‘Yes, you are pregnant,’ he acknowledged, with a flash of what appeared to be concern in his vivid blue eyes. ‘And I do not think it best for you or the baby for you to be putting yourself under the unnecessary duress of working full-time when you do not have to!’

‘Do you think I’m working just for the fun of it, then?’ Kate burst out, her ingrained sense of independence and self-sufficiency kicking in like a well-oiled machine that had never been given the chance to get rusty. ‘How else do you think I can earn the money to support myself?’

‘From now on I will be taking care of all that. If it is my child you carry in your womb, then it is only right and fair that as the father I support and look after you both! I will ring the agency, explain what is happening, then arrange for our flights to Milan tomorrow. I suggest we leave the office around five today and go back to my house in Mayfair. We will have something to eat together and then I will take you home so that you can pack for our trip.’

Having never had anyone say they would take care of things and look after her before, Kate silently acknowledged how appealing Luca’s declaration was. If more than a little scary! Could she trust that he would keep his promise when they got to Milan? That he wouldn’t regret it? Telling herself that he too was taking a massive leap of faith by trusting her enough to even suggest she return to Italy with him, Kate decided she would give his proposition a try.

‘All right, then.’ Folding her hands in her lap, she experienced at that moment an unusual sense of calm. It was as though by reaching a decision to fall in with his suggestion she was letting fate take control rather than try and fight it. Mainly because she was weary of fighting and weary of being afraid.

Luca quirked a dark eyebrow at her response, clearly surprised. ‘You agree?’

‘Yes, I agree.’

‘Katherine? It is after five o’clock and time we left.’ The demands of work had helped the afternoon pass surprisingly quickly, and thankfully had left Kate little time to brood over her decision to go to Italy. Now suddenly Luca was behind her, holding out her jacket so that she could slip her arms into it, and she was so flustered by his nearness that it took two tries before she was finally able to pull it on. As she turned to thank him, he completely astonished her by reaching out his hand and touching the tips of his fingers to her stomach.

‘You hardly show at all yet,’ he remarked, a disconcertingly husky catch in his voice.

Kate sucked in a breath, speech seeming to desert her. The faint brush of his fingers was enough to set her heart pounding and propel volcanic heat searing right through her core. Her need for him to touch her again became all-consuming, like a silent powerful mantra trembling in her blood. Touch me…please touch me.

‘I expect I’ll start to show a bit more any day now.’ Lifting her shoulders in a self-conscious shrug, Kate prayed that she’d been quick enough to draw a veil down over her longing so that Luca hadn’t seen it. What was it about this man that made her unravel? The compelling authority he wielded over her senses was like a powerful force of nature she’d never encountered before.

‘You look a little tired,’ he remarked, closely studying her features with concern, and registering the faint darkened circles beneath Katherine’s eyes with disagreeable shock. Regret radiated through Luca that he had not noticed her fatigue earlier. If he had been in any doubt about his decision to take her back to Italy so that she could get the rest she needed, all his doubts were suddenly and forcefully allayed.

Pregnancy took its toll on a woman’s body. Pregnant women tired more quickly and were prone to becoming emotional. Therefore, besides eating well and avoiding stress, rest was a key factor for the mother-to-be. That was one of the things Luca had learned from the many medical books he had avidly read in his and Sophia’s desperate quest to have a baby of their own. Tragically, pregnancy was not a condition that his wife had been destined to experience, so there had been no opportunity for him to lavish the care and attention on her that he would have loved to if their hopes had become a reality.

‘Come…let us see about getting you home.’

His hand now solicitously at the small of Katherine’s back, Luca led her from the office to his personal elevator just down the hall.

The under-floor heating that radiated from the exquisite parquet flooring deliciously warmed Kate’s stockinged feet as she carried her glass of fresh pomegranate juice across the room with her. In Luca’s modern, interior-designed living room, the most breathtaking collection of art—stunningly lit—decorated the muted tone walls.

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