Conquer Your Love(Surrender Your Love 02)

By: J.C. Reed

Chapter 1





BROOKE



LOVE HAPPENS IN the blink of an eye. One moment your heart is yours, and the next it belongs to someone you never intended to give it to. There is no transition. No earning on his part. Just foolish trust and hope for a future of happiness and emotional fulfillment. As much as we all hope for a happily ever after, life doesn’t work that way.

Love’s a bitch. I had to learn that lesson the hard way in the form of a green-eyed, sexy as sin, six foot two sex god.

Jett.

My first and only foray into love, and the second biggest mistake of my life.

I smirked as I adjusted my sunglasses so my best friend, Sylvie, wouldn’t catch the telltale signs of betrayal in my eyes. God knows I had shed enough tears over Jett. You would have thought they were depleted by now. Fat chance. It seemed I still had a few left, whether I wanted it or not. Not only did I realize that love can grow in the absence of the person you love, but so does the pain resulting from a broken heart.

It was funny, really, because I couldn’t figure out why I started loving him in the first place. Was it his good looks? Or the way he made me feel? The sex? He sure as hell didn’t deserve it.

It was barely ten a.m. but the sun stood high on the horizon, bathing the Malpensa Airport building in a glow. Already I could tell it was going to be a hot day, which wasn’t surprising given that we were in one of the most beautiful and expensive vacation spots in Italy.

“Let me help you,” Sylvie said decisively, snatching my suitcase out of my hand before I could argue. I watched her in silence as she heaved it into the taxi trunk, ignoring the driver’s awkward attempts at helping her. She had been protective and caring for the last two days, ever since the thing with Jett blew up. She had been tripping over her own feet to help me ‘survive’ the raging storm within my heart. In the last forty-eight hours I had been served and massaged, had my hair brushed, my bags packed, and my makeup done by her. I drew the line at having her feed and carry me. Sylvie had always been a good friend, but being caring didn’t come naturally to her. So the sudden attention scared the crap out of me. I didn’t know whether to run away or hug her.

“Hey, Brooke?” Sylvie tapped my shoulder to get my attention. I turned to face her, realizing I had been spaced out. Again. My brain just switched off momentarily like a computer on standby and needed to be tapped back into work mode. It wasn’t natural for a twenty-three-year old. I knew it. She knew it. The whole world probably did. I wished I could make it stop. Get my old life back where I was just ‘Brooke’—an overworked, underpaid college graduate na?ve enough to hold on to her dreams.

Just forget.

If only I could.

“Get in,” Sylvie said, holding the taxi door open for me. I nodded thanks and slumped onto the backseat. Sylvie joined me and grabbed my hand, giving it a firm squeeze, while her smile said everything there was to say. My best friend was here to support me. She’d take care of me until my heart mended and the pieces of my world glued back together.

“You’re awesome. You know that?” I whispered to Sylvie.

“That’s what friends are for.” She moistened her lips and her expression clouded over, as though she wanted to say more but decided against it. I scanned her flawless face and long blond hair. Her outward, gentle beauty revealed none of the hard shell coating her heart. Just like me, she had been bent and broken by men but, unlike me, Sylvie never gave up on love. She kept jumping into the next relationship, only to have her heart broken once more. We were different in this respect. I certainly wouldn’t make the same mistake twice.

“Did Clarkson say when you’re going to meet the old man?” Sylvie asked, changing subject.

I shook my head as I thought back to the English lawyer I had met with in New York. “He said he’d call once we landed.” Absentmindedly, I began to play with the metal clasp of my handbag—a birthday gift from Sylvie—and traced my fingers over the soft faux leather. At that time I had been reluctant to accept it because it had been so damn expensive and I wasn’t used to luxury. To think that I had just inherited a multi-million dollar estate from a relative I didn’t even know I had completely blew my mind. To think that Jett had tried to trick me into selling the estate so he could build luxury lake-side accommodations for the rich and famous blew my mind even more—and not in a good way. I smirked and leaned back against the smooth leather seat.

“What’s the plan?” Sylvie asked.

“He’s showing me the property first, then we’ll move on to the next step.”

She nodded slowly. “Which is looking at the estate’s accounting to make sure the old man’s not passing any debt to you.”

“I know that.”

“It was just a reminder, Brooke, in case you forget.”

I shot her a dirty look and she smirked back. I never forgot anything and Sylvie knew it. This was her way to tell me that I was playing in a completely different league here. Basically, well over my head, while she was the one who knew everything about high society, and she was determined to take the role of mentor.

Not that I had ever asked her for her guidance. Or that I needed a mentor. But I let her do and say as she pleased because every now and then Sylvie’s advice hit the spot. I had no idea what to do with a mansion and thousands of acres of land, with an entire legal firm on speed dial, and a bank director wanting to meet me personally to commence our ‘business relationship.’ The coming days would be tough, and I was thankful to have someone like Sylvie by my side.

“You’ll do okay, chica,” Sylvie said, misinterpreting my silence. “I don’t doubt you for a second.”

I smiled. It was easier to let her think I was nervous because of my first meeting with Alessandro Lucazzone. I couldn’t tell her that my heart was fluttering like a delicate butterfly throwing itself against its prison because the hour-long drive to Lake Como brought on more pain than I cared to acknowledge. And now my demons were officially out of the cage and I had to face them.

“He’ll be here eventually. You know that, right?” I whispered.

“I know,” Sylvie said. “But it doesn’t matter. You won’t have to talk to him if you don’t want to. You don’t have to see him ever again. He’s part of your past and he’ll stay that way.”

Taking a deep breath, I propped my head against the window and stared out at the stunning display of sparkling blue water and mountaintops, wondering whether I could really stay away from the one man who broke my heart.

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