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The Sicilian's Innocent Mistress Carole Mortimer 2022/8/5 17:02:16

Because there were so many people willing to pass judgement on his actions? Darci wondered as they wended their way through the denseness of the trees.

But there was no excuse for the heartless way he had treated Mellie, she told herself stubbornly. The way he would treat her, too, if she gave him the chance!

Well, she wouldn’t give him that chance.

Something that might be a little difficult to avoid when the two of them were alone in the middle of deserted forest, miles from anywhere!

Luc’s mouth tightened and he decided to ignore the thoughts he could see from Darci’s expressive face were churning through her over-active imagination. He gritted his teeth as he continued to stride through the forest to where he could hear the sound of water running, for the first time considering his reputation with women might be a curse rather than an asset.

Maybe it was because of the glitzy, ephemeral world of movie-making that he usually inhabited, but Luc knew he had never met anyone quite like Darci before. The things that attracted other women to him—his undoubted power, his wealth, his reputed prowess in the bedroom—cut absolutely no ice with Darci Wilde. She viewed all of those things with the same suspicion she obviously felt about him, and Luc knew that for every two steps forward he took with Darci he also took one back.

And patience, as he knew, had never been one of his virtues!

‘Oh, this is lovely!’ Darci turned to him to enthuse warmly as they reached a clearing in the forest with a small stream running through its centre. The flattened grass bordering the stream bank showed evidence of other people having picnicked there recently.

Luc found himself entranced by her obvious pleasure. He saw her green eyes glowing as she moved smilingly to the stream’s edge, knowing from her approval that he had chosen well by deciding to bring her on a picnic today, that these surroundings suited her much better than the glitter and falseness to be found in a restaurant like Garstang’s.

Making him wonder what had made Darci demand that he take her somewhere so sinfully expensive in the first place?

Except, as he was now utterly convinced, she had never had any intention of turning up for that date.

And he still didn’t know the reason why….

‘Food,’ he announced abruptly. ‘As you’re aware from Sunday evening, I’m much more amenable when I’ve been fed!’

Mellower had been the word he’d used, Darci remembered, with a return of her wariness as she moved to spread the blanket beside the stream before going down on her knees to help Luc unpack the picnic basket.

And a mellower Luc Gambrelli in these already relaxing surroundings could prove irresistible!

‘Goodness, there’s enough food here to feed ten people rather than just two!’ she exclaimed, as they laid out paté, pieces of cooked chicken, prawns, boiled eggs, cheeses and salad, as well as two freshly cooked baguettes, and a cooling carton revealing fresh strawberries and a carton of cream. There was also a bottle of chilled white wine and two cut-glass goblets.

‘You can thank the hotel staff at Gambrelli’s for that,’ Luc replied, as he opened the bottle of wine and poured some of the chilled liquid into the glasses.

Of course he would have had the picnic prepared at the hotel where he was staying, Darci acknowledged, with a faint feeling of disappointment, knowing she would have appreciated this treat more if Luc had taken the trouble to prepare the picnic food himself. It certainly would have been less impersonal.

‘Now what have I done?’ Luc prompted warily.

Darci looked at him from beneath lowered lashes and was struck anew by the way he looked: his hair was a gleaming gold, his eyes a warm indulgent brown, and those aristocratic features were almost too perfect to be true. Steely strength melded with raw sensuality. His body was lean and powerful, exuding that same sensuality even relaxed, as he was now as he sat beside her on the blanket.

The plain, totally honest truth was that this man didn’t need to do anything to make her completely aware of him!

‘You think I should have gone out this morning and bought the things for the picnic myself?’ he guessed, sounding slightly miffed at her continued silence.

Darci saw what he meant; the image of Luc Gambrelli wandering around a supermarket delicatessen choosing the meats and cheeses for their picnic wasn’t an easy one to envisage!