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By Catherine Spencer. Rich, powerful Gabriel Brabanti is not a man to be disobeyed…or betrayed. Though he wants Eve's body, he no longer wants her, because he believes she's deceived him—for money.
But had Marcia cooperated? Heavens, no! Marcia only ever did what she wanted, and she wanted easy, convenient, glamorous. And the rest, the untidy stuff? Marcia had cooed effusively. I miss you! But the preliminaries had soon given way to the real reason for her call. Gabriel Brabanti was flexing his paternal muscles and demanding visitation rights. You just finished saying he had it delivered by courier to the agency, which means you had to sign for it.
The almighty Signor Brabanti can go to hell! Eve heard the rustle of paper, then Jason spoke. Might be best to cater to him, buttercup. From the tone of this letter, he means business. Either you make the trip to Malta, or Gabriel will come to you. It had announced itself in her petulant reply. And before you turn me down, Eve, let me remind you who came to Chicago to look after your smelly old cat and water your plants, the last time you spent a month lolling around on the Mexican Riviera.
As for the plants, you managed to kill off every one! Why not? Marcia shot back. Even Jason, who had no real stake in any of this, added a shocked protest. Who do you think matters more to me, Jason: you or Gabriel? What other way is there? Marcia had replied blithely. Come on, Eve, be a sport! Taking a child out of the country involves a bit more than presenting a plane ticket, Eve objected.
Or are you expecting me to smuggle her aboard in my carry-on bag? You just concentrate on Nicola and make sure she knows her mommy loves her. You deal with babies and children all the time. Marcia had paused for a breath before winding up for her final argument. Think about it, Eve! You need a vacation worse than anyone else I know.
And a bigger fool not to! Just head for the guy acting as if he owns the place…. So Marcia had described him, but eyeing the group clustered before her now in the executive lounge, Eve saw no one fitting that description. Instead she was approached by a gray-haired man of medium height, in crisp white trousers and a navy blazer with a gold-braided coat of arms emblazoned on the breast pocket. Signora Brabanti? Signorina Caldwell. She gestured at Nicola who, worn-out with screaming pretty much nonstop during the flight from Amsterdam, had at last fallen asleep.
A matter of some importance arose which prevented him from being here. More important than meeting his daughter? She raised her eyebrows, making no secret of her disdain. And here I had the impression he was anxious to see her as soon as possible.
Silly me! The chauffeur coughed and glanced away, clearly unused to hearing anyone criticize his employer. You have had a long journey, he murmured soothingly. You and the bambina will soon be home. Although it was only a little past seven-thirty in the evening, already it was dark, but floodlights illuminated the handsome curved facade of the airport.
Molto bella, si? He murmured sympathetically, and waited for Eve to get settled before handing her the overloaded diaper bag and her purse, then disappeared into the building again to retrieve the rest of her luggage, a task he accomplished with amazing speed and efficiency. Within minutes, he was behind the wheel and the limousine was gliding away from the curb, and dovetailing smoothly into the stream of traffic heading toward Valletta.
Even after dark and from a distance of several miles, those soaring, massive walls, built centuries before by the Knights of Saint John, made an impressive sight, and despite all her reservations about making the trip, she found herself hoping for a few days to herself, to explore the famous islands.
Any such ambition faded, the minute the limousine swept through the iron gates guarding the entrance to the Villa Brabanti. The house rose up in the night, huge and dark, a barren, looming pile of stone with not so much as a speck of light shining from its windows.
Only the moon, cool as ice, glimmered on the glass panes. Not for a second could she imagine leaving Nicola in the care of a man who chose to live in the sort of mansion lifted right out of a gothic horror movie.
As you know, signorina, Malta has adopted the British electrical system, supplying volts. When trouble arises, it is not something to be ignored.
We could roast in our beds otherwise. Her disquiet increasing with his every word, Eve remained firmly seated and said, What a comforting thought! Quite unnecessary, Paolo assured her. Signor Brabanti has the situation well in hand. It poured from the windows, flowed from hidden spotlights in the garden, and fell in a bright golden swath from the open front door to illuminate the forecourt where the limousine stood. Per favor, signorina. Paolo extended his hand, less in invitation than command.
The way his tone verged on the imperious said it for him. Very well. Come on, munchkin. We might as well get this over with. The night air lay warm and heavy with the scent of flowers. A cluster of fat white blooms hung ghostlike over the edge of a stone retaining wall sturdy enough to hold back an army. Tall palm trees stood sentinel-like along either side of the long driveway leading to the forecourt.
Somewhere to the right, below a sweep of lawn, the soft boom and swish of waves breaking over rocks swept the silence like a lullaby. Paolo ushered her through the front door and into an entrance hall of such grand proportions that it would have done justice to a royal residence.
Checkerboard black and white marble tiles covered the floor. Tapestries, faded by age to softly muted tones of ecru and rose and blue, hung from the walls.
Directly in front of her, a magnificent marble staircase rose to a central landing, then branched in two to lead to a gallery that ran around the entire second story. Overhead, some forty feet above the ground floor, frescoed cherubs cavorted among a sea of clouds around the perimeter of a domed ceiling with a stained-glass window at its center.
Old the house might be, but elegant more properly described it than gothic sumptuous rather than barren. In fact, she was so entranced with the visual feast surrounding her that she failed to notice a recessed door at the rear of the hall, until it thudded open and the figure of a man appeared silhouetted on the threshold.
Only the lord and master of the manor could have exuded such presence; such an air of unshakeable, aristocratic authority. For a second or two, he remained motionless and fixed her in an unblinking gaze, stroking his thumb the entire time over the barrel of the enormous steel flashlight he carried. The intensity of his stare, not to mention the way he caressed the flashlight as if it were a weapon he was debating using, unnerved Eve enough.
But when he finally approached her, crossing the wide expanse of marble floor in long, purposeful strides, it took all her considerable will-power not to cringe against the tapestry-hung wall. He did not look like a father eager to see his baby for the first time. He looked coldly outraged by the intrusion of strangers in his home.
Who the devil are you? Flabbergasted, Eve stared at him. Up close, he was all lean, hard angles and olive skin burnished by the sun. A tall, elegant creature of exquisite proportions; broad across the shoulders, deep in the chest, narrow at the waist. And his face? He had the face of an irate angel. His eyes, she noticed with a faint sense of shock, were a remarkable shade of crystal clear blue.
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Expecting! Ser.: The Brabanti Baby : Expecting! by Catherine Spencer (Mass Market)
By Catherine Spencer. Rich, powerful Gabriel Brabanti is not a man to be disobeyed…or betrayed. Though he wants Eve's body, he no longer wants her, because he believes she's deceived him—for money. But had Marcia cooperated? Heavens, no! Marcia only ever did what she wanted, and she wanted easy, convenient, glamorous.
The Brabanti Baby by Catherine Spencer
Published by Harlequin Presents. Seller Rating:. About this Item: Harlequin Presents. Mass Market Paperback.
The Brabanti Baby