A Ring for Vincenzo's Heir(7)

By: Jennie Lucas


Vin’s jaw tightened. Turning away, he picked up a carafe of water sitting on a tray on a nearby table. He poured water into one of the glasses. “Your last name is Ravenwood.”

Her lips parted in shock. “How did you—”

Reaching into his jacket pocket, he held up her wallet, his handsome face impassive.

“How did you get that?”

“Falkner sent your purse to me. And your suitcase.”

“Sent? You mean he dumped them in the street?”

“I mean his bodyguards personally brought them to me, neatly stacked, with his compliments.”

Oh, this was so much worse than she’d feared. Scarlett breathed, “The worst man I know is afraid of you?”

He smiled grimly. “It’s not unusual.” He held her wallet out toward her. “Here. Seventeen dollars cash and a single credit card. With an eight-hundred-dollar limit.”

“Hey!” She snatched at it. Her cheeks burned. “How do you know my credit limit?”

Picking up his glass, Vin swirled the clear water thoughtfully. “I wanted to know what I was dealing with. An orphan who never lived anywhere for long, who came to New York for a thankless live-in job, who saved every penny for two years, who made no new friends, who worked all the time and never went out.” He tilted his head, looking at her with heavily lidded black eyes as he murmured, “With one memorable exception.”

A flash of heat went through her, then cold. She couldn’t think about that night. Not now. “You have some nerve to—”

“The Falkners barely paid minimum wage, but you saved every penny you could. Impressive work ethic, considering your jailbird father—”

“Don’t you dare call him that!” she shouted. “My dad was the kindest, best man who ever lived!”

“Are you serious?” Vin’s lips curved. “He was a bank robber who became a fugitive and dragged you and your mother into a life on the run. You had no money, barely went to school, and your mother died of an illness that she might perhaps have survived with proper care. What am I missing?”

“Stop judging him,” she raged. “My father gave up that life when I was a baby. But a friend of his convinced him to try for one last score. After my mother found out, she gave him an ultimatum. He gave the money back to the bank!”

“Just gave it back, hmm?”

“He left the bags of money outside the police station, then tipped them off with an anonymous call.”

“Why didn’t he turn himself in?”

“Because he didn’t want to leave my mom. Or me.” Scarlett took a deep breath. “We would have been fine, except Alan Berry was caught spending his own share of the money six months later and threw my father under the bus as the supposed mastermind of the crime! After he’d tried to do the right thing—”

“The right thing would have been for your father to turn himself in at the start,” Vin said mercilessly, “instead of waiting ten years to find the courage, and dragging you and your mother through such a miserable life on the run.” He calmly took a sip of water. “The only truly decent thing your father ever did was die in that plane crash after he got out of prison. Giving you that tidy multimillion-dollar settlement offered by the airline.”

Scarlett nearly staggered to her knees at his easy reference to the greatest loss of her life, one that still left her grief-stricken every day—her father’s sudden death, along with thirty other people, in a plane crash a year and a half before, as he was coming to New York to see her, finally free after five years in a medium-security prison.

Vin looked at her curiously. “You gave all that money away.” He tilted his head. “Why?”

She was so shocked, it took her a moment to find her voice. In mere minutes, Vin Borgia had casually ripped through her privacy and exposed all the secrets of her life.

“I didn’t want their blood money,” she whispered. “I gave it to charity.”

“Yes, I know. Cancer research, legal defense for the poor and help for children of incarcerated parents. All fine causes. But I don’t understand why you’d choose to be penniless.”

“Like you said, maybe I’m used to it. Anyway.” She clutched her wallet. “Some things matter more than money.”

“Like a baby?” Vin said coldly. He put the glass down with a thunk on the wooden table. “You let me seduce you and take your virginity, then snuck out while I slept. You never bothered to contact me. You waited until my wedding to spring the news on me that you were pregnant.”

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