They called it The Inferno--the all-consuming desire that scorched a man just once in a lifetime. Millionaire Marco Dante felt its flames the moment he set eyes on Caitlyn Vaughn. Nothing could keep him from having her--not even her engagement to his twin brother! So he posed as her true fianc?, stealing her away for a rushed wedding and a breathtaking honeymoon. But then he had to face his new bride when she discovered his masquerade--and somehow find a way to turn her blazing fury back into white-hot passion....
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May 12, 2008
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Excerpt from Dante's Stolen Wife by Day Leclaire
"I'm warning you, Marco. No more scandals. If your family continues to be featured in the gossip magazines, we will have no choice but to place our account elsewhere. The reports have carried all the way to Italy. I even caught Ariana reading them. My own daughter!"
Marco Dante inclined his head. "I understand, Vittorio. We don't know why The Snitch has embarked on this campaign against Dantes. But I promise you, I plan to put an end to it, no matter what it takes. You and my father were good friends. We appreciated your business when he ran our jewelry business, and now that we're moving back into the European market, we hope to have your patronage once again."
Vittorio gave an expressive shrug to accompany his expression of vague regret. "I'd enjoy seeing the names of Dante and Romano mated once more. But we're extremely private people. We choose our associates with great care." He deliberately switched to Italian to add weight to his words. "If you wish to have our support for your European expansion, you must take care of this problem."
Marco nodded. Unfortunately, they'd lost the Romanos' backing years ago, shortly after his father's death. At that time, Dantes teetered on the brink of ruin, and would have gone under if not for Marco's brother, Severo, who'd assumed the reins of the family jewelry empire straight out of college. During his first year on the job, he'd been forced to scale back on the size of the business, stripping Dantes to the bone.
Little by little over the past decade, under Sev's brilliant direction, Dantes had made an impressive resurrection and now stood on the verge of regaining their place as the premier jewelers, worldwide. At least they would if they recovered the European trade they'd lost. And Marco planned to make certain that happened.
It was imperative to their success that they return the Romanos to the fold, something he'd worked tirelessly on for the past year. And it was all due to a single ancient expression, one that had floated around the most elite circles for countless generations--Where the Romanos lead, Europe follows. The Romanos were considered Italian royalty and Marco intended to have Europe follow Vittorio and Ariana straight to Dantes'front door. And now that possibility hovered within reach.
The Romanos craved the glorious designs Dantes offered, designs that featured only the finest stones available, including the fire diamonds that could be found nowhere else in the world other than in one of Dantes' display cases. But the Romanos wanted them without any unsavory scandal attached. Thanks to the type of gossip The Snitch liked to dish on a weekly basis--as well as their current focus on the four Dante brothers--Marco had reached an impasse with Vittorio Romano.
It was an impasse Marco planned to overcome, no matter what it took. He clapped Vittorio on the shoulder. "Consider it done. We'll deal with The Snitch, after which we look forward to providing for your every need." He held out his hand. "Thank you for coming all the way to San Francisco. I'm sorry Ariana didn't accompany you on this trip. My family would have enjoyed meeting her."
Vittorio grinned. "She is lovely, my Ariana, is she not?" He returned Marco's handshake. "Next time I am in San Francisco I will insist she come with me."
"We'll make it a family affair."
"Eccellente. I look forward to it. I understand Severo just became engaged to that new designer you recently acquired. Francesca Sommers? Please offer the couple my warmest congratulations."
With that, Vittorio walked briskly toward the huge etched glass doors that graced the entryway of the Dantes San Francisco offices, and held one open for a woman entering the building. He offered her a courtly nod and a smile of pure masculine appreciation, before exiting. Not that Marco noticed Vittorio's departure. The instant he set eyes on the woman, he paused, riveted. Every thought vanished from his head, replaced by a whispered demand unlike any he'd ever experienced before.
Take this woman. Possess her. Make her yours.
Without hesitation, he approached, compelled to obey. She stood in the three-story entryway, absorbing the elegant decor. Sunlight streamed through the tinted windows, capturing her within its golden embrace. It plunged into hair so deep an ebony that it rivaled the nighttime sky, while turning her complexion to pure cream. She tipped her head back to look at the glass sculpture hanging above the receptionist's desk, a sculpture that resembled leaping flames, and her hair sheeted down her back in heavy waves. It took every ounce of self-control Marco possessed to keep from sweeping her into his arms and carrying her off.
She walked up to the receptionist and he caught the murmur of her voice asking for information.