Surprised that Leandro had been watching her that closely, Molly explained her need for a place to house a kiln.

‘Why on earth didn’t you ask me to deal with that?’ he demanded.

‘I didn’t want to bother you and…I like doing things for myself,’ Molly admitted.

‘Possibly I’m going out on a limb here,’ Leandro breathed tautly, ‘but right now when you’re pregnant doesn’t seem the wisest time to be messing around with kilns and clay-’

‘Don’t be silly!’ Molly snapped, furious at that suggestion. ‘It’s not heavy work-’

‘I’m not artistic, but neither am I stupid.’ Leandro’s expressive mouth compressed. ‘Loading and unloading a kiln must be arduous-however, if you were prepared to have one of the estate workers helping you with the more demanding tasks, I would have no objection.’

‘Okay,’ Molly conceded to that arrangement with reluctance as he laid her down on the bed and took off her shoes for her. ‘But I need my own corner to work in. Will your family mind me being a potter?’

Leandro paused at the door. ‘It’s none of their business.’

Some of Molly’s tension ebbed at that reassuringly independent response. ‘Your mother and eldest sister don’t like me.’

‘Give them the time to get to know you,’ Leandro advised. ‘You don’t have much experience of how families operate, do you?’

Molly stiffened defensively. ‘I lived in a family for the first nine years of my life-before my mother died and my grandmother gave me up for adoption,’ she explained when he frowned in surprise. ‘There was me, my mother and my older sister…except my sister was more like my mother because she’s the only person I can remember looking after me when I was very young-’

‘I forgot that you had a sister. Where is she now?’

‘I don’t know. I sort of closed the door on that bit of my life and I’m not sure I would want to open it again,’ she confided, thinking of the hurt she still felt at that rejection and the wrenching sense of loss she had suffered for years afterwards.

‘I’ll call your maid to help you get ready for bed,’ Leandro murmured.

‘You’re sleeping here tonight,’ Molly reminded him and then flushed to the roots of her hair at her nerve in making that reminder.

Leandro had come to a sudden halt. He looked back at her with brilliant dark heavily lashed eyes that made her heart thump and a slow, sensual smile curved his handsome mouth. Her desire for him never failed to excite him. He would be responsible, though, he told himself equally forcefully; he would check that angle out with the doctor first. He needed to take better care of her. It galled him that she should have gone to Fernando Santos for help sooner than ask her husband for it.

Molly dozed off soon after she got into bed and wakened only when Leandro came into the room. ‘It’s all right-I’m awake,’ she announced when she registered that he was trying to move around quietly.

Leandro studied her in the lamplight. Her black curls fell in a dense cloud round her narrow shoulders, framing her piquant face and vivid green eyes. His desire was instantaneous and just an upgrade of the simmering need that had purred in the background of his awareness all day. No matter where he was or what he was doing, he stayed hot and hungry for her.

Molly watched him undress. Indeed she luxuriated in that intimacy and hoped that the separate-bedroom concept of living would now die a natural death, for it would not be easy for them to enjoy private moments as a couple in a household so filled with other people. Yet more than anything else they needed that time and privacy. The love of his life; oh, how those words were set to haunt her and disrupt her peace! But when she saw Leandro in all his naked bronzed magnificence, her thoughts became far more primitive. He had a professional athlete’s hard, sculpted contours of power and rippling muscle. The bold jut of his erect sex induced a melting liquid sensation low in her pelvis.

‘You want me, querida,’ Leandro husked, settling hot golden eyes of appreciation on her and coming down on the bed beside her.

‘Yes…’ Her soft pink lips parted on a whisper of sound because her heart was thumping like an express train at full tilt and she could hardly breathe for anticipation.

He took her hand and encouraged her to touch him and the hammer of her heartbeat only got louder when she stroked his rigid shaft. Moist heat blossomed in answer between her thighs. He drove her lips apart with hungry urgency and she fell back against the pillows while he extracted her from her nightdress. The plunge of his tongue made her shiver convulsively. He explored the soft, firm swell of her breasts and tugged on the tender pink crests until she was moaning and shifting her hips up to him.