I’ll get a guy to knock me up, Daniela decided feverishly.
She would pass the baby off as Vassi’s. If she had to, she’d make a big fuss until Vassi would be forced to marry her. Once she had his ring on her finger, she would accidentally have a miscarriage and Vassi would never have to know the child wasn’t his.
It was a good plan.
A good plan, she told herself, and like with all good plans, there was no time to lose.
After Daniela left, Vassi returned to his table inside the restaurant. For a long time, he simply sat there in contemplative silence, uncaring of the curious gazes he drew from other patrons.
Finally, he made a call. When his family’s head of security answered, he asked abruptly, “Your report on Daniela Martin. How’s it going?”
“Like I opened a can of worms, sir.”
His guts clenched. “Care to give me an example?”
“Her name for one. It isn’t Daniela Martin but Layla Martinez. Instead of coming from a rich family in Boston, she was raised by her stepdad. It’s not completely confirmed yet, but she may have had – or continue to have – sexual relations with her stepdad.”
“She’s been abused?”
“No, sir. I’ve been able to interview a couple of her old classmates, and it didn’t seem that way. If anything, it’s her calling the shots in the relationship. She was even able to persuade the man to mortgage his house in order to pay for her modeling and acting lessons.”
“I see.” And right now, Vassi did see that Daniela had been playing him like a fucking fool. “One last thing. Does she have a stepbrother?”
After instructing the other man to keep digging, Vassi ended the call and thought about what he had just uncovered. When Daniela had told her there could be consequences, his instincts had told him to lie, and so he had.
He lied about her telling him they had protected sex, and when she hadn’t protested about it, that had set alarms ringing. If she could lie about something like that, wasn’t it possible that she could lie about other things, too?
Clearly, he had underestimated Daniela – Layla or whatever her real name was – but never again. Even now, he couldn’t completely figure out her motives for pursuing him. He wasn’t even the most famous person she had worked with – or the richest one for that matter.
There was something he was missing here, that much he knew. But for now, Vassi set it aside.
At the end of the day, Daniela – or Layla or whatever she liked to call herself – was not the most important girl in his life.
When Vassi got back to the hotel, he found Seri in the balcony, the wind teasing her hair to a dance against her back. She had showered and changed, and he saw on the table next to her that she had ordered room service for two – and had left it untouched.
Going through the balcony’s doors, he said quietly, “I’m back.”
Seri slowly turned around. She wasn’t sure what she had expected Vassi to look like, but it was not this – this beautiful cold stranger whose gaze was nothing at all like the eyes of a man in love.
Nothing at all like the man who had spent endless hours making her body sing with pleasure and her heart cry with every word of love he whispered.
“Hey.” Seri smiled uncertainly. “I didn’t expect to find you gone when I woke up.” That was an understatement though. Finding the entire room empty of him had terrified her. Her first instinct had been to cry and run away, to think that nothing had changed.
But in the end she had forced herself to stay.
She was tired of running and hiding from the truth.
“I went out to meet with—-” Vassi found himself pausing. “Daniela.” Somehow, it felt distasteful to use that name now, knowing that it was just one of the many lies that had fooled him.
Seri could only stare at Vassi. “Why?” After what happened last night – no, actually, after the way he had made love to her from night till morning, why would he meet with another girl?
When he didn’t answer, she whispered, “I thought we were okay now.”
Vassi’s lips twisted. “You tell me.”
The bitterness in his tone bemused her. “Vassi—-”
“I met with Daniela to let her know that she can expect nothing from me,” he interrupted her.
Relief spread through her, but Vassi’s next words proved it short-lived.
“Can you say the same thing about Rockford?”
Seri paled, not expecting him to ask that question at all. Swallowing, she said haltingly, “N-no. I haven’t yet, but—-” She saw pain flash in Vassi’s gaze, and her heart squeezed. “Vassi, it’s not what you think.”
“I had hoped you’d prove me wrong,” Vassi said hollowly.
“There’s nothing between us—-”