He frowned. “London?”
I nodded, trying to hide my eagerness—my desperation. “I left something at Claudie’s house. Something precious. I need it back.”
“What is it?”
“My baby’s legacy.”
He lifted a dark eyebrow. “Money?”
“And also,” I said on a wave of inspiration, “if we could talk to Claudie, together, we could force her to admit how she played us both. Then maybe we could actually trust each other, going forward....”
Alejandro rubbed the back of his head, then nodded. “That would be better. And to be honest, there are a few things I’d like to discuss with your cousin myself.”
His voice was grim. I believed him now when he said he didn’t want to marry Claudie. Maybe Alejandro hadn’t deliberately planned to get me pregnant after all.
But I’d been right about one thing. He still planned to steal my baby. He intended to keep Miguel at his side, to raise him as his heir in some cold Spanish castle, until he turned him into some heartless, unfeeling bastard like himself.
And Alejandro didn’t intend to marry me. So I’d be powerless. Expendable.
“So we have a deal?” Alejandro said. “You’ll allow the DNA test, and if he is my son, you’ll come with us to Spain?”
“With a stop in London first.”
“Yes. London. But after that, Spain. I have your word?”
“I honestly hate you,” I whispered with feeling.
“I honestly do not care. Do I have your word?”
I glared at him. “Yes.”
He looked down at me in the shadows. For a moment, there was a current of electricity between us, sparking in the shadows of the room. His fingers tightened. Then he abruptly released me.
“Thank you,” he said coldly, “for being so reasonable.”
Hiding the cold determination in my heart, I left him without a word, and nearly sprinted toward my baby.
Alejandro thought he owned me now. But I wasn’t as helpless as he thought. I had one card left to play, if I was willing to pay for it.
For my son?
Yes. I was.
THE FIRST TIME I saw London, I was a grief-stricken fourteen-year-old, newly orphaned, just arrived from New York. My grandmother, whom I’d never met, sent her driver to collect me from Heathrow. The sky was weeping and gray. I remembered trembling as I walked up the steps of the tall white mansion in Kensington, a house roughly the same size as my entire apartment building in Brooklyn.
Brought in by the butler, I’d found my grandmother sitting at her antique desk in the morning room. I stood in front of the fireplace for some moments, my eyes stinging and my heart aching, before she finally looked up.
“So you’re Lena,” she’d said, looking me up and down, from the lumpy coat my mother had made before her hands grew frail in illness, wasting away like her heart since my father’s death six months previously, down to my feet crammed into cheap, too-small shoes that had been all my loving but sadly unskilled father had been able to afford. “Not much of a beauty,” she’d said crisply, with some regret.
It was raining in London today, too.
As Alejandro’s driver waited, holding open my door, I shivered, looking up at the white mansion. I felt suddenly fourteen again. Except now I was going to face my cousin.
Claudie and I were the same age, but she was so different in looks and manner that we could have been born on opposite sides of not just the Atlantic, but the universe.
When I’d first come to the house—devastated by the loss of both my mother and my father within six short months—I’d tried so hard to make my beautiful, spoiled cousin like me, but she’d scorned me on sight. She’d been determined to drive me from the house. Especially once grandmother died and she saw the terms of the will. And she’d finally gotten her wish. She’d won....
“What are you waiting for?” Alejandro said impatiently. “Get out of the car.”
“I changed my mind. I don’t need to go in.”
“Too bad. You’re going.”
He looked far too handsome and rested. He’d slept and showered on his private jet. He was in a fresh suit. I, on the other hand, hadn’t slept at all since yesterday. After an interminable visit to a private hospital in San Miguel de Allende, where he’d paid a small fortune for the DNA test, we’d gotten on his private 747 and I’d spent the long flight walking back and forth in the cabin, trying to calm Miguel enough to sleep. But the cabin pressure hurt his ears, and only my continual walking soothed him. So I’d gotten exercise, at least, using the aisle of Alejandro’s jet as my own private treadmill.