VITTORIO'S RUNAWAY BRIDE (The Vittorio Series) (23 page)

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“This cannot wait.”
Dante stopped in front of Logan’s desk, his expression somber.
“When Luca and I were escorting Alicia out of the building
I warned her we would not hesitate to press charges for stalking if she did not stay away from Shelby.
She was already furious because we took her out the back way, but her temper really blew when I said that.”

“So she was angry,” Logan shrugged indifferently, “I did not expect that she would be happy after being lit into by Shelby.”

“She was not just angry,” Dante said grimly, “she was so livid she was shaking.
She swore she would get even
you and Shelby for humiliating her

I do not think she was making idle threats.”

“She has left me with no choice but to call Richard,”
sighed wearily.
“In the meantime, I will have Grady arrange for more security at the house.
Ask Simon to hire on a second private investigator as well so there is someone watching Alicia twenty-four hours a day, at least until I can talk to Richard and see if he can…”

“It is too late to bring in a second man,” Dante interceded.

Logan’s spine went rigid.
“What do you mean it is too late?”

“Alicia must have figured out we were having her followed.
I just received a call from our investigator, Marcus Browne, informing me that she gave him the slip.”

“Gave him the slip,” Logan repeated woodenly.

“After she left here, Alicia stopped at a nail salon.
Since it was not unusual for her to spend an hour there, Browne did not get suspicious until another half hour passed and she still had not come out.
When he went inside to look for her, he was told she had stayed only long enough to call a cab and had exited out the back way.”

The bottom dropped out of Logan’s stomach.
“She is probably just playing games,” he told his brother, but there was a serious lack of conviction in his voice.
“Even if she did intend to follow Shelby, she could not have gotten back here before Shelby left so there is nothing to worry about.”

“Shelby is at home?”

I made her promise not to stop anywhere on the way there, but I think I would feel much better if Grady sent out a few extra security guards.”

Dante nodded in agreement.
“Just as a precaution, maybe you should tell Shelby not to wander around on the grounds…”

Logan was reaching for the phone before Dante even finished, the acid in his stomach churning harder with each successive ring.
When Alba finally did pick up, he was wound so tight he barked at her for taking so long then ordered her to get Shelby on the phone.
Never in his life had he spoken so harshly to the poor woman and it took him several minutes to calm her down enough to make her listen to him.

, I am sorry, Alba, but is very important that I speak with Shelby.”

“You wish me to wake her?”

The relief that washed over Logan was so enormous, he nearly dropped the phone.
“No, let her sleep, she needs her rest.
I will be home shortly.”

“Go home to your wife,” Dante said as soon as he hung up.
“I will talk to Simon and Grady about the extra security.”

There were no words to express his gratitude so Logan didn’t even try.
He wasn’t sure what Alicia was capable of and didn’t want to find out.
If it meant keeping Shelby by his side twenty-four hours a day until he could reach Richard and have him put a stop to all of this, then that was precisely what he would do.
The woman was even crazier than he thought if she believed for one minute that he
let her get close enough to hurt Shelby.

Logan pushed the speed limit all the way and didn’t even take the time to pull his car into the garage.
He parked in the circular driveway as close to the front door as he could get then all but ran up the walkway and into the house.
He took the stairs two at a time and hurried down the hallway, pausing just outside their bedroom in order to calm himself.

Easing the door open so he wouldn’t wake Shelby, he slipped into the darkened room and stood over the bed.
Light spilled in from the hallway
but she had her back to him so he couldn’t see her face.
She must have been so worn out she’d taken a shower then lay down to rest and fallen asleep with the towel still wrapped her head.

There was a soft rustling as she turned over to lie on her back, a sexy smile playing on her lips.
“Darling, what took you so long?
I’ve been waiting for hours.”

Logan stumbled backwards, clutching at his chest.
“What the hell are you doing here?”
e choked out.

“Funny,” Alicia laughed as she sat up and pulled the towel off her head, “that’s exactly what your wife said when she found me in your bed.”

Chapter 12

It took every ounce of self-restrained he possessed not to curl his fingers around Alicia’s throat and strangle the life out of her.
And maybe on some level she understood that because she chose to climb off the opposite side of the bed and remained there while Logan visibly fought to control his temper.

Raw fear clawed at his chest when he thought of what this maniac might have done with his wife but he didn’t dare reveal just how scared he really was.
When he finally spoke, his voice was low and even, though his insides were shaking so hard it was a wonder he could talk without his teeth rattling.

“Where is she?”

Alicia shrugged.
“How should I know?”

“I am not in the mood for games.
Tell me where she is.”

“She could be anywhere by now,” Alicia said
. “When she found me in your bed and demanded to know what I was doing here, I told her you
given me the key to the house and asked me to wait for you here.”

“She would not have believed your lies,” Logan said with firm confidence.

“Oh, she didn’t at first.
But when I told her what a fool she’d been to believe that staged performance this afternoon, she couldn’t get out of here fast enough.”

His eyes narrowed into slits.
“Shelby would not have left unless she intended to come straight to me.”

“Well,” Alicia grinned slyly, “maybe I
elaborate a little more than I should have.
The poor thing was in tears when she ran off, and she looked so lost I almost felt sorry for her.”

Logan’s stomach lurched.
“You are lying,” he croaked.

“Really,” she drawled, “then how do you explain her absence?”

“You have taken her somewhere, or maybe you have locked her in the closet.”
He glanced hopefully towards the closet but his spirits plummeted when he saw the door standing open.
“I am warning you, if you do not tell me what you have done with Shelby, I will call the police and let them get it out of you.”

Alicia’s laugh was venomous.
“I don’t think you want to do that, Logan.
As I told your brothers when they threw me out of your building, I want revenge for the humiliation I suffered and I intend to get it.”

“If you have hurt Shelby in any way…”

“Don’t worry, my darling, your precious wife has not suffered any bodily harm,
though her mental state was pretty precarious when she went flying out of here.”

The thought of Shelby being so crushed by Alicia’s cruelty that she fled the house in tears enraged him.
A primal growl tore from Logan’s throat as he lunged across the bed and caught Alicia by the wrist before she had time to react.
She struggled to free herself but he’d gotten a firm grip and held on tight while he maneuvered himself over the side of the bed and stood up.
Grabbing the other wrist, he twisted both arms behind her back, effectively putting an end to any hopes she had of getting away.

“I am going to ask you one more time and so help me God, if you do not tell me where my wife is
I will kill you with my bare hands.”

Alicia’s bravado slipped several notches.
“I…I can’t tell you because I don’t know.”

“Did she say anything before she left?
Did she mention a cottage or if she was going to come and see me?”

“She didn’t say anything.
She wasn’t so brave without you standing behind her,” Alicia said with disdain.
“She started crying then turned around and ran just like she did the last time.
She doesn’t deserve a man like you, Logan…”

“What did you say?”
Logan dropped his hold on her wrists and gripped her shoulders.
“What do you mean,
just like she did the last time

“Now Logan, don’t be angry with me.
I was only trying to prove she wasn’t worthy of you.
And I was right, can’t you see that?
After seeing us together, s
he deserted you without even confronting you about our affair
.  I
f she really loved you…”

Our affair
There was no affair,” he ground out, “there was never anything between us but what you imagined in that crazy head of yours!
Mio Dio
, how long have you plotting this…this destruction of my life?”

Alicia’s eyes widened.
“What are you talking about?
Logan, I did it for you, for
I love you, and I know I could make you happy if you
just give me the chance.”

Siete insano
, you have lost your mind!
I have never said or done anything to make you believe I wanted an intimate relationship with you.”

“But you did,” she cried.
“That first time we met, I knew you wanted me.
Maybe you didn’t come right out and say it but I saw it in your eyes when you looked at me.”

“I was thinking of my
,” he said sharply then drew in a deep breath before attempting to reason with her.
“Listen to me, Alicia.
I swear on my life if you just tell me where Shelby is and promise to leave us alone, I will forget any of this ever happened.”

“Please don’t say that,” she choked out.
“I want to be with you, Logan.
Why can’t you see how perfect we
be together?
You need a wife who
sophisticated and at ease with the type of people you associated with, not some shy little wallflower.
And I would never run out on you the way Shelby did…”

“She did
run out on me,” he said between clenched teeth, “you drove her away with your lies.”

“If she really loved you she wouldn’t have believed my lies,” Alicia shot back.
“She’s gone, Logan, and she
not coming back.”
She smiled up at him, her demeanor instantly changing.
“Everything is working out just like I planned, please don’t spoil it.”

The woman was
there was no doubt in his mind about that.
What he didn’t know was whether Alicia’s obsession with him had have driven her to physically hurt Shelby or if she really had run
his wife
off with wild fabrications about having an affair with him.
The most important thing right now was finding out exactly what happened so he could determine his next move.
Until he knew for sure that Shelby safe he
have to keep up the pretense that he was at least tempted by Alicia’s offer to become lovers.

Logan gentled his grip on her shoulders.
“Perhaps you are right,
mia bella
I deserve a woman who does not run like a frightened rabbit every time she hears rumors of my infidelity.
I am…intrigued by your cleverness in chasing her off not once, but twice.”
With a faint smile, he steered her towards the loveseat in the sitting area.
“Come sit with me.
I want to hear every fascinating detail.”


Shelby squeezed her eyes shut against the pain.
t wasn’t the ropes Alicia had used to bind her with that was causing this God awful ache inside
.  I
t was the knowledge that Alicia Delatorre was going to get exactly what she
been scheming for; Logan.

She would have bet her life that Logan would never succumb to that horrible woman’s attempts to seduce him.
The fact was, she
bet it…and she’d lost, because right now Logan was convinced that his wife had run out on him again and was seeking comfort in the arms of the woman who
made him believe it was true.

What hurt even more was that Shelby had practically handed him over on a silver platter, her blind faith in her husband making it impossible to see just how good Alicia was at playing everyone around her, including Logan.
How stupid and naïve she
been to think that Alicia would
keep her
promise and disappear from their lives if Shelby could prove that Logan would remain faithful no matter what lies he was fed.
And now here she was, helpless to do anything to stop what was happening just one floor above her.

It was worse than any torture she could imagine; listening through the intercom while her heart was slowly being shredded by the conversation taking place between Logan and Alicia.
yes, Alicia
been clever, diabolically so, because she’d not only placed Shelby in the one room that would insure her screams couldn’t be heard, but the acoustics were so good
Shelby could hear every word that was spoken in both her bedroom and the adjoining sitting room with perfect clarity.

Perhaps you are right, mia bella.
I deserve a woman who does not run like a frightened rabbit every time she hears rumors of my infidelity.
God, would she ever be able to drown out the sound of Logan’s voice or the horrendous pain that washed over her when his words replayed themselves in her head?
And the horrible lies Alicia was telling…it made her stomach turn to think she’d fallen prey to such a vile creature.

Except for the part about finding Alicia in their bedroom, everything else had been a work of fiction.
Shelby had come home to an empty house, but she hadn’t been concerned since Alba often went to the market for fresh fruit and vegetables
for their evening meal
  Alba adored Logan and only the crispest salads and firmest fruits were good enough for him.
hadn’t given it a second thought when she found the kitchen empty
.  She
stopped just long enough to write a quick note about what she wanted Alba to prepare for dinner that night before
up to her room.

Contrary to what Alicia told Logan, she hadn’t been in their bed when Shelby walked in.
perched on the window seat
looking docile as a kitten
and had jumped to her feet when Shelby strolled absently into the room.
The quick movement had scared Shelby half to death and she’d let out a startled yelp before anger overrode the momentary rush of fear.

“What the hell are you doing here?”
Shelby demanded as she strode across the room.

“Please…I know I shouldn’t be here, but I just had to apologize,” Alicia said, looking genuinely contrite.

“As much as I appreciate the sentiment,” Shelby replied caustically, “breaking into my house and invading the privacy of my bedroom is hardly the way to go about it.”

“I know, and I’m sorry about that too.
It’s just…I knew if I waited until Logan came home he
refuse to let me talk to you
.  A
nd I was afraid that if I came to the front door you
turn me away without hearing what I had to say.”

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