Sidney Sheldon's Chasing Tomorrow(5)By: Sidney Sheldon&Tilly Bagshawe
“It’s a good price, Valentina.” He looked at Tracy with a straight face. “But what if I could do better? Say I offered you six million. As a friend. I could build your dream estate exactly as you imagined it.”
“Well, that would be wonderful, Max!”
“Great.” Pierpont grinned triumphantly. What a stroke of luck, meeting this rich, sexy airhead on the flight. Now he would get to screw her and screw her over. And all for the price of one measly dinner! “When can I see the property?”
Tracy gave him a pained expression. “I’m afraid it’s too late.”
“What do you mean”
“My deal with Monsignor Cunardi closes tomorrow.”
“Yes. That’s why I’m here, to oversee the transfer of the funds. If only we’d met sooner. Anyway, enough about business. I must be boring you stiff! I hear the desserts here are to die for.”
She began to peruse the dessert menu. Maximilian Pierpont wore the expression of a man who could feel millions of dollars slipping through his fingers.
“Look. I don’t need to physically see the land. You say you have the necessary planning permissions?”
Tracy nodded gravely.
“If you could get me copies of those tomorrow morning, along with the deeds to the property, that’d be enough. Do you think that’s possible, Valentina?”
“Well, yes!” The Countess Di Sorrenti’s eyes lit up. “Of course. But surely you wouldn’t want to pay such a huge amount of money without even seeing the land? I mean, one has to walk there to understand the true magic of the place. Papa always said—”
“I’m sure.” Maximilian Pierpont cut her off, unable to listen to another minute of her vacuous rambling. As if he gave a damn about the “magic” or her stupid dead father. He did still want to maneuver the countess into bed. But he’d better wait until the deal was done first.
“Well . . .” Tracy smiled broadly. “I’ll send over the paperwork in the morning, then. I must say, this really is incredibly kind of you, Max.”
“Not at all, Valentina. I’d hate to see your dream for that land slip away. Waiter!” Maximilian Pierpont clicked his fingers imperiously. “Bring us some champagne. The best in the house! Countess Di Sorrenti and I are celebrating.”
THAT NIGHT JEFF CALLED Tracy’s cell.
“I’m trying to reach the future Mrs. Stevens.”
Just hearing his voice again made Tracy’s heart leap.
“I’m afraid you have the wrong number. This is the Countess Valentina Di Sorrenti.”
No man had ever gotten to Tracy the way that Jeff did. Not even Charles Stanhope III, the first man she’d thought she wanted to marry, back in Philadelphia, in another life. Charles had betrayed her. When Tracy was sent to prison for a crime she didn’t commit, Charles Stanhope III hadn’t lifted one powerful finger to help her.
Jeff Stevens was different. Tracy trusted him with her life. And he had saved her life once. That was when Tracy first realized that he loved her. Every day with Jeff was an adventure. A challenge. A thrill. But the irony wasn’t lost on her:
The one person on this earth that I trust completely is a con man.
Jeff said, “I thought you said we were done with capers?”
“We are. Just as soon as I’m done with this. It’s Maximilian Pierpont, for God’s sake!”
“How long will it take?” Tracy could hear the pout in his voice.
He misses me. Good.
“A week. Maximum.”
“I can’t wait that long, Tracy.”
“Valentina,” Tracy teased. “Although you can call me ‘Countess.’ ”
“I want you in my bed, not on the end of a telephone line.”