Haziran 20, 2024

Diavolo Ch 02

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Amateur

Pop Tart was a little fluff of nothing. When the windblown blonde had stalked out barefoot from Ariel’s house, muttering under her breath and fighting with the Vera Wang knock off, Gabriel had reluctantly felt intrigued. He hadn’t recognized her right away in the dark until she’d turned and widened those baby-blues at him in fright. There had been a number of pictures of Daniel Montenegro II posing with the girl, but there really hadn’t been any information as to who she was. For the most part, the record label mogul was usually by himself. But now, here she was…looking up at him as if he were Satan himself. Where the hell had she come from? What was she doing here amidst the circus of fans and groupies that always trailed Diavolo? Despite the clingy dress that showed what a great body she actually had, she looked as out of place as a nun in a whorehouse. He rushed through the back gardens toward the building that housed the pool. Ariel had shut down the exterior lights in hopes of keeping people out of the gardens, but the pool was lit. As he rushed through the winding trail to the pool house, he could see shapes in the dark. People in various stages of undress were everywhere, doing very nasty things. Overhead, a helicopter buzzed about like an annoying mosquito. They weren’t close enough to identify, but close enough to make Gabriel think paparazzi. Sprinting up the three steps leading to the pool house’s entrance, he strode beneath an impressive archway between two ivy-covered columns. It felt as though he’d suddenly been transport back in time. The pool house was more like a Roman palace with a lake in the middle. Replicas of famous sculptures surrounded the twenty by forty-five-foot pool. Blue lights glowed prettily beneath the surface of the water, making shimmering reflections crawl along the vaulted ceiling with its frescos of tiny cherubs floating overhead. He strode past the array of chaise lounges, tables, and chairs, straight to the main bathroom at the end of the pool area. As soon as he walked in, the automatic lighting came on, bathing the enormous bathroom in soft golden light. He continued to the tub area set back in a large circular room past another archway. The walls were made of rough stone, and the floor a smoother version of the same stone. Four, thick, ancient-looking columns surrounded the circular bathtub. Looking more like a small, in-ground pool, it measured at least ten feet in circumference. Water swirled and foamed within the monstrosity. Above the sunken bath, held aloft by the columns, golden light highlighted the cupola with its paintings of more angels. Gabriel strode by the bath to the back wall, where he set the girl down on a bench within a sculpted-out niche in the wall. She settled back against the array of satin and brocade pillows to watch as he retrieved one of the many rolled up towels near the edge of the pool. Gabriel unrolled the snowy-white towel and dipped it in the warm swirling water. Kneeling at her feet, he proceeded to lift her injured left foot and press the towel to the bottom of it. He dabbed at the drying blood a few times before lifting her tiny foot to see the damage. It was just a small puncture wound oozing a drop of blood as he looked at it. “You’ll live,” he murmured, his voice echoing in the vast bathroom. He looked up at her. Her hands were fisting the material of his shirt in her lap, a scowl set firmly on her face. She’d probably look really pretty if she smiled, but, right now, he didn’t care much for the suspicious way her eyes were narrowing on him. He cleared his throat. “What’s your name?” “Abigail,” she replied primly. He kept his eyes on her face, resisting the urge to checkout her legs. “Nice to meet you Abigail,” he returned softly, keeping his expression blank. Her brows drew together a little more and her lips pressed into a firm line. Gabe could tell she was struggling with some serious internal monologue and decided to stay mute just to make her squirm a little more. Her eyes darted to his hands, which were still holding her foot as she took a deep breath. When she tried to draw her foot away, he gripped it tighter, and raised a brow at her, curious to see what she’d do then. Her prickly reaction to him had him intrigued and somewhat amused. Pop Tart was interesting…different. “You’re seeing my sister,” she blurted—hurled the words at him, actually, quite venomously. Gabriel released her foot as if it were a poisonous snake and stood. He wasn’t really seeing Mikayla Brown. She was sort of stalking him, but she was fun and the guys from the band had grown attached to her. Abigail leaned forward, her eyes bugging out of their sockets at him. He almost wanted to recoil. “You need to stop immediately,” Abigail demanded haughtily. What? Abigail clenched her fists with determination, her neck stretching up farther toward him. “You need to stay away—far away. Leave her alone—now!” Gabriel snorted, letting his eyes flick over her. Who the hell did this chick think she was? He really hadn’t been too interested in Mikayla, had only gone as far as letting her kiss and feel him up, but he sure as hell didn’t like anyone—aside from his grandmother, of course—telling him who he could or could not see. Abigail shot to her feet, keeping her weight off her left foot. She barely came up to his chin, but tipped her pert little nose up at him defiantly. “Mikayla’s engaged to Daniel Montenegro II. They’re going to get married and he doesn’t deserve this callous lack of respect. He’s a good man,” she snapped at Gabriel, her eyes gleaming as if she were possessed, “honorable, and good, and sweet.” So…Abigail wasn’t Daniel’s girlfriend, but the way she talked about his half-brother, he could tell she felt something for him. Gabriel wasn’t sure why, but that bothered him more than knowing Mikayla was Daniel’s actual girlfriend. “I’m not forcing Micks to be with me,’ he growled at her. Abigail’s nose rose even higher. “Good. Then you bursa escort will just walk away from her,” she ordered with that haughty tone that was quickly getting on his nerves. “What?” he laughed incredulously. “Listen, lady, Micks is the one who won’t leave me be, and even if I were to keep her at arm’s length, she’d just go off with another one of the guys from the band.” Abigail winced and he felt a perverse satisfaction at pointing at how slutty her sister really was. “She obviously has an itch her fiancé is unable to scratch.” The slap took him by surprise. “You are a pig,” Abigail hissed. She gasped when he gripped her arms and hauled her against his chest. He’d never been slapped in all his life, and now he was pissed…and, weirdly enough, suddenly turned on by the little minx. She stared up at him, her sweet mouth gaping like a fish out of water, big eyes dropping down to his mouth. It was then he realized he was baring his teeth at her like a rabid dog. He needed to let her go…just open his fingers from around her delicate arms and step back…but it was not easy when she felt so amazing against him. Well—shit…he wanted to kiss her. Abigail licked her lips, her eyelids drooping half closed as another shudder went through her. Yes. Gabriel’s head began to descend. “Ey, am I interrupting something?” The sound of Angelo’s voice snapped him out of his daze. What the fuck had he been about to do? Kiss the chick who’d just slapped him and demanded he stay away from her crazy, psycho, stalker sister? He let her go so suddenly, she actually stumbled away from him looking dazed. Gabriel turned on his heel and stalked toward Angelo. “Micks has been looking all over for you,” the blond drummer said, his eyes darting from Gabriel to Abigail. “I’m leaving,” Gabriel snarled out as he strode past the bewildered man. “Leaving? But the party’s just getting started,” Angelo called out behind him. Gabriel did not stop. A few minutes later, he was making his way out of Ariel’s place, expensive tires screeching as he took the curve of the driveway too fast. Flicking on the sound system in the car, he shifted into a higher gear as Alice In Chains’ Check My Brain came on. Days after discovering he was Daniel Montenegro’s first-born son and heir to half the man’s empire, his grandmother had been released from the hospital. The last leg of Diavolo’s European tour had come to an end and Gabriel had just felt undecided about what he wanted to do. Michael, the lead guitarist and founder of the band, and Gabriel were working on new songs for their next production and their first CD was in the top ten across the US. His grandmother had asked him if he’d found his mother’s things in the attic. Gabriel had asked her why she’d never said anything before. She’d just looked away and shrugged, looking very old and tired of a sudden, saying that there had been no point. Gabriel had left it at that, for now. He wanted to concentrate on his career as a singer and songwriter rather than pursue the riches some stranger had consequently left him. That would come later. As co-owner of North Star Records, he would need to know allot more about running a business than he knew now—which was nothing. Of course, that had been before some snobby little girl had slapped the shit out of him and called him a pig. Gabriel cursed and took a turn too sharply, coming within inches of the edge of a dangerous precipice. The waves below slammed against the side of the cliff face, spraying the road with a fine sheen of mist. He shifted down and tried to get a grip on his emotions. He wasn’t going to let that girl press his buttons. Just as Layne Staley was singing—when she sang, I answered the call—his phone began to ring, interrupting the song and his dark thoughts. Gabriel frowned when the car’s computer announced Mikayla calling. Gritting his teeth, he tapped the control button on the steering wheel to accept the call. “Gabe?” “Mikayla,” he answered. “Where are you?” He could hear the hesitance in her voice. “Heading down Route 1,” he answered coolly. After a few seconds of tense silence, “look, you don’t understand a thing. I’m practically being forced to marry this man,” she exclaimed, obviously angry. “Micks, there is nothing between you and me. Whatever you do in your private life is no business of mine. We’re just buddies,” he said with bored indifference. “But I love you, Gabe,” she suddenly wailed. Gabriel wrinkled his nose. “You don’t even know me, Mikayla. What the hell are you talking about?” She sputtered a moment before hissing, “you know you want me, Gabe. No one makes you feel the way I do. You said so yourself.” Gabriel grimaced. He’d actually told her that one night he’d been drunk. Grief over his grandmother’s health plus finding out about his messy twisted past had made him maudlin one night and he’d driven all the way to Ariel’s house. Mikayla was lounging out with the guys in their rehearsal studio and he’d pulled her aside to drown himself in her kisses a while. She’d wanted to go further, but he’d restrained himself. His grandmother had taught him better than that. “Micks, marry your rich boyfriend and give him lots of pedigree babies,” he replied, feeling tired and bored. Just as she began ranting off a string of expletives, he cut off the call. The music blared again and he tapped the controls on his steering wheel to change to the song. Breaking Benjamin’s Blow Me Away came on now as he settled back to drive, hands gripping the wheel tight. What was Abigail getting out of all this? What role was she playing in this little play of lies and infidelity? Gabriel let out a long hard breath through his nose. She looked so innocent with her scrubbed face and prim façade, but she had the heart of bitch. He touched his face where it still stung. No doubt, he’d have her pretty little hand print there to remind him of her existence for a few hours. He cursed again and tapped the control bursa escort bayan on the steering wheel. “Call Diamond,” he snapped. Once again, the music ceased and the sound of a phone ringing sounded. After two rings a sultry feminine voice purred, “Gabe, baby, how are you?” “Diamond. I’m fine. Sorry if I interrupted anything…” he looked at the car’s clock. It was barely past nine. “Don’t be silly, sweetheart. You know I’m always available for you.” Gabriel grimaced at her suggestive purr. The band’s manager had been trying to weasel her way into his pants for the longest time. Unfortunately, for her, Gabriel never mixed business with pleasure. “Right,” he answered a bit hesitantly. “Thanks. I just wanted to know what’s been discussed with the rep from North Star so far.” “Oh…” Gabriel could almost imagine her putting on her business manager mask and fluffing out her fake blonde hair. “They haven’t really said much. I submitted the requests Michael and Rafe asked for in the contract and Mr. Montenegro hasn’t answered yet. I’m pretty sure they’ll accept, but I believe he’s been away on business for the past couple of weeks. Why do you want to know?” Gabriel bit his bottom lip. He wasn’t about to spill the dirty family secrets to her. “Just wondering. Have you spoken to Mr. Montenegro directly?” Diamond sighed out in exasperation. “Well I’ve tried, but that pesky assistant of his always has an excuse to keep him from answering any of my calls directly. She keeps patching me through to a representative.” Gabriel rolled his eyes. So much for trying to find a way to talk directly with his half brother. He thought that maybe he could set up a meeting through Diamond. “Where are you? I’m just opening a bottle of wine and it’s such a beautiful night. Why don’t you come over?” “I’m heading home to my grandmother. Sharmane said she wasn’t doing so good today.” He hated lying like that. His grandmother was as strong as ever after having been released from the hospital months ago, thank God. He just wasn’t in the mood for anyone’s company at the moment. “Oh, Gabe, I’m so sorry to hear that,” Diamond said softly. “Would you like me to contact a friend of mine? She has an agency that provides caretakers for sick people. They’re completely certified and licensed nurses.” Gabriel grinned. “Not unless I want my grandmother and Sharmane to put my balls in a sling. Granma thinks she’s just fine and doesn’t want anyone else fussing over her. Sharmane would feel insulted having someone else look after my grandmother.” Diamond laughed. “Fine. Do you want me to come over? I can bring my wine?” she purred suggestively again. Gabriel cringed. “Wow…soundssss really tempting, but I’ve got allot on m mind right now, and I need to work on some personal stuff—“ “Is that girl still stalking you, Gabe?” Gabriel winced at the way the woman’s tone turned venomous. “Mikayla’s harmless, Diamond.” “I’ve got a bad feeling about her, Gabe. I keep telling you to stay away from her. She’s just a little gold digger.” Probably. Gabriel wondered if Diamond knew that the chick was engaged to Daniel Montenegro II. “I’m sure you’re right, Diamond. Don’t worry. I don’t plan on getting involved with her, okay?” The woman sighed in obvious relief. “Thank goodness.” “Talk later, Di.” He didn’t wait for her to say anything else and cut the call. “Call Bromberg,” he told the car’s communication link. Seconds later, his lawyer picked up. *** Her sister wasn’t speaking to her. After calling her every indecent name Abigail had ever had the misfortune to hear, Mikayla had stormed off, dragging Angelo with her, and leaving Abigail to fend for herself. Lucky for Abigail, Ariel had driven her back to the Montenegro estate. Marjorie Brown had listened dispassionately to Abigail as she narrated the entire humiliating incident. Her mother didn’t care though. The only thing important to her was that Mikayla was no longer seeing Gabriel Raven, lead singer of the rock band called Diavolo. Was that even his real name? She doubted it. It sounded like a stage name. Abigail still had terrible dreams where he dragged her against his hard body and pressed his lush mouth against hers. She’d awaken sweating, clenching her thighs together against the terrible ache she constantly experienced since setting eyes on him. Her mother was right. The man was a demon and he’d cast some sort of lustful spell on her. Abigail steeled herself against such traitorous carnal longings by praying fervently until peace invaded her mind, body, and soul. Daniel had returned from his trip abroad, but Abigail as of yet hadn’t seen him. The mansion seemed abuzz with activity today. Fresh flowers bloomed in vases everywhere, and the wait staff polished and dusted everything until it gleamed. Abigail strolled out to look at the gardens just beyond the balcony of her new room. She’d had the wait staff move her things to a more modest room on the first floor by the gardens, unaccustomed to so much space and luxury. Her new room was still too big for her tastes, but at least it didn’t feel so overwhelming as the four room suite she was in before. It had a breath taking view of the enormous weeping willow that stood near the center of the garden maze. As children, Daniel, Mikayla, and she had played hide and seek there amidst the tall, perfectly trimmed bushes and flowers. It had always been her favorite place and refuge. She took a bracing breath filled with the fragrances of exotic blooms and walked down the steps into the garden itself. Abigail needed to think. She felt confused and anxious…and she wasn’t sure why. It was as if she felt something…something very big was looming before all of them. Heading in the direction of her favorite hiding place, she twirled a stray strand of her hair around one finger. Her bun was firmly in place except for a few tendrils that had somehow managed to escape with the ocean breeze. That same breeze plastered escort bursa her long grey dress to her legs as she walked along the grassy path. She thought of Mikayla and her anger at having spooked Gabriel away, but her sister still hung around with the other band members, just as Gabriel had said she would. Why? Why did her sister need to do that when she had such a good man who wanted to marry her and take care of her? Abigail blinked the sting from her eyes. She’d once thought she was Daniel’s true love, but it had only been a silly childish crush to him. She pushed her glasses up her nose with one finger and sighed. She couldn’t blame him though, and she didn’t. What hurt the most was that her aunt and mother had sent her away to all-girls boarding schools, apparently to groom her to be Daniel’s wife, and she’d turned out to be too boring for him after all. Mikayla was more exotic and thrilling. She’d attracted not only Daniel, but Gabriel Raven as well…Gabriel, of the green eyes, beautiful face, and magnificent body. Abigail hugged herself when she felt her nipples tighten under her Maidenform bra to keep from shuddering. Goosebumps broke over her flesh instead. She really needed to stop thinking about that man. Her body reacted violently to any thought regarding him, and Abigail did not like that. Finally, arriving at the little gazebo tucked beneath the willow in the middle of the maze, Abigail stumbled to a halt and gasped when she saw Daniel standing with his back toward her. He must’ve heard her because he was suddenly whirling about to pin her with his dark enigmatic eyes. Daniel was as handsome as ever with the breeze tousling his short chestnut-colored locks. She absorbed and drank in the familiarity of him—the firm lips, the noble brow. This man, who’d once been her childhood infatuation, only stirred warm feelings of affection. The Armani suit he wore was impeccably cut and tailored, accentuating the breadth of shoulders and trim hips. He was almost as tall as Gabriel. She felt her face flush hotly at the thought of Gabriel and the memory of how he’d yanked her against his hard body. Oh, would she ever forget that devil’s spawn? Her mother had been right…and—oh-god—he was Daniel’s half brother too! “Abigail?” Daniel’s eyes narrowed on her. She plastered a fake smile on her face and walked toward him. “Daniel. How nice to see you again.” He grinned, but his smile didn’t really reach his troubled eyes. “How are you?” he said reaching for her hands. Gripping them warmly, he kissed her knuckles, before staring intently into her eyes. She swallowed and looked away, feeling terribly guilty for some reason. Maybe it was because she’d never gone beyond holding hands with Daniel, while Gabriel… “Is there something you want to tell me?” he asked softly. Horrified, Abigail snapped her gaze back to him. He was no longer smiling, but watching her. Abigail stepped back, her hand coming up to her throat. “What do you mean, Daniel?” Daniel’s straight brows drew closer together. He cleared his throat, eyes darting down to his feet before he reached into the pocket of his jacket to retrieve his cell phone. After tapping the screen a few times, he turned it over in his palm to show her. Abigail squinted at the grainy pictures before she sucked in a ragged breath. There were about six of them. The first showed a very compromising picture of Gabriel, with his arms around her and her sister’s dress up over her backside. What was worse was that he was shirtless and her hands were all over him. Her left leg was bent, almost straddling his thigh. They looked like they were having sex, or about to. The second picture showed Gabriel pulling his shirt on her, and then the third looked as though he were pulling her against him, almost kissing her. She knew it was when he’d pulled her dress down. The last three pictures just showed him picking her up and heading into the pool house. “Oh-god,” was all she could whisper pathetically. Daniel tucked his phone back in his pocket, his eyes soft now as he regarded her. “Abigail, I’m sorry I had to show you this, but it shocked me, especially since you’d expressed your desire to take up a religious vocation.” Abigail did not know what to say. She was mortified. Her image was plastered all over the internet linking her to Gabriel…something her younger sister had managed to avoid. “Don’t get me wrong, Abby. I’m thrilled you decided to find…” Daniel looked dubious for a moment, “…someone in your life…” She wanted to scream and rant that she was in no way involved with that infuriating man, but the pictures were so damning. How would she explain it all to Daniel without exposing her sister? “Just, be careful,” he continued after a while. “You are far too precious to be any man’s plaything.” Her face flushed hotter at his pointed look. He looked as if he wanted to say more, but just shook his head and looked away. Abigail gulped. What must he think of her? That she’d allowed Gabriel to bed her? The mere thought had her wrapping her arms over her chest as a shudder wracked her form again. “I have a very special guest arriving today, Abigail. I certainly hope you will be present for my first dinner back home with the family after being away for almost a month.” “O-of course,” she blurted, nodding, unable to meet his eyes anymore. “Good,” he replied curtly, “I’ll see you then.” As he walked off, she sat numbly on the bench of the gazebo. Her entire reputation was ruined. People would see her and think she was…a harlot. She’d never even kissed a man…not even Daniel. She stared at her aunt’s prized rose bushes trailing up the side trellises of the gazebo. The riot of red reflected off the small pond that wrapped around the back of the gazebo. Leaning over the whitewashed railing, she gazed at the array of Koi swimming lazily beneath the cool water. The ends of the willow trailed within the rippling depths of the shallow pond as fluffy white clouds floated across the bright blue sky overhead. Everything looked so perfect and peaceful…so at odds with how she felt. Inside, her thoughts were a riot of turmoil. She hated that her mother had used her to save the likes of Mikayla from making a mockery of her engagement with Daniel.

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