Dante's Stolen Wife [NOOK Book]

Overview

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 fiancé, 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 ...

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Dante's Stolen Wife

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Overview

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 fiancé, 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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426816666
  • Publisher: Harlequin Enterprises
  • Publication date: 9/1/2007
  • Series: Dante Legacy Series , #1870
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 192,070
  • File size: 159 KB

Meet the Author

Day Leclaire writes for the Harlequin Romance line and lives in the midst of a maritime forest on Hatteras Island on North Carolina's Outer Banks. Despite the yearly storms that batter them and the frequent power outages, she finds the beautiful climate, superb fishing, and unbeatable seascape more than adequate compensation.

Being flexible and having a sense of humor also helps, she's discovered, along with a love for both the island and her craft.

Day's interest in writing started at an early age. "There were four kids in our family, the three girls all close together in age. We were home from school one winter day because we'd had a blizzard and Mom...Well, she was practically pulling her hair out in an attempt to keep us entertained.

"We'd fought our way through any number of board games, had read all the books in the house and were basically making a total nuisance of ourselves. Out of sheer desperation, Mom told me that if I didn't have any books to read, I should go write one.

"So, I did. It was a historical. A Cinderella story set in the Wild West with a wicked stepmother and two wicked stepsisters. As I recall, those two stepsisters bore an uncanny resemblance to my own two sisters. I guess I was out of charity with them at the time!"

Those initial attempts, rooted in elementary school, continued all the way through college. "Although I'd thought about being a writer in high school, I majored in Anthropology at University of California, Berkeley. I was going to be another Jane Goodall...right up until I went camping for the first time. It forced me to reconsider a lifetime spent without the basic necessitiesoflife— like running water and flush toilets."

So she dropped out to reconsider her career choices. That's when she met her future husband, Frank. "It was a whirlwind courtship. We married five months after meeting."

The two went into business together, first running a film library in Berkeley, then remodeling houses in Seattle, Washington, before opening up a produce market. "Frank is great at retail. He's a natural salesman. But I'm not.

"With a retail operation," Day says with a laugh, "you have to be nice to the customers. That's tough since I'm an introvert who'd rather hide in the employee lounge with my nose in a book. When I became pregnant with our son, Matt, I told Frank that I'd like to find another line of work. He was incredibly supportive. He asked me what I wanted to do and without even thinking I said, 'Write. I want to write Harlequin Romances.' The next day we drove into Seattle and bought our first computer." And the rest is history!

Well, not quite. "Harlequin returned my first attempt— three mercifully short chapters. They said that although my writing was competent, the plot of my story was melodramatic and my characters stereotypical.

"But I took competent to mean good. That one word gave me all the encouragement I needed. The next book received an even more positive response—and a request for a revision. Although they ultimately turned that second story down, I never grew discouraged. It certainly never occurred to me to give up."

Then tragedy struck. Day's younger sister, Nancy, was diagnosed with a brain tumor and died the following year. "It was a very dark time," Day confesses.

"We'd recently moved into this tiny condominium outside of San Diego, California, and I didn't know a lot of people. My son, Matt, had just turned three and I spent the summer hiding in our home with the drapes drawn, playing with him. Finally my husband—out of sheer desperation— told me to start writing again or go get a job at McDonald's flipping burgers.

"It worked! I sat down and wrote a slapstick romance called Jinxed. After three months of depression, I needed some comedic relief and that book provided it. It was my first Harlequin Romance and I dedicated it to Nancy."

As for the future? "I have a ton of ideas. Last time I checked my schedule I was booked several years ahead. And considering I come up with book ideas all the time...well, let's just say that I have a lot of writing ahead of me!"

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Read an Excerpt

"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 leastthey 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. The man behind the desk glanced at Marco, frowned in momentary confusion—no doubt trying to decide which twin he was, something that amused Marco no end—then pointed in his direction. With a nod of thanks, the woman approached and Marco smiled in open delight. At his smile, the receptionist made a frantic effort to catch the woman's attention, before giving up with a shrug.
Marco only had eyes for the woman. God help him, but he wanted her. It was as though someone had delved deep into his mind and plucked loose his personal image of perfection, then created this glorious example of femininity from that image. She stood at the exact right kissing height, not too short, nor too tall, with a full, smiling mouth he couldn't wait to explore. Her features were delicate and ivory pale, with a straight, no-nonsense nose, determined jawline and high, arching cheekbones that lifted her from beauty to sheer poetry.
His gaze dipped lower and his forward momentum faltered. She was dressed for business, but no fabric existed that could conceal a body created for the pleasures of the night. Full breasts strained against her crisp, tailored navy suit, and some kind soul had designed the jacket so that it nipped in at a waist he could have spanned with two hands before flirting with the curves below—tight round curves that were the devil's own temptation.
He must have made some sound—a groan, if he were a betting man—because she studied him curiously. Her eyes were a deep teal blue and made a striking contrast to her dark hair. Before he could introduce himself, she stuck out her hand. "Ah, Mr. Dante," she said. "Just the man I was looking for. It's a pleasure to finally meet you. I'm Caitlyn Vaughn."
She said it as though he should recognize her name, but he couldn't recall ever having heard of her before, maybe because in the last sixty seconds every single one of his brain cells had leaked out of his ears. Not that he'd admit his foolishness. "Of course," he said with his most charming smile. "It's a pleasure to meet you, as well."
He took the hand she offered, and that's when it happened. A hard jolt of electricity zapped him, sinking deep into muscle and bone. He'd never felt anything like it. It didn't hurt, precisely, just surprised and shocked. Based on Caitlyn's startled expression and the way she jerked free of his hold, she must have felt it, as well… and didn't like it.
"Oh! What was that?" she asked.
"I'm not certain."
But he suspected he knew. Based on his reaction toward Caitlyn, as well as what his eldest brother, Sev, had described, this must be The Inferno. Such an odd Dante blessing—or was it a curse?—that irrevocably bound the men in his family with their true soul mates, the one and only woman they would ever love. Marco and his brothers had believed the story to be a charming family fairy tale. But ever since Sev had encountered the unremitting burn of its existence, Marco wondered if he would experience it. Wondered if he were capable of experiencing it.
He was a man who adored women. All women. He loved everything about them. The unending glorious shapes and sizes. The delightful palate of hues. The music of feminine voices. Their unique scent. As far as he was concerned, women were as beautiful as they were fascinating and he delighted in each and every one. The idea of choosing one specific flower, instead of the bounty nature offered struck him as unreasonable. And yet…
When he looked at Caitlyn, he saw a woman who was a bounty in and of herself, a bouquet of such depth and beauty that it would take the rest of his life to fully explore each and every aspect. Where hardheaded Sev fought, where the accountant soul in his twin brother Lazzaro questioned and analyzed, where problem-solver Nicolò flat-out denied, the romantic in Marco accepted. He'd take this gift from the gods.
"I've been waiting for you," he told her.
* * *
He'd been waiting for her? Caitlyn stared at Lazzaro Dante as though hypnotized, struggling to get some part of her, any part of her, functioning again after that peculiar handshake and her even more peculiar reaction to it.
During her job interview to be the new head of finance for the national branch of Dantes, Lazz had been pointed out to her. He was in charge of the international end of the business, a far larger, more complicated department. And though she wouldn't work directly with him, they would come into regular contact during the course of their workday. She'd been told she'd be introduced to him directly after she arrived at Dantes, but it never occurred to her that he'd be waiting for her in the lobby, until the receptionist had pointed him out.
"It really is kind of you to meet me here on my first day, Mr. Dante, but—" The shock she experienced when they first shook hands continued to tickle her palm and she rubbed her thumb across it. To her amusement he copied the gesture, distracting her. "Okay, I have to know. What was that?"
He eyed her sympathetically. "Did I hurt you, cara? I am sorry."
"Hurt me? Oh, no…not really." That surprised her, given the intensity of the shock. "It was just…unexpected."
Worse, though it seemed a ridiculous concept, that shock seemed to have intensified her awareness of him. When she'd first seen him last week after her final interview, she'd have described Lazz as incredibly attractive, almost too good-looking for a woman's peace of mind. But now… A slight panic stole over her. Somehow, with that single touch, she became keenly aware of him and the startling congruity that formed between them. It felt as though a light switch had been flipped, igniting thoughts and emotions she'd never experienced before. She didn't understand it, didn't want to understand it.
In all her twenty-eight years, she'd never done anything to jeopardize her professional career. How many times had Gran warned her about that? How many times had her grandmother used her own life as a hard-won lesson? Caitlyn understood the cardinal rules, had learned them well. Don't let a man charm you into ruining your career for a brief ride over the rainbow. Because all that waited on the other side was fool's gold. And build a strong foundation with a serious-minded man capable of staying power, who believed in the same things you did. Well, she'd listened and learned. She wouldn't allow any man to take her for a ride. And yet…
Their surroundings seemed to melt away, and the noises faded to a soft murmur. The light appeared to dim until only the two of them were caught within the sun's halo. Every beat of her heart sent desire coursing deeper and more powerfully through her veins until the sheer want of him overrode every other thought and emotion.
"Caitlyn," he murmured.
Her name on his tongue made her think of wine and poetry, and though he didn't have an accent, his voice contained a noticeable Mediterranean lilt, deep and ripe and musical. He held out his hand and almost—almost—she took it, willing to follow wherever he led and tumble into bliss with him wherever and whenever he suggested, even right here and right now.
Instead she used whatever final scrap of common sense she still possessed and made a production of checking her watch. "I'm due in personnel in five minutes." Instinctively she moved to extend her hand again in a businesslike parting, but withdrew it quickly, and took several steps toward the elevator. Some irresistible compulsion had her turn and offer a final nod of farewell. "I'll see you soon, Mr. Dante. I believe we have an appointment scheduled for ten."
At that, a blinding smile lit his face. "I didn't realize. My assistant neglected to mention it." He advanced in her direction. "But, why wait? Why not move our appointment forward?"
The elevator doors opened just then and she didn't dare linger or she'd cave to his request. Heaven only knew what would happen between them if she did. Good Lord! On her first day of work, no less. "Ten o'clock," she repeated. "I look forward to seeing you then."
She darted inside the car, fighting to maintain a calm expression while the doors whisked silently closed. To her relief Lazz didn't give chase but stood perfectly still, his features carved into lines of determination as he watched her retreat. Because that's what it was, a full-scale, tail-turning, white-flag-flying, unabashed retreat.
The instant the doors shut, she leaned against the back wall and closed her eyes. She hadn't been in the building for a full thirty seconds and look at how much she'd already risked as a result of a single, casual handshake. What in the world had gotten into her? For that matter, what had gotten into Lazzaro Dante? Whatever had just happened between them, from this minute on, she needed to put such foolishness aside and focus on work.
Thirty minutes later, she realized that not only couldn't she forget, but it had become an absolute impossibility. Something about that single touch had changed her. Caitlyn struggled to concentrate on the reams of HR paperwork to be filled out and the workaday tour of facilities, trying to convince herself that vital information was being given. But with every minute that passed, she grew more and more tense, knowing she'd soon see Lazz and find out if she'd imagined her reaction to him.
When the moment finally arrived, she greeted him with a professional demeanor, meant to conceal her nervousness. "So, we meet again." She caught the faintest hitch in his step and a tiny frown formed between his hazel eyes before he held out his hand, a hand she eyed with undisguised apprehension. "That's brave of you, after what happened last time. But if you're game, so am I."
He paused a beat before inclining his head. "I'm willing."
To her relief she didn't receive a zap again. And then the relief faded to a vague disappointment. Maybe she'd imagined that surge of electricity. And though she felt an unmistakable warmth toward the man holding her hand, it bore little resemblance to the unrelenting desire she'd felt just a scant hour before. Not that she let on.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 16 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 17 of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2013

    Good read

    Worth the purchase.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2012

    series

    loved it

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  • Posted October 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    ;OD

    Marco you couldnt help but like him even though he did what he had to to marry the woman he believes is his soul mate a very good read and I'm interested in the other family's' story

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