A Legacy of Secrets(4)

By: Carol Marinelli


Alessandro!

Santo picked up the phone to arrange a driver, but he got the night receptionist who, perhaps unaware that she should not ask such questions, enquired where he wanted to go and Santo promptly hung up.

Looking out of the window, from his luxurious vantage point, Santo could see the press waiting. Rarely for Santo, he couldn’t stomach facing them, or his brother, alone.

‘Can you pick me up?

Despite the hour, Ella answered the phone with her eyes closed. After four months working for Santo Corretti she was more than used to being called out of hours, though he sounded particularly terrible this morning. His deep, low voice, thick with Italian accent, was still beautiful, if a touch hoarse.

Yes, beautiful and terrible just about summed Santo up.

Peeling her eyes open, she looked at the figures on her bedside clock. ‘It’s 6:00 a.m.,’ Ella said. ‘On a Sunday.’ Which should have been enough reason to end the call and go back to sleep. Yet, all night, Ella had been half expecting him to ring, so much so she had sat with her giant heated rollers in last night and had already laid her clothes out. Like the rest of Sicily, Ella had watched the drama unfold on television yesterday afternoon and had seen updates on the news all night. Even her mother in Australia, watching the Italian news, would know that the much-anticipated wedding of Santo’s brother, Alessandro Corretti, to Alessia Battaglia had been called off at the last minute.

Literally, at the last minute.

The bride had fled midway down the aisle and the world was waiting to see how two of Sicily’s most notorious families would deal with the fallout.

Yes, Ella had had a feeling that her services might be required before Monday.

‘Look, this is my day off.’ She did her best to hold firm. ‘I worked yesterday...’ Of course, as just his PA, Ella hadn’t been invited to the wedding. Instead her job had been to ensure that Santo arrived sober, on time and looking divine as he always did.

The divine part had been easy—Santo made a beautiful best man. It was the other two requisites that had taken up rather a lot more of her people skills.

‘I need to pick up Alessandro from the police station,’ Santo said. ‘He was arrested last night.’

Ella lay there silently, refusing to ask for details, while privately wondering just what else had happened yesterday.

She had raised a glass to the screen as she had seen Santo arrive at the church, talking and joking with Alessandro, privately thinking that the gene pool had surely been fizzing with expensive champagne when these two were conceived.

They could, at first glance, almost be twins—both were tall and broad shouldered, both wore their jet-black hair short, both had come-to-bed dark green eyes—but there were differences. Alessandro was the eldest, and the two years that divided the brothers were significant.

As firstborn son to the late Carlo Corretti, Alessandro was rather more ruthless, whereas Santo was a touch lighter in personality, more fun and extremely flirty—but he could still be completely arrogant at times.

‘Come and pick me up now,’ Santo said, as if to prove her point. Ella let out a long breath, telling herself that in a few weeks, if she got the job she had applied for, then all the scandal and drama of the Correttis would be a thing of the past. Working for Santo was nothing like she’d imagined it would be. ‘The press are everywhere,’ he warned, which was Santo’s shorthand to remind her to look smart—even in a crisis he insisted on appearances. ‘Take a taxi and then pick up my car and drive it around to the hotel entrance. Text me when you’re there.’

‘I hate driving your car,’ Ella started, but was met again with silence. Having given his orders, Santo would assume she was jumping to the snap of his manicured fingers, and had already hung up.

‘Bastard,’ Ella hissed and then she heard his voice.

‘You love me, really.’

Ella was too annoyed to be embarrassed. ‘I love lying in on a Sunday morning.’

‘Tough.’

This time he did hang up.

In a few weeks you’ll be out of it, Ella told herself as she rang for a taxi. The woman on the other end of the phone sounded half asleep as well and told Ella it would be a good fifteen minutes to half an hour, which suited her fine. She climbed out of bed and headed straight for the shower and then to the mirror, but Santo could forget it if he thought she was going to arrive in full make-up. She changed her mind, because like it or not, Santo was her boss and Ella took her work very seriously. So, instead of a slick of mascara and lipgloss—which were usual weekend fare, if she wore any make-up at all—Ella set to work with the make-up brushes and then smoothed out her hair a touch and tied it into a low ponytail. She pulled on a dark grey skirt and sheer cream blouse and added low heels.