My lips parted in shock. “But I haven’t spoken to Claudie for a year. She has no idea where I am!” I shook my head. “Did she really try to blackmail you into marriage?”

“Women always want to marry me,” he said grimly. “They think nothing of stealing or cheating or lying for it.”

I snorted. “Your ego is incredible!”

“It’s not ego. Every woman wants to be the wife of a billionaire duke. It’s not personal.”

Of course it is, I thought unwillingly, my heart twisting in my chest. How could any woman not fall in love with Alejandro, and not want him for her own?

“But what I want to know is...” His voice became dangerously low. “Is this baby in your arms truly mine? Or is it just part of some elaborate plot you’ve set up with Claudie?”

My head snapped back. “Are you asking me if my son is some kind of stunt baby?”

“You would be surprised,” he said tightly, “how often in life someone pretends to be something they are not.”

“You think I’d lie about this—for money?”

“Perhaps not. Perhaps for some other reason.” He paused. “If you were not working for Claudie, perhaps you were working for yourself.”

“Meaning what?”

“You hoped that playing hard to get, disappearing with my child, would make me want to pin you down. To marry you.” He lifted a dark eyebrow. “Not a bad calculation.”

My mouth had fallen open. Then I glared at him. “I would never want to be your wife!”


His single small word was like a grenade of sarcasm exploding all over me. For an instant my pride made me blind with anger. Then I remembered the dreams I’d once had and my throat went tight. I took a deep, miserable breath.

“Maybe that was what I wanted once,” I whispered. “But that was long ago. Before I found out you’d coldheartedly seduced me so you could marry Claudie and steal my baby.”

“You must know now that was never true.”

“How can I be sure?”

He shook his head. “I never intended to marry Claudie or anyone.”

“Yes, you said that. You also told me once that you never intended to have children. And yet here you are, fighting for a DNA test for Miguel!”

“I do not have a choice.” His expression changed as he said sharply, “You named the baby Miguel?”


“Why?” he demanded, staring at me with a sudden suspicious glitter in his eyes that I did not understand.

“After the beautiful city that took me in—San Miguel became our home!”

He relaxed imperceptibly. “Ah.”

Now I was the one to frown. His reaction to our baby’s name had been so fierce, almost violent. Had he wondered if I’d named him after another man? “Why do you care so much?”

“I don’t,” he said coldly.

My baby whimpered in my arms. Fiercely, I shook my head as I hugged him close, breathing in Miguel’s sweet baby scent, feeling his tiny warm body against me. I nuzzled his head and saw tears fall onto his soft dark hair. “If you didn’t get me pregnant on purpose, if it happened by accident and you don’t want a child...just let us go!”

His jaw tightened. “I have an obligation....”

“Obligation!” I cried. “To you, he’s just someone to carry on your title and name. To me, he’s everything. I carried him for nine months, felt him kick inside me, heard his first cry when he was born. He’s my baby, my precious child, my only reason for living.” I was crying openly now, and so was my baby, either in sympathy or in alarm or just because it was past his nap time and all the adults arguing wouldn’t let him sleep. Miguel’s chubby cheeks were red, his eyes swimming with piteous tears. I tried to comfort him as I wept.

Alejandro’s expression was stone. “If he’s my son, I will bring both of you to live with me in Spain. Neither of you will ever want for anything, ever again. You will live in my castle.”

“I’d never marry you, not for any price!”

“Marriage? Who said anything about that?” His lips twisted. “Though we both know you’d marry me in a second if I asked.”