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Uncovering Her Nine Month Secret

By:Jennie Lucas

past. Your life is about to change for the better. I can always feel these things.”

Better? I choked back a laugh, then turned away before she could see my face. “Adios....”

“He’ll be your boyfriend, just wait and see,” she called after me gleefully. “He’ll be your husband someday!”

My husband. A bitter thought. I wasn’t the one Alejandro had wished to marry. He wanted my wealthy, beautiful cousin, Claudie. It was the whole reason he’d seduced me, the poor relation living in the shadows of Claudie’s London mansion. If he and Claudie wed, together they’d have everything: a dukedom, half of Andalucía, political connections across the world, billions in the bank. They’d have almost limitless power.

There was just one thing they could never have.

My eyes fell on my baby’s dark, downy head. I clutched Miguel tightly against me, and he gave an indignant cry. Loosening my grip, I smoothed back his soft hair.

“Sorry, I’m so sorry,” I choked out, and I didn’t know whether I was begging my son’s forgiveness for holding him too tightly, for tearing him away from his home or for choosing his father so poorly.

How could I have been so stupid? How?

Hurrying down the small street, I glanced up at the heavy gray sky. August was the rainy season, and a downpour was threatening. Cuddling Miguel against my hip, I punched in the security-alarm code and pushed open the heavy oak door of my brightly painted home.

The rooms inside were dark. I’d fallen in love with this old colonial house, with its tall ceilings, its privacy, its scarcity of windows on the street. I could not have afforded the rent in a million years, but I’d been helped by a friend who’d allowed me to live here rent-free. Well—I thought of Edward St. Cyr as a friend. Until a week ago, when he’d—

But no. I wouldn’t think of that now, or how betrayed I’d felt when the friendship I’d come to rely upon had been revealed for what it was.

I’m tired of waiting for you to forget that Spanish bastard. It’s time for you to belong to me.

I shuddered at the memory. My answer had sent Edward scowling from this house, back on his private jet to London. There was no way I could remain in this house, living rent-free, after that, so for the past week, I’d looked for a cheaper place to live. But it was hard to find any place cheap enough for the income of a new, self-employed artist. Even here.

San Miguel de Allende had become my home. I would miss the city’s cobblestoned streets, growing flowers in my garden and selling portraits in the open-air mercados. I’d miss the friends I’d made, Mexicans and expats who’d welcomed an unmarried, heartbroken woman and her baby, who’d taped me up and put me back together.

Now I took a deep breath, trying to steady my shaking nerves. “I can do this,” I whispered aloud, trying to make myself believe it. I knew how to grab passports, money and clothes and be out of here in five minutes. I’d done it before, in Tokyo, Berlin, Istanbul, São Paulo and Mumbai.

But then, I’d had Edward to help me. Now I had no one.

Don’t think about it, I ordered myself, wiping my eyes. I’d go on foot and hail a taxi on the street. Once at the station, my baby and I would take the next bus to Mexico City. I’d use the emergency credit card Edward had left and fly to the United States, where I was born. I’d head west. Disappear. Once I found a job, I’d pay back Edward every penny.

I’d raise my child in peace, in some small town in Arizona or Alaska, and this time, I’d make sure Alejandro would never, ever find me....

A lamp flicked on in the foyer.

Alejandro was sitting in a chair across the room, staring at me with eyes that burned like fire.

I halted, choking out a gasp.

“Lena Carlisle,” he said in a low voice. “At last.”

“Alejandro,” I breathed as terror racked through me. My hands instinctively tightened on my baby in my arms. “What are you— How did you...”

“How did I find you?” He rose to his feet, tall and broad-shouldered. “Or how did I get in to your house?” His voice was low and husky, with only the slightest accent, blurred from growing up in Spain, followed by years of running a billion-dollar business conglomerate from New York and London. “Do you really think any security system, no matter how expensive, could keep me from being where I wanted to be?”

He was even more handsome than I remembered. Seeing him in the flesh, after a year of being tormented by sensual dreams, made my knees tremble. I clutched Miguel closer, willing myself not to faint.

Alejandro’s cold eyes never left mine as he walked toward me. He was dressed in black from his well-cut coat to his glossy Italian shoes, draped in power.

“What do you want?” I choked out.

He looked from me to my yawning, drowsy-eyed baby.

“Is it true?” His voice was deadly quiet, but the words burned through my heart. His face was grim. “Is this my baby?”

His baby. Oh, God. Please, no. I stumbled back in blind panic.

“My men are outside. You won’t even make it to the street....”

I ignored him. Grabbing the wrought-iron handle, I pulled open the heavy, weathered oak door and started to run. I stopped.

Six hulking bodyguards stood outside my house, in a semicircle, in front of the expensive sedan and black SUV now jamming the slender residential lane.

“Did you think,” Alejandro said softly behind me, “that when I finally found you, I would leave anything to chance?”

He stood close behind me, so close I caught the scent of his cologne. So close I could feel the heat emanating from his powerful body. Briefly closing my eyes, I shivered at being so close to the man who had once possessed me, body and soul.

Unwillingly, I turned back to face the ghost who still haunted my heart. His hot black gaze held mine, and in the dark embers of that fire, I was lashed by memories I’d tried so hard to forget. I’d loved him hopelessly from the moment he’d first come to call on my beautiful, wealthy cousin. I