Food and calorie intake she could control and she did so rigidly, making sure everything she ingested was as nutritionally perfect for her baby as it could be.

 It was the only thing she could control. Everything else seemed to be slipping through her fingers.


 ‘How was Hong Kong?’ she asked, walking over to her little office space in the corner which was a little too close to the dining table than she liked. Being in Milan made it harder for her to tune Christian out. The apartment she’d always thought of as wonderfully spacious seemed to shrink whenever he was there with her.

 God knew she was trying to keep her distance from him, trying to be as unobtrusive as possible.

 Thankfully her work load had increased. The days she wasn’t on shoots were spent developing the results, spent in meetings with directors whether in person or via conference calls; being busy.

 Conversely, Christian’s workload had seemed to abate. He now made it home at a decent time most evenings.

 Now it was Alessandra holing herself away, burying herself in work. Avoiding him as much as she could.

 It was the only way she could keep herself sane.

 She’d never imagined marriage would be so hard emotionally, a feeling exacerbated at Stefan’s wedding to the beautiful Clio a couple of weeks ago. It had been a wonderful occasion but watching them exchange their vows had brought everything back about her own wedding day and the hope she’d been foolish enough to allow through.

 She’d never imagined she would feel so emotional towards him.

 ‘No problems,’ he said. ‘The contract was signed.’

 ‘How did Kerstin get on?’ Good. Her voice was normal as she spoke the German’s name.

 ‘Very well. She’s staying in Hong Kong for a few days.’

 Kerstin had started working for him a couple of weeks before. Right at the exact time as Alessandra’s nutrition control had taken on a life of its own.

 Typically of Christian, as soon as he’d decided on a course of action he implemented it immediately. He’d decided they should marry—a month later it was done. He’d decided to employ Kerstin—a fortnight later she was his new protégée.

 ‘That’s good.’ Taking a seat at her desk, she fired up her laptop.

 ‘Are you working?’

 ‘We don’t have to leave for half an hour.’

 ‘I wanted to talk.’

 ‘About?’

 ‘We need to start looking for a proper house here in Milan. One we can raise a child in.’

 She shrugged. ‘Go ahead.’

 ‘I’ve spoken to a property agent.’

 ‘Naturally.’

 ‘I’ve shortlisted a couple of homes we can look at after we’ve seen the obstetrician.’

 She could feel his eyes upon her as she placed her memory stick into the side of the laptop. Her hands trembled.

 ‘We need to get moving on this,’ he continued. ‘I’ve asked the agent to provide a valuation for this place too.’

 She snapped her head round to stare at him. ‘I don’t want to sell it.’

 His eyes narrowed. ‘We agreed...’

 ‘No, you agreed. I’ll let you know when I’m ready.’

 Christian counted to ten in his head, fighting to keep his features neutral.

 He pushed his bowl across the table and got to his feet. ‘We should leave now.’

 ‘We’ve plenty of time.’

 ‘It’s always good to be ahead of the traffic.’

 He didn’t want to argue with her, especially not prior to their appointment with the obstetrician, but if he stayed another minute in this damned apartment he would go crazy.

 He’d given her carte blanche to redecorate all his homes to her own taste so she would come to think of them as her homes too, and what did he get in return? Nothing.

 This was Alessandra’s apartment, not his. She had no intention of ever making it theirs.

 It probably wouldn’t bother him so much if not for the fact that the distance between them now came from her, a state of affairs that had grown since the embassy function. Even at Stefan’s wedding she’d been distant, when normally she thrived at social events.

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