He knew how unreasonable he must sound but he didn’t care.
He could not afford to allow himself to care.
If Cara really was carrying his child then he must make every effort to protect its innocent form, and the only way he could do that was by forcing her into a corner from which the only means of escape was his way. Short of tying her up and locking her in a windowless room, this was his best chance of keeping her by his side until the birth.
He would not risk losing another child.
CARA DIDN’T THINK she’d ever felt as self-conscious as she did at that moment, and she’d had plenty of experience of feeling awkward and insecure.
Pepe’s blue shirt came to her knees and she’d rolled his trousers over so many times to get them to fit lengthways that it looked as if she had two wedges around her ankles. All she needed was a pair of extra-long shoes and she’d make the perfect clown.
Following him up the metal steps and into his jet, she forced herself to return the smiles and friendly greetings given by the glamorous cabin crew. Not one of them batted an eyelid at her presence. Most likely because strange women accompanying Pepe on his travels was par for the course, she thought snidely.
The jet was a proper flying bachelor pad, all leather and dark hardwood panelling. A steward showed her to a seat for take-off. She was nonplussed when Pepe took the seat next to her.
‘You have ten seats to choose from,’ she said, glaring at him.
‘So do you,’ he pointed out in return, strapping himself in and stretching his long legs out. He looked at the cheap mobile phone in her hand. ‘Who are you contacting?’
‘What are you going to say to her?’
‘That her brother-in-law is a feckless scumbag with the morals of an amoeba.’
He cocked an eyebrow.
She sighed. ‘I wanted to write that but until we’ve got the finances sorted I’m not prepared to risk her ripping your head off.’
‘That’s decent of you,’ he said drily.
She speared him with another poisonous glare then hit send. ‘I’ve apologised for leaving the christening without saying goodbye. I’ve also told her I cadged a lift off you to the airport. Someone was bound to have seen us leave together.’
‘Are you worried people will talk?’ Pepe didn’t sound worried. If anything, he sounded bored.
‘Nope.’ Let them think what they liked. The truth would come out. It always did. And when the truth came out, people would see that, beneath the charming, affable exterior, Pepe Mastrangelo was a horrid specimen of a man. ‘I don’t want Grace worrying, that’s all.’
It crossed her mind, not for the first time, that she should have gone to Grace for help. In normal circumstances Cara would have gone to Grace, but when she’d found out she was pregnant, Grace had been in hiding, going through her own troubles. So, she’d told her mother, but her mam was going through yet another of her new husband’s infidelities and so hadn’t been particularly interested other than on a superficial level. Not that Cara had expected anything else from the woman who had given birth to her.
But then Luca had tracked Grace down and now the pair of them were madly in love and in a bubble of happiness. It would have been the perfect opportunity to ask for help.
Grace would have given her money and anything else she needed, no questions asked. But Cara wouldn’t have been able to keep it contained and the whole sordid story would have come out, and then God knew what would have happened.
In any case, her child was not her friend’s responsibility. It was Pepe’s.
And this mess was not of Grace’s making. This was all on her, Cara. And the feckless playboy, of course.
It was too late to go to Grace for help now. Pepe would undoubtedly turn to Luca, who in turn would put pressure on his wife not to give Cara any financial help. Grace was so loved up at the moment she would probably comply. At the very least it would cause friction between them.
Thanks to Pepe, she couldn’t turn to the one person she needed.
The steward, who was still making checks and pretending not to listen to their conversation, finally disappeared into a separate cabin.
‘How are your thighs?’ Pepe asked. If he was fazed about anything, he had yet to show it.
‘Not too bad.’ The salve he had given her had been bliss to apply. He’d also given her a wrap that resembled cling film to place on it too. He’d been so... Concerned was the wrong word but it was the closest for the way he’d treated her wounds. Not that he’d treated her with the same consideration.