Leandro tensed at that timely reminder and then breathed in deep. ‘On the night that we met I didn’t use condoms when we made love. Are you using any contraception?’

Molly stared at him, alarm bells jangling noisily inside her head in tune with startled shock waves of dismay and anger. ‘No,’ she admitted tightly. ‘But I assumed that you did.’

‘I’m afraid not, but I think it’s unlikely that you will conceive,’ Leandro admitted in a calm, dismissive tone of finality that only inflamed her temper more. ‘I assume you have no idea one way or the other as yet?’

‘You assume right and I’m glad to know that you’re not losing any sleep over the risks you took with my body and my future!’ Molly slung at him in furious attack. ‘But the risk of falling pregnant is not just something that I can shrug off and hope for the best about. How could you be so careless?’

His lean, strong face was unreadable, his brilliant dark eyes semi-screened by his luxuriant black fringe of lashes. ‘It took two of us to be careless,’ he reminded her drily.

Molly threw her head back abruptly as though he had slapped her. ‘You’re a lot more experienced than I am. I was in an unfamiliar situation and I just didn’t think of that angle-what’s your excuse?’

Leandro shot her a sardonic appraisal. ‘I don’t make excuses. I made an oversight for which I apologise. If there’s a problem, we’ll face it together and I will give you my full support, but I seriously doubt that that necessity will arise.’

Molly wondered angrily why he was so infuriatingly confident that there would not be consequences. Did he lead a charmed life in which nothing ever went badly wrong for him? He had made love to her three times. Didn’t he appreciate that she was young and fertile?

‘I do not want to be pregnant!’ she told him vehemently. ‘In fact the very idea of it terrifies me-’

‘This is my problem as well,’ Leandro cut in forcefully.

‘But I can’t dismiss it as easily as you appear to. Maybe because I know that the world is not a forgiving place for a child who is born against other people’s wishes, a child whose very existence may cause offence-’

His ebony brows had pleated in a bemused frown as she became increasingly emotional. ‘Qué demonios? What are you trying to say to me?’

‘I’m illegitimate and the result of my mother’s affair with someone else’s husband,’ Molly spelt out grittily, her slim hands tightening into taut fists of constraint by her sides. ‘My mother died when I was nine and my grandmother took charge of my older half-sister and me. My sister was born within a marriage. My grandmother handed me over to social services for adoption because, as far as she was concerned, I was an embarrassment who should never have been born.’

Leandro was more unsettled than he was prepared to admit by that sad little tale. He knew that births had been concealed and most probably worse had happened in his own family’s history over the centuries. He also knew that even in today’s more liberal society, respectability and other people’s opinions still remained his mother’s most pressing concern. She kept his younger sister, Julieta, on a tight social leash, fearful that too much freedom would lead to embarrassing media headlines.

‘I’m sorry that you had that experience-’

‘Talk’s cheap!’ Molly sizzled back at him. ‘But I don’t want any child of mine to suffer that kind of rejection.’

‘There won’t be a child. Let’s tackle trouble if it comes, not look for it in advance,’ Leandro advised drily.

‘But what are you going to do if I am pregnant?’ Molly spun away, her voice shrill with her angry distress, for she knew that the fragile foundations of her security would be utterly destroyed by the advent of single parenthood. She worked unsocial hours in a casual job without prospects. There was no room for childcare in her tight budget, no supportive family circle to help out and she knew all too well how hard it was to raise children alone, for hadn’t her birth mother failed dismally at the same task?

‘We’ll tackle that when and if it happens. Are you always such a pessimist?’ Leandro enquired with silken derision, exasperated by her angry attack over the risk of something that he was convinced was unlikely to happen. ‘Such a tragedy-queen?’

A furious flush lit Molly’s cheeks at that crack and she stepped forward. ‘How dare you?’ she snapped. ‘This is my life we’re talking about in the balance, not yours. So I want to know where I stand. Why shouldn’t I? I’m pretty sure that the best you’ll offer me in a tight corner will be the cash for a termination!’

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