Unmasking the enemy

Valentina D’Angeli is pregnant. And the father…? The man she shared one sensational night with after a masquerade ball. It wasn’t until she stole a peek under his mask while he was sleeping that she discovered he was her brother’s sworn enemy — Niccolo Gavretti!

For this ruthless Italian there’s only one solution to Valentina’s bombshell — put a ring on her finger…no matter how much she refuses. And if he has to take her to bed to make it happen he’ll enjoy every single minute of it!

Read an Excerpt

She could not possibly be pregnant. Valentina D’Angeli’s fingers shook as she studied the test stick, the blue line very clearly trying to tell her she was indeed expecting a baby.

It was too crazy to be believed, and yet…

A chill slid down her spine. The night of the masquerade had been the wildest she’d ever experienced, the one night where she’d determined to let down her hair and be the person she’d never been able to be. The free spirit who could sleep with a man and leave him in the morning without a shred of remorse.

For one night, she’d planned to be bold, seductive, and wild. She would experience passion and conquer her shyness once and for all. She would be like other women her age—sophisticated, experienced, and utterly in control.

Tina set the test stick down and opened another. Surely the first had been damaged somehow. The second would give her the correct answer.

That night had been a good idea in theory, yet even with the anonymity of the mask, she’d been unable to let herself go to the extent her best friend, Lucia, had decided she should.

“You need to get laid, Tina,” Lucia had said.

Tina had blushed and stammered and said yes, of course she needed to—she was tired of being a twenty-four year old virgin—but she’d not truly thought it would happen. She’d tried to flirt and dance and be free, but when her partner had pulled her close, his breath smelling faintly of garlic and mint combined, she’d known she couldn’t do it. She’d pushed away from him and run from the palazzo, out onto the dock where it was quieter and cooler, and gulped in the Venetian night air like a balm.

And that’s when he’d appeared. Not the man she’d run from, but the man she would give herself to before the night was over. He’d been tall, suave, dressed in black velvet and wearing a silk mask over his eyes.
He’d been utterly mesmerizing, and she’d fallen under his spell with far more ease than she’d ever expected. He’d made love to her so tenderly, so perfectly, that she’d wept with the beauty of it.

And with the loneliness of it.

“No names,” he’d whispered in her ear. “No faces.”

She’d agreed, because that was what had made it magical—and yet, once it was done, she’d wanted to know him. She’d felt bereft with the idea she never would.

Tina swallowed the fear that rose from the pit of her stomach and grabbed her by the throat. Sometimes, not knowing was the best thing. She wished to God she still didn’t know.

But, as the light from the full moon had slid between the curtains and illuminated the sleeping form of the man beside her, she’d dared to slide the silk mask from his eyes. Her breath stopped in her chest just remembering that moment.

He hadn’t awakened, even when she’d gasped. Even when she’d scrambled from the bed and stood there in the quiet, elegant bedroom of the hotel he’d taken her to. Her heart had turned over, her stomach flipping inside out.

Of all the men in the world.

She’d reacted blindly then. She’d yanked on her clothes as silently as she could—and then she’d fled like the coward she was.

“Right,” she said to herself as she waited for the new test stick to negate the first one. The universe was simply playing a huge joke on her, punishing her for that night of wanton behavior with a man she should not have known at all. What kind of woman gave herself to a man she didn’t even know?

But you do know him. You’ve always known him. Always wanted him.
Tina chewed her lip, her heart beating erratically as the seconds ticked by.

And then the answer came, as clear and soul shattering as the first.