Challenging Dante(4)

By: Lynne Graham

Yet how could she simply give up a cause that meant so much to her? Her sisters though would never understand that angle: they would simply fiercely disapprove. And if they knew the lengths her mother had forced her to go to before she would finally divulge the information that Topsy craved, they would have been outraged, Topsy conceded heavily. But in her opinion, it had been worth it to finally get the truth...if it was the truth. Unfortunately she was all too well aware she could not totally trust her mother’s word.

Meanwhile she was living in the lap of luxury in a genuine medieval castle, which had been owned by the Leonetti family for hundreds of years. Yet her beautiful surroundings had that wonderful lived-in vibe, which made even the splendid furnishings emanate a warm and cosy ambience. No, she certainly couldn’t complain about the standard of her living conditions.

* * *

Mid-morning the next day, her dark eyes shadowed by a restless night of troubled thoughts, Topsy was in the garden cutting roses for the contessa to arrange. The superb rose garden basked in the heat of the sun shining down from the clear blue sky above and it was so warm that Topsy was relieved she was only wearing a cool cotton skirt and tee shirt. Vittore, who generally got involved in anything relating to his only recently acquired wife, crossed the bed of roses to extend a particularly lovely rich pink bloom to her. ‘It’s La Noblesse...her favourite,’ he explained, a small, slightly built man in his late forties with benevolent dark eyes and a still-handsome face.

‘You’re identifying them now?’ Topsy teased even though she was touched by his consideration for Sofia. ‘Your time with that rose book is certainly paying off!’

Vittore laughed, turned a little red and smiled warmly.

* * *

This was the little tableau that Dante was deeply disturbed to witness as he strode round the corner of the castle to access the side entrance. Like a pantomime lech, his grinning stepfather was extending a rose to a giggling young brunette. Even if Marco hadn’t planted suspicion in Dante’s mind he would have become suspicious at the sight of such conspicuous familiarity between an older man and a youthful employee.

‘Vittore...’ Dante breathed, quietly announcing his presence.

Startled, his stepfather whirled round so fast he almost fell over a shrub and, righting himself, stiffened and froze in place still standing in the rose bed. ‘Dante,’ he acknowledged with a rather forced smile. ‘This is Topsy. She’s working here to help your mother with her charities.’

Topsy stared at the tall black-haired male who had appeared out of nowhere. So, this was Dante, Sofia’s beloved only child, the selfish, unfeeling cad, who had spoiled the older couple’s wedding with his cold attitude and even quicker departure. Of course she had seen a photo of him in Sofia’s sitting room but no two-dimensional image could possibly have conveyed the devastating effect of Dante Leonetti in the flesh.

He was drop-dead gorgeous from the crown of his luxuriant black hair to the soles of his undoubtedly handmade shoes. His dark suit said he meant business and was faultlessly tailored to his lean powerful frame. He stalked closer like a predator closing in on its prey and she blinked, wondering where that strange comparison had come from. Within six feet of them he came to a halt and the sheer height and breadth of him intimidated her, reminding her of the undeniable drawbacks of being just four feet ten and a half inches tall. His extraordinary eyes made her stare for they were an unexpectedly exquisite shade of green, strikingly luminous and light against his bronzed skin and oddly unsettling. An unfamiliar sense of breathlessness afflicted her.

Her body felt weirdly detached from her brain while a series of bizarre reactions was filtering through her. All of a sudden, her brea**sts felt incredibly sensitive and an uncomfortable clenching sensation between her legs made her instinctively press her thighs together. Sexual attraction? She refused to believe that it could be. She couldn’t possibly be attracted to a male she was already programmed to thoroughly dislike!

* * *

Dante studied the tiny brunette with fierce attention. Her glossy mane of curling dark hair fell down her back almost to her waist. She had wide almond-shaped eyes the colour of melted honey, creamy olive skin and a ripe pink mouth. Her beautiful face was the shape of a heart and, for all her surprising lack of height, she had the pronounced curves of a pocket Venus. The ripe swell of her full brea**sts pushed against her thin cotton top while the opulent flare of the hips below her tiny waist was neatly delineated by the fitted skirt. Dante was startled by the instantaneous swelling sensation at his groin for not since he was an undisciplined teenager had he reacted that strongly at first sight of a woman. Annoyingly, she wasn’t even his type, she absolutely wasn’t his type: he went for tall elegant blondes and always had. But evidently his treacherous hormones had a different opinion and he had cause to be grateful for the suit jacket he still wore.

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