VITTORIO'S RUNAWAY BRIDE (The Vittorio Series) (24 page)

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“You would have been right on both counts,” she crossed her arms.
“I’ll give you five minutes to say what you came here to say but I warn you, Mrs. Delatorre, if you so much as raise your voice to me I
call the police and have you arrested for breaking and entering.”

“I won’t cause any trouble, I swear.
I only wanted to apologize for my abominable behavior and to explain why I did all those horrible things to you and Logan.
You see…”

Both of them glanced towards the doorway when they heard the faint strains of someone humming a song as they came down the hall.
Shelby turned back to Alicia and was surprised to find she looked nervous.

“It’s only Alba, our live-in cook and housekeeper.”

“I would prefer it if no one else knew I was here.
If word got out to Richard…” Alicia’s voice trailed off, but her eyes continued to plead with Shelby to keep her visit a secret.

Shelby hurried across the room and stuck her head out the doorway.
“Alba, I’m going to take a short nap before dinner.
I left a note in the kitchen to let you know what I’d like you to make tonight.”

“All of Logan’s favorites, I see,” Alba beamed.
“Does this mean there is something special to celebrate?”

“Very special,” Shelby returned her smile.
“I’m sure he would love it if you whipped up one of your fabulous cobblers for dessert too.”

, I will start on it right away.”

“Thank you,” she called after Alba, who was already heading back downstairs.

“A celebration?”
Alicia asked after Shelby closed the door.

“Logan closed an important deal today,” she lied.
“Now what were you saying?”

Alicia glanced at the door then back at Shelby.
“Is there someplace else we c
A spare bedroom maybe where no one will interrupt us?
I know it’s a lot to ask,” she rushed on before Shelby could refuse, “but I don’t want to take the chance we’ll be overheard.
I feel so guilty for the awful things I’ve said and done and it’s going to be hard enough to explain myself without worrying about Alba or one of your other servants listening in.”

Shelby bristled.
“First of all, Alba isn’t a
, she’s practically part of the family.
And you don’t have to worry about the other people we employ here because they
all gone home for the night.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to sound so arrogant.”
She gave Shelby a tentative smile.
“I’m afraid the people Richard employs are
quite so respectful of my privacy, but if you’re sure she won’t come back, this will be fine.”

Shelby hadn’t suspected a thing.
It didn’t even enter her mind that she was being manipulated so that it seemed like it was her own idea to move to a more secluded part of the house.
She’d blithely confessed that she knew Alba checked on her whenever she wasn’t feeling well or if she remained in her room or studio too long.
The older woman clucked over both her and Logan like a mother hen so there was a good possibility she
at least peek her head into the room to make sure Shelby was all right.

only two rooms Alba doesn’t go into on a regular basis,” she told Alicia.
“Logan has a workout room on the first floor
and just down from that is a small music studio.
It’s completely sound proof and the only way anyone c
hear us is if they switch on the intercom for that particular room.”

“It sounds perfect,” Alicia agreed with a warm smile.
“Can we reach it without being seen?”

“That shouldn’t be a problem.
I’m sure Alba is in the kitchen baking her heart out for Logan.”

“What if she comes to check on you and you’re not here?”

“That could be a problem,” Shelby admitted, knowing Alba would scour the entire house if she was missing.
“I have an idea…” she hurried into the bathroom and emerged a few minutes later.
“I turned the shower on.
If Alba does come to check on me, she’ll hear it running and think I’m in the bathroom.”

“Perfect,” Alicia said again.

Shelby tossed her purse on the vanity.
“Let’s go then.
Logan will be home shortly and he won’t be at all happy if he finds you here.”

hey’d sneaked down the stairs to the back of the house and locked themselves inside the music studio.
Ironically, it was Shelby who
insisted Logan add it to the floor plans when he’d had the house built because she played the piano herself and hoped that one day their children would share her love of music and want to take up an instrument.
As always, he’d indulged in her wishes
, and
now she was entombed in the only room in the house that no sound could escape from.

Shelby seated herself in the overstuffed armchair Logan had purchased so he
have someplace comfortable to sit while he listened to her play.
She sank down onto the cushion while Alicia paced nervously and was actually feeling sorry for the woman.
How lonely her existence must be if she felt the need to pursue a married man, and how awful to have to face that man’s wife and confess all the horrid things she’d done.
Even so, she was starting to get impatient when Alicia suddenly stopped pacing and turned to face her.

“I think it’s only fair to tell you everything right from the beginning.
The first time I met Logan was at my house.
to talk to Richard but was a little early so I came in from the pool to greet him.
He took my breath away
but it wasn’t just his looks that attracted me to him.
It’s the way he dominates a room just by being in it and the image of and power and strength he portrays so effortlessly.”


“Oh, don’t get your feathers ruffled, I’m merely explaining what it was that made him different from other men.”

what makes him different from other men,” Shelby said icily, “I certainly don’t need you to tell me.”

“No, I don’t suppose you do.
At first, it was just a fantasy to become Logan’s lover
but every time I saw him I wanted him even more.
I realized, of course, that to make my fantasy come true I had to get rid of any obstacles standing in my way, namely you and Richard.”

Shelby couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“Are you telling me you’
been plotting to break us up even before…” she stopped abruptly when she realized what she’d been about to say
but Alicia was nodding slowly as if to confirm her fears.
my God,” her voice shook, “you couldn’t possibly…”

“Oh, but I did,” Alicia smiled proudly.
“Once I decide to do something
I don’t let anything dissuade me.
I hired someone to follow you and learned your routine.
I even became a regular at the same hair salon you use and discovered you had an appointment on the same day Richard and I were meeting Logan for lunch.
I convinced Richard to spend a romantic evening with me at the hotel across from the salon then suggested it might save time if he asked Logan to pick me up on the way to the restaurant.”

“But you couldn’t have known I
be running late and see you coming out of the hotel or how I
would react to it

Shelby,” she laughed, “you really are as naïve as you seem, aren’t you?
I’ll bet you’ve never done anything even slightly deceptive in your life
no matter how strong the temptation.
I, on the other hand, have had years of practice, and making other women green with jealousy is something I
m very good at.”

“You couldn’t have orchestrated all of that,” Shelby insisted, “it was pure luck I happened to be leaving the salon when you and Logan walked out.”

“It wasn’t that difficult, believe it or not.
I knew what time your appointment was and about how long it would take.
I also knew Logan wouldn’t be late picking me up so I needed to make sure
were late leaving the salon.
It was easy enough,” she boasted, “all I had to do was wait until you’d gone inside then make a quick call to your hair dresser and keep him on the phone for ten minutes.
From the lobby
I had a clear shot of the salon entrance so I stalled Logan by pretending to adjust the strap on my heels until I saw you coming out.”

Shelby stood up slowly, her whole body shaking with rage.
“So you knew I saw you together and you convinced Logan he needed to help you down the stairs because of the heels you were wearing.
you kissed him
to insure I thought there was something going on between the two of you

What kind of monster are you?
Didn’t it bother you at all to know you were destroying the life of someone you didn’t even know?
And w
hat if I hadn’t jumped to the wrong conclusions, what would you have done then?”

Alicia smiled, but there was nothing
cold disdain in her eyes and voice.
“I am not a monster; I’m merely a woman who saw what she wanted and went for it.
And there was no question as to whether you
be jealous when you saw your husband with his arm around
, not when we were coming
of a hotel in the middle of the day
and not after I
taken so much trouble to look the part of a seductress.
If only Logan had been as easy as my other conquests, this all could have been avoided.”

Is that how you see all men, as conquests?”

“Of course,” she replied with a shrug.
“I have a good thing with Richard
but he’s gone so much of the time
I get bored.
When I do…stray from my marital vows
it’s never for more than one night.
If Logan had slept with me all those months ago
I would have left you both alone and moved on to another challenge.”

Shelby’s eyes narrowed suspiciously.
“But he didn’t sleep with you and he never will, so why bother telling me all of this if you’ve given up on him?”

Alicia arched a brow.
“Who said I’ve given up?
When I found out you were back, I knew Logan would be even more resistant to sleeping with me than before so I had to…rethink my game plan.
Making him believe you
left him again might work, but then again
it failed the first time so it probably wouldn’t work this time either.
But,” she said with a sly smile, “if he thought I had something to do with your disappearance and that some harm might come to you unless he…cooperated, I think he
fold fast enough.”

“My God, you really are insane!
never pull this off,” Shelby hissed.
“Logan loves me
and no matter what lies you tell him, he
never betray me that way.”

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