‘Molly…what’s your answer?’ Leandro pressed.
Molly was all flustered. ‘I need time to think-’
‘But we haven’t got time. What do you have to think about?’ Leandro demanded imperiously.
‘That you even ask that question reveals the depth of your arrogance,’ Molly murmured tautly.
Dark eyes cold as ice, his fabulous bone structure hardened. ‘I won’t accept a negative response, querida. If you won’t marry me, I’ll be forced to fight you in court for custody of our child.’
The speed with which he resorted to that threat shocked Molly. Aware that he was watching her every move like a hawk, she backed away from him. ‘Are you trying to intimidate me?’
‘No. I’m telling you the truth. I’m telling you what will happen if you don’t marry me. Do you expect me to lie?’ Leandro raked back at her drily. ‘You need all the facts before you can make a sensible decision.’
‘You would actually try to take my baby away from me?’ Molly was appalled by that threat that sunk like a deep chill into her bones.
Leandro closed a confident hand round her wrist to prevent her from retreating further. ‘I think you’re too sensible to go to the wall on this. I believe you’ll reach the right decision for all of us.’
But his ruthlessness shook her rigid. She was as un-prepared for it as she had been for the mistress proposition he had put to her two weeks earlier. Suddenly she was appreciating how misleading his cool façade and exquisite manners were. Below the skin, Leandro was every bit as aggressive, dominant and cruel in his instincts as a street fighter protecting his territory.
‘I’d like to go home now,’ she told him flatly.
‘In the morning we’ll have your pregnancy confirmed and you’ll give me an answer. But first,’ Leandro breathed, pulling her to him.
Molly meant to resist and imitate a wax dummy in his arms but the hot hard hunger of his sensual mouth and the erotic plunge of his tongue sent wanton excitement roaring through her in a relentless tidal wave. She clutched at his jacket to steady herself. She was out of breath and her knees were wobbling and a forbidden ache of emptiness was stirring between her slender thighs.
‘You don’t want to go home, querida,’ Leandro murmured silkily.
Molly wanted to either slap him or scream at him, but knew that either response would merely make her look childish and out of control. He watched her with smouldering dark eyes and, although every treacherous fibre of her being urged her to fling herself back into his arms, she withstood the temptation. Unfortunately the thought of another night in bed with him banished all coherent thought and conscience and made her hate herself. Winning that mental battle with herself still felt like losing because he was right on one score: she didn’t want to leave him.
Jez intercepted her in the hall when she walked through the front door. ‘Well?’
‘Leandro asked me to marry him.’
Jez was visibly taken aback.
Molly registered that she was secretly pleased that Leandro had contrived to confound her friend’s expectations. ‘I said I’d give him my answer tomorrow.’
Jez grimaced. ‘You’re infatuated with him. You’re hardly going to say no.’
Molly flung her head high. ‘He’s the father of my baby. Shouldn’t I at least give him a chance?’
She couldn’t get to sleep that night. Was she infatuated with Leandro Carrera Marquez? She supposed she was, because from the hour of their meeting she hadn’t been able to get him out of her head for longer than five minutes. Lying there, she relived the fiery heat of his mouth on hers and discovered that it only made her long for a more intimate connection. Ashamed of her craving for his touch, she buried her face in the pillow. He had threatened her with a custody battle. He had made it very clear that he wanted the child she carried, whether it was born in or out of marriage, and shouldn’t she respect him for that? She did not want to raise her child alone. She could not offer her baby the security, comfort or advantages that marriage to Leandro would bring. How could she possibly say no to him?
And yet to marry a man she hardly knew and move to another country, another culture, when she did not even speak the language would also be a great challenge. It certainly wouldn’t be the easy option, she recognized heavily. In addition, she would be a second wife and she wasn’t entirely sure that she fancied that role, of filling a position previously held by a predecessor. He had said comparisons were tasteless, but did that simply mean that she could not compare on any level to his first bride? Or was she being paranoid? Paranoid, Molly decided for herself. In truth she didn’t want Leandro to have ever been with another woman, much less have cared enough to marry one.