Not that he was admitting to having impregnated Cara. Not yet. Not until the DNA test proved it beyond any doubt. And until that DNA test proved it, he would not allow himself to think of that child as being anything but a foetus. After what Luisa had put him through, this was an essential act of self-preservation.
He thought back to a time over a decade before when he had been looking at a scan of a foetus, trying to discern a head and tiny limbs from what was little more than a kidney bean. The emotions provoked by looking at that scan were the strongest he had ever experienced. Totally overwhelming. He had felt fit to burst. He could only imagine the strength of his feelings if that little life had been allowed to develop and allowed to be born.
But that little life had not been allowed to develop and be born, a fact that resided inside his guts like a vat of poison...
All the same, he could not imagine having a child and being so disassociated from their feelings that he didn’t care if they were used and hurt. He might only be the ‘spare’ of the family, but he had never doubted his parents’ love for him.
It was their respect he’d always failed to achieve.
He could well imagine how his brother would react if anyone were to hurt Lily. That person would likely never walk again.
Cara must have seen the way his thoughts were going because her features contorted into a grimace. ‘Do you know, now I think about it, you and my father are incredibly alike. He’s a charmer, just like you. Maybe I should introduce you to him—you can exchange shagging tips.’
It took every muscle in his face to keep his smile fixed there. ‘Why do I feel I have just been insulted?’
‘Because you’re not as stupid as you look?’ Before he could react to this latest insult, she stood up. ‘If it’s all the same to you, I’m going to curl up on that sofa and get some sleep. I assume one of the stewards will wake me before we land?’
She did look tired. So tired he bit back any further retort and any further questions about her father. Like it or not, she was pregnant and, now that he’d admitted her into his life, her health was his responsibility. Her already pale face was drained of colour.
He experienced a twinge that could be interpreted as concern. ‘Are you feeling all right? Physically, I mean,’ he added before she could bombard him with another long list of all the wrongs he had done.
‘I’m feeling a little icky. But don’t worry—it’s not bad enough that you have to worry for your upholstery.’
He watched as she made her way to the sofa, holding on to something fixed for stability with every step.
* * *
A tap on the door broke through Cara’s slumber.
There was none of that ‘where am I’ malarkey often experienced when awaking under a new roof. Before she even opened her eyes she knew exactly where she was.
Pepe’s house. Or, to be more precise, in a guest room in Pepe’s Parisian house.
She’d pretended to sleep for the rest of the flight back to Charles de Gaulle airport. It certainly beat talking to him.
She’d ignored him as they’d gone through Customs, blanked him on the drive back to his house and pretended to be deaf when they arrived at his home, a five-storey town house in an exclusive Parisian suburb. She’d also pretended to be mute. She’d had to clamp her lips so tightly together when she was shown to her room that she’d pretended they’d been superglued. It was either that or have him witness her wonder at its sheer beauty. For a house purported to have been bought to showcase Pepe’s art collection—and it was every bit as huge and glamorous as she’d expected—it had a surprisingly homely charm to it.
But she wouldn’t tell Pepe that. She didn’t want him to think she liked anything about him, not even his beautiful home.
It was talking about her father that had done it.
Her father, the arch charmer, the man who could make a woman forgive him over and over, make a woman believe his faults were in fact her faults.
Pepe’s charm had always felt different from her father’s. He had none of her father’s seediness. Or sleaze.
But one thing he did have was the ability to make her want to believe in him. She’d wanted to believe Pepe saw her as more than a one-night stand. On his jet she’d felt herself thawing towards him, his gorgeous, easy-going smile slowly melting the edge of her defences. More than that, though, had been the unexpected depths she’d seen in his eyes. For a few moments she could have sworn she’d seen pain in them, something dark, something that hinted there was more to him than what he wore on the surface.
She’d thought she’d seen more to him that weekend in Dublin when he had seduced her so thoroughly. And it had all been a lie. Just as everything that came out of her father’s mouth was a lie.