Authors: Sue Fineman
Tags: #General Fiction
(Donatelli Series - Book 1) Newlywed Cara Andrews overhears her husband talking to his girlfriend about locking Cara in an institution so he can steal her inheritance. Frightened, Cara sneaks away and rents a run-down cabin in Gig Harbor, intending to hide out until she can end her marriage.
When the cabin collapses in an earthquake, a neighbor, Nick Donatelli, risks his life to rescue her. The roads are damaged, power and phones are out. They're trapped in Nick's cabin on the shores of Puget Sound.
Nick is warm and friendly, and she enjoys his company. When he learns who she is, he's uncomfortable. Cara is one of the wealthiest women in the world, and he's a man who works with his hands. She's falling in love, but her husband is a ruthless man who'll do anything to get his hands on her estate. Cara knows she has to leave before her husband tracks her down, before he hurts Nick. Before he kills her.
Donatelli Family: Book One
Copyright © 2011
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from
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This book is a work of fiction and all characters exist solely in the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Any references to places, events or locales are used in a fictitious manner.
Newlywed Cara Andrews overhears her husband talking to his “honey” about locking Cara in an institution so he can steal her inheritance. Frightened for her safety, Cara sneaks away from their home in Seattle and rents a run-down cabin in Gig Harbor. She can’t go her estate in California because it’s the first place her husband will look for her.
When the cabin collapses in an earthquake, a neighbor, Nick Donatelli, risks his life to rescue Cara. He takes her to his home, cleans her up, and takes care of her. The roads are damaged, power and phones are out. They’re trapped in Nick’s cabin on the shores of Puget Sound, but the paramedics come by boat to take her to the hospital. She’s afraid to go alone, afraid someone will recognize her and her husband will find her, so she claims she’s Nick’s wife, Maxine Donatelli.
Nick is warm and friendly, and she enjoys his company. But Cara is a one of the wealthiest women in the world, and Nick is a man who works with his hands. When he learns who she is, he’s uncomfortable with her wealth.
Cara wished she really was Maxine Donatelli, an ordinary woman with an ordinary life. Married to an extraordinary man.
Cara knows she has to leave before her husband tracks her down. She doesn’t want him to hurt Nick. She’s falling in love, but her husband is a ruthless man who’ll do anything to get his hands on her estate. Including murder.
he men with the cameras were gone. Cara peered out the bedroom window, looking down the street and by the corner bus stop where the photographers hung out, but there wasn’t one in sight. Had they finally given up?
What did people see in her anyway? Cara Andrews wasn’t an actor or celebrity, and the only attractive thing about her was her long, reddish-gold hair. If those tabloid photographers knew what a dull person she was, they’d leave her alone and go take pictures of someone interesting, like Oprah.
Wind rustled the tender new leaves on the maple tree and bright sunshine streamed through the window. With the cameras gone and Lance at work, she had the freedom to explore the city, and she couldn’t have picked a prettier day for it.
Smiling at her newfound freedom, Cara dressed quickly and pulled her waist-length ponytail through the back of a Seattle Mariners baseball cap. Grabbing a jacket, she headed for the stairs.
Halfway down, she heard her husband’s voice.
What’s he doing home? He’s supposed to start his new job today.
The study was right below the stairs, and he’d left the doors open. Curious, she stopped to listen.
“Don’t worry, she won’t hear me,” he said. “I gave her a double dose last night. She’ll sleep most of the day.”
Dose of what?
Was he talking about
? Had he been putting something in the tea he made her every night? Was that why she’d been sleeping so much since they moved to Seattle? Why would he do that? Too stunned to move, Cara stood quietly on the stairs, listening to her husband talk on the phone.
“I’ll take her on a weekend trip to the island to celebrate our four-month anniversary. She’ll never suspect a thing.... Yes, of course she’ll have a private room, her own nurse. It’s a nice sanitarium. Expensive, but nice. They’ll take good care of her.”
Oh, God, no!
Cara’s hand covered her mouth to hold in the mournful cry that threatened to break loose.
Don’t cry, Cara. Don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry.
“Come on, honey. She’ll end up in one anyway. Everyone knows mental illness is inherited.... No, I told you before, I can’t put her in the same one her mother lived in. It’s too risky to use one here in the states.”
Honey? He has another woman? How long has this been going on?
She took deep breaths, but couldn’t stop her body from shaking. Lance wasn’t just having an affair. He wanted to lock her away in a sanitarium.
“The place on St. Rupert’s is private, secluded, good security. It’s the best place for her. I checked it out myself. It’s like a tropical country club.... No, it’s not like that. This place is really nice. It’ll be like a permanent vacation. They have a private beach, library, all the comforts of home and then some. She’ll be fine once she gets used to it.”
Nice? A rat-infested hole with people screaming to get out?
Cara would rather die than live in a place like that. Maybe she should send Lance and his “honey” there and see how they liked it. Had Lance ever been on St. Rupert’s Island? No, probably not, but she had. She wouldn’t put her worst enemy in that place. It was like a prison, with razor wire around the fence and armed guards to shoot those who dared to try to escape. Fresh tears burned her eyes, but she blinked them back. If anyone saw her crying, they might think she really
“We’ll travel and see the world, maybe take a cruise around the Greek Islands. Would you like that?” His soft, deep laughter, once familiar and comforting, made her skin crawl. She wrapped her arms around her body to keep from shaking so hard. When they married, he promised to take
“Don’t worry about Cara. They won’t drug her or use restraints unless she makes trouble. She’ll be all right there. I’ll check with her doctors often and make sure she’s okay.”
If he thought he could lock her away, he had a surprise coming. She’d give her entire estate away before she’d let that snake have it. Thank God she poured out the tea he made her last night. If she hadn’t... she couldn’t even consider what might have happened to her.
Cara had never been a fighter, but she’d fight this with everything in her. Unshed tears burned her eyes. She’d trusted the wrong man with her love, and she had no one to blame but herself. What a gullible fool she’d been. She had a security staff, yet she didn’t bother to have Lance checked out before she married him. He’d charmed her with his handsome looks and glib lies. Until now, she’d believed every word.
Until now, I thought he loved me.
What made her think she could have a normal life with a loving husband and children of her own? After she ended her marriage and took control of the estate, she’d live the rest of her life in that luxury prison she called a home, with armed guards to protect her.
The desk chair squeaked and Lance ended his phone call. Her heart raced. She couldn’t let him know she’d heard. Without making a sound, Cara crept back to the bedroom and crawled in bed to hide in plain sight until he left the house.
Seconds later, Lance walked into the bedroom whistling. Without glancing at the bed, he opened her jewelry box and picked through it, putting several pieces in his pocket. She lay very still, the covers pulled up to her chin to hide her clothes. Then he closed her jewelry box, grabbed his gym bag, and left the room, whistling as if he didn’t have a care in the world.
Too scared to move, she stayed in bed until she heard the kitchen door slam, then she jumped up and peeked out the window to see him driving away in her car. “Oh, no!” Of all the days to take her car, why did it have to be today? She didn’t have keys for his car. She’d have to take a taxi or the bus, anything to get away from this house before he returned.
Lance and his ‘honey’ thought they could live the high life on her money, but she’d give it all away before she let that snake spend another dime.
Still shaking, she quickly packed a bag. Lance would think she’d gone home to the estate in California, so she couldn’t go there. She’d have to find another place to live while she figured out how to end her marriage without giving Lance half her grandfather’s estate.