“Everything.”

A chill went down my spine. I tried to bluff. “Everything about what?”


“About your husband. And the lie he told twenty-three years ago.”

The chill turned to ice. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

He snorted, then said quietly, “I followed you to Granada. I was in the shadows on the street. When you came out alone from the restaurant, I was going to comfort you. Then your husband followed you out. And gave me all the ammunition I would ever need to destroy him. And that so-called grandmother of his.”

Turning, I stared wide-eyed at Alejandro and Maurine across the great hall, where they were laughing together. I gripped the phone. “What do you want?”

“What I’ve always wanted. You.”

“I don’t love you—”

“Yes. I know. You love him. So if you want to protect him, this choice should be easy for you. I’m waiting in a car at the castle gate. Call the guard. Tell him to let me in.”

“If I tell Alejandro how you’re trying to blackmail me, he will kill you.”

“I’m sure you’re right. Which is why you won’t tell him.”

“You don’t understand! That’s not just an expression. He will literally kill you!”


“Let him try,” he said flatly. “Tell him, if that’s how you want this to go. I’m not afraid. I have nothing to lose.” He paused. “Do you?”

I shuddered, trembling, afraid that Alejandro would really kill him, and he’d end up in jail not just for fraud, but for murder. “What do you want me to do?”

His voice was smooth and slick. “Tell him you’ve changed your mind about your marriage. Tell him you only wanted him when you thought he was a real duke, but now...you’re in love with me.”

Horror filled my heart. “He’ll never believe it—”

“He will. That’s what frightens you.” He gave a low laugh. “Tell him you’re going to spend tonight with me, and your lawyers will be in touch about divorce—and custody. That bit about custody is just for you, by the way. I’ll let your baby live with us. Doesn’t that show how much I care?”

“You never cared about me,” I whispered. “If you did, you couldn’t do this.”

“I took care of you. I saved you. I earned you. Not him.”

“I’m a human soul—not some trophy to be won!”

“You should be mine,” he said coldly. “Let him watch you leave with me. Make him believe I’m the one you want. And I’ll forget what I know. Do it for his sake. And the old woman’s.”

“Edward, please...”

“Three minutes. Then I’m calling a press conference.”

“And he’ll kill you!”

“Then Navaro will be in jail for the rest of his life. And your kid will have no father. Or great-grandmother. Make your choice. You say you really love them? Prove it.”

The line clicked off.

My whole body shook as I hung up.

“Who was it?” Alejandro said behind me.

“N-nothing. I mean, no one.”

“Which is it? Is something wrong?” His eyes were sharp. Of course he knew something was wrong. He saw right through me. Saw my anguished heart.

So how could I break his—with a lie?

And yet—how could I not?

Wide-eyed, I looked across the great hall toward Maurine, who at her age would likely never come back from the shock of a scandal and trial for fraud, much less being sent to prison. I looked at my sweet baby in his baby swing, who would endure the experience I’d feared most—being surrounded by paparazzi—before he lost his father. And Alejandro. I looked at him, hardly able to breathe. If he really did attack Edward as I feared...

I remembered the look in his eyes in Granada when I’d told him that Edward had visited me. I remembered the cold menace in his face.

I will kill him.

“Lena?” Alejandro frowned, coming closer. “Who was on the phone?”

The phone suddenly rang again. I picked it up.

“Your Excellency?” It was the security guard at the gate. “There’s an Edward St. Cyr here. He has no appointment. Should I let him inside?”

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