The Unclaimed Baby

Harlequin Presents

Series: The Sabbatini Brothers

Available: 04/19/2011

ISBN-10: 0373129904

ISBN-13: 978-0373129904

Billionaire Luc Sabbatini may have ruthlessly cast Bronte from his life…but he’d be lying if he said he’d forgotten this sweet ballerina.
That’s why he’s back, and ready to reawaken their lost passion. Only this time he finds Bronte isn’t quite so biddable!

Her better judgment is urging her to walk away. Bronte has been lured into Luc’s lair before…This time, however, the secret she’s hiding will have its repercussions!

An Excerpt from The Unclaimed Baby

‘Hello, Bronte.’

Oh, dear God, it was him.

Bronte took a slow deep breath and straightened her shoulders as she turned and faced him. ‘Luca,’ she said with cool politeness. ‘I hope you’re not thinking of booking in for the first class of the afternoon. It’s full.’

His dark eyes roamed over her close-fitting dance wear-clad body slowly, lingering for a heart-stopping moment on her mouth, before meshing his gaze with hers. ‘You look as beautiful and as graceful as ever,’ he said as if she hadn’t spoken.

Bronte felt a frisson of emotion rush through her at the sound of his voice: rich and dark and deep and smoky with its unmistakable and beautifully cultured Italian accent. He looked the same as the last time she had seen him, although perhaps a little leaner if anything. Well over six feet tall, with glossy black hair that was neither short nor long, neither straight nor curly, and with the darkest brown eyes she had ever seen, he towered over her five feet seven, making her feel as dainty and tiny as a ballerina on a child’s music box.

‘You’ve got rather a cheek to come here,’ she said with a flash of her gaze. ‘I thought you said all that needed to be said two years ago in London.’

Behind his eyes it looked as if a small light had gone on and off like a pen-sized flashlight. It was a tiny movement and she would not have seen it at all if she hadn’t been glaring at him so heatedly. ‘I am here on business,’ he said, his voice sounding a little rusty. ‘I thought it might be a good chance to meet up again.’

‘Meet up and do what exactly?’ she asked with a lift of her chin. ‘Talk about old times? Forget about it, Luca. Time and distance has done the trick. I am finally over you.’

She turned and walked back to the barre. ‘I have a class starting in five minutes,’ she addressed him in the mirror. ‘Unless you want to be surrounded by twenty little girls in tights and leotards, I suggest you leave.’

‘Why are you teaching instead of dancing?’ he asked as his gaze held hers steady in the mirror.

Bronte rolled her eyes impatiently and turned back to face him. She placed one hand on her hip, her top lip going up in a what-would-you-care curl. ‘I was unable to make the audition at the last minute, that’s why.’

A small frown pulled at his brow. ‘Were you injured?’

Bronte suppressed an embittered smile. Heartbroken and pregnant sort of qualified for injury, didn’t it? ‘You could say that,’ she said, sending him a cutting look. ‘Teaching was the next best option. Back home in Melbourne seemed the best place to set up to do it.’

His dark gaze swept over the old warehouse Bronte and her business partner Rachel Brougham had fashioned into a dance studio. ‘How much rent do you pay on this place?’ he asked.

A feather of suspicion started to dust its way up Bronte’s spine. ‘Why do you ask?’

One of his broad shoulders rose and fell in a noncommittal shrug. ‘It’s a sound investment opportunity,’ he said. ‘I’m always in the market for good commercial property.’

She frowned as she studied his inscrutable expression. ‘I thought you worked in hotel management for your family?’

Luca smiled a ghost of a smile. ‘I’ve diversified quite a bit since I saw you last. I have several other interests now. Commercial property is a sure bet; it often gives much better returns than the domestic property market.’

Bronte pressed her lips together as she worked on controlling her emotions. Seeing him like this, unannounced and unexpected, had thrown her completely. It was so hard to maintain a cool unaffected pose when inside she felt as if she had been scraped raw. ‘I am sure if you contact the landlords they will tell you the place is not for sale,’ she said after a short pause.

‘I have contacted them.’

She felt her spine slowly turn to ice as her eyes climbed all the way back up to his. ‘A…and?’

His half-smile gave him a rakish look. It was one of the things that had jump-started her heart the first time she had met him in a bookshop in London. Her heart was doing a similar thing now, for all her brave talk of having got over him.

‘I have made them an offer,’ he said. ‘That’s one of the reasons I am here in Australia. The Sabbatini Hotel Corporation is expanding more and more globally. We have plans to build a luxury hotel in Melbourne and Sydney and another on the Gold Coast of Queensland. Perhaps you have heard about it in the newspapers.’

Bronte wondered how she could have missed it. In spite of her animosity towards him, from time to time she couldn’t stop herself trawling the papers and gossip magazines for a mention of him or his family. Only a few months ago she had heard of the separation of his older brother Giorgio and his wife Maya. She had also heard something about his younger brother Nicoló winning an obscene amount of money playing poker in a Las Vegas casino. But she had heard nothing of Luca. It was as if for the last two years he had completely disappeared off the news media radar.

‘No, but then again I have better things to do with my time,’ she said with a disparaging look.

His dark eyes continued to hold hers in a stare-down Bronte was determined to win. She tried to keep her expression masked but even so his presence was having an intense effect on her. She could feel her skin tightening all over, her heart was racing again and her stomach was fluttering with a frenzied flock of razor-sharp wings. Seeing him again was something she had never allowed herself to think about. On a cold, miserable, grey day in November almost two years ago he had brought their six-month affair to an abrupt and bitter end. Her love for him had over time cooled down until it was now like a chunk of sharp-edged ice stuck right in the middle of her chest. What sort of naïve fool had she been to have loved such a heartless man? He had not once returned any of her calls or emails. In fact she suspected he had switched addresses and numbers in order to get her out of his life.

And now he was back as if nothing had happened.

‘Why are you here?’ she asked with a pointed glare. ‘Why are you really here?’

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“An emotional rollercoaster ride that will hold readers in thrall, The Unclaimed Baby is a powerful romantic tale that I couldn’t bear to put down!”

—Cataromance

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The Unclaimed Baby is part of the The Sabbatini Brothers series.