“You wouldn’t have been able to resist either, believe me.”
He broke down my defenses as if they were paper. One dark, unfathomable glance from Alejandro, the notorious Duke of Alzacar, and I was his. It was only later that I realized why he’d seduced me, and I had no choice but to flee.
Nine months on, he’s found me. No matter how my body and my heart react to him, I can never let the duke take our son away from me. But Alejandro will stop at nothing. I just have one card left to play….
“To the future Duchess of Alzacar!”
There were gasps across the crowd, the largest of which was probably mine. But Alejandro continued to hold up his flute, so everyone else did, too. He drank deeply, and a thousand guests drank, too. Toasting to our engagement.
My body trembled. All I wanted to do was turn and flee through the crowd, to disappear, to never come back. To be free of him—the man who’d once destroyed me. Who could, if he tried, so easily do it again—and more, since now our child could be used against me.
But that child also meant, in a very real way, that I was bound to Alejandro for the rest of my life. We both loved Miguel. We both wished to raise him.
Which meant, no matter how fiercely I wished otherwise, that no matter how I’d tried to deny it, I would never be truly free of Alejandro—ever.
HE SEDUCED ME EASILY. He broke down my defenses as if they were paper. You wouldn’t have been able to resist, either, believe me.
After so many years of feeling like a ghost in my own home, invisible, unloved, I think I would have fallen into his arms for one dark glance—one husky word. But Alejandro gave me so much more than that. He looked at me as if I were the most beautiful woman on earth. Listened to me as if every word on my lips was poetry. He pulled me into his arms, made me burst into flame, kissed my grief and cares away. After so many years of living in a cold gray world, my life exploded into color—because of him.
There was no reason why the Duque de Alzacar, one of the richest men in Spain, would want someone like me—plain, poor—rather than my beautiful, wealthy cousin. I thought it was a miracle.
It was only later that I realized why Alejandro had chosen me. He hadn’t seduced me out of love—or even lust. It was many months before I realized the selfish reason that had caused him to overwhelm me with his charm, to dazzle me, to make me love him.
But by then, it was too late.
THE GRAY, LOWERING sky was falling like a shroud across the old colonial city of San Miguel de Allende when I heard the words I’d feared in nightmares for the past year.
“A man was here looking for you, Señora Lena.”
Looking up at my neighbor, I staggered back, clutching my five-month-old son in my arms. “What?”
The woman smiled, reaching out to chuck the cooing baby’s pudgy chin. “Gracias for letting me watch Miguelito for an hour. Such a pleasure...”
“But the man?” I croaked, my mouth dry. “What did he look like?”
“Muy guapo,” she sighed. “So handsome. Dark-haired and tall.”
It could be anyone, I told myself desperately. The old silver mining town in central Mexico was filled with American expatriates who’d moved here to enjoy the lovely architecture and take classes at the famous Instituto. Many single women had come here to start new lives, pursuing new businesses as artists and sculptors and jewelry makers.
Like me. A year ago, I’d arrived pregnant and full of grief, but I’d still managed to start a wonderful new life. Perhaps this dark stranger was looking for a portrait of his sweetheart, nothing more.
But I didn’t believe it. Fear was cold inside me. “Did he give his name?”
Dolores shook her head. “The baby was fussing in my arms when I answered the door. But the man was well dressed, with a Rolls-Royce. A chauffeur. Bodyguards, even.” Her smile spread to a grin. “Do you have a rich new boyfriend, Lena?”
My knees went weak.
“No,” I whispered.
It could be only one man. Alejandro Guillermo Valentín Navaro y Albra, the powerful Duke of Alzacar. The man I’d once loved with all my innocent heart. The man who’d seduced and betrayed me.