The Secret to Marrying Marchesi

By: Amanda Cinelli

She didn’t want Rigo’s help, but she wasn’t stubborn enough not to recognise that she was in desperate need of it. She was certain he would want this whole episode erased as soon as possible. He had made his stance on fatherhood abundantly clear once already, hadn’t he?

She would go to Paris. She would sacrifice her pride and ask him for help. The story would be silenced and they could all return to normality.

* * *

The European headquarters of the Marchesi Group was a gargantuan chrome-and-glass tower in the heart of Paris. It was a relatively new building, and its acquisition had been one of the first changes to his family’s historic fashion brand that Rigo Marchesi had made upon taking his seat as CEO five years previously.

There had been outrage when he had moved the company’s flagship building from Milan to Paris. But Rigo had a vision for the future of his company, and that vision required change.

Keeping his finger on the pulse of the modern business world was what made him a great leader, along with his razor-sharp negotiating skills and a clean-cut, dependable reputation. His unconventional choices had already seen profits skyrocket, and his family name restored after the steady downward decline of the business during the decade preceding his rise to CEO.

Great leaders were never caught by surprise. Rigo glowered at his computer screen as he stirred a spoonful of organic sweetener into his double espresso. Great leaders were not waylaid by a scandal that had apparently already been live on the internet for several hours. Above all, great leaders did not get publicly vilified by the world’s media mere weeks before the biggest deal of their company’s history was about to be completed.

Downing the hot coffee in one go, he stood up and paced across to the window.

Nicole Duvalle had been a blip. A moment of madness that had somehow bypassed his usually crystal-clear judgement. Rigo did not do mindless pleasure. He made sure that the women he took into his bed had their own careers to take up most of their time, just as he did. He was selective in his affairs and had no time for the kind of woman who was simply attracted to his net worth.

And yet when it had come to Nicole his logic had failed him. He’d got caught up in the blinding attraction between them and thought to hell with the consequences.

Well, the consequences were here now, and Miss Duvalle had no idea what she had just started.

Rigo turned as the glass door to his office opened and Alberto entered. His right-hand man looked rumpled and nothing like his usual pristine self.

‘I trust your day has gone to plan?’ Rigo raised a brow in question.

‘She walked out after less than five minutes.’ Alberto exhaled harshly. ‘They offered her the deal and she point-blank refused it.’

Rigo was silent for a moment, leaning back against the desk. He’d be lying if he said he hadn’t expected this outcome. If Nicole was as money hungry as her mother she would hardly accept the first pay-off she was offered. He had only offered the money to get the story settled quickly, out of the courtroom.

The deal he was currently negotiating with French jewellery icon Fournier was time sensitive. The family-owned company had been initially reluctant to merge with such a large corporation, and it had already taken months to get to this point. Rigo gritted his teeth, feeling his jaw tighten with frustration. How could one interview cause this much mayhem?

Already he had been notified of shareholders jumping ship and rumbles amongst the board members. His late grandfather had left a black spot on the Marchesi name that had almost bankrupted their eighty-five-year-old brand. After his own father’s tireless work to put the business to rights, there was no way Rigo would let this shake them.

If his own shareholders were nervous, then he was damn sure Fournier were nervous, too. And he didn’t blame them. Eighty per cent of their market was female. A new CEO who had apparently left his conquest pregnant and out on the street was bad for business.

Even if was a blatant lie told by a ruthless gold-digger.

‘Where is she now?’ Rigo asked.

Alberto looked uneasy for a moment. ‘The child needed to sleep, so we put her in one of the company apartments on Avenue Montaigne.’

‘She rejects the deal and you immediately set her up in luxury accommodation?’ He raised a brow. ‘Alberto, you are a soft touch.’

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