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The Consequence He Must Claim(10)

By:Dani Collins

Can I call you? she shakily messaged back.

I’ll be there in a few hours.

“No-o-o-o...” Sorcha moaned, drawing Octavia’s startled glance.

“Is everything all right?” her new friend asked, concerned.

It was too sordid to reveal. “Lost a game,” Sorcha lied and tucked her phone away.

What would it do to her to see him again? These months without Cesar had been like a drought, her chest heavy and her limbs weighted as she yearned for him. He hadn’t contacted her, though. He didn’t feel any of the same pangs.

Hugging their baby, she wished she could spirit her mother across the water to stand by her here in London as effortlessly as Cesar could pilot his own jet from Spain. She desperately needed support to face him.


THE SKY WAS pewter and drizzling when Cesar parked his car outside the hospital. His phone buzzed again, coming up to twenty messages from his parents. Now his brother was on the trail.

Call me. I want to discuss options.

Cesar dismissed it and thumbed through the rest, marking them to trash.

He’d gone to the clinic with only an abrupt apology, but it had given him time to come to some decisions. On his return, he’d taken Diega aside and explained what had happened.

“We can’t marry before the paternity results are in. I’m sorry. Obviously I don’t remember doing it, but it’s within the realm of possibility that I slept with her. I have to go to London. See her and sort this out.”

The concept of having fathered a child was something he was holding at bay, finding it more than he could take in until the tests confirmed it. However, as much as he wanted to be suspicious of Sorcha’s claim, he couldn’t discount it. If it turned out he had a son, and he was already married to Diega...

Well, he didn’t know how he would react to being a father, but he knew in his gut he didn’t want to be married to another woman while he processed something like that.

Disturbingly, Diega hadn’t been terribly shocked. She’d tried to talk him out of going. “Querido, this isn’t a deal-breaker for me. I knew that day that you had had an affair with her. We don’t have to put off the wedding because of it.”

That had taken him aback. “You said I came to ask if our marriage was really what you wanted,” he said. “That I gave you the chance to back out and you didn’t have any doubts.”

That was why she was calling herself his fiancée even though the banquet and formal announcement had never happened. He hadn’t questioned her claim that he’d gone to her for a final, private affirmation that she wanted to move forward. Given all the conflict he’d been feeling in recent months, he had easily seen himself driving out to Diega’s home days before they locked themselves into this arrangement, secretly hoping she would call it off.

This sudden new information, that he had confessed to having an affair and had “begged her forgiveness” for it, didn’t ring as true.

“She was planning to stay until we married,” Diega said. “You didn’t want me finding out at some awkward moment in your office, having doubts about your fidelity. I said I would prefer she wasn’t lingering in our lives through our engagement and you left to terminate her so we could start our life together without her presence clouding things.”

None of that sounded like him, especially the groveling. While he hadn’t planned to sleep with anyone else once he and Diega were engaged, he hadn’t expected either of them would apologize for anything they’d done previous to their union  . Why then, would he have felt such a burning need to go to her after sleeping with Sorcha? Since when did he run from any woman’s bed? Lingering and keeping things friendly, leaving on good terms, was his signature move.

If he had stayed with Sorcha, he would remember that day.

Sitting in the parked car, he pinched the bridge of his nose, reminding himself to stop trying to go back in time and change what had happened. He needed to deal with the reality he faced.

But what was that reality?

If Diega had been so offended by his affair with Sorcha, why hadn’t that shone through when they’d spoken of it today? She’d been trying to placate him, encouraging him to believe their wedding could go ahead.

“I understand you might have to take certain measures if the baby proves to be yours, but none of that has to affect plans that have been in the works for years.”

Her tone had been persuasive, which set off all his inner lie detectors.

He just didn’t see himself sleeping with Sorcha after three years of anticipating it, then firing her within hours. He wouldn’t do that to her. Over the years, when he had contemplated becoming sexually involved with her, he’d expected it would put an end to her employment with him, but via a lengthy affair that involved cruising on his yacht. Perhaps a visit to his place in Majorca.