Cavalieri Billionaire Legacy – Excerpts2023-03-13T19:28:13+00:00

Cavalieri Billionaire Legacy Excerpts

Scandals of the Father – Chapter One

Chapter One


No good came from attracting the attention of a man like Barone Cavalieri.

The prosecco flutes on my tray rattled as I caught sight of his glare.

The Barone Cavalieri, powerful patriarch of the Cavalieri family, was staring at me. No, not staring, glaring.

Shifting my gaze away, I tried to swallow past the dry fear which had turned my throat to dust. The flutes clattered again. I pressed my hand over their tops, stilling them. I inhaled a shaky breath and held it, trying to calm my racing heart. A piece of hair escaped my loose bun and tickled the side of my neck. I desperately wanted to flick it aside but was afraid to release my grip on my passing tray.

Despite it being late autumn, the sultry Italian sun would not release its hot grip on our little mountain valley in Abruzzo. A bead of sweat trickled between my shoulder blades. I shrugged one shoulder, trying to relieve the icky, itching sensation on my skin. Then froze. Had my motion drawn more of his unwanted attention? I was afraid to look.

What had I done wrong to warrant his glare?

Internally, I rolled my eyes.

Dammit, why had I agreed to work this awful wedding?

Everyone in the village knew it was doomed from the start.

The answer was simple.

Money, of course.

Stupid, completely necessary for survival money.

I dared a glance out of the corner of my eye. Barone had turned away, his attention drawn by a handful of disreputable looking guests.

I let out the breath I was holding.

Maybe it had all been in my imagination?

After all, why on earth would Barone Cavalieri be glaring at me, one of the village catering servants, at his eldest son’s wedding? I mean sure, I had been friends with his youngest son at school, but that was years ago. It wasn’t like our families hung out in the same circles.

There were the rich as hell Cavalieris.

There was everyone else below them.

And at the very top was Barone Cavalieri.

The man was practically a legend in his own time.

Known as much for his kindness as his temper, he watched over our village like a feudal lord, harkening back to the power of his ancestors. I guessed it made sense, they even named our village after his family, who owned literally millions of acres of land across Italy and countless businesses, besides the ancestral winery that was the Cavalieri legacy.

It didn’t hurt that the man was also tall, imposing, and handsome as sin.

Still, with that kind of power and wealth, there was always an undercurrent of treachery and fear.

It was this that had me shivering in the afternoon sun.

I headed inside to get more prosecco.

Later, I would be expected to pass glasses of the famous, and insanely expensive, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano d’Abruzzo dei Cavalieri made from old vines dating back to the thirteenth century, but for now the guests were supposed to be drinking prosecco to celebrate the happy couple.

Except nobody wanted any.

Irritated, I pulled out the band holding my hair back, relieved when the tight tension eased.

My best friend approached, carrying a full tray of uneaten appetizers. She lifted one poached pear half filled with creamy ricotta and drizzled with local sideritis honey and took a bite. “These are really quite tasty. A total waste on that boring crowd out there,” she said after swallowing and licking her lips. “Have you ever seen a more somber and tense wedding? You’d think it was a funeral. Although it serves Enzo right for marrying such a bitc—”

I gestured with my head toward Signora Rossi, our supervisor who was standing nearby, as I whispered harshly through tightly closed teeth, “Milana!”

Milana’s eyes widened. She tossed her tray aside so haphazardly, the contents slid over the tray lip and toppled onto the Carrara marble table surface. She swallowed a laugh. “Oops.”

Milana used the flat of her hand to sweep the pear halves back onto the silver passing tray. The once elegant display was now a jumbled mess of overturned pears and smeared ricotta. She turned to face me, leaning her hip against the table. She licked a drop of honey off the tip of her finger as she raised one elegantly arched eyebrow. “You think the rumors are true?”

I finished wiping my tray and reached for several clean glasses. Distracted, I asked, “What rumors?” as I arranged the flutes on the tray.

“You know the rumors!” She leaned in close and in a hushed, conspiratorial tone whispered, “About the father and the scandal.”

I lifted the green glass bottle of prosecco and carefully poured one hundred and eighty milliliters in the first flute.

Oh God.

Those rumors.

Warmth crept up my cheeks.

 Barone Cavalieri’s late wife, the mother of his sons Enzo and Cesare, died under mysterious circumstances over fifteen years ago. It caused a huge scandal. The topic tore the I pettegolezzi del villaggio in different directions. Some said she killed herself because she was a religious woman and could no longer bear to satisfy her husband’s ungodly tastes in the bedroom. Others said he accidentally killed her in the middle of some rather vigorous, to put it mildly, lovemaking. Still others said he straight up murdered her.

The image of Barone’s tall, powerful body looming over me as his dark, piercing glare held me in thrall clashed with all the salacious stories I had heard about his sexual kinks and appetites over the years.

The flute I had been filling bubbled over with crisp, white foam as I overfilled the glass, toppling it. I stepped out of the way as fizzing prosecco covered the white marble tabletop and dripped onto the floor. “Che due palle!”

Milana helped me lift the flutes off the tray. “I, for one, don’t think he’s a murderer. I’m sure it was just rumors started by a bunch of jealous bitches who were angry, because they couldn’t tempt Barone and his legendary coc—”

“Milana!” I hissed again, furiously turning my head to make sure we weren’t being overheard. I swept the spilled prosecco into the nearby porcelain sink with a towel.

“—to their beds,” she finished in a rush before stuffing another pear in her mouth to stop herself from saying anything more.

I used the towel to cover my mouth as I laughed. “You’re a terrible influence.”

She laughed as she unabashedly talked around the appetizer in her mouth. “The worst.”

The sound of voices coming closer echoed down the carved stone corridor to our left.

Milana scurried to finish righting as many of the pear halves as she could. “We better hurry or Signora Rossi will have our heads for not doing our jobs.”

I splashed the bare minimum amount of prosecco in the flutes and lifted the tray. It wasn’t like it mattered, no one was interested in drinking it anyway.

 I headed toward the stone corridor to the right, away from the incoming voices. The lower level of the villa was a labyrinth of narrow corridors and small, cave-like rooms radiating from the center of the vast catering kitchen reserved for special events, like spokes on a wheel.

As I neared an intersecting corridor, voices raised in anger reached me.

“I will not stand for it, Renata!”

I started. It was Enzo Cavalieri, the groom, yelling at his bride. Hissing air through my teeth, I covered my mouth and looked around, hoping they had not heard me.

Renata cackled in return. “There’s nothing you can do about it now, husband.”

I peeked around the corner and watched as Enzo snatched her around the upper arm and dragged her into one of the cave rooms. Its heavy oak door, hung with ancient wrought iron hinges, slammed shut behind them.

I tightened my grip on the tray as I was forced to walk past the door to get back outside, where I was supposed to be passing out drinks.

Even though I knew I shouldn’t… I couldn’t resist pausing just outside the door to see if I could hear anything more.

The thickness of the door muffled much of what they were saying, or technically, shouting.

“Stuck with—”


 “—if it’s even mine.”

“—ruin my name—”


I was so caught up in the drama, I didn’t hear the heavy footsteps behind me until it was too late.

Sins of the Son – Chapter One

Chapter One


I stared with growing alarm as Cesare Cavalieri stalked toward me, his jealous anger palpable.

Before I could escape, his firm hand wrapped around my upper arm and wrenched my body behind him. He then stepped up to his cousin, Matteo. “Walk away.”

Matteo’s questioning gaze moved to me, then back to Cesare. “I didn’t know.”

Cesare ground out, “Now you do.”

The moment Matteo left, Cesare turned his wrath on me. “Stay away from Matteo. Trust me. He’s interested in just one thing.”

I cocked my head to one side as I raised an eyebrow. “You would know.”

Cesare stepped closer, the primal threat of his superior height and strength unmistakable. He had been working the grapevines all day alongside his father and brother. The heady masculine scent of leather, soil, and sweat still clung to his body. I stared at the steady pulse at the base of his neck and wondered if his skin would taste salty if I licked it.

As if sensing my illicit thoughts, Cesare moved even closer, his thigh brushing mine as he raised his arm to wrap his hand around my waist.

My eyes widened. With a gasp, I stepped back, breaking the spell.

He curled his fingers into a fist as he lowered his arm. His dark gaze moved from my eyes to my mouth. When he spoke, his voice was a low, sensual growl. “I’m tiring of this game you’re playing, Milana. Either tell me what the fuck I did wrong so I can apologize or get over it.”

I took a long sip from my wineglass as I glared at him over the rim before raising it high in the air and smashing it violently at his feet. “It will be a cold day in hell before I ever… ever… forgive you, Cesare Cavalieri.”


I stomped up the limestone gravel path to the cottage on the Cavalieri estate.

My prison.

Technically, as far as prisons went, it was pretty posh.

The bedroom alone was bigger than my entire apartment, but that was not the point. I stamped my foot for emphasis, even though I was venting to no one but myself.

My foot landed on a stone the wrong way. My ankle collapsed to the side as the heel on my favorite pair of knockoff Dolce midnight black pumps snapped. I wrenched off my shoes and picked up the broken heel. If I ever laid eyes on Cesare Cavalieri again, I would throw these shoes at his head.

God! Why had I let him back into my life?

Oh, right, I didn’t! He’d forced his way back into my life when he kidnapped me from my apartment and got me fired.


Although that was not really true, was it?

He was not a bastard.

That was part of the problem.

He was one of the exalted sons and heirs of the great Cavalieri fortune, practically a living god as far as most of Italy was concerned.

Tall, handsome, and rich, the man could probably get away with murder in this town and everyone would turn a blind eye because he was a Cavalieri.

Hell, he’d dragged me out of my apartment kicking and screaming, and not one person had rushed to my aid, the moment they saw whose shoulder I was slung over. Because in the village of Cavalieri, the Cavalieri men were kings.

Damn, damn, damn him.

Limping up to the cottage door, I rummaged for my key.

Not finding it, I dumped the contents of my purse out on the courtyard bench. Pushing aside shiny tubes of various shades of red lipstick, my compact, my mascara, the gold earrings I wore yesterday, the silver ones I wore last Monday, the onyx resin bangle I’d been looking for—which I slipped on my wrist—and a purple silk change purse filled with perfume samples, I finally found the cottage keys.

I unlocked the door and slipped my arm inside. My palm slid along the interior plaster wall, searching for the light switch. I couldn’t enter until the light was on. Once the main room was flooded with a warm, welcoming glow, I opened the door wide and crossed the threshold. I rushed from room to room, turning on all the lights. Only then did the tightness in my chest ease.

Returning to the courtyard, I swept my arm over the bench and scooped all the items back into my purse which I tossed, along with my ruined heels, on the seat of a nearby chair before securing the door.

I sank to the floor and hugged my legs to my chest as I rested my chin on my knees.

What did I do now?

My best friend Amara was practically engaged to Barone Cavalieri, Cesare’s father, and moving on with her life. Soon she would be married and starting a family. Not that I worried she would push me aside. We were ride or die girlfriends and always would be, but things were changing in our lives. It was time I made some changes as well.

Changes that didn’t include being under the influence of the Cavalieris.

I’d only stayed for Amara’s sake.

Now that she was happy with Barone, I could leave.

Cesare had made his intentions clear.

Especially after that kiss a few weeks ago.

And the kiss we almost shared tonight.

He not only wanted me… he wanted answers.

And no would not be one of them.

I tightened my arms around my legs as I tried to control the shiver that wracked my body at the terrible memories. As always, I silently berated myself for being so foolish. That was the messed-up thing about trauma. It didn’t really respond to rational thought. I knew rationally that things could have been much worse. That because I fought them off, they didn’t finish their intended attack, but still… the memories… the trauma… haunted me.

Being trapped in the darkness like that for hours and hours on end.

Screaming for help until I was hoarse.

Not knowing if they would return to finish what they’d started.

And it was all Cesare’s fault. He was my friend back then.

He should have protected me.

But he didn’t.

I didn’t care if the rest of Italy’s women thought he was God’s gift.

I hated him and would always hate him.

Anger gave me renewed vigor and purpose.

I got up off the floor.

I hurried down the hallway, passing Amara’s old bedroom.

The second I did, I backtracked.

I threw open the oak wardrobe’s paneled doors. There were still several Gucci, Valentino, and Dolce outfits she hadn’t moved over to the villa yet. Without a second’s hesitation, I swept them all off their padded, pale pink silk hangers, then reached down and grabbed the matching shoes. I stretched my arm up to the top of the wardrobe and slung the purse straps to two purses over my neck and hustled out of the room.

She’d have wanted me to have them.

After depositing my new wardrobe items on my bed, I got on my knees and pulled my suitcases out from under the bed. I could stay at Amara’s old house and leave at first light. When I didn’t show up for work, Cesare would come looking for me. Of that, I had no doubt. I needed to be long gone by then.

After I placed the suitcases by the door I went in search of a piece of paper and pen.

I knew if I called or texted Amara, she would race over and try to change my mind.

Worse, Barone would find out, which meant Cesare would find out.

And then they’d both get all over-the-top bossy about how staying in Cavalieri under their protection was for my own good, and how I was like a sister to Amara and therefore family now, blah, blah, blah.

Nope. No way. Not buying it.

I had vowed long ago never to let a man in my life, and I freaking meant it.

And that vow especially applied to Cesare Cavalieri.

I scrawled a quick note telling Amara not to worry, that I was fine, and that I would call her when I settled somewhere.

Snatching a handled basket from under the sink, I filled it with some fresh figs, a loaf of bread, some cheese, three bottles of wine, a bottle opener, a jar of plum preserves, and a bottle of sparking water.

After one last look around the cottage, I grabbed my purse and opened the front door.

Cesare was standing on the threshold.

His dark gaze swept from my face to the suitcases and back.

His brow lowered as his eyes narrowed. “Going somewhere?”

Secrets of the Brother – Chapter One

Enzo Cavalieri’s glare was like a hand wrapped around my throat.

His strong fingers slowly forcing the air from my lungs.

I tilted my chin to the side, hiding my face behind the wide brim of my hat.

It didn’t help.

I hadn’t seen Enzo in close to seven months… not since that awful night.

The night that changed—everything.

He was still as handsome as the devil himself, and if the rumors were to be believed about my sister, just as evil.

I clawed at the sheer black veil draped over the black pearl wheel hat brim and secured around my neck, obscuring my face. Loosening the folds, I inhaled a shaking breath, grateful no one could see the hot flush on my cheeks.

As a uniformed server passed, I plucked at his sleeve, halting him. His tray carried a small crystal plate of amaretti cookies surrounded by delicate bone china cups of espresso. I lifted one of the espressos by the saucer.  Raising my veil as high as my nose, I tried to take a sip of espresso, but my stomach turned at its bitterness. The cup clattered against the saucer as my hand trembled putting it back in place. Several heads turned in my direction. I pulled the veil down over my face again and set the cup and saucer onto the nearest table.

Risking another glance under the brim, the blood in my veins crystallized into tiny sharp icicles which pierced every nerve ending as I froze in place under Enzo’s continued intense, icy scrutiny.

What had I been thinking?

Slapping him like that in front of all those people… and in church, no less.

Everyone knew the Cavalieris were practically a force of nature in Italy.

Their name was synonymous with power and wealth.

It was no coincidence their name meant knight. Their family legacy stretched back to the time of feudal lords, probably even further. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were ancient papyrus scrolls buried in the caves of the nearby Apennine mountains with the Cavalieri name attached to some Roman general or forgotten emperor.

They owned half of western Italy, including the village I grew up in which was named after them.

There wasn’t a family I knew that didn’t somehow owe their livelihoods to the beneficence of the Cavalieris, including my own.

So to freaking slap Enzo, the eldest son, the heir to the Cavalieri throne? In church?

In the middle of my sister’s funeral?

Never mind he was my brother-in-law.

Never mind, half the village believed he murdered my sister.

Never mind he had been the man I desperately loved before my sister stole him from me.

Never mind, he was the reason why I fled to America.

Never mind the very sight of him brought all those bitter memories flooding back. Weighing down my heart until I thought it would become unmoored from within my body, sending it crashing into my bones, breaking them like a loose anchor splintering weathered wood.

I clenched my jaw and stared straight ahead, willing the threatening tears not to fall. My nose itched. My eyes stung. My eyelids fluttered, the alternating flashes of bright sunlight and pitch-black darkness disorienting me. Swaying, I dug my fingernails into the edge of the table for stability.

I had the dizzying urge to faint.

Dark oblivion would be a blessed relief right now. A salvation from this living hell.

The cloying scent of carnation, bergamot, and amber preceded my mother’s approach. My earliest memory of her was the stench of Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium perfume, which clung to her like a moth-eaten fur wrap. It was why I hated the scent, or even the sight, of carnations.

 She dug her claws into the soft flesh of my upper arm, holding me in place to hiss, “Stop making a spectacle of yourself, Bianca,” in my ear.

I bit the inside of my cheek, the pain centering me. “My apologies, Claudia.” I hadn’t been allowed to call her “Mother” in public since I was six years old. “Exactly how should one behave when attending a murdered sister’s funeral?”

She tightened her grip.

I winced but resisted the urge to pull away. I wouldn’t give her the satisfaction.

“For starters, you don’t slap the grieving husband in front of the priest and Don Cavalieri like some common trollop,” she snapped, her hot breath wreaking of menthol cigarettes and Amaro liquor. “And stop using that vulgar word.”

I lifted one eyebrow. “Trollop?”

“No,” she seethed through clenched teeth slightly smeared with crimson lipstick. “You know very well I mean murdered,” she gritted out. “Your sister’s death was a tragic accident.”

Yes, she tragically accidentally tripped into a man’s fists several times over until she died, and then shetragically accidentally fell over a cliff. The whole damn village, including my parents, knew who that man was, but no one was brave enough to utter his name out loud… including me.

I lifted my veil, tucking it up on the brim to better survey the sallow pallor of her complexion underneath the layers of contouring makeup, but avoiding her glassy eyes trying to focus on me. “A bit early for Mother’s Little Helper, isn’t it, Mommy dearest?”

“It’s a shame you weren’t charming enough to keep a man like Enzo Cavalieri’s attention. Then it would be you moldering in the ground”—she pressed a wrinkled handkerchief to her nose— “instead of my beautiful Renata.”

After twenty-three years, knife strikes straight to the heart like that should have stopped hurting. They didn’t.

I inhaled deeply through my nose in a vain attempt to control my emotions before responding.

It didn’t work.

The corner of my mouth lifted in a smirk. “I’m sorry, Claudia. I don’t think he found Renata charming as much as he enjoyed my sister’s charms.”

Her eyes widened. With a huff, she opened her clutch and fumbled for her cigarette case. Tucking a cigarette in her mouth, she let it dangle from her obscenely red lips, vainly trying several times to spark her lighter. “How dare you say such things about your dead sister. And at her funeral!”

I yanked the lighter from her hands and lit the cigarette.

It annoyed me that she was right. It was in poor taste.

There was no love lost between me and Renata. A lifetime of her cruel behavior toward me, capped off by her ultimate betrayal, put an end to any sisterly affection I may at one time have foolishly harbored. But she was still family and I owed her at least that much respect.

I tossed the lighter back into my mother’s purse. “Why are we even here? That man”—I still couldn’t say his name— “killed her. Why did you and Father agree to let him and his family host the funeral? Talk about disrespecting Renata. How can you let him play the grieving husband like this?”

My mother blew a cloud of smoke in my face. “Shut your mouth. Someone will hear you.”

“Are you serious? Mother—”


I let out a frustrated sigh. “Claudia, the entire fucking—”

“Don’t curse. Only trollops curse.”

I looked heavenward and prayed for patience. Taking a deep breath, I started again, speaking slowly. “Claudia, the entire fu—the entire village is here gossiping about how he’s the one who probably killed Renata. Everyone knows it’s always the husband. Anyone who watches Dateline knows that.”

“What is Dateline?”

“It’s an American true crime show, but that’s not the point. The point is, he killed your daughter and you’re here fawning all over him like he’s the suffering son-in-law.”

She picked a nonexistent piece of tobacco off her lip before responding. It was a gesture she’d seen an Italian sex symbol do in an old black-and-white movie once. Everything about my mother was affectation. Same with my sister, or at least it had been the same with my sister.

“We never should have agreed to let you study in America. It has given you a smart mouth.” After an overly dramatic sigh, she continued. “Bianca, there are sensitive business matters at play here that don’t concern you.”

Translation—my parents’ greed couldn’t afford to make an enemy of the Cavalieri billions.

I lowered my veil to cover my face once again. “Well I, for one, want no part in this farce. I’m going home.”

I had only taken a few steps when I was wrenched back by my hair.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

I turned to face my furious father, Bruno Moretti. His bloated face was a mottled purple.

I pulled my long curls out of his grasp and lowered my voice as I responded. “Home.”

“The hell you are. You’re going to march up there and pay your respects to Don Cavalieri and offer your brother-in-law a groveling apology for your disgraceful behavior earlier. I have already told them it was a side effect of some tranquilizers an American doctor gave you to handle your grief over your sister’s tragic passing.”

I wrenched my veil back up to face him. “I will do no such thing.”

His beefy fist shot out and grabbed the collar of my dress. “Listen, you spoiled little bitch—”

Before I could respond, an iron band wrapped around my waist and pulled me backward against a solid wall of muscle, breaking my father’s hold.

A dark, commanding voice ground out, “Get your hands off her.”

I looked up past the brim of my hat to see Enzo Cavalieri’s cold, emerald eyes glaring down at me.

Go to Top