Realising she had done exactly that, Kate said nothing.

‘You crushed your biscuits,’ he observed, frowning, staring at the forlorn packet on the floor. ‘Let me ring Catering and ask them to bring you something to eat. I do not want you passing out from lack of nourishment! You are having a baby and you need to take care of yourself.’

A jolt of surprise zigzagged through Kate’s insides at his words. That last sentence had sounded gruff, yet strangely tender too. She told herself she was probably just imagining it. Hormones making her overly emotional and all that…

‘Please don’t bother. I don’t want anything to eat right now.’

‘You are sure?’

‘I’ll eat something decent at lunch.’

‘Well…in that case I think I will go out for a while,’ he announced, his gaze restless. ‘You will be all right?’

‘What do you mean?’

‘I mean…you will not be ill again?’

Kate flushed. ‘No. I’ll be fine, I’m sure. The sickness comes and goes, and thankfully it doesn’t last all day.’

‘Good. Then please take messages for me and tell whoever calls that I will get back to them as soon as I can.’

‘Okay.’

Unconsciously rubbing her arm where Luca’s steel-like grip had bitten into her, she glanced up to find him staring down at her with such a look of near-desolation in his troubled gaze that her foolish heart turned over in her chest and made her ache to go to him. There was so much about this man that she didn’t know, and yet that night he had made love to her the connection between them had been almost beyond words. Was there no chance of making that connection again? Last night, when he had admitted that he had been feeling lost too at his party in Milan, Kate’s heart had soared with sudden delirious hope. But then, when Luca had suggested that it was time for her to go home, that hope had been dashed.

‘I will see you later.’ Tearing his eyes away from her, he strode to the door and went out.

With the brisk March wind gusting round his ankles and cutting into his face, Luca pounded the London pavements that led to a nearby park with a steely-eyed grimace that would have put the fear of God into even the bravest soul, should one have been foolhardy enough to confront him. There was much to preoccupy his mind as he walked.

Katherine turning up in his office had been shock enough, but then to learn that she was pregnant! Was the baby really his? The fast pace he had set himself momentarily slowed as the twin swords of fear and doubt pierced his chest. He so wanted to believe her, yet he did not want to be made a fool of and accept her word for it without question…at least not until a paternity test could be done. And, despite her threat to walk away if Luca got too dictatorial about the baby’s future, he had to find out for himself if there was a possibility that she was trying to blackmail him in some way. He was an extremely wealthy man, and there was certainly enough information in the public domain about him and the illustrious firm of architects he had founded for anyone daring or cunning enough to seize a chance to extricate money from him in some way.

What if Katherine had not broken up with this ‘despicable’ fiancé of hers after all? What if they had concocted some scheme together after she had slept with Luca, to persuade him to financially support a child that wasn’t even really his? The mere idea made him sick to his stomach.

Pushing the thought angrily away, he spied an empty park bench under a spreading oak and walked across the grass to sit there. Dropping his head into his hands, he considered the other real possibility that what Katherine had told him was true and that the baby she was expecting was his.

How ironic and bittersweet that this should happen after just one night with another woman when he and Sophia had tried for three long years to have a child. His wife had endured many uncomfortable and sometimes painful investigations in order to try and discover why she could not conceive, and Luca himself had also voluntarily undergone tests. It had turned out that there was no reason he could not father a child with someone else, but for some reason Sophia’s ovaries had not developed properly and there was no possibility of her ever becoming pregnant. She had been devastated. Luca’s suggestion that they adopt had not eased her grief at the knowledge that she would never bear a child naturally, and a few weeks after the doctor’s findings—when they had been holidaying with friends on their yacht—she had to all intents and purposes thrown herself overboard and drowned.

Had Luca’s own strong desire for fatherhood added to Sophia’s distress that she could not bear her husband a child? He had tried to reassure her that it did not matter, that they could still have a good life together, but she had not been convinced and their marriage had gone downhill fast after that. There had just been no reaching her…

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