Dante's Temporary Fiancée(2)

By: Day Leclaire

For some reason it annoyed Rafe. Determined to force a meeting, he began to maneuver his way through the crowd on an intercept course, one circumvented by Draco’s restraining hand.

“What?” Rafe asked, lifting an eyebrow. “I’m thirsty.”

Draco shot him a knowing look. “Funny. I’d have said you look hungry. And with so many eyes on you, I recommend you avoid sating your appetite until a more appropriate time and place.”


“Relax. Where there’s a will…” Draco gestured toward one of the nearby display cases and deliberately changed the subject. “Looks like Francesca’s latest line of Eternity wedding rings is going to be a huge success. Sev must be thrilled.”

Caving to the inevitable, Rafe nodded. “I think he’s more thrilled about the birth of their son,” he replied. “But this would probably rate as icing on the cake.”

Draco inclined his head, then slanted Rafe a look of open amusement. “So tell me. How many of the lovelies fluttering around the room have our beloved grandparents introduced to you so far this evening?”

Rafe’s expression settled into grim lines. “A full dozen. Made me touch every last one of them, like they expected to see me set off a shower of fireworks or light the place up in a blaze of electricity or something.”

“It’s your own fault. If you hadn’t told Luc that you and Leigh never experienced The Inferno, the entire family wouldn’t be intent on throwing women your way.”

The fact that so many of his relatives had succumbed to the family legend only added to Rafe’s bitterness toward his own brief foray into the turbulent matrimonial waters. Time would tell whether their romances lasted longer than his own. They might claim they’d found their soul mates, courtesy of the Dantes’ Inferno. Rafe, the most logical and practical of all his kith and kin, adopted a far more simple and pragmatic—okay, cynical—viewpoint.

The Inferno didn’t exist.

There was no eternal bond established when a Dante first touched his soul mate, no matter what anyone claimed, any more than Dantes Eternity wedding rings could promise that the marriages for which they were purchased would last for all eternity. Some hit it lucky, like his grandparents, Primo and Nonna. And some didn’t, like his disastrous marriage to his late wife, Leigh.

Rafe stared broodingly at his older brother, Luc, and his bride of three months, Téa. They were dancing together, swirling across the floor, gazing into each other’s eyes as though no one else in the room existed. Every emotion blazed in their expressions, there for the world to witness. Hell, even when Rafe had been in the most passionate throes of lust, neither he nor Leigh had ever looked at each other like that.

In fact, he’d been accused by the various women in his life that his penchant for practicality and hard, cold logic—his lone wolf persona—bled over into his personal life with dismaying frequency. Possessing a fiery passion in the bedroom definitely compensated, as did his striking Dante looks, they conceded, but not when that passion went no farther than the bedroom door. Emotionally distant. Unavailable. Intimidating. For reasons that bewildered him, that word was always accompanied by a shudder.

What none of them understood was that he didn’t do love. Not the brutal, I-married-you-because-you’re-a-rich-and-powerful-Dante love his late wife, Leigh, had specialized in. Not the casual, melt-the-sheets-and-enjoy-it-while-the-bling-lasts type that characterized the women interested in an affair with him. And definitely not The Inferno brain-frying-palm-burning-happily-ever-after brand of bull spouted by his more emotional and passionate Dante relatives.

Rafe knew himself all too well. And he could state with absolute certainty that not only wasn’t he hardwired that way, he never had and never would experience an Inferno love.

Which was just fine by him.

“It was annoying the first few times a potential bride was dangled in front of me,” Rafe informed his brother. “Since it was Nonna and Primo, I couldn’t say much. But now everyone’s gotten into the act. I can’t move without having some gorgeous thing shoved under my nose.”

Draco signaled to someone over Rafe’s shoulder. “A fate worse than death,” he said with a fake shudder.

“It would be if it were you under the gun.”

“But I’m not.” Draco leaned past Rafe and helped himself to a flute of champagne. “Want one?”


“Consider this your lucky day. The tray’s right behind you.” He offered a cocky grin. “And don’t say I never did you a favor.”

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