“And once we’re back in New York,” he continued relentlessly, “I want the baby to have another paternity test.”

Scarlett sucked in her breath, feeling like he’d just punched the air out of her, falling back against the pillows. “Why would you ask that?”

He shrugged. “I want to be sure.”

“Why?” Scarlett, who was not a violent woman, barely contained the impulse to leap out of bed and slap his face. “How many tests do you need? How many men do you think I’ve slept with? How big of a liar do you think I am?”

“It is a reasonable request. I’ve been lied to before.”

“Not by me!”

“By others,” he conceded, then glared at her. “I do not appreciate you taking this hostile tone.”

“Hostile! You haven’t begun to see me hostile!” Rising from the bed, she stomped across the bedroom and snatched up her white fluffy robe. Tying the belt around her, she ground out, “Nico is two months old, we’ve been married since October and you’re suddenly wondering if he’s your son?”


“Go to hell!”

He grabbed her hands. “Stop it.”

“I won’t.” Her breath came in angry gasps as she looked up at him with flashing eyes. “Last night you said you loved me, but now it’s like you’re suddenly trying to make me hate you. Why, Vin? Why?”

His hands tightened. His gaze fell to her lips, to the quick rise and fall of her breasts. For a moment, she thought he might kiss her. That he’d tell her what was really going on. That everything would be all right.

Instead, he abruptly let her go. “I expect you to be settled in my penthouse in New York by the time I’m done in Tokyo.”

“Do you?” she retorted. “Let me guess. You already have a Manhattan doctor on standby to give Nico a few more paternity tests.” She was shaking with emotion. “I’d almost think you want proof you’re not his father!”

“That’s not true, and you know it,” he bit out. “I chased around the world to find you and my son. My intentions should be clear. I want you both in New York. We are a family.” His voice was impersonal, chilly. “Furthermore, you will make sure Larson is always with you and the baby when you leave this house. I mean it, Scarlett.”

“I told you, I’m fed up with having a stupid bodyguard! This is Rome! Who do you think will attack us?”

“I was attacked once in midtown Manhattan. In the middle of the day.”

She exhaled. “What?”

“I was seventeen, an easy target, and the guy wanted my wallet. For twenty bucks, he sent me to the hospital.” He looked at her. “When I got out, I learned how to fight. When I became a millionaire, I also hired bodyguards.” His jaw was tight. “I protect what is mine, Scarlett. That now includes you and my son.”

“I’m sorry about what happened to you, but that was a long time ago, and Rome is very safe...”

“I’m leaving one of the private jets for you,” he continued implacably. “I expect you and Nico to be en route to New York by the end of the week.”

“We’re not flying anywhere!”

“Scarlett.” He ground his teeth. “I own an airline. You need to get over it!”

Get over it?! She was quivering with rage but kept her voice calm. “No, thank you. Neither I nor my child will be getting on one of those flying death traps again.”

“So let me get this straight,” he ground out. “You believe the airline I’ve built into a multibillion-dollar business to be made entirely of flying death traps. You refuse to live in New York. And you intend to flout my wishes by evading the bodyguard I’ve hired for you, leaving both you and Nico continually at risk.”

“That’s pretty much it, yes.”

“You have so little respect for my judgment? For my leadership?”

“Why should I listen to you, when you’ve made it clear you aren’t listening to me?” Her arms, which had been folded angrily, fell to her sides. “I don’t want to leave Rome,” she whispered. “I’m learning Italian. I’ve made friends. Your parents live just a few hours away. Your sister’s getting married here next month!”

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