They were home.

 In silence they entered the villa. The live-in staff had long since retired to their own quarters for the night.


 Tiny nightlights glowed from the reception through to the living area and up the stairs, bathing Alessandra in a dim light that magnified her sultry beauty.

 The ache in his groin, far from diminishing as he’d valiantly willed it to do in the car, increased, his arousal spreading from his loins...

 That damn bare arm...

 She paused at the bottom of the staircase to look at him. ‘Thank you for a nice evening–’

 ‘You have enjoyed yourself?’ he cut in, delaying the time she would climb the stairs and head to her room.

 ‘I wouldn’t go that far,’ she answered with a wry smile. ‘It was hardly a night of music and dancing but it was a lot less stuffy than I expected.’

 ‘That’s good. I don’t want you feeling uncomfortable when we go to these functions.’

 She nodded, looking away. ‘Well, good night.’

 He inclined his head in return, fighting to keep his feet from crossing the marble floor to her. ‘Good night.’

 Holding on to the rail, she climbed the stairs and crossed the landing to her bedroom. Only when she reached her door did she turn her head to look back round and gaze down at him.

 Then she disappeared inside her room, closing the door firmly behind her.

                       CHAPTER THIRTEEN

 ALESSANDRA’S PHONE VIBRATED in her pocket. Grimacing, she fired off a couple more shots then carefully let go of her camera, which she kept around her neck. ‘You can change into the next set now,’ she said to the model standing in front of the white board, wearing nothing but a pair of skimpy knickers and bra.

 She’d spent the past three days working on a shoot for a well-known lingerie brand. With a waist that seemed to be thickening by the day, spending days with semi-clad underwear models was not doing a great deal for her ego. Her pregnancy would soon be obvious to everyone.

 She pulled her phone out, her heart skipping to see Christian’s name flash up. She read his message:

 Just landed. How long are you going to be?

 She fired off a quick reply.

 A couple of hours. Meet you at my apartment.

 When they weren’t physically together, most communication between them was done via messaging. She’d steered it that way. The first time he’d called after the embassy do a month ago, her hands had gone clammy just to see his name flash up in the screen. She’d stared at it until it had gone to voicemail, wiped her hands and written a quick message back, apologising that she’d missed his call. He’d messaged straight back. The next few times she’d done the same—avoided the call and then messaged him. Since then, he’d taken to messaging her without bothering to call. It made it easier for her. Having his rich tones play directly into her ear made more than her hands clammy.

 Shoving her phone back in her pocket, she forced her concentration back to the skinny model, who’d changed into another lacy number with the help of an assistant, uncaring of who in the studio saw her fully naked.

 ‘Left arm in an arc above your head please,’ she said, lifting her camera back up to her face.

 When the final frame was taken she packed her camera away, had a quick chat with her assistant, who was happy to pack everything else up, and left the building.

 Soon she was nodding at the concierge and climbing the stairs to her apartment, grabbing the extra seconds gained by not using the lift to compose her thoughts and get her emotions in check.

 Only three days apart, the longest since they’d been married.

 She’d hoped the distance would be good for her.

 Christian sat at the dining table, cradling a coffee and eating a bowl of pasta.

 ‘I saved you some,’ he said by way of greeting. ‘I thought you might be getting hungry.’

 Alessandra had taken her health seriously from the moment she’d realised she was pregnant but since she’d entered the second trimester, she’d become fanatical about her diet.

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