Home>>read Harlequin Presents January 2015 Box Set 3 of 4 free online

Harlequin Presents January 2015 Box Set 3 of 4(249)

By:Lynne Graham

There was a beat of silence between them, pierced by the single caw of a raven overhead.

‘No. You are not.’ Rafael’s voice was dangerously quiet, his eyes burning with fire.

‘Yes.’ Lottie squared up to him as best she could, shivering violently beneath his jacket. ‘I’ve made up my mind.’

‘Well, you can just unmake it.’ The lash of his words whistled across at her. ‘I can assure you, Charlotte, you are doing no such thing.’

‘You can’t stop me, Rafael. I’m going to go back to England and have the baby there and—’

‘Charlotte, if you think, for one tiny second, that I would let you leave the country, take our baby away, then you have seriously misjudged me.’ His breath escaped in angry puffs of condensed air. ‘What’s all this about anyway?’ The depth of his scowl all but closed his eyes. ‘What is going on?’

‘I’ve told you what is going on. I’ve made up my mind and I am returning to England.’

Rafael shook his head, fury slowing the movement. ‘And I am saying you are doing no such thing. I have no idea what has brought this on, but I do know that you can stop this nonsense right now. My baby will be born here and will be raised here—by its father—at the Palazzo Monterrato.’

He hesitated, his scowl turning to a sneer.

‘You have run away once and I’m sure you are capable of doing that again. Should you choose to leave after the baby is born, then so be it. But the baby will stay here. And for the time being you are going nowhere.’

The word resonated with ruthless force.

Lottie fought to control hot tears of fury and despair. His words were like a fish hook in her flesh. The more she struggled the worse the pain. If she had wanted proof of his feelings for her she had it right there. Should you choose to leave after the baby is born, then so be it. She meant nothing to him—nothing at all. Without the baby she might as well not exist.

Biting back the searing pain, she rounded on him, using anger to mask the agony, covering her misery with its red cloak.

‘I’m sure you would love that, wouldn’t you?’ She spat the words at him. ‘Once the baby has been born there is nothing you would like better than for me to disappear completely.’

Rafael stared at her. ‘What are you talking about?’

‘I’m talking about you—me—the whole ridiculous idea that we could ever live together, have any sort of meaningful relationship, baby or no baby.’

‘Look...’ Making a visible effort now, Rafael lowered his tone, inched towards her as if dealing with one of his feral horses. ‘I don’t know what this is all about, but maybe if you were to just calm down...’

He stretched out an arm towards her but she batted it away furiously, the jacket sliding off her shoulders.

‘It’s about the fact that I mean nothing to you— nothing! I am no more than a surrogate—worse than a surrogate. Because you can’t just pay me off and forget about me. Instead you have to lock me away in some far-flung corner of the palazzo. But I am your last, your only chance of providing an heir for Monterrato and you hate me for it. Don’t even try and deny it.’

Her voice was reaching a harridan screech as it picked up speed, denying Rafael any sort of reply.

‘If it hadn’t been for your accident you would have been rid of me for good. You would have carried on living your self-indulgent bachelor lifestyle for as long as you liked, eventually choosing a suitable mother for your precious children when the fancy took you from any number of painted, perfect, pouting women like the ones who were fawning all over you last night.’

A cold quiet descended as Lottie gulped in a shuddering, juddering breath that racked through her whole body.

Rafael just stared at her.

‘So is that what this is about? This ridiculous behaviour?’ Realisation coloured his words. ‘Some petty rivalry with the women at the dinner last night? Perhaps you should be careful, Lottie.’ His eyes glittered coldly, his voice suddenly terrifyingly soft. ‘We wouldn’t want to misinterpret this little outburst as a fit of jealousy, would we? Fool ourselves into thinking that you actually care. We both know better than that. Perhaps I need to remind you that who I see, who I take to my bed—’

‘Stop!’ With a piercing scream Lottie covered her ears. ‘I don’t want to hear any more.’

‘Is none of your business.’ His rapier tongue hadn’t finished with her yet. ‘You left me...remember?’

His words floated across the stillness of their daughter’s grave. Across the great chasm of misunderstanding and pain that had blighted their lives.