Extract: The Sicilian’s Proposition

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On the journey back, he was quiet. Too quiet. She took him a coffee and left him alone at the helm. Then she went below deck and tried to ring Polly but couldn’t get a signal on her phone. Blast. There were questions that needed answering. She looked around the boat for any clues she could find to discover what kind of man Dante Alphonso was. But apart from the fine wines he had in his drinks cabinet and a few family photographs, there were none. Could this be the same Dante Alphonso who had held her in his arms while she cried as she related the tale of her father’s tragic demise? What did she know about him other than what she read in magazines and newspapers and what he chose to tell her himself? Yet there had been no suggestion that he was a bad person. Being a playboy didn’t make a man a murderer.

“Joanne.” She heard his muffled voice call from above. She drained the last of her coffee and appeared on deck beside him. “Are you all right, amore mio?” She loved it when he called her “my love” in Italian, but now what did it mean? It was almost as though he were someone else. An evil twin maybe? Then he shot her a warm sincere smile that melted her heart, and beyond all shadow of a doubt, this man was not a murderer. He wasn’t capable of it. Capable of anger, yes. Capable of fighting another man if need be, but capable of taking a life, never. Not unless it was to save another’s life.

“Yes, I’m okay,” she said as images of their lovemaking last night came to mind.

“Come here,” he beckoned. She went to him without hesitation, content to be safe in his arms. He kissed her forehead. “I know you are frightened, Joanne. Please do not be. Ponti is a bad man. There are other things I didn’t tell you.”

“Oh?” Her eyes widened with interest.

“He was involved in organized crime. I warned my sister about this years ago, but by then she had fallen for him. He was made a capo, a captain in the Mafia. He’s done a lot of bad things, Joanne. I think his plan with regard to Carla was to get control of her family vineyard. There have been many people gunning for him over the years. He made a lot of enemies, not just myself. He was thought to be responsible for the death of a local politician and his wife many years ago, but there was never any proof. I believe he had the inside knowledge to set it up. He was a very powerful man. The couple was on their way to the airport for a trip to Italy when a sniper shot them from long range. He had enemies both in the Cosa Nostra and in the good people of this island. I think he was already a marked man. How Carla could have got caught up with him, especially after all the things I told her….” He shook his head, his mouth set in a grim line.

She let out a breath of relief. It was awful beyond belief, but it explained a lot. How could she ever tell Dante that for a short while, for less than an hour, she thought him capable of murdering a man? It was something she needed to keep to herself. Would he ever forgive her if he found out?

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