I hid a laugh, tried to look mad. “Too bad for you. But it’s really not my problem.”

He nodded sagely. “You’re scared.”


“Scared? Of what?”

“Of spending time with me. You’re scared you’ll be overwhelmed with desire and say yes to everything, and wake up tomorrow morning, in my bed, with a ring on your finger.”

In his bed? My mouth went dry.

“It’s all right. I understand.” He fluttered his dark eyelashes outrageously. “You don’t trust yourself, because you want me so badly.”

It was so true. “That’s so not true!”

He lifted his eyebrows. “Then you’ll be my date?”

I thought about the type of people I’d be likely to meet at his party. A bunch of wealthy, beautiful, mean people. Just like Claudie. “No, thanks.”

“Why?” he demanded.

“The baby will wake up at midnight for a feeding...” I said weakly.


“I’ll have you back by midnight. Via pumpkin coach if necessary.”

“There’s no one I can trust as his babysitter!”

“Mrs. Gutierrez raised four children, and has ten grandchildren. She’s very trustworthy and experienced, and she’s agreed to stay.”

“You thought of everything,” I grumbled.

“So say yes.”

“I won’t fit in with your friends, okay?”

“Always so afraid,” he sighed. “Of me. Of them. Of your own shadow.”

He was clearly taunting me, but I couldn’t help but bristle. “Even if I wanted to go with you, it’s too late. Your party starts in twenty minutes, and unless you bought a ball gown in London yesterday without me noticing, I have nothing to wear!”

Alejandro smiled. “Did I ever show you our bedroom?”

I shook my head with a scowl. “It’s either yours or mine. Not ours.”

“That’s what I meant,” he said innocently. Walking ahead in the hallway, he pushed open a door.

The bedroom was enormous, with an amazing view of Madrid, but sparsely furnished, with only an expensive, masculine bed. And, incongruously, a crib beside it.

But when I looked closer at the bed, I saw a flash of pink. Coming closer, I gasped when I saw a pale pink gown, a delicious confection of flowers and silk, spread across his plain white bedspread. I picked it up with one hand, then dropped it when I saw the tag peeking at me. Oscar de la Renta.

A pumpkin coach, indeed! I whirled to face him. “You bought this yesterday. You always intended to bring me as your date tonight,” I accused.

His lips were curved in a sensual smile, then his hands went up in mock surrender. “I admit it.” Then he put down his hands, and his expression changed. His dark eyes became intent. Sensual. “I always get what I want,” he said softly, searching my gaze. “And I don’t give up. When something is difficult to possess, that only makes me want it more.”

For a long heartbeat, we stared at each other in his bedroom.

Then I tossed my head, hoping he couldn’t see how my body was trembling. “Fine. Have it your way. I’ll come with you tonight, since it means so much to you. I’ll do it for Miguel’s sake, so your friends will know he wasn’t just the result of some cheap one-night stand. But that’s it.”

His dark eyes burned into mine. “A cheap one-night stand? That is the last thing you were to me. You should know that by now.”

A shiver went down my spine and through my soul. I straightened, locking my knees, and I handed him the baby. “I’ll get dressed as quickly as I can.”

Thirty minutes later, Alejandro helped me out of the limo, holding my hand as we walked up a red carpet, past the flashbulbs of the paparazzi.

“I thought your company was a metals and real estate conglomerate,” I murmured beneath all of the attention.

“It is,” he said innocently, “among other things. We recently bought a movie studio. Look.” I followed his gaze to see a beautiful movie star whom I’d admired for years just ahead of us in a tight sequined gown. “That’s the reason for the paparazzi.”

“She is beautiful,” I said.

He looked down at me. “You’re more beautiful than her on your worst day. Even when you are wearing a dress like a sack and barely brush your hair.”

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