The Italian's Pregnant Mistress

By: Cathy Williams

CHAPTER ONE




ANGELO FALCONE lay sprawled on the massive bed. Hectic, prolonged love-making had left the sheets half trailing to the floor and the rich burgundy damask quilt lay in inelegant disarray at the bottom of the bed. They had not bothered to shut the curtains and moonlight flooded the room, streaking across the heavy furniture in the room and lovingly illuminating the highly polished patina of wood.

He had properties in New York and Paris, but this apartment in Venice was by far his favourite. In every way it soothed his senses, with its unashamedly decadent opulence. It was the very opposite of the soulless minimalism that New York did so well.

And, of course, this was where he usually met her. Francesca Hayley.

Right now she was squinting down at the floor, trying to identify something she could put on amid the tangle of discarded linen and clothing that had been tossed in a pile in their mutual haste to touch one another.

He smiled at her thwarted efforts.

‘You do this every time, Francesca,’ he said with amusement in his voice.

‘Do what?’ She looked briefly at him and her whole body went hot under the lazy caress of his gaze. Crazy. She had met him thirteen months ago, had written him off as just the sort of wealthy playboy Italian she should steer clear of, and had continued to put up a determined fight until his charm, his wit, his perseverance had succeeded in crashing through her defences. It hadn’t taken long. A little over a month.

‘Insist on getting dressed as soon as you climb out of my bed. I like to see you naked. Why the need to cover up perfection?’

‘I hate it when you say stuff like that, Angelo. I’m not perfect. No one is. Perfection doesn’t exist.’ She looked at him, stupidly shy in the face of his lingering appraisal. Perfection did exist. At least, physical perfection. Angelo Falcone embodied it. He was six foot two of dark, well honed, powerful male and what made him even more impressive was that his physical beauty was allied to a keen, restless intelligence. Together they formed a dangerously irresistible mix. She told herself this at regular intervals. It stopped her from harbouring unreasonable expectations.

‘I beg to differ.’ He folded his arms behind his head and continued to watch her. She was every red-blooded man’s dream. A model without the shape of a stick insect and with a brain that often made him wonder what the hell she was doing in the superficial, fickle world of fashion.

‘I still need to find some clothes.’ She poked around the pile on the floor with one slender foot and gave up. ‘I’m going to get something to eat. Do you want anything?’

‘Come back to bed, Francesca.’ He patted a spot next to him. ‘You are quite capable of catering for my every appetite without getting me something from the kitchen to eat.’

Francesca grinned. ‘Oh, dear. Is that the best cliché you can come up with?’

‘Cliché? What cliché? I meant it.’

He was almost at her before she even realised that he was sprinting out of the bed, and she spun round and headed straight out of the door towards the kitchen, shrieking as she felt him closing the distance between them. No time to switch on any of the lights, but then no need either. Every curtain was pulled back, allowing the bright night sky to fill the open spaces of the rooms.

Angelo caught her from behind, but he didn’t spin her around to face him. Instead he buried his head in her hair, breathing her in, wanting her more than he could remember ever wanting anyone in his life before.

Initially, he had decided that their frequent separations, when he was away on one side of the world and she was modelling on the other side, would be a good thing. Relationships, he had discovered, were prone to becoming stale. The first flush of lust very quickly gave way to the tedium of the predictable and there was no greater death to a relationship than predictability.

Not so with her. He missed her when she wasn’t around. Lately he had found himself sitting in on meetings during which his mind had been at least half preoccupied with thoughts of when he would be seeing her again.

‘We need to talk,’ he murmured, wrapping his arms around her. ‘I’m only going to be here for three nights, then I fly to New York for two days’ worth of meetings, then on to London.’

Francesca felt the familiar flutter of disappointment, which she kept to herself.

‘What are your movements? Any chance that one of your shoots might coincide so you could be with me in the States?’ Did that have an air of pleading about it? He hoped not. Pleading was not his style. Nor, for that matter, was asking someone to accompany him on one of his business trips. Women had always been a background presence to his work life, but the thought of another week without her while he rushed all over the globe was not a thrilling prospect.

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