Dante Claiming His Secret Love-Child(2)

By: Sandra Marton

As Rafe had so elegantly put it, it was Dante’s turn in the barrel.

So he’d showered and changed in his private bathroom at the office, taxied to the Waldorf figuring on a few polite handshakes and a glass of not-very-good wine—the wine was never very good at these things even if it cost five thousand bucks to buy a ticket.

And felt someone watching him.

It was the blonde, and she was spectacular. Long legs. Lots of shiny hair. A slow, sexy smile and enough cleavage to get lost in.

He’d made his way through the crowd, introduced himself. A few minutes of conversation and the lady got to the point.

“It’s so noisy here,” she’d purred and he’d said, yeah, it was and why didn’t he take her somewhere quiet, where they could talk?

But what happened in the taxi the doorman hailed had nothing to do with talk. Carin or Carla or whatever her name was had been all over him. By the time they got to her apartment, they were both so hot they’d barely made it through the door….

Dante threw back the blankets, rose from the bed and made his way to the bathroom. He had her cell number but he wouldn’t use it tonight. Tonight he had a date with a cute redhead he’d met last week. As for that dream…


All that had happened almost fifteen years ago. He knew now he’d never loved the girl who’d claimed he’d made her pregnant, though he did owe her a thank-you for teaching him an important life lesson.

When you took a woman to bed, it was your trousers you left on the floor, not your brain.

Dante tilted his head back, closed his pale-blue eyes, let the water sluice the shampoo from his dark-as-midnight hair.

No woman, no matter how beautiful, was worth any deeper involvement than the kind that took place between the sheets.

Without warning a memory shot into his head. A woman. Eyes the color of rich coffee. Hair so many shades of gold the sun seemed trapped there. A soft, rosy mouth that tasted of honey…

Scowling, he shot out his hand, turned off the water and reached for a towel. What the hell was the matter with him this morning? First the insane dream. Now this.

Gabriella Reyes—amazing how he could remember her name and not the name of a woman he’d been with last night, especially since it was a year since he’d seen Gabriella.

One year and two months. And, yeah, okay, twenty-four days…

Dante snorted.

That was what came of having a thing for numbers, he thought as he dumped the towel on the marble vanity. It made him good at what he did at Orsini’s but it also made the damnedest nonsense stick in his head.

He dressed quickly in a beat-up New York University T-shirt, the sleeves long since torn out, and a pair of equally disreputable NYU gym shorts, and went down the circular staircase to the lower level of his penthouse, hurrying past the big, high-ceilinged rooms until he reached his gym. It wasn’t an elaborate setup. He had only a Nautilus, some free weights, an old treadmill.

He only used the stuff when the weather was bad enough to keep him from running in Central Park, but this morning, despite the sunshine, he knew he needed more than a five-mile run if he was going to sweat a couple of old ghosts out of his system. It was a Saturday; he could afford the extra time.

When he was done, he spent a couple of hours online looking at auction sites that dealt in vintage Ferraris, checking to see if there was anything out there that came close to the 1958 Ferrari 250GT Berlinetta “Tour de France” he’d been searching for. There’d been word one had been coming on the market about a year ago in Gstaad; he’d thought about flying over to check it out, but something—he couldn’t recall what—had come up just then…

His hands stilled on the keyboard.

Gabriella Reyes. That was what had come up. He’d met her and everything else had flown straight out of his head.

“Dammit,” Dante said tightly. That was twice today he’d thought about the woman, and it made no sense. She was history.

Okay. Enough sitting around. He closed his computer, changed into another pair of shorts and a T-shirt and went out for a run.

Getting all those endorphins pumping did it. He came home feeling good and felt even better when Rafe phoned to say he’d just put away the French bank deal they’d been after. He’d already called Falco and Nick. How about meeting for a couple of drinks to celebrate at their favorite hangout, The Bar down in Chelsea?

By the time the brothers parted, it was hard to remember the day had started badly, but his good mood evaporated when his mother called. Dante loved her with all his heart and even her usual questions—was he keeping good hours? Was he eating properly? Had he found a nice Italian girl to bring to dinner?—even those things couldn’t dim his pleasure at hearing her voice.

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