heard his voice in nearly a year, but Vitt’s was impossible to forget. Deep and calm, his voice was pitched to dominate life—whether it be man or nature—and it did.
But then, Vittorio Marcello d’Severano was a force of nature, a human being that inspired awe or fear in virtually everyone.
“There are solutions,” he added softly, so softly that Jillian shuddered, and took a nervous step away from him, putting her closer to the cliff’s edge. Her unsteady footstep sent loose rocks tumbling from the craggy point to the cove below. The falling rocks sounded like her heart shattering and Jill’s throat squeezed closed.
Just when she’d felt secure.
Just when she’d thought they were safe.
“None that I would find acceptable,” she answered flatly, turning slightly but avoiding looking him in the face. She knew better than to look at Vitt closely, much less meet his gaze. Vittorio was a magician, a virtual snake charmer. He could get anyone to do anything just by smiling.
He was that handsome.
He was that powerful.
“Is that all you have to say to me after months of cat-and-mouse games?”
The rain fell harder, drenching Jillian’s thick knit sweater so that it ran with rivulets of water. “I believe everything has already been said. I can’t think of anything I’ve forgotten,” she retorted, her chin tilted in defiance even though her legs shook beneath her. She was torn between fury and terror. Vittorio was just a man, and yet he could, and would,