Heat pulsed through me. I could hardly deny it. I looked away. “Sex is different for women. It involves love!”

He snorted. “Right.”


“Or at least caring and trust!” I cried, stung.

“Who is speaking in generalities now?” he said harshly. A cynical light rose in his eyes. “Many women have sex with strangers. Just—as you said—as many women prefer to drink their coffee black, without the niceties of sugar and cream!”

My cheeks flushed. “Fine for them, but—”

“Lust is just an appetite, a craving, such as one might have for ensaladilla rusa. No one says that you must be deeply committed to the mayonnaise in order to enjoy the taste of the potato salad!”

I lifted my chin. “Go seduce one of those salad women, then! I don’t want you in my bed, I don’t want you as my husband and I just regret I’m stuck with you as Miguel’s father!”

“Enough.” His voice was deadly cold. “You have made enough of a fool of me, making me beg—for the truth about Miguel, for the DNA test, for access to him. I even had to beg you to keep your promise to come to Spain. There will be no more begging, at least—” his eyes glittered “—no more begging from me.”

Alejandro had begged me for stuff? I must have missed that. “I never—”

“You will marry me. Tonight.”

“Don’t be ridiculous!”


“Right now. Choose.” His expression had hardened. “A priest. Or a lawyer.”

“Are you threatening me?”

“Call it what you want.”

I licked my lips, then tried, “Edward would help me. He has money and power to match even yours....”

“Ah.” Alejandro came closer, softly tucking back a long tendril of hair that had escaped when he’d crushed me a few moments ago in his passionate embrace. “I wondered how long it would be before Mr. St. Cyr’s name made an appearance. That was even quicker than I expected.”

My cheeks went hot, but I lifted my chin. “He would still help me if I asked.”

“Oh, I’m sure he would,” he said softly. “But are you willing to accept the cost of his help?”

I swallowed.

“And the price to Miguel. Think of it.” He tilted his head. “A custody war, when each side has infinite resources to pay lawyers for years, decades, to come.” He gave a brief, humorless smile. “Miguel’s first words after mamá and papá might be restraining order.”

I sucked in my breath.

“And the scandal... The press will have a field day.” Pressing his advantage, he stroked my cheek almost tenderly. “Miguel will grow so accustomed to paparazzi he’ll start to think of them as members of his family. With good reason, for he’ll see them more frequently than he sees either of us.” He dropped his hand. His voice became harsh. “Is that really what you want?”

“Why are you doing this, Alejandro?” I choked out.

“I won’t risk having Edward St. Cyr as my son’s future stepfather.”

I shook my head. “It will never happen!”

“I’m supposed to believe that? A few minutes ago, you promised you’d never see him again. Now you’re threatening to use his wealth and power in a custody battle against me.”

He looked at me with scorn, and I didn’t blame him. I wiped my eyes. “You’re right. I shouldn’t have done that—but you’re forcing my back against the wall! I have no choice!”

“Neither do I.” His sensual lips curved downward. “You think you can control him. You cannot. He’s selfish. Ruthless. Dangerous.”

I flashed him a glare full of hate. “Are you talking about him,” I said bitterly, “or yourself?”

“Yes, I could be dangerous,” he said softly. “If anyone tried to hurt someone I cared about. I would die—or kill—to protect someone I loved.”

“But you don’t love anyone!”

“You’re wrong.” His voice was low. His lips pressed together in a thin line. “So will it be marriage between us—or war?”

“I hate you!”

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