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Uncovering Her Nine Month Secret

By:Jennie Lucas

’d watched from hallways, made them tea, organized their dinner parties. I’d done it all with a smile, any and all work my cousin required, ignoring the ache of my heart when she bragged after he left that she was going to catch the uncatchable Spanish duke. “He’s nearly in my grasp!” Claudie had crowed. “I’ll be a duchess before the year is out!”

Then, to everyone’s shock, he’d suddenly jilted her.

For me.

He was the first man who’d ever noticed me—really noticed me—and I’d fallen like a stone beneath the sensual onslaught of his power and glamour and dangerous, sexy charm. For six reckless, miraculous weeks in London last summer, Alejandro had held me in his arms, and I felt as if I owned the world.

Memories of the hopes I’d had, the naive girl I’d been, ripped through me now like a torrent of blows. Alejandro’s expression was stark, but I could remember his playful smile. The intensity of his dark gaze. The sound of his husky voice whispering sweet words in the night. I could remember hot kisses, and the feel of our naked bodies intertwined in his London hotel suite. In the back of his limo. And once, against the wall in the back stairs of the Carlisle mansion.

Our affair had seemed as infinite as the stars in the sky. But on that bright summer day when I finally gathered the courage to tell him I was in love with him, his smiling face had changed in front of my eyes.

“Love me?” Alejandro had repeated scornfully. “You do not even know me.”

Two minutes later, he was gone, leaving me bereft and bewildered. But the broken, truly broken, came later...

Now, Alejandro took my hand, glancing up and down the quiet Mexican street.

“Come back inside, Lena. We have much to talk about.”

Feeling the electricity of his hand wrapped around mine, I looked up with an intake of breath.

He was so close now. Touching me. My lips parted. He was somehow even more devastatingly handsome than I’d remembered. He had the kind of face that could break a woman’s heart into a million pieces, to little shimmering fragments of gray dust, leaving you too dazed with his power and beauty to feel anything but gratitude as he lazily destroyed you.

Without my notice, he led me back into the foyer. Reaching over my head, he towered over me, his arm brushing against my hair, his body pressing against mine. I shivered, clutching my baby close. But he merely closed the heavy door with a sonorous bang behind me.

The hard-edged billionaire duke, in his sharply tailored clothes, stood out starkly against my comfortable, bohemian home, with its warm tile floors and walls I’d decorated with homemade paper flowers and my own paintings, one of the Parroquia de San Miguel, but the rest of my baby, the first from when he was just six days old.

Looking down at me, Alejandro said softly, “Is what Claudie told me true? This baby in your arms—it is mine?”

Trembling, I pulled away. Gathering my wits, I glared at him. “Do you really expect me to answer that?”

“It’s an easy enough question. There are only two possible answers.” Reaching out, he stroked my cheek, but there was no tenderness in his gaze. “Yes. Or no.”

“You’d be a horrible father! I won’t let my sweet boy be turned into a heartless bastard like—”

“Like me?” His voice was dangerously low. His dark eyes gleamed in the shadowy foyer. “Is that what you really think of me—after all we once shared?”

Caught in his gaze, I trembled. Once, I might have believed so differently. I’d managed to convince myself that beneath his wealth and power and aristocratic title, Alejandro was decent and good. Like generations of women before me, I had seen what I wanted to see. I’d been blind to the truth, until, against my will, the blindfold had been torn from my eyes.

“Yes. That’s what I think of you.”

A strange expression flickered across the chiseled planes of his face, an emotion I couldn’t identify before it swiftly disappeared. He gave me a sardonic smile.

“You are right, of course. I care for nothing and no one. Least of all you, especially after you and your cousin have gone to such lengths to blackmail me over this child.”

“Blackmail you?” I gasped. “You’re the one who deliberately seduced me, and got me pregnant, intending to steal my baby away so you could raise him with Claudie!”

He grew very still.

“What are you talking about?” he ground out.

My body was shaking with emotion. “You think I didn’t know? When I found out I was pregnant, you’d already left me and gone back to Spain. You wouldn’t return my calls. But fool that I was, I was still desperate to share the news, because I hoped you might care! So I begged Claudie for enough money to fly to Madrid. I was scared to tell her why I needed the money. She’d planned so long to marry you. But when I told her I was pregnant, she did something I never imagined.”


I took a deep breath.

“She laughed,” I whispered. “She laughed and laughed. Then she told me to wait. She went into the hallway, but she left the door open and I heard her call you. I heard her congratulate you on your brilliant plan! Thanking you, even! How brilliant you were, how clever, to seduce her lowly cousin, the poor relation, to provide the heir you knew she could never give you! Now the two of you could get married immediately.” My voice turned acid. “Just as soon as her lawyer forced me to sign papers terminating all my parental rights.”

“Yes. She called me.” His eyes narrowed. “But I never...”

“‘Don’t worry, I’ll get Lena to sign her baby away,’ she said!” My voice trembled as I remembered the terror I’d felt that day. “She asked you to send over a few security guards from your London office, just in case I tried to fight!” My voice choked and I looked away. “So I ran. Before either of you could lock me away somewhere for the duration of my pregnancy and try to steal my child!”

Silence fell. His eyes narrowed.

“From the day, from the hour Claudie told me you were