Taming The CEO
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2020 by J. M. Johnson
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or used in any manner without written permission of the copyright owner except for the use of quotations in a book review.
Taming The CEO
“Lorenzo! This is completely unacceptable behaviour! Porco Dio! You act like this company means nothing to you! As though you don’t care about its success!”
“Really,” Lorenzo muttered back dryly. “Because I would say that the past six years of my life speaks for itself, father. But please, continue to tell me what a disappointment I am. I know it’s your favourite pastime.”
“Lorenzo, do not test my patience, my boy. I stepped down from the company in good faith, and I expect you to give the same level of dedication and loyalty that I have shown. Mio Dio, if you showed half as much commitment to the company as you do those women—”
“Ahh, so you’ve seen the articles?” Lorenzo asked, glancing down at the magazine on his desk with a smirk.
“Seen them? How can I not see them? ‘The Playboy strikes again—Lorenzo Moretti beds Miss United Kingdom 2020.’ Really Lorenzo? You cannot be more discreet with your affairs?”
“I shine in the spotlight, father, what can I say?”
Lorenzo smirked once more as he heard the sigh down the phone. “Lorenzo, this cannot continue. You must start taking responsibility. What will our investors think? How is your behaviour reflecting on the company? Your mother is beside herself. You know she always planned for you and Carina to marry—”
“That won’t be happening, father. You know this.” Lorenzo sighed. This was a conversation they had already done to death.
“You have to settle down at some point, and you won’t get a finer woman than Carina—”
“We’ll talk about this when I’m back. I’m going to miss my flight.”
“You’re still going to Italy? Even after all that we have spoken about?”
“I think removing myself from the spotlight can’t be a bad thing, no? I’m sure the company will survive the nine days I plan to be away – the first holiday in six years, might I add.”
Silence. Just as Lorenzo had suspected.
He had always had a way with words, and he had always known how to spin the story to get his father on his side. “Si, a break will do you good. I’ll see what damage limitation we can do and how we can get a hold on this story. This blonde of yours, she knows not to speak to the press?”
Lorenzo gritted his teeth as the image of his latest playmate flashed through his mind. Yes, Paulina knew the score. As did all the women he bedded.
They spoke the language of diamonds and designer clothes, rather than love and adoration. He wanted her on his arm during events and in his bed at night. Nothing more. When their liaison was over, she would be handsomely paid in jewellery and she would look for her next conquest. It was a game they had both mastered, and one they played very well. There was no way she would ruin the potential to be showered with all the material things her heart could desire by speaking to the papers. Especially for a one-off lump sum payment that probably wouldn’t even cover the rent.
“Paulina knows the ways of my world, father. I assure you she will not be going to the papers. I really need to go now…”
“Okay, mio figlio, go. Enjoy your break. Make sure you visit your mama before you come home. She misses you.”
“I will father, I promise.” Lorenzo knew that his mother found her days in Italy as hard as her days in England.
She was a strange woman. She missed her hometown and longed for the streets of her childhood. His father indulged her wishes and permitted her to keep a house in Italy, even though he spent all of his time in England. His mother would inevitably miss her husband and travel back, only to once again spend her days yearning for her home comforts.
Giovani Moretti was a lot of things, but there was no denying that he adored his wife. He satisfied her every whim, and the two of them were fast approaching their 30th wedding anniversary.
Lorenzo admired the love that the two of them had shared. So far, in all of his 31 years, he hadn’t come close to finding the special bond that his parents bathed in. He was beginning to think that love wasn’t for him.
Hearing the last call for the flight, he shook his head to clear all thoughts of love and romance from his mind. He had made a commitment to his father when he agreed to take over the company. In six years, this was the first break his father had permitted him. He had ensured that he would be granted complete anonymity in the small Italian village. He was registered as Ren at the hotel he was staying at, and he had given his drivers and bodyguards the time off as paid holiday to do as they wished.
It would take a very special woman to be able to put up with only receiving half of his attention. The Moretti Foundation came first and foremost. He remembered only too well the stories his mother told of her childhood poverty. His father had worked every hour of every day to build this company up from scratch, and deep down, Lorenzo knew he had no choice but to follow in his footsteps.
Kimberley groaned in delight as she slipped off her heels and stepped barefoot onto the carpet. She loved her job, but the uniform was killing her.
She had come to Italy only a few months ago, and she was incredibly proud of the little corner she got to call her home. It was small, comprising only two rooms, one being the bathroom and the other serving as kitchen, living room and bedroom. She made the best of it though, rigging her own curtains to make a partition for the bedroom and adding a small table to separate the kitchen from the living space.
The walls were completely white, bare of any personal family photos. Instead, she filled them with art that she found in small, independent stalls at the market. The small splashes of colour in those paintings really helped brighten the space, as well as the various cushions and throws she had on the small sofa and dining chair. She added flowers and lamps to the darker corners and a large, plush rug in the centre of the room.
It was a kaleidoscope of colours at first glance, especially with the make-shift clothes rack she had come up with. But it was hers, and she loved it.
It was miles away from the pristine six-bedroom house she had grown up in, but then again, that had been the same for all the homes she had lived in for the past two years.
At least this one is mine, no one can come and take this from me. She thought to herself with some lingering bitterness. The loss was still a painful pill to swallow, but with a determined kick of her shoes at the wall, she forced the thoughts to the back of her mind.
The past was in the past, and it couldn't be changed.
Knowing that she only had less than an hour before she had to be back at the restaurant, she slipped out of her tight skirt and unbuttoned her shirt, heading straight for the shower. She should never have agreed to cover the evening shift, especially considering she had worked all day, but she was a sucker for a love story.
There were two people working front of house, herself and Simone. Simone had begged and pleaded to have today off because she had a date with her childhood sweetheart who had recently moved back. She had offered to trade shifts with Kimberley and work the day rather than the evening, but Kimberley saw how jittery and nervous she was, and had laughed, telling her to enjoy a day of pampering and beauty. She would do both shifts and Simone could tell her all about it over lunch one day.
Besides, Kimberley needed the money.
She was doing well for herself and was slowly building her savings, but she knew that her time in Italy was coming to a close. She had never stayed somewhere longer than 6 months. She always got out once she made enough money to move on, and though it would pain her to leave behind this beautiful place, she knew in her heart that she had no choice.
No friends, no commitment.
She had been lucky. She seemed to strike gold whenever she went somewhere new, and Italy had been no different. Her first day here, she had found this restaurant and was immediately offered a job. Her boss had been her saviour when she arrived in Italy, but she knew that a lot of his favour was because of her appearance.
In England, she had despised the curves that had made her feel frumpy, but over the past few years, she had grown to love her body and was comfortable in her own skin. She would never be slim, but she knew how to play her assets to her advantage and how to dress for the kill.
Which was how she managed to get herself a small promotion in such little time. She was no longer waiting tables, instead; she was front of house and her boss made it clear that since she would be the first thing their customers saw, she better damn well make a good impression.
Kimberley let the water slide over her skin as she processed everything that had happened to her. Before Italy, she had been in Spain, before that, France, and before that, she had spent some time in Germany. She stayed long enough to get comfortable and left long before she formed any permanent bonds. Kimberley enjoyed flying under the radar. She wasn't looking to make any friends or commitments. She was happy with the thought in a few years' time, the only way they would remember her was as the friendly waitress who once worked at a restaurant. A face without a name.
"Shit! Shit!" She cursed as she heard the alarm sounding on her phone. She had spent far too much time reminiscing, and she was going to be late.
She jumped out of the shower and hastily slipped her clothes back on, groaning when she noticed the wet splotches on the skirt. They better dry by the time I get to work, she inwardly groaned, Roberto will kill me!
She did the best she could with her hair, running her fingers through it to detangle the curls and prevent them from frizzing. She added a slash of red across her lips and slipped the dreaded heels back on before running out of the flat.
Any other time, she would have loved to dawdle, to look over the charming, picturesque village. She would wave to her neighbours and listen to the many buskers in the square, allowing them to lift her spirits with their music and dance, but today, she had no time.
As she rounded the corner, her heel gave way, skidding on the pavement, making her knees buckle beneath her. She just about managed to steady herself on the wall and prevent herself from dying of embarrassment by landing flat on her ass, when she looked up and collided with the most piercing grey eyes she had ever seen.
She sucked in her breath sharply as she took in the sight of the man - and he was all man, that much was clear.
Dark-haired, olive skin, grey eyes and arm muscles to die for. She was hooked. A soft smile played on his full lips as he scanned her from head to toe, taking in her long, curly blonde hair, her large breasts, rounded hips and shapely legs before coming back to her eyes.
The way he looked at her, she felt miles away from the fat English girl. He made her feel like a goddess with one simple glance.
"Mi scusi, signorina, stai bene?" It took her a moment to realise he was speaking to her and asking if she was okay. From his position on the floor, with his back against the wall, he would have had an unobstructed view of the entire slip. She felt her cheeks flame as she looked away, tearing her gaze from those eyes.
"Err yes... si, grazie ..."
"Ren..." he offered in that perfect, sexy accent that melted her.
"Ren," she smiled back. "I'm fine, thank you. I'm Kimberley."
"Nice to meet you, Kimberley." He smiled back, before looking back down at the sketch pad in his lap, giving his full attention to his art.
With shaky legs, Kimberley walked closer, taking in the pictures that were propped up on the wall surrounding him. "Wow," she breathed, losing herself in the drawings he had created. "These are beautiful!"
"Merci, Piccolla." He said, glancing at her with a brief smile.
Kimberley's cheeks heated once more at the affectionate way he called her "little one", but before she could respond, he was back to his drawing and she realised that to draw him into conversation would only be taking him away from his passion. She reached into her pocket and dropped a few coins into the cup at his feet and hurried over to the restaurant without looking back.
She couldn't look back.
He had already made a lasting impression on her, and she didn't know what she would do if she glanced back to see him staring at her.
Or worse, if he wasn't.