She leant back against the work surface, arms folded across her chest.

 This was what he’d wanted just ten minutes ago. For them to talk. For her to tell him what was troubling her. Was it really the lack of sex within their marriage that had caused it? Or something deeper?


 What he hadn’t expected or wanted was for her to demand the conversation start with him.

 ‘We married for one reason and one reason only,’ he reminded her.

 ‘Our baby,’ she supplied flatly.

 ‘Yes. For our baby. It’s the only reason we married. We did not marry for ourselves. I became concerned that your feelings for me had developed beyond mere convenience.’

 Her eyebrows shot upwards. ‘You were concerned about my feelings?’

 ‘Alessandra...you are an incredibly sexy woman. I would have shared your bed every night since our wedding but I didn’t want you mistaking good sex for real emotions.’

 ‘Why would you have thought that? Because I’m a woman and incapable of separating my emotions?’

 ‘No.’ It was the light and hope in her eyes when she’d looked at him at their wedding. It was the desolation he’d caught glimpses of these past few weeks.

 Alessandra rolled her eyes but there was a definite tremor in her voice. ‘And you wonder why I don’t want to sell my apartment? Where else am I supposed to go when our marriage falls apart?’

 ‘That is not going to happen. There is no reason for us to fall apart provided we stick to our original agreement.’

 ‘And what if our original agreement doesn’t suit me any more?’

 A cold chill swept up his spine.

 ‘This is my home,’ she continued. ‘You talk about wanting to leave a legacy for our child? Well, this place is my legacy. It’s the only thing that’s all mine, that I can leave. I’m not prepared to give it up for a man who can’t commit to a real marriage.’

 ‘We have a real marriage. Real to us. We both meant our vows.’

 ‘No, we do not. Our marriage is no more real than a winged unicorn.’

 ‘Where is all this coming from?’ he demanded. The thumping in his ribs no longer had any connection to desire or lust. Fear knotted in his guts but he knew not what the fear was of. ‘You knew the score from the start—it’s what we agreed on. It’s what we both wanted.’

 ‘But now I want something else. I want something more.’ Alessandra had seen the way Rocco and Olivia were together. If her brother could find love and be happy...

 She had found love too. The problem was she had found it with her husband.

 ‘More? What kind of more?’ He spoke as if it were a dirty word.

 ‘I want everything. I want a husband to sleep with every night, not just for sex but to curl up to. I want to wake up every morning and know that the man I love loves me in return and doesn’t regard me as a means to an end. I want it all.’

 Christian looked as if he’d been sucker-punched. ‘Have you met someone else—is that what all this is about?’

 ‘No.’ She stared at him, willing him to understand.

 She couldn’t hide any more. This was the point of no return. Time for her to lay her cards on the table and see where it took them, for good or ill. ‘There is only you.’

 She watched as his powerful body froze, the only movement coming from his blue eyes which darkened and pulsed, the look in them as if he were seeing her for the very first time.

 ‘Please, say something,’ she beseeched.

 ‘For the love of God—Alessandra, that is not what our marriage is about.’

 Her heart lurching so violently she feared she would be sick, she brushed past him, reached for the bottle of bourbon, poured a measure then thrust the glass into his hand.

 After he’d downed it and slammed the glass on the work surface, she stood before him and gazed right into his eyes. ‘Can you ever love me?’

 His face went so white it would have been comical had the situation not been so serious.

 ‘Neither of us believe in love. It’s what makes us so compatible.’

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