Instantly she looked as distraught as if Luca had struck her. But his sympathy was in short supply right then. He really did want the truth. Even if it was painful. Was this woman he barely knew, yet who had caught him in her spell, even capable of giving it to him? She had no idea of what turmoil and—perversely—what bittersweet hope her news had produced inside him because of his own painful journey to this juncture in his life. Even as she had jumped up and run from the room Luca’s thoughts had inevitably gravitated to Sophia…to the tragic way she had lost her life…He had thought he couldn’t bear it if he learned that Katherine might be taken from him, too.

‘Whatever you believe, I’m not someone who sleeps around!’ she exclaimed now. ‘What happened between us was like a bolt out of the blue…a once- in-a-lifetime event! I may still have been upset about what had happened with my ex, but I swear to you I didn’t sleep with you on the rebound!’

‘And you truly believe the child you are carrying to be mine?’

‘I’m absolutely certain. It’s not something I would make up. I—I’m not angling for money or anything like that! I just thought I owed it to you to tell you what had happened after I left. I swear I have no ulterior motives!’

‘And yet you made little effort to contact me to tell me that you were pregnant? And even now it is not by design that you turn up in my office but, if I am to believe it, mere coincidence! What would have happened if you had not been given the assignment as my temporary PA? Answer me that! Exactly when were you planning to let me know of your condition, Katherine? When the child was born? When it was five, maybe ten years old?’

Luca walked abruptly away, then came slowly back again. He could not understand it! For Katherine not to have tried to contact him when she had first learned she was pregnant was enough to make him lose what little hold on patience and understanding he had left. Whatever her reasons for the unacceptable delay in getting in touch with him, this time Luca was going to make absolutely sure that she did not run away. Because, in spite of the fury and frustration he felt towards her right now, miraculously she had given him the one piece of news that he had for so long yearned to hear and had feared he never would… At last he was to become a father.

Still seated, and looking rather too pale again, Katherine touched her hand to her chest, as if to calm her racing heart. ‘I would have told you as soon as I had found out if I could have! But the friend I went to your party with moved to the States and I had no way of contacting her. I couldn’t remember the address of your mansion in Milan, and not knowing that you worked in London I didn’t even think of trying to look for you here! I swear I racked my brains to try and think how to reach you, Luca…I mean it! But it just wasn’t possible. Can’t you imagine what turmoil I was in when I found out I was pregnant? It was a genuine shock! I was still on the pill…but there were a couple of days in Milan when I was so upset about things that I must have forgotten to take it. When I realised what had happened, and the result of it, I was honestly stunned! But I’m determined to keep the baby…even if I have to raise him on my own! I wasn’t expecting you to support me even if I did manage to contact you. I was wary of seeing you again when we had only known each other for just a night. And there…there was always the possibility that you might not even remember me!’

Sucking in his breath, Luca inadvertently bit the inside of his cheek. Ignoring the sting of pain, he silently dismissed the ludicrous suggestion that he might have forgotten her. After such a night together? Impossible! Last night, watching Katherine win over everyone in the room with her beauty and grace, Luca had known—despite what he had told her when she’d first arrived in his office—that he most definitely did want a repeat performance of that magical night they’d shared in Milan! But for some reason, feeling the need to guard his heart after his confession about feeling lost that night, he had not been ready to allow things to proceed in that direction. Now he made himself focus on the other possibility Katherine had just mentioned. Raising the child on her own….

The thought absolutely affronted his profound sense of honour and duty, to do what was right—not to mention the fact that this child would be the sole heir to his family fortune, all that Luca possessed! There was no way—no way on God’s earth—that Katherine was going to raise this baby alone! If she thought that he was going to meekly stand aside after all the pain, devastation and bitter disappointment he had been through before he met her, and again after she had left, then he had to quickly and catagorically disabuse her of that idea!