Read His Discarded Bride: Lied to from birth. Manipulated into marriage. Does love stand a chance? Online
Authors: Melita Joy
Copyright © 2012 Melita Joy
Cover Art Photo Copyright © Volodymyr Ivash |Shutterstock
All rights reserved.
Claudio Fusco, my wonderful husband. I know romance is not your preferred genre. This makes it all the more special when you read my books. Love you always.
Jade Emily, my beautiful daughter. Thank you for reading this book. I loved how you got so involved with the characters. Love you.
Maria Ciantar, my mum. You read every chapter as I wrote it, never once finding a mistake even though there were thousands. I appreciated your encouragement and enjoyed our often daily conversations about the story. Love you.
Giuseppina Fusco. You are a wonderful mother-in-law and your stories of your life and Pontelandolfo have given me much inspiration. Love you and your hugs.
Leanne Murray. Thank you for being such a lovely friend. You were one of the first to buy The Perfect Date. You have given me lovely reviews and supported me publicly. I appreciate your friendship xx
In Loving memory
Nicola Fusco, my father-in-law.
Your beautiful garden is not the same without you in it.
Red-faced, sweating, and stressed, Leilani found her seat and was struggling to get her onboard luggage up in the overhead compartment.
“Here let me help you with that.”
She barely glanced at the man, distracted by her thoughts; she mumbled out the usual thanks and wiggled into the middle seat.
The news had taken her by surprise and with her world turned inside out she’d lost no time in booking an impromptu flight to Rome. The idea was to get away, gather up her thoughts, and hopefully work up the courage to do something about the bombshell she’d just received.
Leilani was hoping to sit back and relax on the plane however it was not as she’d imagined. As she fidgeted to get comfortable, whatever preconceived ideas Leilani had about relaxing during the flight were soon put to rest. The seats were narrow, and the legroom was abysmal. It was going to be a long trip. Her high school friend Seema had organized the ticket for her and had warned her that it would be a long and arduous flight.
Seema was concerned that, considering the recent events, the journey would be too strenuous for her; a notion Leilani quickly dismissed, advising that she was perfectly capable.
Leilani wished that she had been just a little bit more organized though because as per usual when she was in a rush things always seemed to conspire against her. Her good intentions hadn’t helped her to arrive on time. Unfortunately, she’d had an inconvenient crying jag ruining her makeup. With no time to redo, she grabbed her luggage and hauled it down to her car. The boot of the car happened to choose that moment to disobey the remote control, and when she manually opened it she discovered it was full. She’d meant to clean it out but had forgotten, with everything else going on it was hardly surprising.
Finally, she slid the luggage onto the back seat and was ready to go; except she’d had second thoughts as to whether she’d locked all the doors and the windows to the apartment. She took a lift up to the seventh floor and did a final inspection, a good thing, as the balcony door was wide open. Getting back down to the car park level of the building was slow going as new tenants were moving into the building. Annoyingly the elevator was continually filled with their furniture. Leilani opted for the stairs, all seven flights and raced down to the car.
Leilani glanced at the time, her nerves started to get the better of her. If she missed her flight, she wasn’t sure what she would do. An absolute novice at international travel she was fairly sure that her ticket was non-refundable. Hopefully, she would get there in time and not have to worry and if she was late. If she were then surely, she would be able to catch another flight. She crossed her fingers and accelerated a little faster just in case that wasn’t how the system worked.
She found her prepaid long term parking are and realised its proximity wasn’t close to the terminals. If she parked there, she would need to wait for a shuttle bus, and there simply wasn’t time if she was to make the flight. Instead, Leilani opted for valet parking; she would deal with the blow to her credit card when she returned to Australia.
Finally in the terminal with her baggage checked she passed through customs relatively quickly. Reading the departure boards, she made her way to the relevant gate and even had a few minutes to spare. Locating a newsagency she bought some water, magazines, and chocolate bars. With her nerves calmed she stood in front of her gate. Looking at the monitors though, she could see no sign of her flight. She retrieved her boarding pass to confirm the gate number. The flight was not appearing on the board, and there was no sign of an airport official around to assist her.
Slowly panic started to build. Her flight should be boarding now, and she wasn’t sure where she was supposed to be. She raced to another gate and then another until finally she found an attendant. Apparently her gate number had been changed, and she would need to move it to make her flight. Leilani ran with her small onboard suitcase in tow and opted to run beside the full travellator. Halfway down the length of the travellator she cursed her choice. Unfit she felt as though her lungs were going to implode. Red-faced, and sweaty, sheer determination was the only thing pushing her forward.
Her name was being called, and the not so friendly attendant confirmed her name and quickly scanned the ticket. Leilani was physically pushed towards the passenger tunnel to board the plane. Entering the plane, she found her seat and struggled to load her luggage into the overhead compartment while those around her all seemed to be glaring her way.
Renato Favalli watched the woman scurry down the aisle. The plane, fully boarded, had been delayed by her tardiness. Without sighting her who he knew who she was. Leilani Davide, his bride, to be. She was at this point completely oblivious of their pending nuptials. A state he wouldn’t mind being in, completely unaware would be better than the sense of dread he was currently feeling.
His only memory of Leilani was from when he was a young boy of seven or eight years of age. He remembered seeing her as a tiny baby. A beautiful halo of soft blonde hair framed her face. She had clear blue eyes and a pretty little doll mouth. He’d been enchanted with the tiny baby and excited to have a small playmate in the house. He had started to tell her of all the things they would do together when she got a bit bigger. Fishing, ball play and he’d even let her play with his toy car collection if she promised not to break them. He was quite careful with his cars and looked after them with far more maturity than expected for his age. He took one of her tiny hands into his, and he was thrilled when she squeezed his bony finger in her pillowed grip.
“Get him out of here,” his father barked in Italian. His mother had followed Vittorio into the room weeping hysterically and yelling obscenities. His nanny had swiftly ushered him out of the room, and that was the last he’d seen of the lovely baby. In honesty apart from his initial curiosity on where she had disappeared to, which his father had quickly squashed, he truthfully did not consider her again. It was only recently that he had learned the truth and his interaction with the Leilani resurfaced from the depths of his childhood memory.
With the full knowledge of Leilani Davide divulged to him, he had pondered on what she would be like today. He imagined an elegant woman with silky, soft blonde, perfectly styled hair, greyish blue eyes and lush lips. She would, of course, be perfectly groomed with a body well looked after, sun-kissed no doubt from many years in the harsher Australian climate. Aussie’s were known for their athleticism so she surely would have kept her body svelte through years of playing sport or swimming.
Picturing Leilani helped Renato with what he had to do next. Facing his present predicament head on with steely resolve, he’d flown all the way from Rome to Sydney. He intended to claim his bride and secure his deserved inheritance. Nothing would get in his way. He had turned grown the family company from a mediocre national success, into the international empire that now existed. Renato wanted full ownership of the company that he’d grown up believing would be his. Only now there was a catch.
He’d flown in by private jet, arriving at the Kingsford Smith Airport a mere twenty-four hours ago. He’d spent the night at the Park Hyatt, their best suite that included a sauna and fireplace. It was June and winter in Australia, but he had no need for a fire. Compared to the harsher mountain winters of Italy, Sydney’s current weather was more comparable to his idea of a mild spring day. He had views of the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge and a personal butler to oversee all of his needs.
A few hours’ sleep to recover from the flight and an extra sweet macchiato to wake up to was all that he needed. The quality of his morning coffee could almost determine and predict the tone of his day, so he should have been prepared for what happened the following morning. He’d gone straight to Leilani’s house in Leichhardt only to find that Leilani had moved out of the home some time ago.
Rosa, Leilani’s mother, stood before him. She was all of five feet nothing and peered up at him with animosity. “You are too late Renato. By now she will be on her way to Rome.”
He hadn’t expected Rosa to know who he was, but then again he shouldn’t have been all that surprised. Renato was well known across the world, often pictured on the front page of gossip magazines with his latest blonde bombshell fling.
“I see you know who I am,” he stated the obvious.
“You are Vittorio’s adopted son. The whole world knows who you are,” she spat. Unfortunately, I know more than I care to about your family and your kind. Go back to where you came. Leave us alone. You are not welcome here.” She turned back into the house and slammed the old wooden door in his face.
Renato was stunned. He was ruthless he would admit in business and in getting what he wanted, however, today he had barely uttered a few words of polite conversation. He hadn’t expected Rosa’s reaction. If fact he hadn’t been prepared for the confrontation at all. His thoughts had been thoroughly focused on Leilani and getting her across the line with his proposal. Renato had to admit it was unlike him not to have done some level of forward strategic thinking. Turning on polished, Italian leather heels, he immediately started to devise a new plan.
Calling his assistant, he shot off a string of commands before hanging up and heading back to the airport. Camilla efficient as ever called back with confirmation of his arrangements. However, she didn’t understand why he needed to go all the way to Australia to personally pick up ‘some woman’. He hadn’t given Camilla all the details and felt no need to justify his actions to her. Without any encouragement, she’d started throwing in her opinion. She was the best assistant he’d ever had, so he hoped that she wasn’t getting thoughts of becoming a future Mrs. Favalli. It simply wasn’t on the cards for her.
“Renato, why would you want to fly economy?”
“Camilla, I don’t need to explain myself to you. Ensure that I have a seat on that flight next to Miss Davide. Have I made myself clear?”
“Well, why don’t I just put you both on a private jet? It would be a lot simpler.”
“I don’t require easier. I need you to follow my instructions,” his tone was ice-cold.
“Fine,” she huffed, confirming she would execute the details as required.
Renato settled in for the drive back to the airport, focused on his next steps and tried to make sense of what had just transpired. Either Rosa did not agree with his way of life, which was believable given the way the media had painted him as a ruthless businessman and playboy. No, it seemed to him that it would be more likely that bad blood existed long before he had anything to do with it. Luckily, he didn’t care about Rosa’s opinion of him or require her blessings for his plans to take effect. In fact, from what he knew of Rosa, she was the one who should struggle to hold her head high. He could only hope that Leilani was fruit fallen far from the tree.
Twenty-four hours in proximity to Leilani, it would give him ample time to judge her. Pleased with his thoughts, he switched on his phone and made some business calls to Favalli head office in Rome. He wanted a progress update on the newest liqueur flavour his chemist was busy creating. The man was almost impossible to talk to when he was in creation mode, uttering a word or two at best and insisting on complete security and privacy. His chemist had the finest facilities in which to conduct his experimentation, but, of course, opted out of this idea for fear his co-workers would information to their competitors. Until the product was fully developed, he wouldn’t even talk to Renato. It was a frustration he suffered that always paid off in the end.
The car slowed to a stop, and Renato got out before the driver had a chance to open his door. He made his way straight to customs; his luggage would follow in the jet so no need to worry about baggage checks. At customs, he was directed out of the priority queue and into the lengthy lineup. He phoned Camilla.
“You wanted economy so get in line,” he didn’t like her attitude.
“What am I paying you for,” he hissed. “Get this sorted I am not standing here in this line for the next hour,” he looked over the dubious assortment of travelers. Those close enough to be privy to his outburst looked at him with distaste.
“Shall I get the jet prepared then?”
He terminated the call and waited in line, quickly learning how the other half lived. Accustomed to alternative entries, non-existent lines and red carpet treatment, standing here waiting in line was an unwanted, unique experience. She had better be worth the effort. An hour later he finally made his way to the counter and passed through customs by a less than courteous officer.
Refusing to sit in the general waiting area, he found the first class lounge where he was recognized and ushered in. Feeling slightly mollified he organized a scotch on the rocks and found a quiet, undisturbed sitting area. He used the pre-boarding time to check his influx of emails.
He motioned a sexy blonde staff member his way. The blondes always caught his eye and charming her he organised priority boarding. Falling over herself to accommodate the billionaire’s request, she was tipped handsomely for her efforts. Renato wanted the advantage of seeing Leilani and sizing her up as she made her way down the aisle. Frustratingly his rushed arrangements to Australia had not given his detectives enough time to produce a photo of the elusive Leilani. Ushered to an aisle seat he noticed the shabby, threadbare seat covers and ashtrays still in existence on the arm rests. If you could call the thin metal rails a resting area. An individual seat on a private jet was larger than these three seats combined. He curled himself down into the seat and had a moment of regret. At precisely six foot, he wasn’t built for such cramped conditions.