‘I did not make the comparison glibly, and I am certainly not mocking you! I meant every word,’ he insisted.

Of course he did! Kate cynically reflected. Men would say anything to get a woman into bed. Some men were even prepared to fake being in love to get what they wanted! And even then one willing woman wasn’t enough! Recalling with dismay that Luca had not been at all shocked by the revelation that Kate’s ex-boyfriend had had another lover, she now found herself desperately needing to know if he had one. Was she being totally naïve in hoping that he did not? He had claimed that he was unattached, but—being intimately acquainted with his passionate nature—it did not strike Kate that he was a man who would happily go without a woman in his bed for long. How would she handle the news of a lover when her attraction for him had grown into a ceaseless yearning she could barely contain? And in the not too distant future she was going to give birth to his baby. Was she destined to be always on the periphery of some man’s life and not at the centre, as she so desired?

‘Katherine?’

‘Let’s talk about something else, shall we?’ Affecting a careless shrug, Kate suddenly found she needed some breathing space. Moving across the room, she went to sit down on one of the sumptuous leather sofas by a ravishing Persian rug containing all the sensuous exotic colours of a Marrakesh bazaar in its hand-woven threads.

‘Tell me what is troubling you.’

It shouldn’t have surprised her that Luca would notice her unease, but somehow it did. In her limited experience of men, Kate had discovered most of them gave the discussion of personal issues a very wide berth. But apparently Luca was not one of those men.

Now he dropped down easily onto the sofa opposite hers, with a sensual loose-limbed elegance that transfixed her. It would have been so easy to just sit there, paying silent homage to the kind of heaven-sent looks a woman conjured up in her dreams, but Kate was suddenly in no mood to be so easily distracted. She might have agreed to go to Italy for a while with Luca, but a holiday together was no guarantee of a shared future, and suddenly she found herself feeling quite desolate about that. She had personal knowledge of how tough it could be as the child of a single parent, and her dreams of having children had always included the father being permanently in the picture.

Placing her half-finished glass of juice on the stylishly designed coffee table by her side, Kate tucked one slender leg beneath her and faced Luca with an unwavering stare. ‘I need to know what will happen after I’ve had the baby. You indicated before that you wanted to help raise the child, and I need to know what arrangements we’re going to come to if that’s the case. I can’t spend the next six months in limbo!’

‘I agree. And if the baby is indeed mine then I am only too anxious to put some firm arrangements in place too.’

The equivalent of a large cold stone seemed to sink inside Kate’s stomach. He still didn’t believe that the baby she was expecting was his. Misery filled her. How could she bear to wait until a paternity test could be done to prove to him she was telling the truth? Underlying her frustration was a growing sense of anger at not being believed.

‘I don’t know what I can tell you to convince you that what I’m saying is true. You seem determined to prove me a liar!’ In an unguarded moment Kate let the despair and strain of the past few months creep into her voice. Months when she had berated herself regularly for not leaving Luca a forwarding address or a number that morning in Milan.

When she saw Luca rise up from his seat and move towards her, she really did not know what to expect. Suddenly she found herself staring fixedly down at his undeniably sexy tanned bare feet, with tears swimming hotly into her eyes. Taking her hands in his, Luca silently coaxed her into standing.

‘I do not want to distress you further, but trust has to be built, cara mia, and a man like me has perhaps more to lose than you realize, hmm?’

‘You were the one that insisted you wanted to support this baby when I told you I was pregnant! It’s not as though I’m hanging around hoping for a relationship or anything! That’s the very last thing I need after what happened to me!’

‘But, putting aside the baby, and the fact that you do not want a relationship,’ Luca breathed throatily, smoothing some soft dark strands of hair away from where they fell against her cheek and then doing the same with her tears, ‘what about this irresistible force that keeps on drawing us together? What do you want to do about that, Katherine? Ignore it?’

CHAPTER SIX

H OW could she ignore her own passionate nature? Kate had always sensed it was there, lurking beneath the prison of clothes and conformity, but since that night with Luca in Milan this ache beyond all aches had nagged away at her, until she was afraid she could not turn her back on its call one more second. And it would no longer allow her any peace when this man was near.

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