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Meryl Chamblee, an aspiring intern at an architectural design firm in Atlanta, receives a disturbing call from her cousin in St. Clair, a small town in southeastern Georgia where her treasured family home sits along the Satilla River. Meryl is a “gutsy” young woman determined to succeed in her chosen field. Though burdened by the demands of her office and her self-imposed work ethic, Meryl travels home to investigate the rumor that someone is acquiring large tracts of land in the area and now may be targeting her property. Meryl had vowed never to surrender the home she inherited, not wanting to see the natural beauty of the area spoiled nor the peaceful, unhurried life she holds dear disappear. She encounters the much-talked-about developer though he is far from what she had envisioned. Riccardo Aldi’s gentlemanly manners and soft, Italian-accented voice tantalize her but also leave her slightly puzzled. She has never before felt the emotions she experiences now. A call from Atlanta summons Meryl back to work temporarily interrupting her plans to learn more.
He is a successful real estate businessman and one of the founding partners of Aldi and Markham. Riccardo is soon surprised to find his mind wandering repeatedly to the lovely young woman with whom he has recently crossed paths. He has had mere glimpses of her, but he is attracted nonetheless. He invites her to tea at Great Moss, the estate he purchased in southeastern Georgia. Meryl justifies accepting the invitation as a means to discover Riccardo’s interests in St. Clair real estate and her property in particular. At heart, she knows, she also intends to explore his interests, if any, in her. Over tea, she gathers Riccardo intends to make Great Moss a second, or third, home, but nothing more about other property he has acquired or his interest in her own property. The excitement she feels at the slightest brush of his hand on her bare shoulders and the surprising light kiss on her lips as she leaves his home, leave her even more perplexed. She cannot shake the fear that he is manipulating her. Later that weekend, Meryl learns the last property on Great Moss has sold. Now Riccardo’s holdings surround Meryl’s property on all sides.
Meryl is fired from her job unexpectedly and fears that her relationship with Riccardo contributed to the unfortunate turn of events. Meryl returns to St. Clair, hoping to find time to explore her thoughts and regroup but soon learns that construction has begun on Great Moss. There, again, she finds Riccardo who invites her to New York to meet some of his contacts and to help him with redesigning his office there.
Meryl adds the offer to her growing tally of favors and gifts Riccardo showers on her, becoming more concerned about the price Riccardo may eventually extract. Meryl's personal insecurity pervades her thoughts and actions. She cannot shake an uneasy feeling about Riccardo's true intentions. Riccardo only reveals the surprise he has in store for Meryl when he realizes it is the only way to gain her confidence and trust.

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