‘I’m not going to be there, Raul.’
‘Then we do this through lawyers. Text me the name of yours.’
He was done.
Raul was not going to stand there and plead.
His head was throbbing.
The events of today—Bastiano, the revelations about his mother, his father, if Gino had even been his father, and now the fact that he himself was going to be a father...
Hell, Raul wanted a drink.
He did not want to be standing in some draughty old castle, rowing with a woman he wanted—even after the way she had left—to have all over again.
Lydia turned him on.
And, titled or not, he turned her on too.
Raul could feel it.
This day might end not in bed but on the floor, two minutes from now.
But sex had got them into this hot mess and it was time for him to get out.
‘Lawyer up!’ he said, and turned and left.
He was leaving, Lydia knew.
Leaving their baby in the hands of lawyers.
She ran out and grabbed his arm.
‘I’ll talk to you.’
He looked down at her hand and shook it off, because even minimal contact he could not keep to for long.
‘Then go and pack,’ Raul told her. ‘If you’re not ready in five minutes we leave it to the professionals to sort out.’
She packed—though five minutes didn’t give her much time. Especially when she wasted two of them by sitting on her bed and wondering what she should do.
She could not bear to go back to Venice.
Yet Lydia knew she had to.
Somehow she had to get past the raw hurt and sort out the future of their child.
He had hurt her so deeply, though.
And he didn’t even know.
Just like the jagged wound that ran down Raul’s back, just like the savage scar on Bastiano’s cheek, her pain ran deep.
She had been used for revenge.
It was a wound that could never properly heal.
And yet Lydia knew she had to be adult and somehow work out terms with this difficult and complex man.
There was the baby to focus on, and she would not be weakened by his undeniably seductive charms. The sexual energy between them had unnerved her—Lydia was still aware of her palm where she had grabbed his arm.
But she dusted her hands together and brushed it off.
Worried that her mother might return and sell the statue, Lydia wrapped it in a thick jumper and packed it. Trying as she did so to not remember the night when it had been the two of them melded and heated. She swore she would not allow herself to lose her head to him again.
No, she would not weaken.
Lydia walked down the steps and he didn’t rush to relieve her of her case. Instead he stood impatient at the door.
‘Hold on,’ she said, and bent down. ‘I forgot to lock it.’
‘For God’s sake!’ he said, and went over and took it. ‘Come on.’
‘Raul...’ Lydia stalled. She wanted to make things very clear. ‘I’m going to Venice only to discuss the baby.’
‘What else would I be bringing you there for?’ he asked. ‘Lydia, you’ve had what you wanted from me in the bedroom department.’
‘I just want to make it perfectly clear. I don’t want—’
‘Lydia, let me stop you there,’ Raul interrupted her. ‘This isn’t about your wants—we’re going to be discussing our child.’
‘Well, let’s keep things civil.’
‘Civil?’ Raul checked. ‘I thought you didn’t consider me capable.’
‘I meant businesslike.’
‘That,’ Raul responded as they walked to the waiting helicopter, ‘I can clearly be.’
He might just as well have painted her gold and handed her a spade as he stalked ahead with her case.
And the last word was his.
‘But then, you knew that right from the start.’
THERE WAS NO worse place to be lonely than Venice.
And for Lydia that theory was proved again.
Loretta, his housekeeper, walked her along the lovely mirrored hallway, but instead of going straight ahead, Lydia was shown to the right.
She walked along another hallway and through to an apartment within his home. Loretta brought her dinner, and it was served at a polished table on beautiful china, but though her surroundings were gorgeous Lydia ate alone.
Raul, of course, ate out.
Naturally she didn’t sleep, and in the morning she spent ages trying to work out what to wear.
It wasn’t just that she had no idea what she should wear to a meeting to discuss their child’s future. Nothing was a comfortable fit.
Lydia had no choice but to settle for the taupe dress—the one with the buttons. Only now it strained across her breasts.
Instead of undoing a couple of buttons she put on a little cardigan.