Dante's Honour-bound Husband(6)

By: Day Leclaire


“Maybe I can take The Inferno back,” she dared to suggest.

Elia simply laughed. “That’s not possible. The Inferno is forever.”

Oh, but it wasn’t. Gianna set her chin. “It doesn’t matter if Constantine is here now. It’s too late.”

A mother’s wisdom gleamed in Elia’s dark eyes. “That’s your pride speaking, not your heart.”

“I’ve moved on,” Gianna insisted, wincing at the defensive edge underscoring her words. “I’m dating David d’Angelo now.”

“Well, he is Italian…like Constantine,” her mother conceded. “And comes from a good Fiorentini family, though not one anywhere near as noble as the Romanos.”

“Maybe not, but they’re respected bankers.”

The family was even receiving some sort of banking award in another few months. As for David, he possessed stunning good looks. Granted, they were more classical than swashbuckling. More attractive even than her brother, Rafe, whom the family called the “pretty Dante.” Not that David could help his looks.

As for his personality, he couldn’t be nicer. Even if Primo had muttered untuoso under his breath, which had bothered Gianna no end since she didn’t consider David the least unctuous. Nonna adored him, which counted for a lot. David was intelligent, respectful and amusing, despite possessing the faintest air of entitlement.

And if he hadn’t told her he was Italian by birth, she’d never have guessed it by his accent, perhaps as a result of his studying abroad for so many years. Now that she thought about it, other than his intelligence he was as different from Constantine as a bird of paradise from a panther.

“David’s not like Constantine,” Elia murmured, the comment an uncomfortable echo of Gianna’s own thoughts.

“He is in some ways,” she argued. “But the important point here is that I like him very much. That’s all that matters, right?”

Elia made a face and set her cup and saucer aside. “Like. What an insipid word. Would you really trade an earth-shattering passion for a tepid ‘like’?”

“It’s safer,” Gianna whispered.

Safer not to surrender to the dangerous emotions flaring back to life. Safer not to allow the more impetuous side of her nature free rein. Safer to like a nice guy than to love someone as dangerous to her emotional stability as Constantine Romano.

“I spoke to Ariana about the situation.”

Uh-oh. “She and Lazz are still in Italy?” Gianna asked, hoping to turn the conversation in a new direction. No doubt a wasted effort.

“Yes. For another two months.” Sure enough, her mother lasered back to her point. “According to her, Constantine’s come back for you.”

“His sister is a romantic. The Inferno has a way of doing that to you. I guarantee that before she met Lazz she was the most pragmatic of people.” Gianna made a face in the mirror. “That’s what The Inferno does to people. It messes with them.”

“Mmm.” The sound was one of delighted agreement. “With luck you will soon discover yourself in the middle of your own Inferno mess.”

The comment contained a reminiscent tone and Gianna suspected her mother was recalling when she’d first fallen in love with Gianna’s father, Alessandro. Though her parents’ relationship could be tumultuous on occasion, there’d never been a doubt in her mind that they shared a white-hot passion, as well as being utterly devoted to each other.

“No, thanks, Mamma. I think I’ll stick with David.”

“I’m sure Constantine will try to change your mind about that.” Elia paused for a beat, before adding, “And I suspect, you hope he’ll succeed.”

Since Gianna couldn’t think of a response to that painful bit of homespun truth, she set the salmon gown aside and carried the bronze confection to the front desk. If only…came the wistful thought. If only The Inferno had worked as well between her and Constantine instead of backfiring so badly. Maybe she’d be sitting in a chair with that delicious smile on her face, lost in memories of endless days and nights filled with an eternal love.

If only.

As always, David arrived right on time. He looked spectacular in his tux, the light brown hair and turquoise eyes he’d inherited from the northern branch of the d’Angelo family giving him a movie-star sheen. It wasn’t a coincidence that his coloring was the complete opposite of Constantine’s. If he’d possessed hair as dark as night and eyes like jet, she’d never have agreed to go out with him the first time he’d asked. In fact, she hadn’t. It had taken a full three months of patient persistence before she’d caved to his barrage of invitations.

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