Never Gamble With A Caffarelli
Model and heiress Angelique Marchand is furious. Continental playboy Remy Caffarelli—devastatingly handsome and notoriously arrogant—has won her mother’s ancestral home in a card game!
Angelique tracks him down in the Middle East to confront him and reclaim her birthright. But when she is found in his hotel room, the sworn enemies are forced to marry! And surprisingly, rather than annul the bond, Remy wants to exploit their marriage for business…and for pleasure!
An Excerpt from Never Gamble With A Caffarelli
‘What do you mean you lost it?’ Angelique stared at her father in abject horror.
Henri Marchand gave a negligent shrug but she could see his Adam’s apple moving up and down as if he’d just had to swallow something unpleasant. But then, losing her late mother’s ancestral home in the highlands of Scotland in a poker game in Las Vegas, Angelique supposed, was about as bitter a flavour as you could taste.
‘I was doing all right until Remy Caffarelli tricked me into thinking he was on a losing streak,’ he said. ‘We played for hours with him losing just about every hand. I thought I’d clean him up once and for all. I put down my best hand in a winner takes all deal but then he went and trumped it.’
Angelique felt her spine turn to ice and her blood heat to boiling. ‘Tell me you did not lose Tarrantloch to Remy Caffarelli.’ Not him! Not her worst enemy. The one man she would do anything to avoid. To avoid even thinking about!
‘I’ll win it back,’ her father spouted the problem gambler’s credo with arrogant confidence. ‘I’ll challenge him to another game. I’ll up the stakes. He won’t be able to resist another- ’
‘And lose even more?’ She threw him an exasperated look. ‘He set you up. Can’t you see that? He’s always had you in his targets but you made it a hundred times worse sabotaging his hotel development in Spain. How could you have fallen for such a trick?’
‘I’ll outsmart him this time. You’ll see. He thinks he’s so clever but I’ll get him back where it really hurts.’
Angelique rolled her eyes and turned away. Her stomach felt as if it had been scraped out with a rusty spoon. How could her father have lost her beloved mother’s ancestral home to Remy Caffarelli? Tarrantloch wasn’t even his to lose! It was supposed to be held in trust for her until she turned twenty-five, less than a year away.
Her sanctuary. Her private bolthole. The one place she could be herself without hundreds of cameras flashing in her face.
Gone. Lost. Gambled away.
Now it was in the hands of her mortal enemy.
Oh, how Remy would be gloating! She could picture him in her mind: that cocky smirk of victory on his sensual mouth, that lean chiselled jaw set at an arrogant angle, those dark espresso coffee-brown eyes glinting.
Oh, how her blood boiled!
He would be strutting around the whole of Europe telling everyone of how he had finally got the better of Henri Marchand.
The bitter rivalry between her father and the Caffarellis went back a decade. Up until ten years ago Remy’s grandfather Vittorio had been best friends and business partners with her father, but something had soured the relationship and at the last minute Henri pulled out of a major business development he had been bankrolling for Vittoria. The Caffarelli’s financial empire had been severely compromised and Henri and Vittoria hadn’t spoken a word to each other since.
Angelique had long expected it would be Remy who would pursue her father for revenge and not one of his brothers. Henri’s meddling over the Ibiza development must have spurred him to do it sooner rather than later.
Of the three Caffarelli brothers, Remy was the one who had the most to do with his grandfather, but their relationship wasn’t affectionate or even close. She suspected Remy was after his grandfather’s approval, to win his respect, something neither of his older brothers had been able to do in spite of creating their own massive fortunes independent of the family empire.
But Angelique had clashed with Remy even before the fall out between their families and his dealings with her father. She thought him spoilt and reckless. He thought her attention seeking and brattish. The eight-year difference in their ages hadn’t helped, although she was the first to admit she hadn’t been an easy person to be around, particularly after her mother died.
Angelique turned back to her father who was washing the bitter taste of defeat down with a generous tumbler of brandy. ‘Mum’s probably spinning in her grave and her parents and grandparents along with her. How could you be so… so stupid?’
Henri’s eyes hardened and his thin lips thinned and whitened. ‘Watch your mouth, young lady. I am your father. You will not speak to me as if I am an imbecile.’
She squared her shoulders and steeled her spine. ‘What are you going to do? Call me a whole lot of nasty names like you did to Mum? Verbally and emotionally abuse me until I have no spirit left and I take an overdose just to get away from you?’
The silence was thick, pulsing, almost vibrating with menace.
Angelique knew it was dangerous to upset her father.
To mention what must never be mentioned.
She had spent her childhood walking around on tiptoe to avoid triggering his ire. His temper could be vicious, his tongue-lashings even more so. As a young child she had witnessed how her mother’s self-esteem had been eroded away, leaving her a wilted shadow of her former self.
But while her father had never raised a hand to either her mother or to Angelique, the potential threat of it was there all the same. It hovered in the atmosphere. It crept like a dark, oppressive presence from all four corners of the room. It crawled along her skin like a nasty prickly-footed insect.
It was the way he controlled her – or tried to.
In the early years Angelique had tried hard to please him but nothing she had ever done had been good enough, or at least not good enough for his impossibly exacting standards.
In the end she had decided to do the opposite. Since the age of seventeen she had deliberately set out to embarrass him. To shock him. That’s why she had pursued her career as a swimsuit model so determinedly. She knew how much it annoyed and embarrassed him that his little girl’s body was displayed in magazines and catalogues and on billboards all over Europe. She had even deliberately courted scandals in the press, not caring they further cemented her reputation as a wild, spoilt little rich girl who loved nothing more than to party and to party hard.
‘If you’re not careful I will disinherit you.’ Her father issued the threat through clenched teeth. ‘I will give every penny away to a dog’s home.’
Angelique would have said, “Go on. Do it”, but the fortune he threatened to give away had actually belonged to her mother. And she was going to her do her darned hardest to get back what was rightfully hers.
The desert of Dharbiri was one of Remy’s favourite places. One of his friends Talib Firas Muhtadi from his boarding schooldays was a Crown Prince of the ancient province. The golden stretch of endless wind-rippled sands, the lonely sound of the whistling, pizza oven- hot air, the vibrant colours of the sunset, the sense of isolation and the almost feudal laws and customs were such a stark change from his thoroughly modern twenty-first century life.
No alcohol. No gambling. No unchaperoned women.
He loved his fast paced life – there was absolutely no doubt about that – it was just now and again he felt the need to unplug himself from it and recharge his batteries.
The hot dry air was such a contrast to the chill of autumn that had come early back in Italy where he had spent a couple of days with his grandfather. No matter what the season, Vittorio was a difficult person to be around, bitter and even at times violent. But Remy liked the sense of power it gave him to drop in without notice, which he knew annoyed the hell out of his grandfather, stay a couple of days and then breeze off without saying goodbye.
But while Remy loved Italy it was hard to decide where he felt most at home. His French-Italian heritage, on top of his English boarding school education had more or less made him a citizen of the world. Up until now he hadn’t really had a base to call home. He’d lived in and out of suitcases and hotel suites. He liked that he didn’t know where he was going to be from one week to the next. He would pick up a scent like a foxhound and go after a cracking good deal.
And nail it.
He liked to move around the globe, picking up business here and there, wheeling and dealing, winning the unwinnable.
Like winning that winner-takes-all hand with Henri Marchand in Vegas. It had been a masterstroke of genius on his part. He didn’t like to be too smug about it… well truth be told, he did actually feel a little bit proud of himself.
He’d hit Henri Marchand where it hurt. He had taken that double-crossing cheat’s Scottish castle off him.
Victory was more than sweet.
It was ambrosial.
Remy had come out to Dharbiri so he could reflect on his prize. Tarrantloch was one of the most beautiful, most prestigious estates in Scotland. It was isolated and private. It would make a fabulous base for him – a place he could call home. It would be the perfect haven to hunt and shoot and fish and hang out with his friends during his infamous weeklong parties. He could’ve gone straight there to take ownership but he didn’t want to appear too eager to take possession.
No, it was better to let Henri Marchand – and his spoilt little brattish daughter Angelique – think this was just like any other deal done and dusted.
There would be plenty of time to rub her retrousse little nose in it.
He couldn’t wait.
Getting a flight to Dharbiri was hard enough. Getting access to where Remy Caffarelli was staying was like trying to get through an airport security check-in with a fistful of grenades or an AK47 in her hand luggage.
Angelique ground her teeth for the tenth time. What was wrong with these people? Did she look like a security threat? ‘I need to speak to Monsieur Caffarelli.’ Or Signor, or Mr, or whatever title he used according to the country or territory or province he was staying in. ‘It’s a matter of great urgency. A family…er, crisis.’
Her family crisis.
The attendant on the reception desk was cool and disbelieving. Angelique could only suppose he was used to fielding off droves of female wannabes who would give an arm or a leg – or both – to have a few minutes with the staggering rich, heart- stoppingly gorgeous Remy Caffarelli.
As if she would ever sink so low.
‘Monsieur Caffarelli is not available right now.’ The attendant gave her a look that immediately categorised her as just another hopeful, starry-eyed wannabe. ‘He is dining with the Crown Prince and his wife and according to royal protocol, cannot be interrupted unless it is a matter of utmost political urgency.’
Angelique mentally rolled her eyes. It looked like she would have to try another tactic. Find some other way of getting under the radar. But she was good at that sort of thing.
Outsmarting. Outmanoeuvring. Outwitting.
She smiled to herself.
That was her speciality.
It didn’t take long to bribe a junior housemaid who recognised Angelique from a magazine shoot she’d done a couple of months ago. All it took was an autograph to get access to Remy’s suite.
The young housemaid had mentioned how important it was Angelique wasn’t seen in Remy’s room other than by Remy himself. Apparently there were strict protocols on women and men socialising without appropriate supervision. As much as it annoyed her to have to hide until she knew for sure it was Remy entering the suite, and not one of the palace household staff, Angelique decided to play things on the safe side.
She scanned the room for a suitable hiding place.
Behind the curtains?
No, she would be seen from outside.
No, a housemaid might come in to clean up the appalling mess Remy had left there.
Angelique looked at the wall to ceiling wardrobe running along one wall.
A little clichéd perhaps…