The Italian Boss's Secret Child

By: Trish Morey


WHAT a day! So far he’d chewed out two suppliers who’d let him down, put the fear of God into his IT guru for delivering late—again—on the new system and had a stand up fight with the HR manager, who seemed to think it was a good idea to pay every single employee a Christmas bonus generous enough to rival the gross national product of any number of tiny Third World nations.

Not yet eleven o’clock and already he’d been through the wars.

Not yet eleven o’clock and already it was shaping up to be the perfect day.

He pushed back in his leather recliner chair until he was almost horizontal, hands clinched behind his neck, legs stretched out with feet on the desk, and breathed deeply. Closing his eyes against the Melbourne skyline shown to full advantage from the floor to ceiling glass windows of his Collins Street office tower, he relived the turbulence of the morning’s altercations.

Ruthless, difficult and a man to be feared, Damien DeLuca’s reputation as the toughest CEO south of the equator wasn’t likely to come under threat today.

Which suited him just fine. He was proud of his reputation—after all, it had taken him long enough to build. As a first generation Australian, the youngest son of Italian parents who’d left everything they’d known to make a new life in Australia over thirty-five years ago, he’d worked hard to get where he was. From humble beginnings helping out in the family’s former market garden, he’d made the most of a scholarship to a top college, then followed it up with a successful stint at university. Seven years later he’d walked away with a double degree plus a masters in business and a raft of eager employment offers to select from.

It had given him the start he’d needed. Within two years he’d set up his own financial sector software company and begun making inroads into the same competition that had been so desperate to snap him up.

A few more years on and he’d taken over two of his rivals and was an acknowledged innovator in the industry. Other companies now looked to his for an example of how to succeed. It was hardly a secret. He hadn’t built Delucatek by being soft. He’d got where he was by being tough, by expecting a lot from himself and from his staff.

And he’d done it on his own. He had no time for partnerships, no time for sharing control. He was the boss, pure and simple. That was the way he ran his life, in the boardroom as well as in the bedroom. The women that flitted in and out of the scene were soon made aware of it too, even if they sometimes thought they could change him. They were wrong. He didn’t need them.

Damien DeLuca didn’t need anyone.

He pulled an arm out from behind his head, flashed a look at his TAG Heuer watch and frowned. Enid Crowley, his PA, should be returning from her break with his coffee any minute. Meanwhile his marketing manager, Sam Morgan, was late for his meeting to present the international marketing proposal to launch Delucatek’s newest software package.

Very late!

He swung his legs down off the desk, irritated that someone who needed his approval to splash hundreds of thousands of the firm’s dollars on what he understood was a radically different campaign hadn’t even bothered to show up yet. It didn’t augur well for the proposal.

It augured even less well for Sam.

What a day! She didn’t need this. Not today.

Philly Summers hugged the file containing the proposal to her chest, her eyes still itching with the threat of tears, her throat tight and constricted, and knowing that all too soon she’d be deposited at the executive level of the DeLuca Tower whether she liked it or not.

Of all the days for Sam to go down with flu!

In normal circumstances she’d be celebrating being called in at the last minute to present the marketing plan to the famous if feared head of Delucatek. After three months working as Sam’s deputy, it was clear to her that he was a man more than happy to take a disproportionate amount of credit for the work of others.

In normal circumstances she’d consider it a real coup, having the chance to present what was ninety-nine per cent her very own proposal to the man who could make or break her career in a moment.

In normal circumstances…

But these weren’t normal circumstances.