“I’ve got my own doctor in the village, thank you.”
“Dr. Schauss has a world-renowned clinic. She was obstetrician to a princess of Sweden and has delivered half the babies of the royal houses of the Persian Gulf. She’s well qualified.”
“I’m not gallivanting off to Geneva just because you want some extra-fancy doctor.”
“The choice isn’t yours to make.”
“And if I refuse?”
Vin’s eyes flickered. “I am acquainted with Kassius Black, the owner of this chalet.” He looked up at the imposing roofline over the trees. “What would he say if I told him that your friend, his trusted housekeeper, had knowingly hired a fugitive and thief to live here, and you were both conspiring to steal from his houseguests this coming ski season?”
“You wouldn’t,” she gasped. “It’s not true!”
He shrugged. “You are a proven thief and liar. It could be true. But the point is, are you willing to repay your friend’s kindness in giving you a job by causing her to lose hers?”
“You are despicable.”
His face hardened. “No, cara. You are despicable. I have done nothing but seek to fulfill my responsibility. I am trying to do the right thing, the honorable thing. It is you who are the thief.”
“I repaid every penny!”
“Yes, with interest. At an annualized interest rate of thirty percent. The money you repaid yielded a better return than many of my other investments. So it was profitable.” He gave a slight, ironic bow. “Thank you for stealing my wallet.”
“Oh?” she said hopefully. “So you’re not—”
“Stealing my child is something else.”
Scarlett’s brief hope faded. What could she do? She couldn’t let Wilhelmina be hurt for her loyalty and kindness.
The clinic in Geneva. That could be her escape route. Clinics had back doors. She could sneak out before her blood was even drawn.
Scarlett let her shoulders sag, scuffling her feet in the gravel, hoping she looked suitably downhearted. Her heart was beating fast. “You win.”
“I always do.” He gave a quick motion to the bodyguards waiting outside the black SUV with dark tinted windows, then turned back, his voice brisk. “The trip to Geneva will take two hours by car, and in your state of advanced pregnancy I am concerned this will be uncomfortable for you. I can have a helicopter here in ten minutes—”
“No!” she said a little too quickly. At his frown, she said in a calmer voice, trying to smile, “The drive will give us a chance to talk. It’s so beautiful around Lake Geneva this time of year.”
He stared at her for a long moment, then shrugged. “As you wish.”
Five minutes later, as a bodyguard went upstairs to pack up her meager possessions, she went to the kitchen to say farewell to Wilhelmina. The older woman seemed bewildered by the sudden turn in events.
“You’re quitting your job, Scarlett? Just like that?”
“I’m sorry, Wilhelmina. You came through for me, and I’m leaving you in the lurch. I’m so sorry—”
“For me it’s fine. Honestly, your fried chicken still is something awful. Mr. Black would have thought I lost my mind, hiring you. You’re the one I’m worried about.” She looked doubtfully at Vin. “So this man is the father of your baby, but do you really want to go with him?” Her eyes narrowed in her plump face. “Or is he forcing you?”
* * *
The suspicion in the older woman’s face was less than flattering to Vin, but as she was a housekeeper to Kassius Black, a man whose reputation for ferocity was even worse than his own, he could understand her lack of automatic admiration for the average billionaire. The housekeeper, like Scarlett, had obviously had enough experience with the wealthy to know the ugliness that could lie behind the glamorous lifestyle.
“I will take good care of Scarlett and her baby,” he told her gravely. “I promise you.”
The housekeeper stared at him, then her scowl slowly disappeared. “I believe you.”
“Good.” Vin gave her his most charming smile. “We intend to marry soon.”
She looked accusingly at Scarlett. “You’re engaged?”