Born in the worst suburb in Pittsburgh, Elaine Brogan is bright, beautiful and bold. When her father is falsely arrested for passing counterfeit $100 bills, Elaine vows to become a Secret Service agent and track down the man responsible. After barely surviving the arduous Secret Service Training Academy in Laurel, Maryland, she is transferred to bleak and blustery Great Falls, Montana. But things do not go as planned, and Elaine soon finds herself betrayed and thrown into an adventure that takes her halfway around the world, from dark and mysterious Sofia, Bulgaria, to Moscow Russia, and finally, to Milan, Italy. In the end, will Elaine find the love and happiness she truly seeks...or will she turn to a life of obscene wealth, power and corruption?
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The man picked her up in Vernazza, a picturesque village perched along the rugged coastline of the Italian Riviera. From his salt-and-pepper hair, and his lined face, Maria guessed he was in his early 50s. He bought her a drink, then dinner, then a new dress and a pair of pumps and a few other things, spending lavishly on her in the quaint village shops.There were no pretenses. They went to his plush villa, which afforded a breathtaking view of the sea. When she asked his name, he looked at her with his brooding dark eyes and said, "Are names important, cara?"All she knew was that he was a businessman from Rome. She supposed it didn't matter.They were soon hungrily making love to each other on the king-sized bed. She hadn't expected such energy out of a man his age--he was insatiable. She often had to fake ******* with older men, but not with this one.They spent most of the weekend in the bedroom. In between sexual bouts, they hiked up and down the cobblestone streets of the village, admiring the view and the lovely, narrow houses that were painted in pink, blue and yellow pastels. They gorged themselves on the local cuisine--cappon magro, a pyramid made of fresh vegetables and a half dozen different types of fish, and the torta pasqualina, a cake made of 18 layers of light pasta and stuffed with ricotta cheese.They spoke very little. Maria didn't care. Words might break the spell, and she didn't want this to end.
Ricardo Maya stood on the uppermost deck of the Alana, his perfectly-fitted linen suit fluttering in the breeze. The late afternoon sun cut across the bronzed features of his face. One deck below, a half dozen young girls were reclined around the swimming pool in chaise lounge chairs, stark naked. All were of centerfold quality, their oiled bodies glistening in the afternoon sun.But today Maya did not even notice the girls. His mind was occupied with his latest financial scheme. The results of six months of arduous, painstaking work would all come together in the next few days, the "harvest", as he thought of it. Maya had no doubt that everything would go well, as always. But he was still on edge.Sergei, his bodyguard and personal assistant, stepped up to him. The Russian was built like a refrigerator packed with sand. "Sir, we will arrive in Marseilles in one hour." Maya turned to him. "Everything is in order?""Da," Sergei said. "Vsyo v poriadke."Maya nodded approvingly. Sergei was the most reliable man he had ever known. And he was the only person Maya truly trusted. Now, Maya could make out the port of Marseilles.
On the third day, he felt that he had won the girl's trust. The experiment he wanted to perform was far too important to delegate to one of his lieutenants. There was much riding on the outcome. He needed to see the results first hand.But he had to be careful. When she lay in his arms, spent, he said, "Did you know I am celebrating this weekend, cara?" He stroked one of her full, firm breasts. "You are a gift to myself."She looked up at him with liquid brown eyes. "What do you mean? What are you celebrating?"He rose naked from the bed and picked up a small leather Gucci bag that was sitting on the coffee table. He knew she was curious about what was inside--he had been carrying it around everywhere they went, keeping it close at all times.When he opened it, she gave a little gasp.The satchel was packed with crisp, new U.S. $100 bills."So much money," she said in a hush. "Where did it come from?""I sold a flat in Portofino, a dilapidated hovel I have been trying to rid myself of for years. I finally found an American gullible enough to buy it, but he insisted on paying part cash. It's only about fifty thousand dollars."