A D'Angelo Like No Other

By: Carole Mortimer


When trouble comes in twos…

Michael D’Angelo may be the driving force behind the successful Archangel galleries, but it doesn’t mean he’s perfect…he lost his halo years ago! Yet when a delectable woman shows up in Paris, claiming he’s the father to twins, it’s one mistake Michael is certain he’s not responsible for.

Fiery Eva Foster won’t walk away until the twins in her charge are reunited with their father. Now the one person she’d hoped would help is the only person standing in her way. A line has been drawn in the sand, but when the spark between them catches, all bets are off!



“I’ve never met your sister,” Michael stated firmly.

“So whatever scam the two of you are trying to pull here, I would advise that you forget it—” He broke off abruptly as one of Eva Foster’s hands made loud and painful contact with one of his cheeks, causing the baby in his arms to let out another deafening wail. “That was uncalled for,” he bit out between gritted teeth, his jaw clenched as he jiggled the baby up and down in his arms in an effort to silence her screams.

“It was very called for,” Eva Foster insisted heatedly, her face having become even paler as she moved forward to soothingly stroke the back of the baby in Michael’s arms. “How dare you stand there and deny even knowing my sister, accuse the two of us of trying to pull a scam on you, at the same time as you’re holding your own daughter in your arms!” Her eyes flashed deeply violet in contrast to the emotional shaking of her voice.

“I am not—” Michael broke off to draw in a deep, controlling breath, his cheek still stinging from that slap. “Sophie is not my daughter.”

“I assure you she is,” she snapped.



PROLOGUE


St Gregory’s Church, New York.

‘WEREN’T THE THREE of us sitting together in a church very like this one just a few weeks ago?’ Michael spoke mockingly to his youngest brother Gabriel as they sat in the front pew of the church crowded with wedding guests, their restless brother Rafe seated on his other side.

‘I believe we were, yes,’ Gabriel confirmed dryly. ‘Except on that occasion you and Rafe were my best men, and now we’re Rafe’s.’

‘How many weeks ago was that, exactly?’ Michael arched derisive brows.

‘Five wonderful, glorious weeks.’ Gabriel smiled at the thought of his own recent marriage to his beloved Bryn.

‘Hmm.’ Michael nodded. ‘Did I ever tell you of the conversation I had with Rafe that day, in which he assured me, most emphatically I believe, that he didn’t believe in this “one love of a lifetime” thing, and certainly had no intention of getting married in the immediate, or even distant, future?’

Gabriel glanced at their brother Rafe, holding back a smile as he saw the tension in Rafe’s white face as he waited for his bride to arrive at the church. ‘No, I don’t believe you did...’

‘Oh, yes.’ Michael settled more comfortably on the pew. ‘It was as we were standing outside the church together, when you and Bryn were posing for photographs. I seem to remember that Rafe had just received a call from one of his women, and—’

‘And this is hardly the time, or the place, for you to so much as mention any of that!’ A tense Rafe turned on them both fiercely, his brief relationship with the Parisian, Monique, having ended several months before he had even met his future bride.

The three D’Angelo brothers owned and ran the three prestigious Archangel galleries and auction houses, in New York, London and Paris. Until recently they had run those galleries on a casual two-to-three-month-rotation basis, depending on what exhibitions or auctions were taking place in each gallery, but Gabriel’s marriage to Bryn now meant that he was based mainly in London, Rafe would be spending most of his time in New York once he and Nina were married, leaving Michael in charge at the Paris gallery.

‘Nina is now five minutes late,’ Rafe muttered after another glance at his wristwatch, the tenth such glance in almost as few seconds.

‘It’s the bride’s prerogative to keep the man waiting,’ Gabriel dismissed unconcernedly. ‘A case of “how the mighty have fallen”, don’t you think?’ he calmly continued his conversation with Michael.

‘Oh, most definitely.’ Michael nodded. ‘From what I’ve observed, he’s been totally off his head since the day he met Nina.’ He grinned unabashedly in the face of Rafe’s scowl.

‘Love does that to you.’ Gabriel nodded wisely. ‘It will be your turn next, Michael.’

His humour instantly faded. ‘I don’t believe so,’ he assured with grim certainty.

‘Famous last words...?’

‘Fact,’ Michael corrected tersely. ‘I can’t imagine ever willingly allowing any woman to get me into that state.’ He gave a pointed glance in Rafe’s visibly agitated direction.

‘When you two have quite finished!’ Rafe’s hands had clenched into fists, his expression one of pained tension as he turned to glare at his two brothers. ‘Nina is late, damn it!’

‘We heard you the first time...’ Michael arched one dark brow. ‘Do you think she might have changed her mind about marrying you?’

Rafe’s already pale face seemed to take on a greyish tinge as he groaned. ‘Oh, God...!’

‘Stop teasing him, Michael,’ Gabriel chided affectionately, his five-week marriage to Bryn having completely mellowed him. ‘Personally, I’m longing to see the beautiful matron of honour!’ He smiled at the thought of his wife.

Michael shrugged broad shoulders. ‘Calm down, Rafe. Nina will be here,’ he assured his brother dryly. ‘For some strange reason the woman is in love with you!’

‘Ha ha, very funny.’ Rafe scowled.

‘The limo is probably having trouble getting through the New York traffic, that’s all.’ Michael grimaced.

‘Lord, I hope so.’ Rafe’s face had taken on a slightly green tinge now. ‘I knew I should have gone ahead with my original plan and just persuaded Nina to elope!’

‘Not if you had wanted to continue living, Raphael Charles D’Angelo!’ his mother warned from the pew directly behind them, the whole of the D’Angelo family having once again gathered together to see another one of the three brothers married.

Which left Michael, the eldest brother at thirty-five, as the only remaining bachelor...

A state he intended to continue!

Oh, Michael was pleased for both of his younger brothers, had absolutely no doubt that Rafe and Gabriel loved the two women they had chosen as their wives, and that those two women loved them in return, that the two couples would have long and happy lives together. It just wasn’t a state, the love or the marriage, that Michael wanted for himself.

Ever.

He had been in love precisely once in his life, fourteen years ago, disastrously as it turned out, and it wasn’t an experience he had ever felt the slightest inclination to repeat. All that angsting and heartache had just made him miserable, the betrayal even more so, and he certainly hadn’t enjoyed the unpleasant feeling of having lost control of his emotions.

A feeling that he would find even more unacceptable after all these years of doing exactly as he pleased, when he pleased, with whomever and whatever woman he pleased.

No, as far as Michael was concerned, Rafe and Gabriel could provide the next generation of D’Angelos, because he had no intention of having his well-ordered life complicated by either a wife or children.

‘Oh, thank God...’ Rafe breathed his relief as the organist began to play the Wedding March announcing Nina’s arrival at the church, the three men standing up to turn and look at the bride as she walked down the aisle at her father’s side. Nina was a vision in white satin and lace, her smile radiantly beautiful, love shining in her eyes as she walked towards her bridegroom.

Michael felt a slight pang in his chest as he realised that his decision not to marry meant that no woman would ever gaze at him with such open adoration.

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