Never Gamble with a Caffarelli

By: Melanie Milburne


‘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 was about as bitter a flavour as you could taste, Angelique supposed.

‘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.’ He was 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 sights 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 from now.

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; those dark espresso-brown eyes glinting.

Oh, how her blood boiled!

He would be strutting around the whole of Europe telling everyone how he had finally got the better of Henri Marchand.

The bitter rivalry between her father and the Caffarellis went back a decade. 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 had pulled out of a major business development he had been bankrolling for Vittorio. The Caffarellis’ financial empire had been severely compromised, and the two men 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. Of the three Caffarelli brothers, Remy had 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 fallout between their families and his dealings with her father. She thought him spoilt and reckless. He thought her attention-seeking. 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 had 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 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 take an overdose just to get away from you?’

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