“Take me home,” he’d told Horace hoarsely.

He didn’t know what he would say to her. He’d only known he couldn’t leave her like that, so lonely and broken.

Then he’d found her practically in another man’s arms, as the man had begged for the chance to love her. Lonely and broken indeed!

Jaw clenched, Ares glared at Ruby.

“If you want to go marry him, nothing’s stopping you,” he ground out. It was a low hit, but the emotion inside him that he was repressing so intensely had to lash out. He heard her intake of breath.

Ruby came closer to him in the soft, sunlit room. “Why are you like this?”

“Like what?”

“I thought we were happy…”

“We are,” he bit out.

“Then why did it make you so angry when I told you that I love you?” Her brown eyes were luminous. “Why do you hate it when I talk about our baby? Why do you keep pushing me away?”

Ares didn’t answer.

With an intake of breath, she closed her eyes.

“Maybe you were right,” she whispered. “This isn’t going to work.”

He looked up, shocked.

Ruby’s face was pale and infinitely sad. “I was so happy when you asked me to stay. I thought it meant we might actually have a chance to be happy. To be a family. But now…” She looked around the morning room, which she’d redecorated so lovingly. “What was the point of fixing up this house when I’m not even part of your life?”

“You’re part of it,” he said harshly.

She gave a small smile. “At night I am. But during the day…I’m not your wife. I’m not even your girlfriend. You don’t love me.” Her voice cracked. “And you certainly don’t love our child.”

Part of him had always known she’d leave. It was one of the reasons why he couldn’t let himself really care. He should just let her go.

And yet…

“I want you to stay,” he said.

“Stay? You can’t tell me to stay like I’m your pet. I need more. I’m in love with you, Ares.” She gave a bitter laugh. “To you, my life is an open book. But you’re so guarded. So hidden.” She looked at him. “Maybe sex and money really is all you can offer any woman.”

She was going to leave, he realized. His mind scrambled for ideas to make her stay. Something that would give her the illusion of what she wanted: his love.

Then he knew.

A flash of fear gripped him. He grimly pushed it aside.

It would just be a piece of paper. That was what everyone said, didn’t they? But it would be a piece of paper that would bind her, so no other man could take her. Unlike his own parents, he knew Ruby valued marriage. Once the vows were spoken, she would never break them. No matter how cold or distant Ares might be in the future.

His fear of tying himself down vanished in his sudden determination to make sure she was tied down permanently. To him.

He turned to her. Ruby looked sad and small, her shoulders hunched, her eyes still red with crying.

But he could fix this. He would cancel all his business plans for the next week. Let his CFO deal with the headache of negotiating Kourakis Enterprises’s acquisition in Milan. He had an urgent personal acquisition of his own.

Ares reached for her. “Ruby…”

She stepped back, not letting him touch her. “You don’t love us. You never will.” Her voice was heavy with unshed tears. “There’s no reason for me to stay.”

“Let me give you a reason,” he said huskily, pulling her into his arms, though she tried to resist. Lowering his lips to hers, he kissed her. She stiffened, drawing back. Then she sighed against his mouth in surrender and her hands gripped his shoulders, drawing him closer. Even angry, she could no more resist the fire between them than he could.

Drawing back from their embrace, he whispered against her lips, “I want to show you something.”

She gave a low, breathless laugh. “I bet you do.”

Running his hands through her hair, he kissed her forehead, her cheeks. “You need to pack.”

She blinked. “Pack? For what?”

“Bring a bikini.”

“Where are we going?”

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