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Authors: Carole Mortimer

A Prize Beyond Jewels

BOOK: A Prize Beyond Jewels
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Risking it all?

World-renowned gallery owner Rafe D’Angelo has firm boundaries for his romantic conquests and is notorious for leaving ladies wanting more. Which is why it’s such a shock to wake and find—for the first time
ever
—the sheets beside him cold….

Nina Palitov’s only act of defiance against a life lived under her father’s oppressive control was to spend an exquisite night with Rafe. But Nina should have known that this D’Angelo relishes a challenge. His pursuit of her provokes a passion she’s never experienced before, but with her family’s deepest secret at risk, it’s
essential
she doesn’t become Rafe’s latest prize!

“I don’t recall your having asked me to go out with you again,” Nina drawled derisively. “But you’re quite right in assuming my answer would have been no if you had,” Nina continued firmly, as he would have spoken. “It’s time to get back to the real world.”

“And your real world doesn’t have a place in it for me?”

The only place Nina wanted Rafe in her life was one she could never have, nor was it one he was interested in occupying; Rafe had never pretended to be anything other than what he was: a thirty-four-year-old very eligible and handsome bachelor, who enjoyed women, lots of them.

Unfortunately Nina knew she wasn’t made that way, which was why it was better, for both of them, if this ended now. She had to end this before she lost her pride, as well as her heart.

She raised her chin determinedly. “Not at this point in time, no.”

He raised dark brows. “And do you ever see a time when that might change…?”

“No.”

One night was all they would have.

All they’d
had….

Because Nina had left him in no doubt that she considered the two of them to already be in the past tense….

The Devilish D’Angelos

Sinners named for saints…

Known around the world for their prestigious Archangel auction houses and galleries in London, New York and Paris, the D’Angelo brothers are notorious for their prowess in the art world…but even more so for their exploits in their personal lives.

These Italian heartthrobs may have been named for angels, but their ruthless natures and powerful personae make them
anything
but angelic.…

Soar to LONDON for
Gabriel D’Angelo’
s story in
A Bargain with the Enemy
February 2014

Sail to NEW YORK for
Raphael D’Angelo’
s story in
A Prize Beyond Jewels
March 2014

Fly to PARIS for
Michael D’Angelo’
s story in
A D’Angelo Like No Other
April 2014

Enter the exclusive world of the D’Angelos in this dazzling new trilogy from Carole Mortimer!

CAROLE MORTIMER

A Prize Beyond Jewels

All about the author…
Carole Mortimer

CAROLE MORTIMER
is one of Harlequin’s most popular and prolific authors. Since her first novel was published in 1979, this British writer has shown no signs of slowing her pace. In fact, she has published more than 150 novels!

Her strong, traditional romances, with their distinct style, brilliantly developed characters and romantic plot twists, have earned her an enthusiastic audience worldwide.

Carole was born in a village in England that she claims was so small that “if you blinked as you drove through it you could miss seeing it completely!” She adds that her parents still live in the house where she first came into the world, and her two brothers live very close by.

Carole’s early ambition to become a nurse came to an abrupt end after only one year of training, due to a weakness in her back, suffered in the aftermath of a fall. Instead, she went on to work in the computer department of a well-known stationery company.

During her time there, Carole made her first attempt at writing a novel for Harlequin®. “The manuscript was far too short and the plotline not up to standard, so I naturally received a rejection slip,” she says. “Not taking rejection well, I went off in a sulk for two years before deciding to have another go.” Her second manuscript was accepted, beginning a long and fruitful career. She says she has enjoyed every moment of it.

Carole lives “in a most beautiful part of Britain” with her husband and children.

Other titles by Carole Mortimer available in ebook:

A BARGAIN WITH THE ENEMY
(The Devilish D’Angelos)
RUMORS ON THE RED CARPET
(Scandal in the Spotlight)
A TOUCH OF NOTORIETY
(Buenos Aires Nights)
HIS CHRISTMAS VIRGIN

For Peter, as Always.

PROLOGUE

St Mary’s Church, London.

‘I
T

S
NOT
TOO
late
,
Gabe,’ Rafe drawled softly. The church was packed with his brother’s softly chatting wedding guests as they waited for the bride to arrive.

‘I checked earlier. There’s a door at the back of the vestry where you can escape...’

‘Shut up, Rafe.’ His two brothers, one seated either side of Rafe, spoke together; Gabriel with the tension of the anxious bridegroom, and Michael with his customary terseness.

‘Hush, Rafe.’ Their father spoke with soft warning from the pew behind them.

Rafe grinned unrepentantly. ‘The jet is just sitting there on the tarmac at the airport, Gabe, and instead of flying off to the Caribbean for your honeymoon, you could just get the hell out of Dodge.’

‘Will you just stop?’ Gabriel turned to glare at him, his face white and strained as he waited for the start of the organ music that would announce the arrival of his bride at the church. Bryn was already five minutes late, and each minute had seemed like an hour, deepening the lines of tension in his brow.

Rafe’s grin widened as he relaxed back in the pew, having long considered teasing both of his brothers as being part of his role in life.

‘You and Michael would never have had any adventures at all if it weren’t for me!’

‘Marriage to Bryn is going to be biggest adventure of my life,’ Gabriel assured him with certainty.

Rafe was aware of how many years his brother had been in love with Bryn, a love his brother had believed was doomed to remain unrequited until just a short month ago.

‘She’s gorgeous, I’ll admit that.’

‘Rafe, will you just stop winding him up?’ Michael, the eldest of the three brothers, clipped abruptly as Gabriel’s hands clenched and unclenched. ‘We don’t need a fist fight between the groom and one of the best men to liven up the proceedings!’

‘I was only—’ Rafe broke off as the ringtone of his mobile jarred loudly in the relative silence of the church.

‘I told you to switch that damned thing off before you came into the church!’ Gabriel turned on him fiercely, obviously relieved to have something tangible to vent his tension on.

‘I thought I had.’ Rafe grimaced as he pulled the slim mobile from the breast pocket of his morning jacket and quickly turned it to silent mode before slipping it back in his pocket. ‘But seriously, Gabe, you still have time to slip out the back of the church and make your escape before anyone is any the wiser.’

‘Raphael Charles D’Angelo!’

Rafe winced, having absolutely no idea how his mother, very petite at all of five feet tall, still managed to silence each and every one of her three six-foot-plus sons, all aged in their thirties, with just their full name spoken in that particularly reproving tone of voice!

Although he was thankfully saved from having to turn and face further admonishment from her as the organ played out the wedding march, announcing Bryn’s arrival.

The tension instantly eased from Gabriel’s shoulders as the three brothers stood up.

Rafe winced as he felt the vibration of his mobile against his chest to announce another incoming call. He chose to ignore it as he turned to look at Bryn as she walked slowly down the aisle on her stepfather’s arm.

‘Oh, wow, Gabe, Bryn looks absolutely stunning,’ he breathed sincerely. Bryn a vision in white lace and satin, the glow of her smile as she looked down the aisle at Gabriel enough to light up the whole church.

‘Of course she does,’ Gabriel murmured smugly, an expression of adoration on his face as he gazed at the woman he loved more than life itself.

* * *

‘Who the hell would be crass enough to phone you during your own brother’s wedding?’ Michael demanded critically as he joined Rafe to one side of where the wedding guests now stood outside the church in the summer sunshine, watching indulgently as the bride and groom were photographed together. Both Gabriel and Bryn were glowing with happiness.

Rafe grimaced as he looked up from checking his mobile; this was the first occasion he’d had to look for any messages. ‘Just a friend calling to warn me that Monique is on the warpath since she found out I won’t be returning to Paris after the wedding.’

The three brothers rotated the management of the three privately owned and world-renowned Archangel galleries and auction houses. Michael would be taking over from Rafe at the Paris gallery on Monday, Gabe was to be based in London once he had returned from his honeymoon, and Rafe was flying to New York tomorrow to take over the gallery there.

‘You couldn’t have just told her that before you left?’ Michael barked irritably.

Rafe shrugged. ‘I thought I had.’

‘Obviously she didn’t get the message.’ Michael scowled before turning to look over at Gabriel and Bryn between narrowed lids. ‘Can you believe our little brother is now a married man?’

Rafe gave an affectionate grin as he also looked over at the happy couple. ‘And obviously loving every minute of it!’ And Gabriel wasn’t such a ‘little’ brother to them either, only two years younger than Michael’s thirty-five, and one year younger than Rafe’s thirty-four.

As well as being close in age, the three brothers were alike in their appearance and colouring: all tall and ruggedly handsome, with ebony-dark hair, brown eyes, and olive-toned skin, all courtesy of their Italian grandfather.

Michael was the remote and austere brother, preferring to keep his ebony hair styled short, his eyes so deep brown they appeared piercing black, and just as unfathomable as the man behind those eyes.

Gabriel was quietly but lethally determined, his hair curling about his ears and nape, his eyes a warm chocolate-brown.

Meanwhile Rafe kept his hair styled well below his collar, and much longer than either of his two brothers, and his eyes were so light brown that they glowed with the gold of a predator. He was also considered by most to be the least serious of the three D’Angelo brothers. At least by those who didn’t really know him well; those that did were fully aware that Rafe was just as steely as his two brothers beneath that outwardly flirtatious and teasing manner.

Michael raised mocking brows. ‘I take it that Monique wasn’t the one for you, any more than the rest of the legion of women you’ve been involved with over the last fifteen years?’

Rafe gave his brother a pitying look. ‘I’m not looking for “the one”, thank you very much!’

Michael smiled slightly. ‘One of these days she might just find you!’

‘Hah, in your dreams.’ Rafe chuckled. ‘I accept that Gabe is ecstatically happy with Bryn, but I don’t for one minute believe in that “one love of your life” thing when it comes to myself. Any more than you do,’ he added knowingly.

‘No,’ his brother confirmed emphatically, his eyes an unreadable black. ‘I’m not going to be plagued with telephone calls and visits from this Monique woman when I get to Paris, am I, pleading with me to tell her where you are and how she can contact you?’

‘I hope not.’ Rafe sighed wearily. ‘We had fun for a few weeks, but now it’s over.’

Michael gave a shake of his head, his expression one of irritation.

‘She doesn’t seem to realise that.’ He gave Rafe a hard stare. ‘Perhaps you could turn your charm onto something more useful once you get to New York? Dmitri Palitov’s daughter will be coming to the gallery on Tuesday,’ he explained at Rafe’s questioning look. ‘She’s personally overseeing the installation of the display cabinets she designed for her father’s jewellery exhibition at the gallery next weekend. She will be staying for the duration of the exhibition, along with Palitov’s own security.’

Rafe’s eyes widened disbelievingly. ‘What the hell?’

‘Palitov wanting his own security is understandable.’ His brother gave a brief shrug. ‘Allowing his daughter to design the display cabinets and her continued presence at the gallery before and during the exhibition were also conditions for Palitov agreeing to there being an exhibition at all.’

Rafe was as aware as Michael that it was a coup for the Archangel gallery that the reclusive Russian billionaire had agreed to allow his private collection to be exhibited at all. No one but Dmitri Palitov had seen the majority of that jewellery for decades, some of it reputed to have belonged to the Tsarina herself, after it had disappeared from Russia last century.

‘I’m relying on you to keep the daughter sweet for the next few weeks,’ Michael added.

‘What exactly does that mean?’ Rafe frowned incredulously. ‘Palitov is pushing eighty, so how old is his daughter?’

‘Does it matter how old she is?’ Michael dismissed uninterestedly. ‘I’m not asking you to sleep with her, just use some of that lethal Raphael D’Angelo charm on her,’ his brother drawled mockingly before giving Rafe a patronising pat on the back and strolling away to join their parents.

Rafe gave a disgusted huff, not at all happy at being expected to use his charm on the middle-aged daughter of a reclusive Russian billionaire.

BOOK: A Prize Beyond Jewels
2.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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