Chapter 1

2519 Words
“Mac, are you sure you want to do this?” Savannah Kirkland eyed her best friend carefully. “You know if you return to Milan to file this divorce, he’ll come after you.” “It’s time I moved on. I can’t start dating someone when I’m still married to someone else. Derrick is a nice guy and I’d like to give him a chance, but I want to start with a clean slate.” Mackenna lifted her slender shoulders into an elegant shrug. “Besides Alessandro didn’t want me five years ago so I doubt very much he’ll want me now. He made his choice.” Billionaire and mogul Alessandro Giordano was a world-renown fashion designer holding the position of CEO of the Giordano Fashion House of Milan, a company founded by his great-grandfather and was now one of the most influential fashion companies in the world. Alessandro had selected a young model to be the face of his company barely a year into their marriage and a year before Mackenna had left him. Dulce never left his side, much to Mackenna’s annoyance. Over the year, Mackenna had become convinced the couple were sleeping together, mostly because Dulce had said they were. When she’d asked him, he’d told her it was her overactive imagination putting a spin on Dulce’s words. She’d learned over her brief marriage he was a controlling man and liked everything his way or not at all. It had never bothered her since initially she had lived only to please him anyway, but she had known intuitively he’d never let her leave him. Even though he was sleeping with someone else, he would expect her to remain his wife. He’d as much as said so to her and it had been the proverbial straw to break the camel’s back.  Her self-respect in tatters, her dignity in shreds and her humiliation complete after the tabloids had spread the photo of Alessandro and Dulce dancing provocatively at a night club, she’d told him it was her or the other woman. He’d laughed at her and then seduced her telling her even if he slept with Dulce every day, she would still let him in her bed every night. She’d woken past midnight to find he’d gone back to the clubs with Dulce. She’d returned to their bedroom, smashed their wedding photo on the nightstand, left her wedding ring on it. She had picked up the few items which were hers when she’d met him and had walked out of the house in the dead of night.  She’d called her grandparents and told them she was leaving but she would not tell them where she was going because she knew Alessandro would somehow convince her to stay and she knew she could no longer continue in the marriage. Her grandfather, a devout Catholic who she had expected to argue with her over the matter, had agreed Alessandro was a scoundrel who obviously did not appreciate the young woman he’d taken for his wife. He’d told her no matter what, he would support her decision and he now regretted giving the suave smooth-talking man his blessing in the marriage to his only grandchild. He himself had seen in the tabloids the way his granddaughter was being treated.  “I think he proved he did want you considering he essentially has stalked your grandparents for the last five years to the point where you cannot even tell them which part of the United States you live in.” Savannah touched her hand across the kitchen table they shared in their tiny apartment. “Isn’t there some way to do this long distance?”   “No, I have to sign the divorce petition in front of a clerk.” She rolled her eyes. “My grandfather said he’ll accompany me. I’ve already contacted a lawyer and they have assured me discretion until it’s filed.” Mackenna’s long light brown hair hung over her shoulder, and she reached behind her neck and twisted it into a knot behind the nape of her neck. The sound of a taxi honking outside the basement apartment made her cringe. “Okay, I’m off to the airport. I’ll call you the minute I get there. Wish me luck.” “The only luck you need is to ensure Alessandro doesn’t find you.” Savannah grimaced.  “No, what I need is to find out Alessandro has had a heart transplant and he no longer is a cold-hearted insensitive bastard but is now sweet, kind and considerate and will grant me my divorce just so I can have peace.” She walked up the stairs into the entryway and turned to hug Savannah squeezing her so tightly she worried her ribs would crack. “Don’t miss me too much.”  “I won’t.” Savannah grinned. “I’ll be busy working double shifts for the next week. Buy me something hot.”  “Will do.” She gave a wave as she reluctantly walked away. She climbed into the taxi and gave him the instructions to take her to the airport.  “Going on a trip?” The cabbie was only trying to be friendly, but she was in no mood to talk.  “Yes.”  “Anywhere fun?” He tried to keep the conversation flowing with nosy and unwanted questions.  Mackenna faced him head on. She decided to give him something to talk about for the rest of the night. “Caribbean. I’m going to one of those hedonistic resorts where anything goes. I’m hoping to meet a whole bunch of Mr.-Right-Nows.”  Her rude comment silenced him, and she watched wickedly as the man’s mouth made fish movements, opening, and closing in rapid succession. She settled back into the seat and tried to quell her nervous stomach as she thought about returning to Milan.  It had been too long since she’d gone. As she sat in the back of the car, she let her mind wander to the past and the ugliness of how she’d gotten so far off track.  Her mother had met her American father when he was a college student on holiday in Milan. She’d fallen head over heels and had accompanied him back to America. They’d had little money while her dad finished college and then when they’d found out her mom had been pregnant, her mother stayed home instead of working. Although her parents had slowly began to make a life for them, travelling to Italy was not something they had done frequently.  Her parents had been killed in a car accident when she’d been sixteen and her only living relatives had been her grandparents. Her grandfather, an engineer for the subway and tram system in Milan and her grandmother, a librarian had flown to Pittsburgh to bury their only daughter and her husband and to bring Mackenna home with them.  She’d been lost for a long time, trying to cope with the loss of her parents she had adored and who had spoiled her. For months she would go to school in the day and then sit in her bedroom crying every night, missing them horribly.  Because she had only met her grandparents a handful of times growing up and without her parent’s support, she’d felt lonely and sad in the foreign country. She knew minimal Italian and the language barrier was hard.  Eventually though, their persistence and love broke through the barriers she’d erected, and it wasn’t long before she realized the reason her mother had been such a loving woman was because she’d had such loving parents. Slowly her grades improved, and she made new friends and although she still missed her parents, she began to flourish in the Italian city. She enrolled in a college program for business management and in her first year as a naive nineteen-year-old girl her job placement was as a clerk in the accounting offices of the Giordano Fashion House. She’d spent the entire summer working her tail off, learning everything she could about accounting for big companies, and she’d earned the approval of her supervisors with her hard work ethic.  At the end of the summer, with only two weeks left before she was supposed to stop working and return to her classes she’d worked late and since she’d been supposed to meet some friends for drinks, she’d been rushing and as she crossed through the parking lot, she had walked right into the path of Alessandro’s sports car. He’d almost run her over and the fury of his near miss had propelled him out of the car, and he’d torn a strip off her and before she could help herself, she’d dissolved into a drivelling mess of tears from his raving.  He’d gripped her arm and had given her a hard shake, swearing at her in rapid-fire Italian. He’d terrified her and with adrenaline pumping through her veins, she’d managed to yank her arm away and slap him hard on the cheek. He’d been startled by her action, and she’d taken advantage of his surprise and she’d run. She’d never run so fast in all her life. Terrified of the maniac who had been screaming at her, she’d hidden for an hour in a public bathroom of a local coffee shop worried he’d followed her and scared he would retaliate for striking him.  When she’d finally met up with her friends for drinks, she had constantly checked over her shoulder as if the crazy man in the sports car was going to pop up and kill her.  The next morning it had been a hundred-fold worse as when she’d gone to work all she could think of was the crazy man in the sports car was waiting for her in the parking lot to yell and shake her some more. She crossed the lot faster than she’d ever done before and finally when she made it to her desk unscathed, she let out her held breath. Only after she’d been working for several hours did she finally start to relax and almost forget about the entire ordeal, however as she was leaving the department with a couple of coworkers to go to lunch, she found herself face to face with the man who had nearly mowed her down as he spoke to the head of the department where she was working.  Instantly he’d demanded an introduction and when she’d realized she’d almost been killed by the Alessandro Giordano, she’d been even more mortified of her foolishness. Not only had she stepped into the path of his sports car, but she’d hit him. She had struck the gorgeous face of the CEO of Giordano Fashion House of Milan.  Remorse was not nearly a strong enough word for her actions. She had stood silently, waiting for him to fire her on the spot. So of course, she’d been taken aback when he offered his apologies for almost running her over and accepted the full responsibility for not having paid more attention to his surroundings as he’d assumed he had been the only person left in the building.  She had simply accepted his apology with a quiet whisper, the amber of his eyes making her long for a cold drink and an even colder shower. For the first time in her young adult life, she’d felt the tug of lust pulling at her from deep inside. He had more male magnetism than anyone she’d ever met before and even the boy she’d dated a few times had not even come close to eliciting the response her body had to his nearness. She remembered her mother telling her stories of Italian men and their machismo, but this was her first introduction and she felt like a lamb in the lion’s den.  Terrified she would make an even bigger fool of herself than she had the night before she’d tried to make a quick exit, explaining she was holding her friends up for lunch. Instead, he waved her friends on and told her he was taking her to lunch as an act of restitution for his behavior the night before. Her girlfriends had made big eyes behind his back, and she’d been powerless to say no as he gripped her hand and tucked it through his elbow.  She’d spent the entire twenty-five-minute luncheon staring at her water glass, wishing she could drown herself in it, as he spoke into his cellular phone, unable to get away from the person on the other end. Finally, she’d managed to catch his eye, her salad untouched and she’d excused herself from the table and had left him sitting there. She found out later he had thought she’d gone to the ladies’ room and had spent an additional fifteen minutes waiting for her to return before he’d realized she’d left. By the time she’d reached the office, she’d been angry he’d been so rude and inconsiderate.  She’d slammed her purse down on her desk and when her coworkers arrived just moments after and asked her how lunch was she’d fumed the man was nothing more than a big jerk who wouldn’t know a good manner if it jumped up and kissed him.  Ten minutes later he’d stormed into the office setting, divided into several smaller cubicles, immediately seeking out her tiny partition. He began to give her a dressing down for walking out on him in the restaurant. Her own half Italian blood had boiled over and she’d completely lost her cool and had told him off, absolutely forgetting only the night before she’d been terrified of him. She’d jabbed him in his hard, solid chest with her index finger, called him an inconsiderate egocentric jerk and yelled the homeless vagrants on the streets had better manners than he did. When she’d caught sight of the stunned horror on her supervisor’s face, she simply picked up her purse, lifted her chin, and told her she knew she was fired and walked out.  He’d followed her out of the building, shoved her against the hard concrete walls and had kissed her until she couldn’t think straight. Two weeks later he’d married her in a quiet ceremony not even the hardest working journalist on the planet had found out about. She could still feel the tenderness in their marital kiss as if it were still happening now and she pressed her fingers to her lips.  Mackenna sighed as she broke from her daydream to find they were pulling into the airport, and she took a long deep breath as she realized in taking this flight she was about to embark on a new and exciting chapter in her life. It was time for her to officially begin her life as a single woman, without the threat of Alessandro returning and usurping her peaceful existence. It started with this flight, and it would end when she finally received her divorce decree in her hand. Then she would be able to start dating again and eventually, someday, she would marry again, she’d have a family and she would be happy.  
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