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The Sicilian's Innocent Mistress Carole Mortimer 2022/8/5 17:02:23

‘I’m not,’ Luc declared adamantly. ‘And no amount of matchmaking on the girls’ part is going to change that! Because what none of them seem to have grasped is that I am perfectly happy with my unmarried state!’

‘Really?’ Wolf drawled, with another speculative glance in Darci’s direction.

Luc felt a tightening of his stomach muscles as he turned in the same direction, just in time to see Darci laughing at something Cesare had said, her beautiful face glowing as she looked up at him, her eyes a warm, beguiling green.

This evening hadn’t gone quite as planned, Luc acknowledged resignedly. He had imagined it would just be a question of having Darci at his side to act as a buffer against his family’s matchmaking, leaving him free to enjoy his mother’s birthday party. Tomorrow, after he had returned Darci to London, he would be on his way back to his carefree—commitment-free!—life in Los Angeles.

In none of his calculations had he taken into account the fact that he had to get through this evening in the disturbing company of a sexily alluring Darci before that could happen. Or that, as Wolf had just pointed out, the whole of his family would actually like and approve of Darci….

Although why the latter hadn’t occurred to him, Luc had no idea; everything about Darci was attractive—from her unmistakable beauty to her sharp intelligence and the warmth of her personality.

‘Really,’ he assured Wolf vehemently, before turning away to once again look at Darci from beneath hooded lids. ‘So just tell the girls to back off, will you?’ he requested, with firm determination.

Darci, moving lightly and easily to the music in Cesare Gambrelli’s arms, was nevertheless totally aware of Luc’s brooding presence as he stood talking to his brother on the edge of the dance floor. It would be a little difficult not to be aware of Luc when he was staring at her so intently!

The evening had become less traumatic for Darci once they’d got downstairs to the reception room, where the party was being held, and she’d seen several other women wearing dresses even more revealing than her own—giving her a breathing space in which to get over her initial nervousness.

Totally prepared by Angel’s warning, she had been introduced to Cesare—and to the impact of having three devastatingly handsome Gambrelli men in the same room.

Cesare’s wife, Robin, had been as warm and friendly as Darci had found Angel earlier—these two marriages were obviously a success, if the warm intimacy between the respective husbands and wives was any indication. And Darci was pretty sure that it was.

Luc’s mother, Chantelle Gambrelli—French, and the obvious matriarch of the Gambrelli family—had been much more of a surprise.

Very petite, and still incredibly beautiful—even though aged in her early sixties—she had all the chic her French nationality implied. Her knee-length dress was the same shade of blue as her eyes, and her blonde hair was worn smooth and straight to her slender shoulders—Darci had wondered where the hair colour of the two Sicilian brothers had come from! Chantelle nevertheless ruled her family with a charming but indomitable will.

A formidable will, Darci would have said—which explained why Luc had been so determined to thwart his mother’s efforts, at least this weekend, to find her younger son a wife!

‘Have you and Luc known each other very long?’ Cesare Gambrelli’s husky, slightly accented voice prompted politely as they danced.

It seemed like for ever to Darci—her life was going to seem very empty without Luc in it after this weekend together!—but in reality it really had been only a matter of days.

‘Not really, no,’ she answered, lightly but unhelpfully.

‘Hmm,’ Cesare murmured dryly.

Darci looked up at him as she sensed there was more behind his response. ‘Sorry…?’

Cesare—tall, dark and incredibly handsome—elaborated. ‘Luc does not seem his usual relaxed and charming self this evening.’

Darci knew that Luc hadn’t been the ‘relaxed and charming’ man she had initially met at the premiere of Grant’s film well before coming to this party this evening—knew this change in Luc had occurred earlier in the week, when he had realised how she had deliberately manipulated him into asking her out just so that she could exact her revenge on him for the way he had hurt Mellie. For the way she had believed he’d hurt Mellie!