She eyed him, lines appearing in her brow. ‘And what if I have to fly off at a moment’s notice? Will you show me the same latitude?’ The challenge was there, from the jut of her chin to the tone of her voice. ‘I have a career of my own too, remember?’

 ‘Our marriage is going to take time to shake down,’ he conceded, wishing he could be in his jet right now. He didn’t want to deal with her anger or acknowledge the suspicion emanating from her eyes. That was not what they were about. They were two individuals able to lead their lives to their own needs, not justify their whims and absences to each other. He shouldn’t feel any guilt. ‘We will find a path that suits us both.’


 She nodded slowly but when she spoke her voice was fractionally warmer. ‘So long as you don’t expect all the compromise and sacrifice to come from my end.’

 ‘I don’t expect that.’

 ‘Good.’ After a moment of silence, she jerked her head in another nod. ‘Have a safe trip.’

 He mimicked her movement. ‘I’ll see you at the chapel.’

                       CHAPTER NINE

 ALESSANDRA STARED AT her reflection. She’d been primped and preened by an army of beauticians and now she was ready.

 Ready?

 She would never be ready. Not for this.

 But it had to be done.

 She had to marry Christian and she would do it alone.

 Sebastian and Zayed, who had arrived together the night before, had both offered to give her away. She’d been touched by the offers but had declined. They were there for Christian, not her.

 There were only two people she would have wanted to walk her down the aisle and one of those was dead. The other hadn’t even had the courtesy to respond to his invitation.

 She straightened her spine. It wasn’t as if this would be a real marriage. This wedding was going ahead for one reason and one reason only: their baby. That was what she needed to focus on. It was all she should focus on—not Christian or the way he’d flown off to New York at a moment’s notice. Or her suspicions that there was more to his impromptu trip than business. Or those horrible hours waiting for him to return while the cynical part of her brain had thrown taunts that he wouldn’t be coming back, that he’d abandoned her. Just like her father had.

 Do. Not. Trust.

 She had to trust him with regard to their child. She had to.

 Christian was not her father. And he hadn’t abandoned her. Right at that very moment he stood in the chapel waiting for her. Exactly as he’d said he would be.

 The relief she’d felt late last night when he’d called to say he was back in Athens had been so powerful it scared her to remember the physicality of her reaction.

 It was simply relief that he hadn’t humiliated her by standing her up, she insisted to herself. Nothing more than that. Nothing.

 She checked her watch. It was time. In approximately one hour she would be married. Christian would be her husband.

 She watched her reflected cheeks flush, her blood heating at the remembrances of their one night together, the night that had led to this very moment. Vivid memories of it played in her dreams every night, teasing her, haunting her.

 People always said you couldn’t miss what you’d never had and in the sexual aspect of her life that had held true. Now that she had tried it...

 But it wasn’t sex on its own that she wanted, that her body responded to. It was sex with Christian. Whether it was the alcohol loosening her inhibitions or something else undefined, he’d awoken her. He did things to her.

 Before she’d put her wedding dress on, she’d stepped into her lacy white knickers, imagining him sliding them off; had put her lacy white bra on, imagining him unclasping it; had rolled the silk white stockings up her legs, imagining his strong fingers trailing over her skin as he slid them off.

 Dio, how many times had she picked up her phone to call him before slamming it back down? Too many to count.

 He’d called her a couple of times, though, conversations that had left her feeling all knotted yet incredibly warm inside. There was something about his voice that set tiny little bolts darting through her skin...

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