There was no instinct to hide.

If anything her instinct was to descend the stairs and run towards him, but that would show just how much she had missed him.

Raul didn’t need to know that.

And neither would she tell him that she knew about his long-running feud with Bastiano.

Yes, Lydia was far from innocent now.

Knowledge was power, and she would use it wisely.

And she would never reveal how deeply she had loved.

So she did not check her reflection, nor bother to don lip gloss. Instead she descended the circular stairs of the turret and walked through to the main entrance.

Neither did she go through the palaver of making him knock.

The door was heavy, but she opened it with practised ease. The days of having staff to attend to such things were long since gone.

‘Raul...’ She hesitated, because unlike her earlier summation she saw he wasn’t quite so together. There was a grey pallor to his face and his jaw was tense. His eyes remained hidden behind dark shades. ‘I wasn’t expecting you.’


‘Then you don’t know me.’

Those words sent a shiver of warning down her spine.

No, she didn’t know him—but those words told her the news she had so recently broken to him was being taken very seriously indeed.

‘Were you already in England?’


Raul had been walking away from the cemetery when he had heard her message.

‘Oh...’ The speed of his arrival was rapid, but then she had only been privy to his casual use of his private jet but once.

‘I’m sorry for the shock.’

‘Nobody has died, Lydia.’

Raul was right. It was a pregnancy they were dealing with, after all, not a sudden death, and yet it was surely a shock to a man like him—a confirmed bachelor, a reprobate playboy.

Or maybe not, Lydia mused.

Perhaps he had illegitimate children dotted all over the world, for certainly he seemed to be taking rapid control.

‘We need to talk.’

‘Of course we do,’ Lydia said. ‘That’s why I called. Come through and I’ll make some tea.’

She would take him to the receiving room, Lydia decided. It was a little faded and empty, but it was certainly the smartest room. There she would ask him to take a seat, and then go and make some tea, and then they could calmly discuss...


‘I don’t drink tea, Lydia.’

As she went to walk away his hand closed around the top of her arm, and Lydia actually kicked herself for thinking she could so easily dictate this.

‘Coffee, then?’

She received a black smile in response.

‘The helicopter is waiting to take us to my jet—we shall discuss this in Venice.’

‘Venice?’ She shook her head, her attempt to deal with him calmly, disintegrating. ‘Absolutely not. We can talk here. My mother is at her sister’s and Maurice is gone.’

His features did not soften.

‘We can go out for tea if you prefer. If that makes you feel...’

She did not get to finish.

‘You think we are going to sit in some quaint café and discuss the future of our child?’

‘We could!’

‘And what time does this café close?’ He watched her jaw clench and then continued. ‘We have a lot to sort out, dear Lydia.’ The term was without endearment. ‘Did you really think you could drop a message like that on my phone and expect us to go out for afternoon tea?’

‘I thought we could calmly discuss—’

‘I am calm.’

He didn’t sound it to Lydia.

Oh, his words were calm, but there was an undercurrent, an energy that danced in the grand entrance hall and not even these ancient walls could contain it.

‘We shall speak at my home.’


‘Okay, we’ll talk at my office.’

‘In Venice?’

‘Of course.’


‘Lydia, what time to you have to be at work tomorrow?’ Raul asked, guessing she probably hadn’t bothered to get a job.

‘That wasn’t kind.’

‘I’m not here to be kind.’

She glimpsed again his power and knew this man did not fight fair.

He proved it now.

‘I thought you said you were leaving home and getting a job...’ He gave a black laugh as he looked around. ‘But you’re still here, and of course you don’t need to work now.’

‘Raul...’ She wanted to take back that gold-digger comment, but it was way, way too late. ‘Please listen—it was an accident.’

‘Of course it was!’

She could almost taste his sarcasm.

‘Lydia, unlike you, I do have to work—however, I have set aside an hour tomorrow at eleven for us to start to go through things. If you don’t want to fly with me, fine, but can you get yourself there, at least?’

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