Raffaele: Taming His Tempestuous Virgin

By: Sandra Marton

CHAPTER ONE




RAFFAELE ORSINI prided himself on being a man who was always in control. There was no doubt that his ability to separate emotion from logic was one reason he’d come this far in life.

Rafe could look at a relatively nondescript investment bank or financial corporation and see not what it was but what it could be, given time and money and, of course, the expert guidance he and his brothers could provide. They had created Orsini Brothers only five years ago but they were already an incredible success in the high-stakes world of international finance.

They’d always been incredibly successful with beautiful women.

The brothers shared the dark good looks of their mother and the rapier-sharp intellect of their father, who’d both immigrated to the States from Sicily decades before. Unlike their old man, they’d put their talents into lawful pursuits, but there was a dangerous edge to them that worked to their advantage in bedrooms as well as boardrooms.

It had done so today, when Rafe had outbid a Saudi prince for the purchase of a venerable French bank the Orsinis had wanted for a very long time. He, Dante, Falco and Nicolo had celebrated with drinks a couple of hours ago.

A perfect day, on its way to becoming a perfect evening…

Until now.

Rafe stepped from the lobby of his mistress’s apartment building—his former mistress’s apartment building, he thought coldly—declined the doorman’s offer of a taxi and dragged in a deep breath of cool autumn air. He needed to calm down. Maybe the walk from Sutton Place to his Fifth Avenue penthouse would do it.

What was it with women? How could they say something at the start of an affair even when they damned well didn’t mean it?

“I am completely dedicated to my career,” Ingrid had said in that sexy Germanic purr of hers after the first time they’d gone to bed. “You need to know that, Rafe. I am not at all interested in settling down, so if you are—”

Him? Settle down? He still remembered how he’d laughed and rolled her beneath him. The perfect woman, he’d thought as he began making love to her again. Gorgeous. Sexy.

Independent…

Yeah. Right.

His cell phone rang. He yanked it from his pocket, glared at the number on the screen and dumped the thing back into his jacket. It was Dante. The last thing he wanted was to talk to one of his brothers. The image in his head was still too fresh. Ingrid, opening the door. Ingrid, not wearing something slinky and sophisticated for their dinner reservations at Per Se but wearing, instead…What? An apron? Not the serviceable kind his mother wore but a thing that was all ruffles and lace and ribbons.

Ingrid, smelling not of Chanel but of roast chicken.

“Surprise,” she’d trilled. “I’m making dinner tonight!”

She was? But she had no domestic skills. She’d told him that. Laughed about it.

Not tonight. Tonight she’d walked her fingers up his chest and whispered, “I’ll bet you didn’t know I could cook, liebling.”

Except for the liebling, it was a line he’d heard before. It made his blood run cold.

The scene that played out next had been all too predictable, especially her shrill accusations that it was time to take their relationship to a new level and his blurting out, “What relationship?”

Rafe could still hear the sound of whatever it was she’d thrown at him hitting the door as he exited.

His cell phone rang again. And again, until finally he cursed, hauled the damned thing from his pocket and flipped it open.

“What?” he barked.

“And good evening to you, too, bro.”

Rafe scowled. A woman walking toward him veered away.

“I am not in the mood for games, Dante. You got that?”

“Got it,” his brother said cheerfully. Silence. Then Dante cleared his throat. “Problems with the Valkyrie?”

“Not a one.”

“Good. Because I’d hate to lay this on you if you and she are—”

“Lay what on me?”

His brother’s sigh came through the phone. “Command performance, eight o’clock tomorrow

morning. The old man wants to see us.”

“I hope you told him what he can do with that request.”

“Hey, I’m just the messenger. Besides, Mama called, not him.”

“Hell. Is he supposed to be at death’s door again? Did you tell her he’s too mean to die?”

“No,” Dante said reasonably. “Would you?”

It was Rafe’s turn to sigh. They all adored their mother and sisters even though they seemed able to forgive Cesare Orsini anything. His sons could not. They’d figured out what their father was years ago.

“Damn it,” Rafe said, “he’s sixty-five, not ninety-five. He’s got years ahead of him.”

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