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The Tuscan's Revenge Wedding

By:Jennifer Blake

The Tuscan's Revenge Wedding, - Jennifer Blake



1


Desire so strong it destroyed the ability to resist was a myth. Any woman who fell into bed with a man did it because she made the choice at some point between meeting him and removing her clothes.

Amanda Davies’s opinion on that subject was triggered by the man who entered the restaurant where she lunched every day. Well, and by the reaction of the flight attendants at the next table who gasped and nudged each other as they stared at him. If he only crooked a finger, either of the two would undoubtedly go with him at once. It would not be from compelling passion, however, but because she panted to know what it was like to have him make love to her.

What someone like him was doing in a chain eatery was a mystery. The suit he wore whispered of money and Milan, and was expertly tailored to showcase male strength. His shirt and tie were perfect examples of understated elegance. The precision of his grooming and fluid grace of his movements gave him an indefinably European air. One of the better downtown restaurants seemed far more his speed.

He really was beautiful in the ultra-masculine style of avenging angels painted by Italian masters. Dark hair clung to his head in the sculpted waves achieved only by an excellent stylist, while espresso-black eyes fringed with thick lashes promised bedroom delights. His skin had the bronze tint that came from near year-round sunshine, his cheekbones rivaled alpine ridges and his mouth, set in stern lines just now, was molded with outrageously sensual curves and surfaces.

He was, in fact, the very personification of sexual allure as he paused to scan the seating area with a narrow gaze. He appeared capable of every sin and every glory, and of shifting heaven and earth to gain what he desired. That he ever failed seemed doubtful.

Amanda gave a wry shake of her head before taking the last spoonful of her gazpacho and pushing back her soup plate. Men like that would be used to polished perfection in a woman, the kind of gleaming beauty produced by endless leisure and copious amounts of cash. He’d have no time for mere flight attendants — or for assistants to managing directors, if it came to that.

Not that she would be led astray, even if he turned his attention in her direction. She wasn’t that gullible.

A small shiver caught Amanda by surprise, rippling down her spine. She was acutely aware of every millimeter of skin on her body in that instant, as if the individual cells had come to tingling attention.

It must have been the cool, damp draft from the opening and closing of the restaurant’s door, that was all. The light outside had grown dim with the promise of rain since she’d left the office. She should start back at once if she didn’t want to be caught in one of Atlanta’s early summer downpours. Sitting here people-watching, speculating about their lives and attitudes, would not earn her paycheck.

Amanda counted out the price of her meal plus tip and tucked it into the folder on the table. As she glanced around for her waitress, her gaze skimmed over the man at the entrance once more. He was not the kind to be ignored, it seemed. He’d just given the restaurant hostess an imperious stare followed by the lift of a brow.

The woman immediately put down the phone she was using. She picked up a menu and went toward him with a smile. He waved away the possibility of eating, it seemed, bending toward her with what appeared to be a grave question. The hostess hugged the plastic-coated menu to her breasts before indicating the corner where Amanda sat.

The flight attendants at the nearby table gasped as one when the man turned in their direction. They straightened in their seats, exchanging whispered questions and exclamations as he began to move toward them.

Amanda was tempted to stay and see the little drama played out, but it really was time she returned to work. Besides, watching women make fools of themselves over a man was more than a little depressing. She’d seen too much of that growing up, lived through too much of it with her mother.

Amanda set her shoulder bag on the table in front of her. Turning in her chair, she reached for the jacket of her navy suit that she’d draped over its back.

“Miss Amanda Davies?”

The deep voice which accompanied that courteous inquiry vibrated through her, thrumming along her nerves like distant thunder. She jerked, so her jacket snagged on the chair back and fell from her grasp.

The man beside her reached to catch it. Holding the jacket in one well-formed, brown hand, he stared down at her with intent appraisal while waiting for her answer.

Amanda was so stunned by the approach and rich, dark gaze fixed upon her that it was an effort to force sound from her throat. “Yes?”

“Va bene.” He inclined his head. “Come with me, if you please.”

He spoke with an accent, and the first phrase he used was almost certainly Italian. Incredulity struck her that he had singled her out. Hard on its heels was amazement at his cool assumption she would go with him. Hadn’t she just been thinking that was something she’d never do?

“You can’t be serious.”

“I assure you, I am completely serious.”

“But I have no idea who—”

“I beg your pardon. I am Nicholas de Frenza. It’s true we have not met, but you’ll have been told of my family.”

“No, I can’t say I have.”

“But you must.” Something very like suspicion rose in the black depths of his eyes.

Amanda snatched her jacket from his grasp. Irritation for his doubt made her copy his precise foreign phrasing. “I assure you, I have not.”

“No matter. You must come with me at once.”

“The only place I have to go is back to my office.” She rose to her feet.

She’d thought standing would ease the sensation of being dominated by his superior height and attitude. She was wrong. He still topped her by several inches and was too dynamic, broad of shoulder and intensely masculine for comfort.

He was also too close within her personal space, and made no effort to step away, much less allow her to move past him. The whiff of clean, healthy male and some elusive men’s fragrance that crept around her was so unexpected she stepped away, bumping the table so the dishes rattled upon it.

Controlled impatience came and went across the Italian’s features. He reached inside his jacket, pulled out a thin wallet of supple black leather and flipped it open.

Amanda glanced at the international driver’s license he held out to her. It confirmed his identity, but gave no clue as to why she was supposed to know him. She began to struggle into her suit jacket. “I’m sorry, but you must have the wrong person.”

“I don’t believe so.” He swung her chair out of the way then took her jacket from her hands. Shaking it out, he held it for her.

Amanda studied the hard, determined planes of his face. To refuse the courtesy he offered could lead to a ridiculous tug-of-war, not to mention more delay. She turned to thrust her arms into the jacket sleeves with quick, impatient gestures.

His fingers clasped her shoulders as he eased the jacket into place and then turned her to face him. A lightning bolt of sensation flashed into her chest at that brief touch. It stopped her breath while its heat surged over her nerve endings, settling deep inside her.

Disturbed against her will, she pulled away from him, almost dragging herself from his grasp. “If you don’t mind!”

“I regret accosting you here, Miss Davies,” Nicholas de Frenza said, glancing at the two flight attendants and other customers who watched them with avid interest, “but time is of the essence. I have serious news best discussed in private. I’ve taken a temporary room at a hotel just down the street. If you will—”

“I’m sure you have.” Temper heated her face as she picked up her shoulder bag and swung away from him.

“I do not invite you to an assignation, I promise you,” he called after her with warning in his voice. “It’s about your brother.”

Amanda came to a halt as if hitting an invisible wall. Icy fear crusted the edges of her heart as she turned back. “Jonathan? What about him?”

“There has been an accident.”

“What — what kind of accident?”

Nicholas de Frenza made no answer, but moved to join her. Cupping her elbow, he gestured toward the restaurant entrance with his free hand. The command was silent, but no less authoritative for it. It was also impossible to ignore.

Serious news. An accident that involved Jonathan.

Amanda could imagine any number of disasters, had endured too many to take the words lightly. Her grip on her shoulder bag strap tightened while a shudder moved over her. She turned and walked from the restaurant with the Italian.

~ ~ ~

Nico strode toward the hotel, threading through traffic and workers returning from lunch in a fever of impatience. He might have known Amanda Davies would make this as difficult as possible; she was very like her brother after all, the same coloring, same wary independence, same stiff pride.

She was definitely female; he was Italian enough to notice that without trying. Grazie a Dio, she was not his type. He preferred less cool intelligence and more fire, less prickly defiance and more smiling agreement.

Jonathan Davies’s sister was an American beauty with a trim shape marked by gently rounded breasts in excellent symmetry with the curves of her hips. Her skin was so fine it was almost translucent and touched delicately with rose across the cheekbones. Her hair, an intriguing blend of natural blond shades from pale ash brown to sun-gold, brushed her shoulders in a soft bell shape. Her eyes were the color of smoke yet as transparent as window glass, revealing her every thought. She didn’t trust him and didn’t care if he knew it.

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