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Scandalously Expecting His Child

By´╝ÜOlivia Gates

Scandalously Expecting His Child
Olivia Gates

One

Raiden Kuroshiro looked down at the woman standing beside him. Megumi was indeed her name. A beautiful blessing. With flawless white skin, gleaming raven hair and naturally red lips, she looked like a real live version of Snow White. And with her small, svelte body wrapped to perfection in that vivid blue dress, she did look like a fairy-tale princess. There was something regal about her bearing as she received everyone's congratulations on their engagement. Their wedding was exactly ten weeks from tonight.

And he felt absolutely nothing for her.

Thankfully, her feelings for him were as nonexistent.

Which was as it should be.

The reasons he was marrying Megumi, and the ones she had to marry him, didn't necessitate they even tolerated each other. Theirs would be a pure marriage of convenience.

Megumi looked up at him, ultrapoliteness playing on her dainty lips. Though smiling wasn't one of his usual activities, it was easy to answer her smile. Not that he had anything to do with it. Known as an angel, Megumi would get along with the devil himself. Which she did. Raiden was known as a fiend. He'd been called that during his years as a mercenary, and worse as he'd slashed his way to the top of the venture capitalism field and carved himself a permanent place there.

"I can join my mother if you like."

He barely heard Megumi over the traditional gagaku court music and the loud drone of the five hundred people filling the ballroom. It was the first time he'd been with that many members of Japanese society's upper crust in one place. It was his goal not only to belong to that class but to rule it. Megumi knew that, and she was thoughtfully offering to slip away so he could make the most of the event without her hindering presence.

Though it was a tempting offer, he shook his head. He was under said upper crust's microscope, and he knew it would be frowned upon to leave his bride-to-be in their first public appearance together, especially one dedicated to celebrating their impending union .

But at least he didn't have to play the besotted groom, as he would have had to in Western societies. It was a relief that in Japanese society prospective partners in traditionally arranged marriages demonstrated nothing more than utmost courtesy to each other. Which was easy with Megumi. He didn't have to feign gallantry with her.

Not that he liked her. He didn't like anyone. Apart from his Black Castle "brothers"-who were integral parts of his own being-he categorized people in limited roles. He had allies, subordinates and enemies. Megumi fell somewhere between the first two categories. He'd made her position in his life clear, and she seemed accepting of it.

Which she should. He was the wealthiest, most powerful husband and future father of her children she could have. Even if he weren't already the ultimate catch, as an obedient daughter, Megumi would have still married him. Her father wanted Raiden as family at any cost.

And that was the main reason he was marrying her. She was his only path to the one thing he'd dreamed of all his life, what he'd been working to achieve for the past ten years.

Reclaiming his birthright.

But though everything was going according to plan, one thing niggled at him. The other reason he was marrying Megumi was to have full-blooded Japanese heirs. Which meant he would have to...perform. He worried he wouldn't be able to. Not without falling back on what managed to thaw his deep-frozen libido. Fantasizing about her.

It was galling he'd have to resort to this measure to...rise to the occasion, but he was brutally pragmatic. He'd resort to whatever worked. Hopefully only once. With careful timing, it might be all it took to impregnate Megumi.

After conception, it was another major relief that most Japanese wives in arranged marriages mostly retreated to their own quarters, with their lives from then on revolving around their baby. From what he'd been hearing about the society that was still alien to him, in the kind of marriage he was entering, it was accepted that a husband's role was as a sperm donor and financier. His wife mostly relegated him to public social activities and appearances, with his intimacy sought again only when another baby was needed. Which was exactly the kind of marriage he wanted. The only kind he could stomach.

He looked at Megumi as she graciously smiled at another congratulator and wondered at his intense aversion to the idea of sex with her. If anyone knew he thought having sex with such a beauty was such a terrible fate, they'd question his virility. If they knew he'd have to invoke another woman's memory to go through with it, they'd think him pathetic. If they knew that woman had been a fraud, they'd question his judgment. But if they knew that not even finding out the truth about her had lessened her hold over him, it would totally decimate the uncompromising identity he presented to the world.

Not that anyone would ever learn of her. Or of any of his other dark secrets. He'd accumulated unspeakable ones during the twenty years when he'd been The Organization's slave. It was imperative the persona he'd built since his escape ten years ago remained unimpeachable. He wasn't letting anything threaten his chances of reclaiming his heritage.

To that end, he had to follow this society's rules until they became second nature to him. As they were to Megumi and her family. The family that had no idea he was one of them.

They'd never find out he was. But he would become one of them. He'd become a Hashimoto through marriage to-

Suddenly, a jolt speared through his body. It originated at his nape and forked down to his toes.

But the all-out alarm wasn't one of danger. He was versed in recognizing threats. This red alert was one of awareness.

Without any change in expression or posture, he threw the net of his senses out before yanking it back, eliminating everything but the source of the disturbance.

The next second, Megumi gripped his forearm.

He frowned. Megumi never touched him. So had his reaction been in anticipation of her touch? But why would she suddenly wring such a jarring response from him?

Turning his gaze down to her, he was relieved to feel no reaction to her sight and now touch, as usual. But the awareness searing through him was intensifying. It took all his control not to look around for its origin.

"Matsuyama-san is approaching."

So that was why she'd grabbed him so urgently-to draw his attention to the approach of their host. Hiro Matsuyama. The man who'd gone all-out holding this ball in his mansion. And his bitterest business rival in Japan.

It still felt weird being honored by an adversary. But that was an expected ritual in Japan. A necessary one even. Tradition and decorum were valued above all in business as in society. It would take him a while to get used to that, along with everything else, as he hadn't been raised Japanese.

But then, he hadn't been raised at all. From the age of four years old, he'd been forged. Into a lethal weapon.

He let adversaries glimpse that side of him to keep them in check, showing them what they were really up against. But though Hiro posed his biggest business threat, compared with the monsters Raiden had vanquished in his time, Hiro was harmless. No, his senses couldn't be going haywire to herald his approach.

Turning to Megumi, he saw her eyes fixed, vaguely noted the glazed look in them, the tremor in her lower lip. His focus left her behind as the disruption grew in intensity.

Then he was facing Hiro...and the woman he had on his arm. And the realization was instantaneous.

She was the source of the disturbance.

She was the only female around who wasn't Japanese. Eve

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