Molly could feel herself going out of control very fast. It was as if all the nervous constraints of the day were suddenly being torn from her and every craving were being channelled into one piercing need. She wanted him, she really, really wanted him with an intensity she couldn’t hide. His exploration of the slick pink cleft at the heart of her drove her insane with delight.

‘You feel like hot silk, gatita,’ Leandro growled, tipping her leg back to rise over her, impatient to ease the painful ache of his arousal.

He sank into her willing body and she loosed a wanton moan of pleasure. Her excitement climbed with every powerful thrust. The raw pulse of hunger throbbing through her responsive flesh, she arched up to take him deeper. A wild cry of satisfaction escaped her as orgasm took her to the dizzy heights of intolerable pleasure and dropped her back down to mortal earth again.

‘Did I live up to your expectations, querida?’ Leandro asked teasingly, skimming long brown fingers through her mane of hair where it lay across the pillows, his attention welded to her hectically flushed smiling face. ‘You surpassed them,’ Molly whispered truthfully, her arms wrapping round his lean. strong frame.

Dimly she grasped that at such moments Leandro felt very much as if he was hers and she felt infinitely more close to him. Sex as a substitute for love, well, why not? she asked herself irritably. It was surely a lot safer than signing up for the kind of love slavery that had wrecked her natural mother, Cathy’s ability to be content. She could be happy. She would be happy. A man who had married her for the sake of their child took marriage seriously and would make every effort to help her adjust to her new life.

But when Molly wakened the next day in an empty bed and fled at speed across the bedroom to check the room next door, she was no longer quite so confident. Leandro had already left. Yet it was the weekend. Couldn’t he have taken time off to be with her for even one day? Or was she expecting too much? What was he telling her about his priorities? And her level of importance in his life…?

CHAPTER EIGHT

MOLLY glanced out the open doors of her studio when she heard a car enter the courtyard. It was Julieta, who came home from Seville on Fridays to see Fernando, who lived on the estate. She always parked her car in the courtyard well away from his house in the hope of defeating the gossips. Molly looked away again, minding her own business, but wishing she didn’t know as much as she did about the relationship. Common sense told her that Leandro would be outraged that his sister was involved in so blatant an affair with his employee.

Preferring not to dwell on a situation that was outside her control, Molly studied the shelves of gleaming pottery against the opposite wall with a warm sense of accomplishment. She had been experimenting with a new glaze and a wood-fired kiln and was delighted with the results. In the months that had elapsed since her marriage, she had worked hard. Fernando Santos had given her very useful assistance when she had decided to set up a small pottery in the old farmyard. Her kiln was housed next door in a fire-proofed shed and organising a proper studio had been the natural next step. She gazed out the glass doors at the orchards and the blue, blue sky above. She had a wonderful working environment and plenty of free time to devote to her potter’s art. So why wasn’t she happy?

She could see her reflection in the glass doors and even the large heavy-duty apron she wore could not conceal her new fecund shape. Her boyish slenderness had vanished as her pregnancy advanced. She was six months along now and her pregnant tummy was a firm and protuberant little mound and even her breasts had expanded enough to make her feel top-heavy. She had worried that as her waist ebbed Leandro would find her less attractive. But that had proved a needless concern. Leandro had embraced every change in her body with masculine enthusiasm.

Yes, indeed, Molly reflected wryly. In fact in the sex department her every want was more than satisfied. No complaints there. Leandro slept with her every night and he was a very lusty guy. But somewhere along the line, maybe when she woke up alone or spent yet another solitary evening while he worked late or travelled abroad, the sizzling passion that she shared with her husband had begun to remind her more of what they didn’t have than what they did. She had wardrobes full of designer clothes and a fantastic collection of jewellery. When he remembered her existence Leandro bought her beautiful gifts like the platinum watch on her wrist or the array of perfumes from which she now had to choose.

Unhappily, she was convinced that, while Leandro was rarely out of her thoughts, Leandro himself didn’t remember his wife’s existence very often. It would never occur to him to phone her when he was away from her. He would never confide his deepest thoughts in her, nor would he even answer her curious questions about Aloise. Indeed he had labelled her curiosity about his first wife ‘unhealthy’ and had ensured that she was very reluctant to raise the topic again.

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