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Sìgnore Moretti, is everything okay?" his secretary, Angelina De Luca, asked as he returned to his office.
Dominic didn't know what he'd do without her. She was even more of a godsend now that they had a leak in the Moretti organization.
"No, Angelina, I'm not okay. I need to see Antonio in my office immediately."
"Sì, Signore Moretti."
"I've given you leave to call me Dominic."
"Yes, you have, but when you come into the office looking as angry as you do today I think it's best that I observe all rules of propriety and lie low."
"Have I ever treated you unfairly?" Dominic asked.
"Not at all," Angelina said with a smile.
Dominic smiled back at her. He'd be interested in his pretty secretary, if it weren't for his family's curse.
A curse that promised that each generation of Morettis would be either lucky in love or lucky in business, but never in both.
Lorenzo Moretti, Dominic's grandfather, had been very lucky in business but had died a bitter old man. Dominic's father Giovanni had been and still was very lucky in love. He and Dominic's mother shared a love that was deep and abiding.
And now his brothers were screwing things up for their generation despite the blood vow they'd all taken in their teens. They had promised each other they would be the generation of Morettis to take back the proud name that had once been revered on both the Grand Prix track and in the world of luxury sports cars.
He lived in Milan but traveled the world entertaining guests at Team Moretti's VIP rooms at all of the Formula 1 Grand Prix races. As the CEO of Moretti Motors he was currently overseeing the launch of a revamped model of their 1970s classic Vallerio Roadster.
The car had been named for one of the fastest F1 drivers ever. Lorenzo Moretti's best friend, Pierre-Henri Vallerio.
"Is there anything I can do?" Angelina asked.
"Just keep doing your job," Dominic said. He'd been relying more and more on his assistant to make sure that things were running smoothly. Last year he had realized someone was stealing Moretti secrets. It had started with partial engine design and modifications showing up in cars made by their chief competitor, ESP Motors. Before long, Dominic, Antonio and Marco had realized that the spy was someone working for their organization.
They had traced the leak back to the corporate offices here in Milan. But they had been unable to uncover anything further.
Marco was busy as Team Moretti's F1 driver. He didn't have the time to delve into what was happening in the corporate offices of Moretti Motors.
Antonio was busy dealing with the Vallerio family. He had to continuously ensure that the use of the Vallerio name on the new Moretti Motors Vallerio Roadster was well within the rights of the contract Pierre-Henri had signed years ago.
So that had left Dominic with the task of making sure the spy was caught. And he would take great pride in prosecuting the thief. He desperately wanted retribution.
"I'll get Antonio down here as soon as possible," his secretary said. "Also you had a call from Ian Stark. I put him through to your voice mail."
"Thank you, Angelina."
Dominic left his assistant's desk and entered his office, which had been occupied by every CEO of Moretti Motors since his grandfather had purchased this building in 1964. No expense had been spared when Lorenzo had designed this office. He said that he wanted everyone who entered this room to know that the man who sat at the desk was one of power.
A man who could make things happen, Dominic thought. He walked over to the wall where his nono's portrait hung. In it, Lorenzo stood next to his first F1 carthe first Moretti Motors car that he had designed and driven in the Grand Prix.
He looked up at his grandfather and was reminded of the promises he, Antonio and Marco had made to each other. He was so aware that their dream of rebuilding Moretti Motors had in his brothers' eyes been accomplished. But Dominic wanted more.
He wanted the legacy his grandfather had left to them to continue. He wanted Moretti Motors to become synonymous with luxury, speed and greatness. And he couldn't do that while someone was selling the secrets they'd spent the last three years developing.
Angelina called Antonio and greeted him politely when he came down to see Dominic. Once the two men were in Dominic's office, the smile faded from her face. She loved her job at Moretti Motorsnot that she thought she'd have it for much longer.
She was in a bad place. It didn't help that she'd allowed herself to be manipulated. At the end of the day she was responsible for her actions.
And she knew that any kind of explanation she came up with as to why she'd done what she had well, that wasn't going to get her any sympathy from Dominic Moretti.
She was half in love with the man. Really, what wasn't to love? He was tall, muscular a fine-looking man with an earthy sexiness.
He had dark eyes that seemed to stare into the very heart of her. But she knew he had no mystical powershe couldn't really see the lies she kept carefully hidden away.
"Angelina?" Dominic's voice came from the intercom.
"Please make a reservation for myself and my parents for Friday at Cracco-Peck."
"Will nine be a good time?"
"Sì," Dominic said.
She made the reservation and then sent an e-mail to Dominic and his parents with the confirmation information. She was privy to every detail of Dominic's life well, just the business ones, but Dominic Moretti was a man who lived for his company. He wasn't just the CEO of Moretti Motors, he was Moretti Motors. His brothers also shared responsibility for the company, but it was Dominic who lived and breathed it.
And she was slowly stealing the secrets that he had worked so hard to develop. In fact, just two days ago she'd gone to London to meet with Barty Eastburn of ESP Motors to give him the company's latest plans.
Her mobile phone rang and she glanced at the caller ID. Her brother. "Renaldo, I can't talk now."
"We have to, Ange. I need something else. Eastburn isn't satisfied with what you've given him."
"Renni, I really can't. Everyone here is being watched. I"
"They are going to kill me, Ange. I know it's not fair to ask you to save me again, but I have no one else."
She wanted to cry. Her brother was the only family she had and yet she'd never been able to rely on Renni. He was younger than she was by a mere fifteen months, but she felt years older.
"I'll see what I can do. What does he want?"
"You'll have to come to London. He's booked a ticket in your name."
Angelina didn't know if she could keep doing this. She didn't want her brother to die and she knew he wasn't being melodramatic. He'd gambled and lost big time to exactly the kind of men that she had warned him to avoid. And now it seemed the only way to pay off his debts was for her to keep betraying her boss.
"I'll I can't decide right now," she said. "I don't like doing this, Renni."
There was silence on the line, but in the background she heard the noises of the dock. How had her brother gotten so lost?
"I understand, Ange. You've done more than a sister should have to."
She heard that note in his voice. The one that always scared her because it signaled that Renni was about to do something really stupid and dangerous. And as much as she wanted him to take responsibility for his life, she didn't want to have to visit her brother in the hospital again.
"I'll be there," she found herself saying.
"This has to be the last time, Renni. If I do this you come back to Milan with me. No more gambling."
"I'll do it. All of it. I promise."
She hung up the phone and rubbed her temples, knowing better than to believe Renni's promises. She knew that he meant the words that at this moment Renni wanted to stop. But wanting and doing were two different things.
The door to Dominic's office opened and he and Antonio came out. The men were still talking and for a moment she wanted to just say that she quit and run away.
But instead she eavesdropped on their conversation and heard Antonio mention that they had finished the design of the Vallerio Roadster and that the new engine design was on his desk.
"Angelina, can I see you in my office?" Dominic asked after Antonio had departed.
"Yes. Do I need to bring a notepad?"
She stood and preceded Dominic into his office. Once there she went to a guest chair and sat down. He closed the door and just stared at her for a long minute and she realized that the ruse was up.
Somehow Dominic must have discovered she had been stealing secrets for ESP Motors' Barty Eastburn. And as sad as she was to be losing her freedom, she also felt relief. She wasn't cut out for the kind of subterfuge she'd had to engage in over the past year.
"I've asked you in here because I need your help setting a trap."
She actually felt the blood drain from her face. Oh, God, what was she going to do? "A trap?"
"I had two sets of plans made for the new engine configuration. I want you to send one to Emmanuel and one to Stephan."
"Wouldn't it be better to just bring both men in and question them?" she asked. She didn't want Dominic to suspect either of the two company executives. They were good men with families, she thought.
Dominic shook his head. "I've hired an outside investigations firm and they have advised me that the spy has to be caught red-handed. Otherwise there's something called plausible deniability and I'm not about to let the man who stole from me get away with it."
Angelina nodded. She felt a sense of doom as she realized that this really was the end for her. There was no way that Dominic's firm wasn't going to figure out that she was the leak.
The following afternoon found Dominic satisfied that he'd set everything in motion that he possibly could to catch the spy. He'd hired Ian Stark of Stark Security. He and Ian had gone to college together. After graduation they'd both gone into their families' businesses.
Stark Security had been in the business of protecting the rich and famous for over a hundred years, not as a bodyguard service but as an intellectual properties security firm. Ian protected the secrets of the famous. And he did a damn fine job of it.
Now he was going to catch Dominic's corporate spy. In fact he was already en route now. Which was cause for celebration, Dom thought.
However, his brothers were all occupied right, and though he was having dinner later this evening with his parents, he wanted to celebrate now.
Or was he just looking for an excuse to ask his lovely secretary out for a drink?
Yes, he was.
He walked out of his office and found her desk empty. He was just sitting down in her chair to write her a note when she came back in.
"Ah, there you are," he said.
"Yes, here I am. Did you need something?"
"Yes. Get your coat, we are going out for a drink to celebrate."
She smiled at him. That shy sweet smile that had played a part in a number of fantasies for him lately.
"What are we celebrating?"