‘Judging from your expression,’ he said dryly, ‘I can assume you are not on the pill?’

‘No.’

‘Or have taken any other precautionary measures in terms of birth control?’

‘No,’ Laurel snapped. ‘Why should I? I was a virgin, in case you’ve forgotten.’

‘I assure you, I have not.’

She took a quick, sharp breath. ‘It is very unlikely I’m pregnant.’

‘Is it?’ Cristiano’s calm tone belied the churn of anger, regret and anxiety he felt inside. ‘Do you have information of which I am not aware?’

‘I don’t think I was in that part of my monthly cycle.’ Her eyebrows rose in challenge. ‘You are knowledgeable of such basic biology?’

‘I believe I am.’

‘Then you know that the only way I could be pregnant now is if I was ovulating in the last twenty-four hours.’

‘And that is a possibility, is it not? You are fertile, I assume? No problems there?’

Her cheeks went pink. ‘Not that I know of.’

He spread his hands. ‘So we wait.’

She stared at him. ‘Two whole weeks?’

‘You’re the nurse, Laurel. Isn’t that how long it takes to get a positive result?’

‘Around that, yes, from ovulation.’ She spoke reluctantly. ‘But I really don’t think this is an issue, Cristiano.’

‘We’ll find out soon enough, won’t we?’

‘You speak so knowledgeably about all of this.’ Laurel’s lip curled. ‘You have some experience in these matters, I suppose?’

‘Actually, no. None of the women I have ever been with has become pregnant.’ He’d always taken precautions. Laurel was the only woman with whom he’d lost control—and he had no intention of telling her that. He had no intention of it happening again, either.

‘Never?’ She looked sceptical and for some reason it annoyed him.

‘No, never.’ One woman had faked a pregnancy, and Cristiano had insisted she perform a test in his presence. Unpleasant but necessary, and the matter had been resolved quickly. He was not a man to be duped. Not the way his father had been.

‘So we wait two weeks. And then what?’

‘What happens next depends on whether you are carrying my child.’

The words fell into the stillness, rippled like stones cast in a pool. Laurel stared at him, her eyes hard and shiny, like glass. ‘I’m not pregnant.’

‘You don’t know that.’

‘But if I am,’ she continued swiftly, ‘I will decide what to do about my baby.’

Anger fired through him, a clean, burning sweep. He rose from his chair, the movement controlled and precise. ‘This child, should it exist, belongs to me as much as it does to you. We will decide, bella, make no mistake.’

Her jaw tightened, her eyes sparking at him. Cristiano’s fists clenched. It was entirely inappropriate that he was turned on at this moment, yet he felt it all the same. Desire, hot and strong, coursed through him, making him want, even now, to take her in his arms and kiss her useless protests away. He took a quick, controlled breath. Now was not the time to indulge in such feelings. He’d already decided he wouldn’t touch Laurel Forrester again. She was too tempting. Too dangerous…to his shame.

‘You really are a control freak, aren’t you?’ she said in a low voice that vibrated with fury. ‘A heartless one. You’d insist on making the decision about whether I could keep my own child.’

‘What?’ He stared at her in disbelief. ‘What is that supposed to mean?’

Confusion flashed and she bit her lip. ‘I assumed you’d want me to have an abortion.’

He felt a deep surge of an emotion he couldn’t identify—and then he realised it was hurt, and he hated that he felt it. That he’d let a woman, a woman he barely knew, make him feel it. ‘I would never do that,’ he said in a low voice. ‘Never. If I really wanted you to get an abortion, I would procure a morning after pill right now.’ He’d thought of it, but with the amount of time it would take to get one it seemed risky, and the idea of it repelled him. ‘If you are pregnant, I would want you to keep the child. My child.’ His throat worked and his chest felt tight. ‘Our child.’

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