The silence seemed to thunder in her sensitive ears.

‘No,’ Leandro breathed curtly. ‘We were both miserable.’

And with that stunning response he might as well have gagged Molly. She was so shocked that she could think of nothing else to say. Her gaze locked to his tight profile and the moment was lost as he lifted their cases to take them indoors. In a handful of words, he had blown away her conviction that their relationship came a poor second to his first marital excursion. Suddenly she was on unfamiliar ground and wondering how to be subtle and tactful, rather than shamelessly eager to hear every wretched detail that had contributed to that mutual misery.

Yet how could she have been so blind to the obvious? Was it surprising that the guy who didn’t like weddings had good reason for his prejudice? People were more likely to talk about happy memories, but Leandro never voluntarily mentioned Aloise’s name and only now was she realising what had lain hidden behind that silence.

‘What were Nikolai’s last words to you today?’ Leandro asked, startling her out of her reverie.

‘Abbey wished us well!’ Molly ducked the issue to tell him brightly. ‘Nikolai just hasn’t had the chance to get to know you yet and you met under the wrong circumstances.’

‘But what did he say?’ Leandro persisted.

‘That if I can’t be myself with you, it’ll never work,’ she divulged in an apprehensive rush.

A grim smile shadowed his wide sensual mouth. ‘He’s shrewd.’

‘But so are you.’ And gorgeous and clever and the man I love, Molly added inside her head.

‘I thought I was until you took off your wedding ring,’ Leandro confided in a dark, deep, abrasive drawl that shimmied down her spine like a burst of electrical energy on a still day.

Molly focused on his lean darkly handsome features, her heart buzzing like a battery-driven toy inside her chest. She had feared that she might never be so close to him again. The future had become a terrifying destination that she was afraid to face. She had lost faith in her own judgement, had questioned what she had done and the impossibility of undoing it. The pain of leaving him, of being without him, had coloured everything she thought and experienced. Just at that instant, the pure relief of being with him again made her knees turn weak.

Leandro’s attention dropped to the lush pink contours of her mouth. ‘Do you want your rings back?’

Molly froze, evasive eyes reflecting her insecurity. ‘Let’s see how things go.’

Brilliant dark eyes challenged her. ‘Am I on trial?’

Molly moved her hands in a soothing motion and tried to explain what she felt. ‘I suppose we both are. I don’t want us to break up after our child’s got used to us being together, so if we can’t work things out it would be better if we separated before the birth.’

Leandro was spooked by her earnest tone, the clear fact that she had considered such matters in depth. He leant forward, splaying his hands to the painted wall on either side of her, imprisoning her there. Dark golden eyes fired down into hers. ‘I will fight long and hard to keep you-’

‘But it’s not a failure to lose this battle,’ Molly whispered urgently. ‘It would just mean that we’re not suited but that we did our best. I don’t want you to stay with me only because of the baby.’

A rather ragged laugh escaped Leandro. ‘That’s not why I’m here. I’m here because I want you, tesora mia…’ a lean brown forefinger shifted to probe the peachy softness of her full lips, lingering when they parted ‘…and I’ve spent a week living with the idea that I might never be able to be with you again…’

‘Me too,’ Molly confided, shaken that on one score at least they could think the exact same thoughts.

‘And now that’s all I can think about,’ he confessed in a driven undertone. ‘But that’s not what you want from me at this moment.’


Black lashes semi-screened his gaze. ‘Of course, it isn’t,’ he told her with assurance. ‘You want to talk and sit down to a romantic meal and then maybe go for a walk.’

She could tell this programme of civilised restraint had as much appeal for him at that instant as having his teeth pulled without an anaesthetic and she almost laughed out loud. Evidently he had thought a great deal about what she might expect from him and if he was getting it wrong, it was only because he had yet to grasp what she most wanted from him.

‘Maybe tomorrow we could do that. Right now I want your time and your attention-which is all I ever wanted. There isn’t some magical success-guaranteed blueprint of an itinerary to follow, even though I can see you wish there was.’ She lifted her hands and began to unbutton his shirt. ‘Whatever both of us want is perfect. We only have ourselves to please.’