A sexy category romance from Entangled's Brazen imprint...
Never fall for your own deception...
After a failed bid to be the first American designer at House of Borhlenghi, Layla Langham is crushed. She's certain she's perfect for their company, and she's risked all her savings to prove it. But Giorgio Borhlenghi's sisters think Layla's perfect, too—for the design house and their workaholic brother. They convince her they'll sway their brother into accepting her designs if she'll get him to stop working for a long weekend—by any means necessary.
Giorgio Borlenghi suspects Layla's invitation for a relaxing lunch is something his sisters fashioned to lure him away from his desk. But instead of turning the sexy redhead away, he decides to teach all three ladies a lesson and "kidnaps" the beautiful designer to his family's yacht in Naples to see just how far the ambitious designer wants to take this ruse...
Neither expected one kiss could lead to enough heat to burn up the sheets for days—nor make them want to give up work and never leave the bedroom again.
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About the Author
As a child growing up in on a rural property outside Vancouver, Canada, Joan Kilby dreamed of becoming a writer. As a young woman she studied marine biology, obtaining a Masters of Science degree and working in environmental biology for many years. When she was finally ready to settle down, she married an awesome guy and moved with him to Melbourne, Australia. While at home with the first of her three children, she returned to her first love--writing--and never looked back.
When she's not writing, Joan loves to cook and is currently on a mission to bake the perfect loaf of sourdough bread. She likes the idea of gardening more than the actual weed pulling but still manages to grow her own herbs, fruit and a few vegetables. Other interests include hiking, yoga and travel. Joan is a long-time member of Toastmasters International and is an accomplished speaker--teaching romance writing and giving talks to community organizations.
Joan is the award-winning author of over twenty-five romance novels. For more information about her books, go to http://www.joankilby.com She loves to hear from readers so feel free to drop her a line!
Read an Excerpt
Making Over the Billionaire
An Italian Connection Novel
By Joan Kilby, Robin Haseltine, Liz Pelletier
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Joan Kilby
All rights reserved.
Layla tapped an email message into her iPhone as she sprawled on a lounge chair by the pool at her luxury vacation rental in Rome. Sunlight reflected off the rippling water and red geraniums spilled over the tops of terra-cotta pots. Her terrace looked down on the tiled roofs of the ancient city and cypress-dotted hills rose in the hazy distance.
A sound from next door made her peek above her oversized sunglasses. A tall, dark-haired man in his late twenties had just stepped outside. A shiver skittered over her bare shoulders above the straps of her bikini. It was Giorgio Borlenghi, the man she'd been hoping to see all week.
A breeze lifted his wavy dark hair. His open-necked white business shirt strained across broad shoulders. Narrow black suit pants showed off flat abs and a perfectly muscled butt. Mama mia. He was hotter than she'd expected. Way, way hotter.
He was the head of the Borlenghi Group, a family-owned furniture company that had grown into a major international corporation in just eight years under his stewardship. It now owned diverse companies including fashion, home furnishings, gourmet foods, and wineries.
She'd seen his black Ferrari glide through the automatic gates once or twice in the past week but this was her first glimpse of the reclusive Italian billionaire. But she wasn't actually interested in him. She really wanted to talk to his sister, Tina, who ran the House of Borlenghi, the exclusive fashion atelier catering to celebrities, royalty, and the extremely wealthy.
Layla wanted a piece of that action for her lingerie and swimwear designs. She was in town for Rome's fashion week, Alta Moda, Alta Roma but getting an appointment with Tina was like trying to storm the Vatican walls with nothing but her pinking shears and a tape measure. She'd just been emailing Ms. Borlenghi for the twenty zillionth time when she'd looked up and seen Giorgio on the terrace.
Her iPhone forgotten, Layla angled herself on the lounge chair for a better view. He paced as he spoke to someone just out of view. Snatches of rapid-fire Italian drifted across the fifty-foot gap between the terraces. She couldn't catch more than a few words, but judging by his tone and choppy hand gestures he wasn't happy.
Who was he talking to?
She reached for the gilt opera glasses she'd found inside her villa and trained them on him, trying not to feel like a crazy stalker lady. His strongly masculine face was familiar to her from having graced the covers of popular magazines from Forbes to People. His dark hair was swept back from a high forehead. Thick black wedges of eyebrows arced above midnight dark eyes. He had cheekbones you could cut prosciutto on and a sharply angled jaw.
He paced to the railing and a very short woman with black hair that tumbled in thick waves down the back of her white summer dress stepped into view.
Oh my God. It was Tina Borlenghi.
Layla's phone slipped off her lap and clattered to the tiled pool surround. At the noise, Giorgio spun around. She swung her opera glasses back to him. A pair of sharply intelligent, dark brown eyes looked straight at her, frowning.
Shit. She was so busted.
She lowered the glasses and gave him a friendly smile and a wave as if to say, It's okay, I'm not stalking you guys. Well, maybe she was, but in a good way.
His scowl faded to an intense, assessing gaze. He made no effort to hide the fact he was staring. Layla was no prude but suddenly she was hyperaware of her nearly naked body beneath the skimpy bikini — one of her own designs. The top barely covered her full breasts and the bottom was a mere scrap of color between her thighs.
Well, he could ogle her body all he wanted if it gave Tina a chance to notice her bathing suit. Could his sister see that the detailing on the straps was repeated on the waistband? Did she see the beautiful fabric and Layla's clever design?
Giorgio abruptly turned away and disappeared inside his villa. Tina hesitated a moment then followed.
Layla reached for the cool drink next to her lounge chair and pressed it against her cheeks. Heavens. His very male, very blatant perusal had her all flushed and tingling.
The terrace next door remained empty. What were they doing now? Getting ready to go out? They could drive away in his sleek black sports car, and she might never see either of them again.
What was wrong with her? Had his hotness blasted her brain? Why was she still here when she could be knocking on his door?
She rose and slipped on the sheer thigh-length cover up that went with the bikini and a pair of sandals. Probably she should change into more businesslike attire and assemble her portfolio and sample garments, but instinct told her to haul her ass over there now. Fashion week in Rome was almost over. Then it was back home to Seattle, baby, back to a job designing flannelette pajamas for Sears. No, not ready for that. Not 'til she'd given it the old college try. She'd put all her eggs in the Borlenghi basket. This was her chance to break into the big time.
Layla hurried out the door and down the short, steep driveway onto the narrow cobbled sidewalk lined with centuries-old terra-cotta — rendered houses spilling with hanging baskets of colorful flowers. She ran twenty yards and turned into Giorgio's driveway, which was flanked by a pair of black marble statues of rearing stallions. How macho could he get? Miracle of miracles, the elaborate wrought iron gate stood open. The black Ferrari was parked at a skewed angle beneath a columned portico. Next to it was a white Fiat convertible.
The heavy oak double doors were twelve feet tall with black wrought iron hinges and ornate knobs in the middle of the door. She lifted the heavy brass knocker in the shape of a lion's head and struck the polished plate with three sharp raps.
The intercom next to the door crackled and an older woman's voice said, "Chi é?" Who is it?
"Layla Langham." She took a breath and tried to sound professional. "I'm here to see Giorgio Borlenghi."
"No paparazzi. No journo." The connection was cut off.
She pressed the buzzer on the intercom. "I'm not photographer or a journalist. I'm a clothing designer."
"Signor Borlenghi isn't home."
"I saw him just now on the terrace. I'm staying next door. I only want to speak to him for a moment. Please. Per favore, Signora."
In the background, she heard the rumblings of a masculine voice. A moment later, footsteps sounded on marble tiles and one of the massive double oak doors was opened by a stooped and elderly woman with black hair dressed in a shirtwaist dress and clunky black heels. The housekeeper, presumably. Her stony gaze took in Layla's bikini and cover up and her nostrils flared. "Signor Borlenghi will see you. Vieni con me."
"Grazie." She stepped inside the spacious, light-filled entry hall where a fountain bubbled in front of a wide, curving stairway. Her sandals tapped across the marble tiles as the housekeeper led her into a sitting room off to the right and, with a disdainful sniff, left her.
Antiques and Venetian glass juxtaposed with modern Italian leather furniture. Paintings crowded the dark green walls. The room was opulent, but comfortable and lived in.
Layla gravitated to an informal family portrait above the marble mantelpiece. Mother, father, and five children — two boys and three girls. She'd read in a magazine that Giorgio's older brother Leo had died in a car crash when Giorgio was twenty-one, eight years ago. His father Giuseppe succumbed to a fatal heart attack a few months later. Giorgio's mother Isabella was still alive, and he had three younger sisters — Tina, Angela, and Francesca. He was the wild younger brother who had been totally unprepared to take control of the business.
In this portrait, the family all looked happy and proud, as if there was nothing better in the world than to be a Borlenghi and to be together. This was what had captured her imagination when she was researching which ateliers to target. For someone like her who had no family, it was a powerful draw.
She caught a glimpse of herself reflected in the glass over the painting and pushed back a long wavy lock of red hair before adjusting the bikini bra. What had she been thinking coming here in her skimpy getup? She felt as out of place as a wart on a hand model and twice as conspicuous. Neither Tina nor Giorgio would take her seriously.
Then she recalled the burning gleam in Giorgio's eyes. She hated the idea of playing on his reaction to her body to get ahead, preferring to be recognized for her talent, hard work, and determination. Hopefully that was where Tina came in. What a stroke of luck she should have dropped in on her brother today.
"Buongiorno." Giorgio appeared in the doorway. "You are the woman from next door, no? How may I help you?" His English was flawless and faintly accented.
Up close, he was intense, a sexy package of raw energy in a custom-made shirt and pants that would have cost Layla's monthly gross earnings. Although he was obviously annoyed and impatient at being disturbed, he covered it with consummate politeness.
"Sorry for bursting in on you," Layla said. "I'm Layla Langham." She extended a hand and he grasped it firmly, his palm warm. Her gaze met his fiery dark eyes. She forgot to breathe, forgot why she was there. Blinking, she shook her head and tugged away her hand. "Actually, it's your sister, Tina, I wanted to see."
"Most women try to go through my sister to get to me." Giorgio's mouth curled in a sardonic smile. "This is an interesting twist."
Tina Borlenghi edged past Giorgio into the room, the very essence of sexy chic, all smooth olive skin, voluminous hair, white teeth, and flashing amber eyes. Her dress was to die for — simple yet exquisitely tailored. "Did I hear someone say they wanted to see me?"
"It's so great to meet you." Layla flapped her hands, horribly aware she was gushing. "Sorry, I'm having a fan girl moment. I love the House of Borlenghi, and I admire your designs so much. I've been following your atelier since you opened five years ago."
"Thank you." Tina's cautious expression broke into a friendly smile. "Why did you want to see me? Love your bathing suit, by the way."
"Really?" Layla said. "Oh, I'm so glad because — "
"Scusi, Signora," Giorgio cut in. "We can only give you a few minutes."
"Okay, here goes." She took a big breath to quell her nerves and let it all the way out. "I'm from Seattle, Washington, and I design lingerie and swimwear. I'm in Rome for fashion week. I've been trying to get an appointment with your sister but not having any luck."
Tina perched on the arm of the couch. "Go on."
Very aware of Giorgio's gaze on her, Layla came closer to show them the cover up's hemline. "Take a look at the finish on this seam. The fabric is utterly sheer and yet the stitching is invisible. Every one of my garments is hand sewn. I believe the House of Borlenghi would be a natural home for my designs. Tina, I would love an opportunity to show you my portfolio."
"You made this?" Giorgio reached out and took hold of the hem and brought it closer.
"Yes." She held her breath as he ran his long, strong fingers over the seam. The back of his hand brushed her thigh accidentally. A tingly spark of electricity jumped across her skin. He let go, and she stepped back.
He transferred his piercing gaze to her face. "This is a very large coincidence, no, that you just happen to be staying next door to me and you want to sell your designs to my sister's fashion house?"
"No coincidence," she admitted. "I couldn't track down Tina's address, but your villa was the subject of a magazine article so I was able to find out where it was. I looked for a rental nearby in the hopes of running into you at the local gelataria or while you were jogging in the morning."
"I do not jog. I run." One of his dark eyebrows rose. "You are very optimistic, not to mention opportunistic."
"Or you could call her enterprising," Tina said, giving her brother a nudge with her elbow.
"I know it was an insanely long shot but sometimes amazing things happen," Layla said. "Like the fact that the villa next door to you was available for rent." The rental price meant she'd have to eat two-minute noodles for the next decade if her gamble didn't pay off, but that was a risk she was prepared to take. "And look how great it worked out. I got to meet you both."
Giorgio made an impatient movement of his hand. "I'm sorry to disappoint you but you've wasted your time. The House of Borlenghi uses only Italian designers."
"I've heard that," Layla said. "I was hoping you might make an exception." It was the one flaw in her plan. She glanced hopefully at his sister.
"Why didn't you come to the atelier?" Tina asked. "Giorgio doesn't have anything to do with the day-to-day running of the business. That's my job."
"I tried, believe me," Layla said to Tina. "I couldn't get past your receptionist." She turned to Giorgio. "I know what I did was intrusive, and I apologize but my time in Rome is running out and frankly, I'm feeling desperate."
Giorgio glanced at his watch and jiggled one polished leather shoe. Her few minutes here were nearly up too.
"If I could just show you my designs," she went on quickly to Tina. "If you're interested, fantastic. If not, I won't bother you again."
"Show me the bikini without the cover up," Tina said. "Stand back a bit where I can see you properly."
Layla crossed to the fireplace and then swiveled on her heel to face them. She sashayed forward, slowly untying the cover up. When she was right in front of them, she turned and dropped the gauzy fabric, letting it slip down to below her bare buttocks and the narrow strip of fabric between her cheeks. She had a feeling Giorgio called the shots so this display was as much for his benefit as for Tina's.
She heard his faint intake of breath and knew she'd made an impression. Another half turn had her hip jutting in his face. But the person she spoke to was Tina. "The fabric is ten percent Thai silk specially formulated to survive both salt water and chlorinated pools. You won't find it anywhere else in the world."
"Fabulous design," Tina murmured.
Layla did another half turn and planted her legs wide. A slash of red rode across Giorgio's high cheekbones, and his dark eyes blazed as he slowly ran his gaze up her body. He might be studying the fabric, cut, and design, but she doubted it. Was she turning him on, maybe thinking of things he'd like to do to her? Mentally she gave herself a kick in the pants. She didn't need that kind of distraction right now.
"Whew, that bikini is hot, isn't it, Giorgio?" Tina said, a smile in her voice as she fanned herself. "You look as if you're in serious danger of meltdown. Want some ice?"
"Don't be foolish, Tina." He gave Layla a sexy smile that made her knees a little weak. "You have a sensual way of moving. You use your body very ... effectively."
"Thank you," she murmured. Stop it, knees. She had business to conduct. Stiffen up. She turned to Tina. "If you'd like to see more of my designs, I've got samples next door."
"The House of Borlenghi produces all their designs in house," Giorgio cut in, a layer of steel beneath his polite words. "The Borlenghi brand is known for quality Italian craftsmanship. Perhaps I didn't make it clear earlier. We don't outsource to foreigners."
He might look a Roman god but honestly, these billionaires, they thought they ruled the world. "Shouldn't your sister make that decision, since she manages the atelier?"
"You see, Giorgio, the truth is apparent even to an outsider," Tina said in an aside. "The odd foreigner here and there isn't going to dilute the brand. Especially given that we're expanding globally."
"The deal with the Chinese is irrelevant in this case. You know company policy." He also spoke in a low voice, keeping the conversation between Tina and him, even though Layla could hear perfectly well. "I made a promise to our father."
"You can't stay stuck in the past," Tina insisted. "You have to move forward. We've talked about this. Or tried to."
Layla glanced from Giorgio to Tina, feeling uncomfortable.
Abruptly, Giorgio rose. "Our time is up, Ms. Langham. I will see you out." Turning on his heel, he left the room.
Excerpted from Making Over the Billionaire by Joan Kilby, Robin Haseltine, Liz Pelletier. Copyright © 2014 Joan Kilby. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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