“I’m not talking about this.”
“Too bad, because I am.” The interior of the sports car suddenly seemed very small. “Weren’t you the one who insisted it would be morally wrong of me not to allow our child to be raised by a father, as well as a mother? Now you expect me to ignore his chance to have a grandfather?”
His jaw tightened.
She tried again. “You say your father is a good person, but after two decades, you seriously intend to drive right by his house without stopping?” She glared at him. “It makes me wonder...”
He glared back at her. “Wonder what?”
She looked down, twisting the enormous diamond engagement ring. “When you said family was so important, I actually believed you.”
“You are my family now, Scarlett. You and our son.”
“The more family, the better.” She took a deep breath. “I never had any siblings or cousins. Since my parents died, I’ve been totally alone. Do you know how that feels?”
He didn’t answer.
Their eyes locked, and Scarlett’s heart twisted at something she saw hidden deep in his dark eyes. Some pain. She took a deep breath. “You should want our baby to have as much family—as much love—as he possibly can,” she said quietly. “Two parents are great, but what if something happens to us? Your father is our baby’s only grandparent. Why haven’t you seen him in twenty years?”
“It’s complicated.” He stared grimly forward at the road. “My mother never married Giuseppe. She preferred more exciting men who treated her badly.” He smiled grimly. “But she enjoyed keeping my father on a string, not letting him fall out of love with her, making him suffer. Most of all, she enjoyed him as a source of income to her jet-set lifestyle. Anytime he wished to see me, he had to pay her a small fortune.”
Her lips parted with shock. His mother had made his father pay for the privilege of seeing his son? “Oh, Vin...”
“When I was ten, he finally was able to stop loving her. He married another woman, Joanne.”
“A wicked stepmother?” Scarlett guessed.
He snorted, then sobered. “Not at all. She was kind to me. I spent Christmas with them when I was fifteen, when my mother was partying with her boyfriend in Ibiza. It was the best Christmas of my life, with them and my new half sister. Maria was barely more than a baby then. When I had to leave, Giuseppe and Joanne said they wanted me to come live with them full-time.”
“So did you?”
Vin’s gaze was unfocused as he stared ahead. Then he shook his head. “My mother refused to let me go.”
Scarlett’s heart broke a little at the thought of a young boy, simultaneously ignored and used as a bargaining chip by his own mother, losing his chance to be in a stable home, safe and loved. No wonder he was so determined to be a good father to his own son.
“It doesn’t matter.” His voice changed. “My mother died shortly after that, and I moved to New York to live with an uncle.”
“I’m sorry about your mother.” She frowned. “But why didn’t you go live with your father after she died? There was nothing to stop you then.”
“It was all a long time ago,” he said grimly.
“Drop it, Scarlett.”
She wanted to push, but something in his expression warned her. “Okay. For now.” She took a deep breath. “But if we’re driving by his house, can’t we just stop by so I can meet him? Just for ten minutes?”
“We’re on a tight schedule.”
“They might not even be at home.”
“I promise if we stop, and they’re not home, then I’ll quit talking about it the rest of the way to Rome.”
Vin stared at her. Then, with a sigh, he picked up his phone and told the bodyguards in the SUV behind them they’d be taking a detour.
The night was growing dark as they drove through a wrought-iron gate in the Tuscan countryside. The moon was full over the trees and fragrant fields. Vin seemed to grow progressively more tense as they drove down the long, dusty road, edged on both sides by cypress trees.
At the end of the road, Scarlett gasped when she saw a gorgeous three-story villa with green shutters and yellow stucco lit up by warm golden lights in the dark night.