‘Why didn’t you speak to me sooner about how you felt?’ Leandro prompted grimly. ‘Didn’t it occur to you that the day I believed you had spent the night with a lover was not the right moment to tackle me about my deficiencies as a husband?’

‘No. As I hadn’t been with a lover, that angle didn’t occur to me,’ Molly conceded.

‘I had spent the whole night worrying about you. Again, it’s all my own fault,’ he framed in a harsh undertone. ‘Your brother, Nikolai, left me in no doubt of that. Had you had bodyguards the paparazzi would never have got near you and I would have known where you were that night.’

‘I don’t need bodyguards. Nikolai is extremely security conscious.’

Leandro reached for her hands, which she was unconsciously wringing, and closed them firmly into his. Determined dark golden eyes locked with her anxious gaze. ‘I am not detached from you, nor do I wish to be. I want you back, mi corazón. I would have told you that a week ago, had your brother been willing to tell me where you were.’

Molly tensed, hope and doubt warring inside her in a death-defying tussle of seething conflict. ‘I’m sure you mean well, but marriage for me has to be about more than you doing the right thing for the woman carrying your child. I would never try to shut you out of our baby’s life.’

His grip on her hands was almost painfully tight. ‘How do I convince you that it will be different? This is not about doing the right thing. I’m asking you to give me the chance to prove how much I value your presence in my life.’

Tears were burning her eyes. This was the guy she loved, the guy she missed every hour of the day, and once again he was offering her what she craved, only this time around she was less naive. ‘But the point is that you didn’t value me when I was there. You didn’t even come home for dinner at night. You didn’t phone me. You didn’t look for me or show the smallest sign that you missed me when you were away from me.’

Leandro was pale as death beneath his bronzed complexion and his handsome bone structure was rigid with ferocious tension. ‘I have never found it easy to show my feelings. I would not allow myself to need you too much. I saw that as a weakness and I do not like to be in anything other than full control.’

‘Whereas I let everything show, and say and do what I feel like. We’re a very bad match, Leandro. I was lonely and unhappy with you and I don’t want to go back to that,’ she confided jerkily, fighting off temptation with all her strength because she refused to end up back where she had started. ‘Now that the break has been made, it should get easier for us both.’

‘I don’t like my life without you in it!’ Leandro launched at her rawly in the roughest tone she had ever heard from him.

‘I think you should go,’ Molly pronounced tightly.

‘I can’t walk away from you and my child!’ he bit out in a driven undertone.

‘You have to, if that’s what she wants,’ another male voice interposed from the doorway.

Molly turned her head to see her adoptive half-brothers poised just inside the room, neither of them looking particularly welcoming. ‘Nikolai-stay out of this, please!’

Fierce aggression powered through Leandro’s powerful frame when he recognised the level of family opposition in the two men’s faces. ‘Are you with Nikolai on this, Lysander?’ he asked grimly.

‘No, I don’t believe in interfering in other people’s marriages,’ the tall handsome Greek breathed with measured calm. ‘But if you cause my sister any more grief, I’ll rip you apart!’

The Russian tycoon studied Leandro with cold hostility. ‘Molly has us now. She doesn’t need anyone else.’

‘Let’s allow Molly to make that decision,’ Leandro countered, striding to the door and looking back at Molly to say, ‘You know where I’m staying.’

Molly swallowed the lump in her throat and nodded. Every fibre of her being urged her to chase after him and stop him from leaving her. It took every ounce of her self-discipline to let him go without a murmur. She told herself that she had made the wisest decision. She didn’t want to be the second-best wife of a man who didn’t love her. She didn’t want to spend her life saving face by hiding her love for him. She wanted to be brave and independent: she had to learn how to get by without him.

Nikolai patted her taut shoulder as the front door closed on Leandro’s departure. ‘You made the right decision.’

‘Only if it’s what Molly really wants,’ Lysander interposed seriously, shooting her pale face an unconvinced appraisal.

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