‘You’re flushed,’ he explained dismissively. ‘You need to cool down.’
He tugged at her sleeves. Stella quickly pulled away, slipping her sweatshirt over her head to stop him from doing it and humiliating her completely. Because the look in his eyes was controlled and blank. Unaroused. He didn’t want her that way any more. He was livid and she didn’t blame him.
She scrunched her sweatshirt into a ball in her lap and stared down at it, thinking furiously. She heard him walk away, heard a clinking sound. And then he was back.
‘Here.’ He held a crystal tumbler out to her. His frown deepened as she hesitated.
‘It is only water,’ he muttered impatiently, taking her hand and curling her visibly trembling fingers around the glass.
Stella sipped a small amount and determined to pull herself together and straighten out this mess. ‘We’re not getting married. This is another of your whims.’
Slowly she nodded. ‘Like seducing strange women on the beach.’
‘You were the one swimming when you shouldn’t have been. You’re just as spontaneous. You said yes.’
‘I’m saying no now. This is my life.’
‘I am well aware of it,’ he countered. ‘It is not what I wish for mine either. But that is not the point.’
Stupidly, his words wounded her. Yeah, this is no fairy tale.
‘There is a doctor present.’ Eduardo leaned against the large reading table near her. ‘He will examine you.’
‘Pardon?’ She nearly smashed the glass of water on the floor.
‘A doctor. Your condition must be assessed.’
Here and now? He had to be joking.
One look at his implacable expression told her he wasn’t.
Control over her life was slipping further from her grasp and her outrage over his high-handed treatment grew. She wanted to see her own doctor in her own time and in private. She straightened. ‘I will not be subjected to this...invasiveness. You have no right.’
‘I have every right.’
‘It is my body.’
‘And my baby,’ he shot back.
‘Mine too,’ she whispered, suddenly afraid. So very, very afraid—of now, of what it might mean for tomorrow and for a few months’ time.
Even assuming everything went okay, he had such power and she had none. He could take her baby and send her away if he chose. Banish her. He would be able to. He could sell the world any kind of story. He had such charm he could sell the moon and the stars to the heavens.
‘Ours,’ he answered, his tone more measured. ‘But you were going to leave San Felipe. Why?’ He trained his fierce gaze on her. ‘Where were you going to go? What were you planning to do?’
‘Nothing, I—’ She broke off. She’d had no plan other than to get away and think. What did he think she’d been going to do?
She hated the look of suspicion and condemnation in his eyes. Why was Eduardo determined to think the worst of her?
‘You did not turn to your father?’ he said.
She’d tried, but her father had turned his back. And when the General found out the whole story he’d be even more furious.
‘He’s not pleased,’ Stella mumbled.
Eduardo’s nostrils thinned and he finally glanced away from her.
‘He does not know who I was with,’ she added in a low voice, her embarrassment excruciating. ‘No one does.’
Eduardo turned back to her. ‘You have not told anyone?’
‘Have I boasted that I bedded one of San Felipe’s princes on the beach? No. I have not.’ Her flush scorched her skin.
‘Your discretion is a credit to you.’
She nearly rolled her eyes. As if his approval was anything she wanted!
His intense scrutiny softened and he almost smiled, as if satisfied at something. ‘You will see the doctor now.’ He walked to the door, opening it and calling in a low voice.
Stella set the glass down and steeled herself. Were there other people here who knew? She’d never felt shame over her action that afternoon, but she’d wanted to keep it close—just her one private memory to treasure. But now the world was going to know how reckless she’d been.
‘You feel unwell again?’ Eduardo had returned to stand right in front of her, looking angry again.
‘I feel shocked,’ she corrected miserably.
She was angry too. Mostly with herself. That she could have been such a fool.