Bella is living and working on the glorious island of Bermuda, running away from a bad break up. When she meets the devilishly handsome Dante there's an undeniable spark between them but she's wary and keeps him at arms length.
A chain of unexpected events throw Dante and Bella together as they deliver the 'Black Orchid’ yacht back to its home on the Eastern Sea Board. She finds the Bermudian impossible to resist but will her decision to fall into his arms be something she will live to regret?
Release Date: October 24, 2017
Genre: Romantic Thriller
Pink Satin Romance
Bella stood barefoot in the kitchen and opened the fridge door, welcoming the cool blast. Lethargically, she rubbed a bottle of cold water across her forehead before opening it and taking a good slug. She hadn’t meant to sleep for so long, but the heat of the day had taken its toll. Bermuda was unseasonably hot for the month of June. Stepping into the shower she let the water run awhile, then welcomed the shock of the cold spray when it hit. Afterwards, refreshed and feeling more human, she wandered over to open the shutters in her small lounge, enjoying her bird’s-eye view of the patio and pool area, always so serene like a little oasis. The intense humidity created a shimmering haze above the pristine blue of the swimming pool.
The high squawk of a kiskadee broke the silence as it landed on the stump of an old cedar tree where it began pecking in holes, searching out a tasty treat. A faint breeze shifted the pink-and-white petals on the bougainvillea climbing the high fence outside her window.
A figure strode into view, piquing Bella’s interest enough for her to stay awhile longer. The man kicked off his mules and threw a towel onto the nearest sun lounger. He stretched, fingers interlocked, palms skyward, and after a very entertaining warm-up he sprang from the side of the pool, executing a perfect dive, barely causing a ripple.
Bella hadn’t seen him around the apartment complex before. He swam in strong, even strokes up and down and then left the water as deftly and concisely as he’d entered, leaping to the pool’s edge in one bound like a panther, sleek and self-assured. His honey-colored skin glistened as water ran down his rippled back and muscular legs, creating small steaming pools on the red-hot slabs.
Enjoying this unexpected little sideshow Bella was only disappointed in his choice of swimwear, not a pair of skimpy Speedos but long baggy multicolored shorts, which were now so fashionable. There was something to be said for short shorts on men with great legs and this “Man from Atlantis” had great legs. He disappeared as quickly as he’d come.
Shaken from her mini reverie by her mobile blasting out “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Bella made a mental not to change that daft ringtone.
“Hi, Jeannie, what’s up?”
“You are, Bella. You should’ve been here twenty minutes ago. These steaks won’t keep.”
“Sorry! I’ve not long woken up. I feel as though I’ve been in a coma. I’ve got to speak to Rudy about the air-conditioning; it’s baking in here and I’m frazzled. I’ll see you in ten minutes.” Peeping through the blinds again she spotted Rudy picking up litter, sweeping leaves, and generally making everything tidy as he did every evening. She opened the window and waved. “Hi, Rudy. Can I have a word?”
The elderly Bermudian turned and waved, then sauntered over.
“Sure, Miss Bella. What can I do for you?”
“The air-conditioning unit has broken down again, Rudy! Is there anything you can do?”
He nodded enthusiastically and said, “Darn right we can. The big boss is visiting this week, and if I mention it to him I’m sure he’ll give those boys down at the office a kick up the butt. Hopefully, in a day or so you’ll be cool again.” Bella thanked him for the fan he’d loaned her a few days before, not that it helped much, and as he walked away he turned and said, “Oh! By the way, the Boss couldn’t get his car into his garage and I think it’s your scooter blocking his path and…”
Before he’d finished the sentence, Bella said she’d shift it as soon as possible. However, she wasn’t about to go now and start lugging her scooter around and get all hot and sweaty again. She’d do it later when the temperature had cooled. The “Boss” could wait.
Teeth brushed, lip gloss applied with a hint of pink, Bella stepped into a pair of gold, strappy, flat sandals. Taking one last look in the dusty mirror, she said, “That’ll have to do.” Picking up her keys and a bottle of merlot from the kitchen worktop she headed for the upstairs apartment. The door was ajar and she shouted through, “Hi, Jeannie, sorry I’m late. Shall I open the wine?”
“Yes please… That sounds like a plan. Pour me a glass and bring it out to the balcony, would you, Bel? I’m cooking.”
Bella’s stomach gave a hungry growl when she sniffed the air.
“I’m ready for this, Jeannie. Where’s Theo?” Bella picked up a piece of crusty bread and took a huge bite.
“Gone for beer.” Jeannie blew away a strand of straw-blonde hair that had fallen in her eyes as she turned the steaks on the grill. Petite and pretty, she had a wide smile, a big personality, and was Bella’s best friend in the whole world. “Looks like we both caught the sun today, Bella. Your face is nearly as red as mine.” They laughed and chatted together easily as they sipped their wine. The door burst open and Theo appeared, loaded down with shopping bags.
“Got the beer for tomorrow, girls! How’re the steaks coming, honey? Stand back and let the real cook at it.” He moved behind Jeannie and kissed her neck while undoing her apron.
Talking enthusiastically about their morning of sailing at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in Hamilton, Bella still felt a great sense of wonder and achievement that she’d done so much in such a short space of time. Theo had agreed to teach Jeannie and Bella how to sail and now they were hooked. Bella loved being part of the sailing club, getting out and about meeting people, and learning a new skill was exactly the diversion that she needed—anything to take her mind off the horrible events of last year.
“This steak is delicious. Thanks for the invite.” Bella tucked into the rib eye.
“You know you’re welcome anytime just as long as you do the washing up,” Theo teased as he pulled the cork on a second bottle of wine.
As they ate their meal the late-evening sun, a huge orange ball in an indigo sky, dipped down on the far side of Hungry Bay. Jeannie and Theo’s apartment, situated on the second floor, had partial views of the bay, unlike Bella’s on the ground floor with no view at all apart from the pool area, but that had its compensations.
The following day Bella and Jeannie were going to be trusted with taking a club boat out on their own for the first time. Theo would be totally consumed for the whole day, crewing on the around-the-island race. The races ran every weekend during the summer months. The doorbell rang and Theo jumped up.
“That’ll be the guy I told you about, Jeannie; it’s his boat I’m crewing on tomorrow. I asked him to call in for a drink and a chat about the race.”
Jeannie took a swig of wine, leaned towards Bella, and whispered, “Never said a word to me.” They both giggled. Bella wasn’t prepared for what happened next.
“Ladies, I’d like you to meet my friend and captain for tomorrow’s race, Dante De Silva.”
The look of surprise on her friend’s face told Bella that Jeannie definitely hadn’t met or heard of this man before. Dante De Silva scrubbed up well. Sporting a pale pink shirt, loosely tucked in to a pair of casual taupe-colored chinos, he looked almost as impressive fully dressed as he had in his swim shorts. His hair hung in dark tendrils almost to his shoulders and he radiated cool. When he shook Jeannie’s hand and said he was pleased to make her acquaintance, she giggled and her face reddened. He then turned his attention to Bella, applying a little pressure as he shook her hand slowly and deliberately while looking directly into her wide sapphire-blue eyes.
“Dante De Silva. Pleased to make your acquaintance, ma’am.”
When he held on a few moments longer than was necessary, Bella felt off guard and withdrew her hand, unable to meet his steady gaze. Feeling shy and self-conscious she said, “Maybelle Carucci… Everyone calls me Bella.” She felt light-headed, not drunk but not quite in control. Why on earth did she give him her full name?
“Now there’s a name with a story attached, I’m sure.” He smiled, revealing not only beautiful teeth and a wide sensuous mouth but a dimple dead center in his left cheek. Bella felt her face burning.
Theo shouted from the kitchen, “Dante… Beer or wine, mate?”
“Wine, please,” he replied, shifting his gaze from Bella’s face momentarily.
Seeing him at the pool from a distance she’d guessed him to be Bermudian. But now up close and personal she could see quite clearly that wasn’t the case. He had high cheekbones and forehead, combined with that honey Bermudian skin, but he certainly didn’t sound Bermudian. She detected a real Southern drawl and his quiet air of ease and confidence was attractive all on its own. Dante chatted to Theo, discussing the upcoming race, asking his opinion on tactics and other technical aspects she didn’t understand and didn’t care about.
While Jeannie and Theo were busy in the kitchen Dante asked, “Tell me, Miss Carucci, how long have you been here…in Bermuda?” He’d pulled up a wicker chair and sat directly opposite her on the small balcony. They were virtually knee to knee.
“Three months almost and please…my name is Bella.” She felt self-conscious knowing that her skimpy dress had ridden up, exposing just a bit too much leg. As she shifted in her seat he nodded and sipped his wine, cupping long fingers around the bowl of the large glass, swirling the contents while gazing at her so keenly she could see flecks of gold glinting in those hypnotic hazel eyes.
In a low, sexy drawl, he asked, “I take it you’re working here in Bermuda, Bella?”
“I am—at the high school in Hamilton. Teaching English and drama.” She smiled knowing that she sounded as stiff as a board.
“Admirable,” he replied, his gaze not shifting.
They were interrupted when Theo called through asking Dante to go and take a look at some new charts. He drained his glass and stood up, his male presence filling the small balcony. He looked down at her and a slow smile spread across his face as he politely excused himself.
Bella escaped to the bathroom. With the door locked she stared into the mirror above the sink and a pair of startled blue eyes peered back at her through a sunburnt face. God, she looked a mess! What would he think? What did she care what he thought? She knew nothing about him, and having a dumped fiancée back in the UK was enough to put her off men forever. She splashed her face with cold water to cool herself down.
When she returned to the small lounge the two men were still discussing the race and the crew lineup for the next day. Bella found Jeannie already busy clearing away in the kitchen. Jeannie threw a tea towel at her friend and whispered, “Well! What d’ya think?” She nodded her head towards the voices in the lounge.
Bella began drying the wineglass in her hand and said, “Nothing!”
Jeannie’s whisper got louder. “What? Well, you must have no heart, no soul, and possibly you’ve gone blind as well. He’s a dream, and if he’s unattached he’d be perfect for you.”
“Shush! He’ll hear you, and as you well know, men and I are suspended for the time being.”
Jeannie sounded a bit drunk, and as she wiped down the draining board she said, “You know what they say. Once you’ve fallen off the horse you’ve got to get straight back in the saddle.” She hiccupped and giggled.
Bella couldn’t deny that Dante De Silva had something, but she couldn’t imagine him and herself together; he was so not her type. Then again, she no longer knew herself what her type might be. Someone who didn’t cheat would be a start.
Dante stood at the kitchen door and said, “Good night, ladies. I’ll no doubt see you tomorrow at the yacht club, perhaps after the race?” He looked directly at Bella as he spoke, the deep resonance of his silky voice making the hair on the back of her neck stand up. She smiled and nodded. He left the apartment.
As soon as the door closed Jeannie said, “Okay, Theo! Spill the beans! Who’s this Dante guy?” Jeannie flicked Theo with a tea towel.
He laughed. “Calm down, girls. He’s just a guy, and from what I know he’s all right for a rich bloke.”
“Even better! Explain away, Theo.” Jeannie and Bella took a seat.
“Met him at the club last year. Owns a beautiful racing boat the Aurora, a racing cruiser, carbon fibre mast, two guest cabins and—”
Jeannie rolled her eyes towards the ceiling. “Cut to the chase, Theo. We don’t need to know all that.” The girls laughed.
“Okay! Okay! I’ve crewed for Dante in the past. He visits Bermuda as often as he can. He owns a boat build/repair place here in Bermuda. It’s been in his family for years. He moved to the States when he was a kid and that’s where he now runs his main business from. He designs and builds luxury yachts. He’s here now tying up some business and of course he always tries to get in a bit of fun sailing if he can, and that’s all I know.”
“Very interesting.” Jeannie slurred a little. “But more importantly is he available?” She nodded towards Bella.
“Jeannie, don’t embarrass me. I’ve told you I’m not interested.” Bella gave an exasperated sigh. Theo threw back his head and laughed.
“Don’t worry, Bella, if I was a girl I’d fancy him myself. To tell you the truth, I don’t know much about his private life. Doesn’t appear to be a Mrs. Dante anywhere. Girls down at the club are always draped all over him like the proverbial cheap suit. Oh! Yes. He also lives in this complex when he’s in Bermuda. I think he owns the whole block.”
“I wish I’d known that earlier. I could have tackled him about coughing up for a new air-conditioning unit for my apartment. In fact, the whole block needs attention.”
Theo said, “I’m sure that won’t be a problem. He seems a decent kinda guy.”
Then the penny dropped. Dante De Silva was obviously the “Boss,” and Bella remembered she hadn’t moved her scooter, when she’d promised Rudy she would.
Jeannie began wagging her finger, saying, “Not enough information, Theo. You are well and truly a bloke! No gossip. You’ve failed miserably. How will we find out anything worth knowing?” Jeannie swung around unsteadily, pointing at her friend. “He was definitely interested in you, Bella. Made it a bit obvious. He couldn’t take his eyes off you. Lucky devil!”
Bella saw her cue to leave. She kissed her squiffy friend on the cheek, and headed for the door. “Bye, you two. Sleep well. See you tomorrow.”