It would have to do.

She loathed it that she had been pencilled in as some sixty-minute item on his to-do list.

And she certainly hadn’t expected an audience to be in attendance!

But as she walked into the drawing room Raul sat relaxed and chatting with a very beautiful woman.

‘This is Allegra,’ Raul told her. ‘My assistant.’

Lydia, with her hackles already up and perhaps a little too used to her mother’s handling of staff, gave Allegra a cursory nod and then ignored her.

Raul could see that Lydia was uncomfortable and he didn’t blame her for that.

He had resisted discussing this at her home and was aware that he had the advantage, so he moved to the first point on his list.

‘Would you be more comfortable in a hotel?’

‘I don’t intend to be staying very long,’ Lydia replied coolly. ‘The apartment is sufficient.’

Sufficient?

She had a six-room apartment within his home.

But Raul said nothing—just moved to the next point.

‘There is a property less than a mile from here that has come onto the market. Allegra has arranged a viewing for you at two today.’

‘Why would I need to see a property here?’ Lydia asked. ‘The baby will be raised in England.’

‘But I shall be seeing my baby regularly. I assume you will want to be close when I do? Especially at first.’

‘You assume correctly. However...’

But Raul had moved on.

‘Allegra is going to look into the hiring of a nanny. It would appear good ones need to be secured early.’


That was an easy one, and Lydia dismissed it with a shake of her head. ‘I shan’t be hiring a nanny.’

It really annoyed her when Allegra wrote something down, and then she asked Lydia a question in a rich Italian purr.

‘Will you want to sit in on the preliminary interviews, or would you prefer I do that and then we discuss the shortlist?’

‘I just said...’ Lydia was responding to Allegra as if she was speaking to a three-year-old with a hearing problem ‘...that I don’t require a nanny.’

‘We heard you the first time,’ Raul said. ‘But I need a nanny for the times when the baby is to be with me.’

Lydia, who had been glaring at Allegra, snapped her gaze back to Raul. ‘Could we speak alone, please?’

‘Of course.’

Allegra stood and walked out. Lydia sat with her back ramrod-straight and said nothing until the door behind her had closed.

Oh, but when it closed!

‘You’ve been busy.’


‘Yes,’ Raul agreed.

And as she sat there she gleaned the fact that while she’d been eating alone last night Raul had been out to dinner, with Allegra, discussing her baby’s future.

Of course he had.

Raul’s time was heavily in demand, and a lot of his day-to-day stuff was delegated.

‘Do you really think I have time to be wandering around looking at apartments for someone I spent a weekend with three months ago?’

Lydia opened her mouth to respond, but then closed it.

‘You wanted businesslike, and you have made it clear you don’t want to be in Venice for long, so I discussed things with my assistant...’

‘Over dinner,’ Lydia sneered. ‘Have you slept with her?’

Oh, she hated it that she’d asked that—she really did.

‘What the hell does that have to do with anything?’

And she hated his exasperated inevitable answer.

‘Yes, but that was ages ago.’

And then he asked Lydia again.

‘What the hell does that have to do with this?’

And she still couldn’t answer, because really it should have nothing to do with this—yet it did.

‘Lydia, I have a past—quite a colourful one. You really should choose your one-night stands more carefully.’

‘I just don’t like the fact...’

‘Go on,’ Raul said when she faltered, and he leant back in his chair to hear what she had to say.

‘I don’t like the fact that someone you’ve been intimate with is discussing my future and my baby.’

‘Our baby.’

‘Yes, but...’ She tried to get back to the nanny point, because she was starting to sound jealous.

Which she was.

And irrational.

Which she wasn’t.

Was she?

‘Lydia, Allegra is very happily married.’ He was annoyingly patient in his explanation. ‘In fact I’ve already told you that. If you really think she’s making bedroom eyes at me and we’re still at it, then that’s your issue. But we’re not. I don’t like cheats. Now, can we bring it back to business?’

‘It is a baby.’

‘Che cazzo!’ he cursed.

‘Don’t swear.’

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