An Italian single father, a motherless child...
Bella Gable never wanted to see rich, handsome Luchino Montichelli ever again! They had a brief romance in Italy when she was young and naive, but when Bella discovered Luc had betrayed her, it broke her heart.
Her first love, their chance for happiness...
Now, years on, Luc has come to Australia with his young daughter in tow. This Luc, who looks at his daughter with such tenderness, seems like the man Bella once fell in love with. But can she trust him enough to take another chance on this Italian single dad?
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August 31, 2007
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Excerpt from The Italian Single Dad by Jennie Adams
He stalked into Melbourne's Maria's at a minute before closing time on a warm, still summer afternoon, a tall Mediterranean man among the laden shelves of fine Egyptian handbags, Parisian scarves and the feathered and veiled confections that earned the name 'hat' within Australia's haute couture. Racks of designer gowns fluttered in his wake.
"Good afternoon and welcome to Maria's. May I help you with anything in particular?" The words fell from Arabella Gable's lips, polite, professional. She guarded herself too well to allow any hint of impatience or weariness at the end of a busy day to colour her words.
The man turned his head and Bella suppressed a gasp as a flood of memories stripped time away. Six years ago this man had held her heart in his hands.
Bella's throat tightened as feelings rushed through her. Fury, hurt, disillusionment. Yet as she looked at him, the barriers around her heart shook. It must be from her anger.
And from shock. You didn't expect to ever see him again. Why was he here? Her mind sought answers, but didn't find them.
"When I explain matters, you'll have little choice but to help me." The rich, smooth accent of his Italian heritage shivered over her, so familiar, once so dear.
Never again. 'Luchino." His name emerged on a whisper of sound. She had believed him out of her life forever. What brought him to Australia, to Melbourne? Here, to Maria's? Against her will, Bella's gaze roved across his features, took them in as she had in Milan all those years ago. Dark hair, dark brows, angular chin, chocolate-brown eyes and a mouth made for seduction, all of it packaged in the sculpted aplomb of Armani, pure black.
From the fitted shirt to the dress trousers and leather belt that encased slim hips and long legs, Luchino Montichelli shouted wealth, power and sensuality.
Banked anger lurked in the backs of his eyes. 'Yes, it's Luc--one and the same. It's been a long time, Arabella." His gaze moved over her. Lowered lids hooded his expression, but not before Bella saw the leashed awareness in his eyes. 'The years seem to have favoured you."
Her heart skipped a beat in reaction to that examination. Not because she reacted in kind! No. But how dared he look at her like that? Her nerves on edge, Bella lifted a slim hand to the knot of blonde hair secured at her nape, then cursed herself for the movement, which might be interpreted as awareness of his interest.
"They've been good to you, too." She made the grudging admission. 'You look...well."
Appealing, dangerous, strong and determined and somehow even harder, tougher than the Luc she had known. But then, he'd made some tough moves, hadn't he? Conscienceless ones. Like taking his child from her mother then ignoring her himself. 'Why are you here, Luchino? How could I possibly help you with anything?"
Even the sound of his name on her lips battered at a place deep inside her.
"I never planned to see you again, Arabella." Luc's mouth tightened as he went on. 'I assure you, I would rather not be here."
"You'd rather not see me? I'm afraid I return that sentiment." Bella tossed the words at him, yet for a moment she caught a softer expression in his eyes and her heart--that betraying creature--remembered something that had seemed so special, so right, and a soft vulnerability welled up inside her.
Bella stamped down hard on the reaction. Those memories were an illusion! 'I'm about to close the store so whatever you're here for...'
Maria would kill her for trying to push a customer out of the place. Bella didn't doubt that her boss's Milanese accent would thicken with anger, too. Well, too bad. These were extenuating circumstances, Luchino didn't appear to be here as a customer, and in any case Maria wasn't here to say anything. She was at a fashion expo in Queensland.
"By all means, lock the store."A well-shaped hand gestured towards the front door. 'Better still, give me the key and I'll do it for you while you put the remainder of the day's takings into the safe. What I have to say to you is best said in private."
"What would you know about closing procedures?" But his family owned jewellery stores dotted all over Europe and various other parts of the world. Those stores would all follow the same basic closing actions as here.
Luchino had learned his jewellery-design skills in one of the family's stores, or so he had once said. She pushed the thought aside. His career didn't matter to her. Luchino no longer mattered to her, except to act as a warning not to allow anyone to hurt her again. 'Anyway, I'm not sure I want to speak with you alone. We didn't exactly part as friends, in case you've forgotten."