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The Sicilian's Innocent Mistress Carole Mortimer 2022/8/5 17:02:14

THE snug-fitting denims and green T-shirt Darci was wearing the following evening, when she opened the door to Luc’s ring on the doorbell prompt at seven-thirty, were, he considered, a vast improvement on the striped pyjamas she had been wearing the night before. This outfit emphasised the feline leanness of her body beneath the full swell of her breasts.

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Although Luc couldn’t say he approved of the fact that Darci had swept back all that fiery-red hair and secured it in a loose topknot that dulled its colour to auburn.

However, the mutinous sparkle in those moss-green eyes as she looked at him in challenge warned Luc not to say anything that would put tinder to that particular flame.

He smiled enigmatically as he strolled past her into the apartment. ‘I think we should open this right now.’ He pulled a bottle of red wine from the bag he carried. ‘You look in need of a glass,’ he opined dryly.

‘I already have a bottle of red wine open in the kitchen,’ Darci told him tersely. Never usually one for drinking on her own, she’d felt she needed a glass this evening, in order to fortify her nerves ready for when Luc Gambrelli arrived.

In view of the fact that he was dressed much less formally than when she had previously seen him—his own faded denims fitting low down on his lean hips, the black fitted T-shirt emphasising his flat, muscled stomach and the powerful width of his shoulders providing a sharp contrast to the burnished gold of his overlong hair—her instinct had obviously been a correct one!

‘Are we alone this evening?’ he enquired mildly as he placed a laden bag down on the table that stood in the middle of the kitchen.

Darci’s gaze narrowed. She knew he was asking if she had complied with his advice and asked Kerry not to be here.

As it happened, she hadn’t needed to ask Kerry to go out—because once Kerry had arrived home the night before, and Darci had told her of her own disastrous evening, her friend had felt absolutely no inclination to be here when Luc Gambrelli came back again tonight. In fact, Kerry had opted out of the situation altogether, and decided to spend the night at Michael’s flat!

‘Yes,’ she confirmed tersely, her eyes widening slightly as Luc took prawns, steaks, mushrooms, baby potatoes and the makings of a salad from the bag he had carried in with him. ‘I really don’t think I’m going to be able to eat any of that,’ she told him, as she poured some of the red wine into a glass for him and topped up her own at the same time.

He looked at her curiously. ‘I should warn you, Darci, I do not intend to go hungry again this evening,’ he told her, as he lifted the glass and took a sip of wine.

Darci felt cross. ‘I don’t believe for a moment that you went without dinner last night—’

‘I wasn’t necessarily referring to food,’ Luc corrected her, raising one mocking brow as Darci eyed him suspiciously.

She delivered him a quelling glance as his meaning became clear. ‘Let’s get one thing straight, shall we, Luc?’ she bit out tensely.

‘By all means,’ he drawled, as he leant back against the table to look at her with calm enquiry.

Her mouth thinned. ‘I am not one of those aspiring young actresses in Los Angeles who are just so grateful to have you even notice them that they are more than willing to share your bed! Neither am I impressed by the legendary lover, Luc Gambrelli—’

‘That appears to be two things, Darci,’ Luc cut in dangerously, not liking the way this conversation was shaping up at all. ‘And that’s one more time in our acquaintance that you’ve referred to me as a “legendary lover”—in a derogatory way,’ he pointed out.

‘Because that’s what you are!’ Darci told him impatiently. ‘The newspapers are constantly full of stories about the relationships that you, your brother and your cousin—’

‘Both Wolf and Cesare are now happily married and completely faithful to their respective wives,’ he pointed out.

‘That just means that, as the only single Gambrelli male left, the press will concentrate completely on your own exploits in future,’ Darci retaliated.

Luc was well aware of that. Just as he was aware that for the last three months, since the shock of Wolf’s marriage so soon after Cesare’s, there hadn’t been any exploits of his for the newspapers to sensationalise. Unlike his brother and his cousin, Luc had no intention of falling foul of the dreaded Gambrelli Curse: namely, finding himself hopelessly in love, and—worst of all!—married.