Challenging Dante(6)

By: Lynne Graham

In reaction, hostility flared through Dante’s lean, powerful frame and he wondered if anger was making him paranoid for, observing the cosy little threesome, he was convinced he was being treated to an act designed to pull the wool over his eyes. Yet what could his mother possibly have to hide from him? Sofia and her son had always been close. His reading of the situation, his conviction that something was badly amiss, had to be wrong, he reasoned in growing frustration.


TOPSY GOT UP and walked through to the adjoining cloakroom to put the cut roses in water and then she answered the knock on the door that preceded the housekeeper, Carmela’s entrance with a tray of coffee and cakes. The grey-haired older woman reacted to Dante as though he were the prodigal son with a fatted calf to be slaughtered to celebrate his return.

Topsy returned to her seat while Vittore arranged a table beside his wife so that she could pour the coffee. While that was going on, Topsy studied Dante. Those eyes, fringed by long black lashes in that lean dark face were utterly stunning, she conceded grudgingly, unsettled that such a thought should even occur to her for he was not the type of man who should ever appeal to her. He wore his elegant business suit like a second skin and his sleek aura of well-groomed arrogance and command reminded her strongly of her bossy brothers-in-law. Dante Leonetti, she reflected abstractedly, would have all the imagination of a stone and would only think in terms of power and profit. Money was all important to him and undoubtedly the yardstick by which he judged other men. She suspected that had Vittore Ravallo been a rich and powerful man, Dante might well have welcomed him into the family.

How could anyone dislike someone as sweet and inoffensive as Vittore? Even so, although Dante might be offensive he was still, indisputably, a stunningly beautiful man. The shock of that second disturbing acknowledgement almost floored Topsy where she sat, for she had never been the susceptible sort, impressed by outward appearance. After all, her sisters were married to handsome men and she was accustomed to their looks. But no matter how hard she tried to concentrate on something else her attention remained hopelessly locked to Dante, noting the arrow-straight flare of his nose, the level black brows, the spectacular bone structure and the strong stubborn jaw line already darkening with stubble. She shifted uneasily where she sat, shocked by the sensations flooding her treacherous body and appalled to realise that for the first time in her life she was greedily wondering if a man would look as good naked as he did clothed. Her lashes fluttered as she tried to suppress that embarrassingly intimate thought while still guiltily engaged in mentally mapping the impressive breadth of his shoulders, the muscular width of the chest flexing beneath his silk shirt and the neat fit of his expensive trousers pulled taut over his long, powerful thighs.

Dante’s handsome dark head whipped round and he met her wide dark gaze in a head-on collision. Topsy felt her face flame red as fire, mortification claiming her entire body in a scorching blush as she literally tore her scrutiny from him, lowering her head as awkward as a schoolgirl caught out, only to find that her wretched gaze accidentally fell on the very last part of him she should be studying: the prominent masculine bulge at his crotch. It was as if Dante Leonetti put out sexual pheromones that fried her brain cells and all she could think about was touching him, tracing that arrogant blade of a nose, caressing that roughened jaw line, smoothing hands in worshipping exploration of places she had never touched before but longed to discover.

‘Excuse me...’ Dante sprang upright and strode over to the window, turning his back to them and thrusting the latch open to filter in fresh air to the stuffy room. Madre di Dio... He had never known temptation could come in such a small unexpected package, had never dreamt that involuntary arousal could seize him when he was in every way an adult in full control of his libido. What the hell was happening to him? Why was Topsy Marshall having this effect on him? It was not as though he were sex-starved or had even had much interest in that direction of recent. He ground his perfect white teeth together in bemused frustration, striving not to picture the diamond-hard pointed buttons of her nipp**les indenting her tee shirt, the mere hint of a shadowy vee between her creamy thighs as the hem of her skirt rode up. It was like being shot back screaming to the teen years when his control over his own body had been a bad joke. So exactly what was it about her that got to him? A tiny, shapely brunette, years his junior, not a raving beauty by any means but sexy, impossibly, outrageously sexy.

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