Alessio stared down at her with fiercely narrowed eyes, a stark frown of bewilderment drawing his level black brows together. ‘What are you trying to say?’
‘I have a daughter of thirteen...your daughter,’ she delivered with unconscious stress as she took an automatic step back from him.
‘That’s impossible.’ The faintest tremor lent an uneven quality to Alessio’s usually level diction and his accent had thickened. ‘You had a miscarriage.’
‘She was born three months after I left Italy. I was kept in hospital right up until her birth...in case I lost her too. She was a couple of weeks premature. You see, I wasn’t quite as pregnant as everyone assumed I was,’ Daisy muttered awkwardly in the thundering silence of Alessio’s total disbelief. ‘The doctor in Rome got the delivery date wrong because when he first saw me I was bigger than he thought I should be, but that was because I was carrying twins.’
‘You had a miscarriage,’ Alessio delivered in stubborn repetition. ‘And if at some subsequent stage you did give birth to a baby which was premature it could not possibly have been mine—’
‘Tara was born in April.’ Daisy’s lips compressed tremulously.
If Alessio had been capable of rational thought, his intelligence would have told him that given the time period concerned there was no way on earth that the child could be anything other than his. But then Alessio was not reasoning out anything right now. Alessio was at a standstill, blocked from moving on by the barrier of what he had believed to be concrete fact for thirteen years.
‘You lost the baby,’ he said, his rich drawl oddly attentuated and unevenly pitched.
Daisy couldn’t stop staring at him. His strong bone structure was fiercely prominent below his golden skin. He was alarmingly pale. His astute eyes were curiously dark and unfocused.
‘I didn’t lose Tara...I lost her twin,’ Daisy whispered shakily, her eyes aching. ‘But when I left Rome I didn’t know that. What I did know was that you didn’t want me or the baby, and once the baby was no longer on the way there was no reason for us to stay married. You couldn’t wait to get rid of me. You couldn’t even bring yourself to come and commiserate at the hospital because naturally you couldn’t help being relieved that it was all over—’
‘Madre di Dio...’ Alessio breathed unsteadily, his lean hands suddenly clenching into powerful fists.
‘And I don’t blame you for that...not really,’ Daisy admitted with innate honesty, her voice taut with the force of her own turbulent emotions. ‘But I had had enough and the last thing I could have faced was breaking back into all your lives when you thought you were finally free of me and saying, Guess what? I’m still pregnant! It was easier to let you go on thinking that that was over, finished and done with, the way you all wanted it to be. So I really didn’t want to have to come here this morning and spoil your day—’
‘Spoil my day?’ Alessio enunciated with visible difficulty.
Daisy stooped almost clumsily and dropped the certificate and the small photo on the low glass table between them. ‘I would never have told you if it had been left solely up to me,’ she revealed in a jerky undertone as she began backing away towards the door, her anxious violet gaze nailed to his low shimmering golden eyes. ‘I know you’re shocked and angry and undoubtedly thinking that you must have been cursed the night you first met me but please try to think of all this from Tara’s point of view. She would like to meet you. She’s not going to make a nuisance of herself or anything like that but she’s curious—’
‘Where the bloody hell do you think you’re going?’ In a sudden movement, Alessio sprang out of his statuelike stillness and strode after her.
‘I’ve said all I’ve got to say for now!’ Daisy confessed, and speeded up in her path to the door, wrenching it open when she got there and not bothering to look over her shoulder as she walked very fast down the corridor. She hit the call button on the lift and then looked.
‘Dio! Get back here right now!’ Alessio launched at her in a rage, from a distance of twenty feet.