There had been no question of resistance. I was a virgin in the hands of a master. He’d had me from the moment he kissed me. From the moment he showed up at my door in a sleek tuxedo, with his arms full of roses, and told me he wanted me in his low, husky voice. He’d had me from the moment he’d seared me with the intensity of his full attention.
That was the traditional way of seduction. It had worked once, worked with utterly ruthless efficiency against my unprepared heart. But I knew the moves now—that is to say, I knew how they ended. With pleasure that was all too brief, and agony that was all too long.
But there are many different kinds of seduction.
Alejandro had decided we wouldn’t leave immediately for Madrid, but would spend one night in London, resting at his usual suite of rooms at the Dorchester. He told me it was because the baby and I both looked tired. I was immediately suspicious, but as we left the park, he did not try to kiss me. Even after we’d arrived at the luxurious hotel, he did not look deeply into my eyes and tell me I was the most beautiful woman on earth, or pull me out onto the rooftop terrace, overlooking Hyde Park and all the wide gray sky, to take me in his arms.
Instead, he just ordered us lunch via room service, then afterward, he smiled at me. “We need to go shopping.”
I frowned at him, suspecting a trick. “No, we don’t.”
“We do need a stroller,” he said innocently. “A pushcart. For the baby.”
I could hardly argue with that, since we’d left the umbrella stroller back in San Miguel. “Fine,” I grumbled. “A stroller. That’s it.”
“You’re very boring.”
“I can buy you things, you know.”
“I don’t want you to.”
I set my jaw. “I’m afraid what they’d cost me.”
He just answered with an innocent smile, and had his driver take us to the best shops in Knightsbridge, Mayfair and Sloane Street. He bought the most expensive pushcart he could find for Miguel, then pushed it himself, leaving the bodyguards trailing behind us to hold only shopping bags full of clothes and toys for the baby.
“You said just a stroller!”
“Surely you wouldn’t begrudge me the chance to buy a few small items for my son?”
“No,” I sighed. But Alejandro kept pushing the boundaries. All the bodyguards who trailed us were soon weighed down with shopping bags.
“Now we must get you some clothes, as well,” Alejandro said, smiling as he caught me looking wistfully at the lovely, expensive dresses. I jumped, then blushed guiltily.
“No. Absolutely not.”
“It’s the least I can do,” Alejandro replied firmly, “considering it was because of me that you lost your inheritance.”
“That wasn’t your fault...” I protested. He looked down at me with his big, dark, Spanish eyes.
“Please let me do this, querida. I must,” he said softly. “Such a small thing. You cannot deny me my desire.”
I shivered. That was exactly what I was afraid of. That if I couldn’t deny him this, I wouldn’t be able to deny him anything. And soon I’d be putty in his hands again, like a spaniel waiting for her master with slippers in her mouth.
I’d end up married to a man who didn’t love me. Who would ignore me. And I’d spend the rest of my life like a ghost, haunting his stupid castle.
Wordlessly, I shook my head. He sighed, looking sad.
I was proud of myself for sticking to my guns. But as we walked through the expensive shops, Alejandro saw me looking at a pretty dress a second too long. He gave one of his bodyguards a glance, and the man snatched it up in my size.
“What!” I exclaimed. “No. I don’t want that!”
“Too bad,” he said smugly. “I just bought it for you.”
Irritated, I tried to foil Alejandro’s plan by carefully not looking at any of the beautiful clothes, shoes or bags as we walked through the luxury department store and designer boutiques. But that didn’t work, either. He simply started picking things out for me, items far more expensive and flashy than I would have picked out for myself. Instead of the black leather quilted handbag I might have chosen, I found myself suddenly the owner of a handbag in crocodile skin with fourteen-karat-gold fittings and diamonds woven into the chain.