‘The ring you were looking at before?’

Raul nodded and got into bed, patted the space beside him for her to lie down with him.


‘Hasn’t he had enough from you?’ Lydia asked as she climbed in. She really could not fathom his mother leaving half her legacy to a very young lover rather than leaving it all to her only son.

‘It was a ring that he gave to her, apparently.’

‘Oh.’

‘He wanted it back in return for your address. I think it might have belonged to his mother. He’s an orphan.’ He made himself say it. ‘He wasn’t my mother’s first affair.’

‘How do you know?’

‘Because I had been lying to my father to save her since I was a small child.’

And he had been lying to himself to save her memory since she’d died.

‘Bastiano was just seventeen—half her age. Back then I thought we were men, and I hated him as such, but now...’

It felt very different, looking back.

‘We were good friends growing up.’

‘Could you be again?’

Raul was about to give a derisive laugh, but then he thought for a moment. ‘I don’t know...’

And it was nice to lie in bed talking with another person, rather than trying to make sense of things by himself.

‘I think that my mother had problems for a very long time. Perhaps even before she was married. I don’t even know if I’m my father’s son.’

‘Does it matter?’

‘I think it did to him.’


‘Is that why he beat you?’

He had never told her that Gino had given him those scars on his back, but it was clear now and Raul nodded.

And when he examined those times without hate and with her by his side things were easier to see.

His hand was on her stomach, and he could feel the little bump. It was starting to sink in properly that he would be a father.

She felt his hand there and wondered at his thoughts. ‘I’m not a gold-digger, Raul.’

‘I know. I had to put that statue in your case, remember?’ He had gone over and over that time.

‘I don’t think I took the Pill every day, even though my mother had insisted I should be on it. I had no intention of sleeping with Bastiano, and maybe I should have known I wasn’t covered. I didn’t think.’

‘Lydia, you could have been wearing a chastity belt that night and I’d have rung for wire cutters. I could have insisted we use a condom. Have you told your mother about the baby?’ he added.

‘No.’


‘When will you?’

‘When I’m ready to.’

‘I’m glad you told me first,’ Raul said.

‘She was a mess when I got back. I think losing my father finally caught up with her. She kicked Maurice out. She’s staying at her sister’s now. She’s agreed the castle should go on the market.’

‘Lydia. I’ll look after your mother, but not him.’

Maurice he could never forgive.

Lydia lay in his arms and gave a soft laugh at the way he’d spoken of Maurice, but then she thought about what he’d just said about her mother.

‘You don’t have to do that.’

‘Of course I do.’

‘No, Raul, you don’t.’

‘We’re going to be a family, Lydia. Marry me?’

She lay silent. She could feel his hand on her stomach and put her hand over his. Lydia knew how she felt about Raul. But she also meant what she’d said—a baby wouldn’t save them.

‘You don’t even like children.’

‘No, I don’t,’ Raul agreed. ‘I’ll like ours, though. Please believe that I’m not asking you to marry me because of the baby.’

‘I know that.’

She almost did.

But by his own admission Raul was a manipulative liar, and there was still the tiniest niggle that he was simply saying the right things to appease her.

But then she thought of his look of horror when she had exposed him. So unlike Arabella, who hadn’t even flinched at being caught.

He seemed so loath to hurt her.

She was scared, though, to believe.

And as her mind flicked around, trying to find fault with this love, Raul lay sinking into his first glimpse of peace.

That feeling—not quite foreboding, but almost—was fading. His constant wondering as to how she was had been answered. He thought of that first surge of jealousy when he’d thought that she and Bastiano might be lovers.

And now they lay there together and he looked at her. ‘Were you jealous at the thought of Allegra and me?’

‘Of course I was.’

‘Are you now?’

‘No.’ She shook her head.

‘She really was looking for you for weeks. And,’ he added, ‘I’ve just found out she’s pregnant too.’

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