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Tall, Dark & Handsome: The Infamous Italian's Secret Baby / Pregnant by the Millionaire / Liam's Secret Son

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«Tall, Dark & Handsome: The Infamous Italian's Secret Baby / Pregnant by the Millionaire / Liam's Secret Son» - Кэрол Мортимер

Bella Scott hadn’t resisted the temptation Italian millionaire Gabriel Danti offered. Her mistake. But after no word for five years, dark, dangerous Gabriel now knows they have a son and he wants Bella back.Hebe can’t believe she’s ended up in her handsome boss’s bed. But Nick Cavendish needed to be with someone that particular night. Now he’s trying to avoid her and she’s got morning sickness!When Liam O’Reilly insisted on being a part of Laura’s world again, she still found him attractive, but she was wiser now. If only Liam had stayed all those years ago, he would have found out that he had a son…Three fabulous novels from international bestselling author Carole MORTIMER
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About the Author

CAROLE MORTIMER was born in England, the youngest of three children. She began writing in 1978 and has now written over one hundred and eighty books for Mills & Boon. Carole has six sons, Matthew, Joshua, Timothy, Michael, David and Peter. She says, ‘I’m happily married to Peter senior; we’re best friends as well as lovers, which is probably the best recipe for a successful relationship. We live in a lovely part of England.’

Tall, Dark & Handsome

The Infamous Italian’s Secret Baby

Pregnant by the Millionaire

Liam’s Secret Son

Carole Mortimer

www.millsandboon.co.uk

The Infamous Italian’s Secret Baby

PROLOGUE

‘THE party is outside by the pool.’

Bella froze in the doorway, searching the shadows of the unlit room she had entered by mistake, a study or den if the book-lined walls and desk were any indication. Her hand tightened about the door-handle as she finally saw the outline of the large, imposing figure seated behind that desk.

The man was totally unmoving, and yet his very stillness was an implied danger, an echo of the challenge in his tone. By the light from the hallway behind her, Bella was just able to make out the fall of long dark hair that grew onto a pair of wide shoulders, those shoulders and a powerful chest encased in a dark top of some kind.

She swallowed hard before speaking. ‘I was looking for the bathroom…’

‘As you can see, this is not it,’ he responded, his amused voice slightly accented. As he spoke some of the tension left his upper torso and he relaxed back in the high-backed chair, head tilted slightly sideways as the glitter of his gaze moved slowly over Bella standing silhouetted in the doorway. ‘Or perhaps you cannot see…’

Bella barely had time to realise that the husky voice sounded vaguely familiar before there was the click of a switch and a light illuminated the desk in a soft warm glow. And the man seated behind it. Bella recognised him instantly.

Gabriel Danti!

Bella felt her heart plummet in her chest as she looked at the wickedly handsome man in front of her. His thick dark hair and chocolate-brown eyes were almost black in their intensity. His olive-skinned face boasted a perfectly straight aristocratic nose, high cheekbones, a mouth that was full and sensual, and a square, arrogant chin, softened only by the slight cleft in its centre.

It was the face that thousands, no, millions of women all over the world sighed over. Daydreamed over. Drooled over!

Italian by birth, Gabriel Danti was, at the age of twenty-eight, the defending champion of the Formula One racing car championship currently in its fifth month. This man was the darling of the rich and the famous on both sides of the Atlantic—and, as if that weren’t enough, he was also the only son and heir of Cristo Danti, head of the Danti business and wine empire, with vineyards in both Italy and America.

Even while she registered all those things about him Bella was also aware of the fact that this house in the Surrey countryside was Gabriel Danti’s English home, and that he was actually the host of the noisy party taking place outside by the pool. So what was he doing sitting up here alone in the dark?

She moistened suddenly dry lips. ‘I’m terribly sorry for disturbing you. I really was looking for the bathroom.’ She gave a small self-conscious grimace. How awful that the first and probably only time she had the opportunity to speak to Gabriel Danti it was because she needed to find the bathroom!

Gabriel made a lazy study of the tiny, dark-haired woman who stood in the doorway of his study. A young woman totally unlike the tall, leggy blondes that he usually escorted—and totally unlike the traitorous Janine, he acknowledged grimly to himself.

She had very long, straight hair, as black as ebony and falling soft and silky about her shoulders. A dark fringe of that same silky softness lay on her forehead, and her small, heart-shaped face was pale and smooth as alabaster—and totally dominated by a pair of the most unusual violet-coloured eyes Gabriel had ever seen. Her gently pouting lips were unknowingly sensuous and inviting.

His gaze dropped lower, to the soft woollen top she wore, which was the same violet colour of her eyes. The top two buttons were undone to reveal surprisingly full breasts—completely naked breasts beneath the thinness of her sweater, if Gabriel wasn’t mistaken, which made her slender waist look even more so in comparison. Her narrow hips and legs were clearly defined in figure-hugging jeans.

That long, leisurely glance told Gabriel that he didn’t know her.

But he wanted to!

Bella took an involuntary step back as Gabriel Danti stood up from behind the desk, revealing that the top he wore was in fact a black silk shirt that rippled as he stood before resettling softly against the muscled hardness of his shoulders and chest. The sleeves were turned back to just below his elbows, revealing muscled forearms lightly dusted with dark hair.

At least a foot taller than her own five feet two inches, Gabriel Danti at once dominated the space around him. And she, Bella realised in some alarm as she found herself rooted to the spot, was totally unable to move as the tall Italian sauntered across the room in long feline strides to stand mere inches in front of her. The raucous noise of the party outside instantly became muted as all Bella could see or hear was him.

She had been wrong, Bella mused as she found herself in a daze, unable to look away from the dark beauty of his face. Gabriel Danti wasn’t handsome.

He was stunningly gorgeous.

Bella could feel the heat radiating from his body, could smell his tangy aftershave, the male scent of him that invaded and claimed the senses, filling her with a warm lethargy, a need to move closer to all that heady maleness.

A need Bella was unable to resist as she felt herself swaying towards him. She made an effort at the last moment not to do so, lifting a hand to stop herself from curving her body along the length of his. Instead she found the palm of her hand against the black silk of his shirt, her fingers curling against the warm hardness of the chest beneath as she felt the hot, heady thrum of his heart against her fingertips.

What was happening to her?

She never reacted to men like this. At least, she never had before…

She had to—

Bella froze, every part of her immobilised as Gabriel Danti raised one of his long elegant hands that so capably handled the wheel of a racing car travelling at unimaginable speeds, and cupped her chin, the soft pad of his thumb caressing lightly across her bottom lip. The tingling warmth that ensued travelled down her throat and spine to pool hotly between her thighs.

Dark brown eyes held her own captive. ‘You have the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen.’ His voice was low, husky, as if he were aware that anything else would break the spell that surrounded them.

‘So do you,’ Bella breathed, her chest rising and falling sharply with the effort it took to breathe at all.

His throaty laugh was a soft rumble beneath her fingertips before it faded; the darkness of his gaze suddenly became intense, searching. ‘Did you come here with someone?’

Bella blinked, trying to think through the slow insidiousness of his seduction. ‘I—I’m here with a group of friends, Mr Danti.’ She gave a self-conscious shake of her head as his eyes compelled her answer. ‘Sean is the nephew of one of your mechanics.’

It didn’t surprise Gabriel that this beautiful young woman knew who he was. Even if she hadn’t recognised him from the photographs of him that appeared almost daily in the newspapers at the moment, the fact that this was his house and he had been sitting in the study where several framed photographs of him winning races also adorned the walls would have given him away.

‘Sean is your boyfriend?’ There was a slight edge to his voice that hadn’t been there seconds earlier.

‘Heavens, no!’ she denied with a smile, her long hair falling forward across her breasts as she shook her head. ‘We’re just at university together. I hope you don’t mind that Sean brought some friends with him, Mr Danti?’ She was frowning now, her eyes almost purple. ‘His uncle said—’

‘I do not mind,’ Gabriel cut in reassuringly. ‘And please call me Gabriel.’

A slight flush darkened her cheeks. ‘And I’m Bella,’ she invited huskily.

‘Bella?’

‘Isabella.’ She grimaced. ‘But everyone just calls me Bella.’

Gabriel wasn’t sure he wanted to be grouped with ‘everyone’ where this fascinating woman was concerned. He raised one dark brow. ‘You are Italian?’

‘No,’ she laughed softly, her teeth small and white against the fullness of her lips. ‘My mother allowed my father, who’s a doctor, to choose my own and my younger sister’s names, so he named us after two of his favourite models and actresses: Isabella and Claudia. When my brother was born six years ago my mother had the choice of names. She chose Liam. After the actor. A tall Irishman, with what my mother describes as “very sexy blue eyes”—’

‘I know him,’ Gabriel admitted.

‘You know of him or you know him?’ Bella was aware that she was talking too much. About things that could be of absolutely no interest to a man like Gabriel Danti. It was nerves, that was what it was. That and the fact that she couldn’t think straight with Gabriel’s fingers still curled possessively around the softness of her chin!

The Italian smiled. ‘I know him. I cannot confirm the sexiness of his blue eyes, of course, but—’

‘You’re mocking me now,’ Bella reproved self-con-sciously.

‘Only a little,’ Gabriel murmured, his gaze once more intense on hers. ‘You said you are at university?’

‘Was,’ Bella corrected ruefully. ‘I left last month.’

Telling Gabriel that Bella was probably aged twenty-one or twenty-two to his twenty-eight. ‘What subject did you study?’

‘Art and History,’ she supplied.

‘With a view to teaching, perhaps?’

‘I’m really not sure yet.

I’m hoping something that involves both subjects.’ She shrugged slender shoulders, the movement giving Gabriel, with his superior height, a delicious glimpse of the fullness of her breasts.

Gabriel could never remember being so instantly attracted to a woman before. So attracted that he was sure her appraisal of him earlier had raised his body temperature by several degrees, at the same time making him totally aware of every muscle and sinew of his own body as well as hers. Rousing a need, a hunger, inside him that demanded the slender curves of Bella’s body be placed against his much harder ones. Intimately. Preferably with no clothing between them.

Bella gave a slightly nervous laugh as she saw the way the Italian’s eyes had suddenly darkened. ‘If you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll just go and find the bathroom—’

‘The bathroom is the room next to this on the right,’ Gabriel interrupted, his fingers firming against her chin. ‘While you are gone, I suggest I find a bottle of champagne and some glasses and then we can find somewhere more comfortable in which to continue this conversation, hmm?’

What conversation? Bella wondered, slightly bemused. She was pretty sure that Gabriel Danti didn’t want to hear more about her degree in art and history or her family! ‘Shouldn’t you be returning to your guests?’ She frowned.

His laugh was slightly wicked. ‘Does it sound as if they are missing me?’

Well…no, the party outside sounded noisier and more out of control than ever. Which was some feat considering several of the guests had already thrown off their clothes and jumped into the pool naked before Bella had left to go in search of the bathroom. Which had hastened her need to go in search of the bathroom, if she was honest; the party looked in danger of disintegrating in a way Bella wasn’t at all comfortable with.

It had sounded like a fun thing to do when Sean Davies had invited several of his fellow ex-students to the party being given at the Surrey home of Gabriel Danti. A chance to mix with the rich and the famous.

The fact that most of those ‘rich and famous’ were behaving in a way Bella would never have imagined if she hadn’t seen it with her own eyes had come as something of a shock to her. It wasn’t that she was a prude, it was just a little disconcerting to have a man she had last seen reading the evening news, a respected middle-aged man, jumping stark naked into Gabriel Danti’s swimming pool. Admittedly it was a warm summer’s evening, but even so!

‘Come, Bella.’ Gabriel removed his hand from her chin only to place it about her waist, his arm warm and spine-tingling as it rested against the slenderness of her back. ‘Do you have any preference in champagne?’

‘Preference?’ she echoed. Champagne was champagne, wasn’t it?

‘White or pink?’ he elaborated.

‘Er—pink will be fine.’ As a student, the only preference Bella had when it came to wines was that it not cost a lot of money! ‘Are you sure you wouldn’t rather just rejoin your guests?’ Bella hesitated in the hallway, rather confused that this gorgeous man, a man any of his female guests would scratch another woman’s eyes out in order to spend time alone with, appeared to want to spend that time with her…

‘I am very sure, Bella.’ Gabriel turned her in the curve of his arm so that she now faced him, his hands resting lightly against her waist. ‘But perhaps you would rather return to your friends…?’

Bella swallowed hard as Gabriel made no effort to hide the hot sensuality burning in his eyes. ‘No, I—’ She stopped as she realised her voice was several octaves higher than normal. She cleared her throat before trying again. ‘No, I think I would enjoy drinking champagne with you more.’

Those dark eyes gleamed with satisfaction as he raised his hands to cup either side of her face before slowly lowering his head to take possession of her mouth. Sipping, tasting, his tongue was a warm sweep against her lips as he tacitly asked her permission to enter. Then he claimed her mouth, groaning low in his throat as Bella gave in to temptation, parting her lips and inviting his tongue to surge inside.

His mouth was hot against hers now, Bella feeling slightly dizzy from the warm rush of desire that instantly claimed her. Her breasts were firm and aching and she moved instinctively to rub that ache against the hardness of Gabriel’s chest, that friction affording her some relief even as she felt more desire pooling between her thighs.

Oh, how she wanted this man. Wanted him as she had never known it was possible to want any man, the hot demand of his kiss, the hardness of his thighs against hers, telling her that he returned that need.

Gabriel had never tasted anything as sweet as the response of Bella’s mouth beneath his. Never felt anything so lush, so perfect, as his hands moved down over her hips and then down to clasp her bottom as he pulled her into him, his arousal now nestled demandingly against the flatness of her stomach.

Gabriel dragged his mouth from Bella’s to cast a searching look down at her. Those beautiful violet-coloured eyes were so darkly purple it was almost impossible to distinguish the black of her pupils. Her cheeks were flushed, her lips swollen from their kisses, and she looked more erotically enticing than ever. Her breasts were firm against his chest, and Gabriel was able to feel the hardness of her nipples through the soft silk of his shirt.

‘Go. Before I lose all sense and make love to you out here in the hallway!’ He grasped the tops of her arms tightly and turned her in the direction of the bathroom she had been seeking. ‘I will return in two minutes with the champagne and glasses.’

Bella was completely dazed and disorientated as she entered the bathroom and closed the door behind her before leaning weakly back against it.

She was twenty-one years of age, had dated dozens of boys in the last five or six years, but never before had she known anyone or anything as lethal—as potent—as Gabriel’s kisses!

Bella straightened to look at herself in the mirror on the door of the bathroom cabinet over the sink. Her cheeks glowed with the warmth of her arousal. Her mouth—oh, dear, her lips were swollen and slightly parted as if in invitation! Her eyes were deep pools of liquid violet, the pupils enlarged. As for her breasts…Well, if she had any sense she would leave now! If she had any will power at all, she would make herself leave now.

Even as she told herself these things Bella knew she wasn’t going anywhere but back into Gabriel Danti’s arms…

‘Nice?’

‘Mmm.’

‘Would you like more?’

‘Please.’

‘Come a little closer, then. Now hold out your hand.’

Bella lifted the hand holding her glass to allow Gabriel to pour her more champagne as she sat on the sofa beside him, at the same time noting that he hadn’t touched any of the bubbly wine in his own glass since placing it on the coffee table in front of them. The two of them were seated in a sitting-room at the front of the house on the first floor, well away from the noisy party downstairs.

‘You aren’t drinking,’ she pointed out in an effort to cover up the slight shaking of her hand as she once again raised her glass to her lips and took a sip of the delicious pink champagne.

He shook his head, his arm along the back of the sofa as he sat very close beside her, that hand playing with the silken strands of her hair. ‘I’m going to the track for a practice session tomorrow, and I never drink if I am going to drive the next day.’

Bella’s eyes widened. ‘You shouldn’t have bothered opening a bottle of champagne just for me.’

‘It is not just for you,’ Gabriel assured her, dipping his finger into her champagne glass before running his finger lightly behind Bella’s ear and along her jaw. ‘I said I do not drink champagne before driving, Bella, not that I do not intend enjoying its taste,’ he murmured softly, his breath warm against her ear lobe as his lips moved to follow the trail of champagne left by his finger, his tongue rasping against her already sensitised skin.

The combination of Bella and champagne was more intoxicating to Gabriel’s senses than drinking a whole bottle of the expensive wine could ever have been, her skin so smooth to the touch, its sweet taste driving the heat through Gabriel’s already roused body until he throbbed with the need to touch her more intimately. All of her.

He held her gaze as he deliberately dipped his finger back into the champagne before leaving a moist trail from her chin, down the delicate curve of her throat, to the exposed swell of the fullness of her breasts, his lips instantly following that heady trail.

Bella squirmed pleasurably as the warmth of his mouth lingered on her breasts. ‘Gabriel—’

‘Let me, Bella,’ he pressed huskily. ‘Let me bathe you in champagne. All of you. So that I might drink from your body.’ His hand moved to cup her cheek as his thumb moved across her parted lips once more. ‘Will you allow me to do that, Bella?’

Bella had accepted exactly where this was going the moment she had agreed to accompany Gabriel up the stairs to what had turned out to be the private sitting-room that adjoined his bedroom. Although thankfully the bedroom door had remained closed, otherwise she might have panicked long before now.

Not that she was panicking. Quivering with delicious anticipation more described her present state of mind! Just the thought of Gabriel dribbling champagne over her totally naked body, before slowly licking away each drop with the rasp of his arousing tongue, was enough to heat every inch of her to a tingling awareness that suddenly made the few clothes Bella was wearing feel tight and restrictive.

‘As long as I can reciprocate.’ She dipped her own finger into the champagne before running that finger over the firm sensuality of Gabriel’s slightly parted lips. ‘May I?’ She paused expectantly with her mouth only centimetres away from his, violet eyes looking deeply into dark brown.

‘Please do,’ he encouraged.

What Bella lacked in experience she hoped she made up for in her delight at being given the freedom to explore the sculptured perfection of Gabriel’s mouth in the same way he had hers. She heard his ragged intake of breath as she gently sucked his top lip into her mouth and her tongue slowly licked the heady champagne from that softness. His hand moved up to entangle his fingers into her hair as she gave the same treatment to his bottom lip, knowing as those fingers tightened in her hair that these caresses were arousing Gabriel as deeply as they were her.

Gabriel’s body hardened more with each heated sweep of Bella’s tongue against his lips, the throb of his thighs becoming an urgent demand. In fact, he wasn’t even sure he was going to make it as far as the bedroom before stripping Bella’s clothes from her deliciously responsive body and surging hotly, satisfyingly inside her!

He moved back abruptly, a nerve pulsing in his tightly clenched jaw as he stood up to hold out his hand to her. ‘Come with me, Bella,’ he invited as she looked up at him uncertainly.

Gabriel continued to hold that gaze as Bella placed her hand in his and rose gracefully to her feet, her breasts quickly rising and falling beneath the thin wool of her sweater.

She was like a small, wild thing, Gabriel acknowledged with growing wonder. So tiny. So delicate. So absolutely, potently desirable.

Gabriel felt his stomach muscles tighten with the force of that desire, continuing to keep a firm hold of her delicate fingers as he picked up the chilled bottle of champagne with his other hand, neither of them speaking as they went into his bedroom.

‘Please don’t…’ Bella protested shyly as Gabriel would have turned on the bedside light.

A four-poster bed! A genuine antique if Bella wasn’t mistaken, as were the drapes of deep gold brocade that could be pulled around the four sides of the bed.

What did it matter whether or not the bed and drapes were genuinely old? It was still a bed. A bed Bella had no doubts she would shortly be sharing—very shortly, if the heat of his gaze was any indication!—with Gabriel Danti.

This was madness. Sheer, utter, delicious madness!

‘I want to be able to look at you as I make love to you, Bella,’ Gabriel said, once again standing very close to her, but not touching her, the warmth of his body alone acting on Bella’s senses like a drug. ‘Will you allow me to do that?’ he encouraged throatily. ‘I will undress first if you would be more comfortable with that…?’

God knew Bella wanted to look at him in all his naked glory! ‘Please do,’ she begged breathlessly.

He reached out to turn on the bedside lamp, to bathe the room in a muted golden glow before he reached up and began to unfasten the buttons down the front of his black shirt.

Bella found her gaze fixed on the movements of those long, elegantly slender hands as they slowly slipped each button from its fastening, the silk falling back to reveal the muscled hardness of Gabriel’s chest covered in another dusting of dark hair. Dark hair that thickened as it reached his navel before disappearing below the waistband of his black tailored trousers.

It was instinct, pure compulsion that caused Bella to reach out and touch his chest, to feel the tautness of his flesh beneath her fingertips as it stretched tightly across those muscles. His skin felt hot and fevered, those muscles tightening as Bella’s hands moved up to slide the shirt from his shoulders before she dropped the garment to the carpeted floor.

Gabriel was as beautiful as the angel he was named for. Achingly, temptingly gorgeous as his eyes burned hotly in the chiselled beauty of his face.

Bella wanted to see more. Wanted to see all of him!

Her hands trembled slightly as she unfastened his trousers to slide the zip down slowly, her fingers skimming lightly across Gabriel’s arousal beneath black underpants, causing him to draw in a sharp breath.

His hand moved down to clasp hers against him. ‘Feel how badly I want you, Bella,’he grated fiercely. ‘Feel it!’

She looked up at him, their gazes fusing hotly, Bella never more sure of anything in her life as she slowly, deliberately, peeled away Gabriel’s last item of clothing to release his pulsing erection.

He was long and thick, incredibly hard, that hardness moving against her hand as Bella reached out to touch him.

Gabriel felt his control slipping, groaning softly, lids closing, his jaw clenching, as his pleasure centred totally on the caress of Bella’s fingers against his arousal. Selfishly he wanted those caresses to continue to their pleasurable conclusion. But more than that he wanted to see Bella, to touch her with the same intimacy as she was now touching him.

His gaze held hers as he stepped back slightly before reaching out to grasp the bottom of her thin sweater and draw it slowly up over her breasts and then her head before adding it to the pile of clothes on the carpet. Gabriel’s breath caught in his throat as he gazed at the firm thrust of her breasts, the nipples a deep, dusky rose, and a waist so small and slender Gabriel felt sure he would be able to span it with his hands.

He slowly bent his head to kiss those uptilting breasts, able to see and feel Bella’s response as his tongue moved moistly across one nipple before he drew it deeply into his mouth.

Bella was lost. Totally, utterly lost as her hands moved up to clasp Gabriel’s head to her, her fingers tangling in the heavy thickness of his hair as the pleasure created by his lips and tongue washed over her in dark, sensuous waves, pooling achingly between her thighs. An ache that Gabriel helped to assuage as his hand moved to cup her there, pressing lightly, Bella gasping weakly as he unerringly found the centre of her arousal.

She had no idea which one of them removed her jeans and panties, any more than she could remember how they came to be lying on the bed, bodies pressed close together, legs entwined as they kissed hotly, fiercely, feverishly.

Bella stopped breathing altogether as Gabriel’s hand parted her thighs before his thumb began to touch, to stroke, the hardened nub that nestled there. Her senses became saturated with the intensity of her arousal, her hips rising off the bed to meet the thrust of Gabriel’s fingers as they moved deeply, rhythmically inside her and Bella exploded with spasm after spasm of unimagined pleasure, her head moving from side to side on the pillow, her fingers curled into the sheets beneath her as that pleasure seemed never ending.

It didn’t end as Gabriel moved above her, his gaze holding hers as he slowly, inch by inch, entered her still quivering body until he claimed her completely. He began to move inside her, his thrusts slow and measured, and then increasing in depth, Gabriel groaning low in his throat as he surged fiercely inside her. Bella met the fierceness of his thrusts as she—amazingly, incredibly!—felt her own release building for a second time in as many minutes.

Her eyes widened, deeply purple, as that release grew, the pleasure so achingly deep now it was almost painful in its intensity as Gabriel deliberately slowed the strokes of his erection inside her, holding her on the edge of that plateau, refusing to release her as he watched her pleasure.

‘Please!’ Bella gasped restlessly as her body burned and ached for that release. ‘Oh, God, please!’

He continued to watch her even as he moved up onto his arms, his thrusts deepening, becoming harder, quicker, his cheeks flushed with his own pleasure, eyes glittering like onyx as Bella’s second release took him over that edge with her.

Gabriel closed his eyes at the force of his release, surging, pumping, hot and fierce, his hips continuing to move against Bella’s long after he had completely spilled himself as he remained hard inside her and the quivering pleasure still washed over and through him.

Finally, when he could take no more, when he felt as if he would die if the intensity of it didn’t stop, Gabriel collapsed weakly onto Bella’s breasts, turning only to pull the bedclothes over them both as they fell into a deep, exhausted sleep, their bodies still joined.

‘It’s time to wake up, Bella.’

Bella was already awake, had woken up several minutes ago in fact, and was trying to come to terms with who she was here with.

Gabriel Danti…

Just thinking of his name conjured up images of the night that had just passed. Of waking up in the early hours of the morning to find Gabriel once more hard inside her, his gaze silently questioning as he looked down at her. A question Bella had silently answered by the slow, languorous thrust of her thighs as her mouth became fused with his.

If anything, the second time they had made love had been even more intense than the first—and Bella hadn’t believed that anything could possibly match their first time together!

But, having woken up alone in the four-poster bed a few minutes ago, the sound of the shower running in the adjoining bathroom telling her where Gabriel was, instead of the happy euphoria Bella should have been feeling after such a night of pure pleasure, she had instead been filled with a sense of trepidation.

Last night she had made love with Gabriel Danti. Number one driver of the Formula One racing championship. Playboy son and heir of the Danti business and wine empire.

Whereas she was the eldest daughter of an English country doctor, hopefully with a forthcoming degree in art and history.

Not only that, but Bella knew she was far from the tall, leggy blonde models or actresses that Gabriel usually escorted to the glitzy parties and film premieres he seemed to attend on a regular basis. The glossy magazines were constantly showing photographs of him with those women, most recently the model Janine Childe.

So she and Gabriel had absolutely nothing in common!

Out of the bedroom, that was…

In the cold light of dawn Bella blushed to the roots of her tangled hair as she relived each and every one of their intimate caresses of the night before.

Of course, she should have thought of all the reasons she shouldn’t be here with Gabriel before she went to bed with him. She probably would have done so if she hadn’t been quite so mesmerised by all that brooding Latin charm. If she hadn’t been held in thrall by the hard beauty of Gabriel’s face and body…

‘Bella…?’ Gabriel prompted again as he moved to sit on the side of the bed. ‘Wake up, cara, so that I can say goodbye properly.’

Goodbye?

Bella’s lids flew open wide as she turned her head to look at Gabriel sitting on the bed beside her. She was grateful that she had the sheet draped over her to hide her nakedness when she saw that Gabriel was fully dressed in a black polo shirt that emphasised the width of his shoulders and chest, and faded jeans that rested low down on his hips, his hair still wet from the shower he had just taken.

Gabriel’s smile was quizzical as he looked down at Bella, once again fascinated by how beautiful she was. How tiny and curvaceous. How responsive…

He felt his body stir, his thighs hardening, as he recalled just how responsive Bella had been the previous evening and once again during the night. How his own response had been deepened, intensified, to match hers.

He reached out to smooth the fringe of dark hair from her brow, his gaze holding hers as he bent to kiss her, slowly, his expression regretful when he finally raised his head. ‘I really do have to go now, Bella, or I am going to be late getting to Silverstone,’ he murmured huskily. ‘But I will call you later, okay?’

‘Okay,’ she whispered.

Gabriel stood up reluctantly, as aware of the minutes ticking by as he was of Bella’s nakedness beneath the sheet, and knowing he had to remove himself from the temptation she represented. ‘My housekeeper will call a taxi for you when you are ready to leave.’ He spoke abruptly as he fought the urge he had to say to hell with the practice session and remain here in bed with Bella instead. ‘As I cannot drive you home myself I have left you some money on the dressing-table to pay for the taxi,’ he added lightly, remembering that Bella had only recently ceased being a student.

She frowned slightly. ‘That won’t be necessary.’

‘Bella…?’ Gabriel lowered his own brows darkly as he could read none of her thoughts in those violet-coloured eyes.

‘It’s fine, Gabriel.’ Bella forced a lightness to her tone that was completely contradicted by the heaviness that had settled in her chest at the suddenness of Gabriel’s departure.

‘I will call you later, Bella,’he repeated firmly. Gabriel bent once again to kiss her on the lips before turning to leave, pausing at the door to turn and add, ‘Take your time showering—there is no hurry for you to leave.’

.

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