The Heir From Nowhere(7)

By: Trish Morey

She turned to offer her hand to the man but caught how he was looking at her—as is she were some kind of scum—and thought better of it, pulling her hand back.

Besides, even if she hadn’t felt his revulsion, she wasn’t sure she could cope with having her hand swallowed up in his. He’d looked tall from a distance before, but now, standing before her, he might well have been a mountain. Tall and broad-shouldered and composed entirely of rugged angles and treacherous planes. An insurmountable obstacle that she sensed with just one touch would drain her of what little strength she had.

No way would she risk that. Not when she needed every bit she did have for the tiny scrap of a baby growing inside her.

She closed her eyes. Oh, God. This man’s baby.

A sudden gust of wind caught her and she swayed with it, stumbling a little before a manacle closed around her arm. But when she opened her eyes it was his hand that encircled her arm, his long fingers overlapping with the thumb. ‘Sit down,’ he growled, his deep voice all rough edges that rippled down her spine, ‘before you fall down.’

He steered her backwards to the now empty seat and she collapsed gratefully onto it, still stunned that something made of skin and bone could feel like iron against her flesh. She put one hand to the place, sure she could feel the heat of his grip in the tingling band of skin.

He said something to the woman beside him, who disappeared efficiently in a click of heels and a flick of her hair while he looked around, raking the fingers of one hand through his hair. ‘Where is your husband?’ he asked, searching the crowd. ‘Surely he came with you?’

‘No. He’s not here.’

His head swung back in disbelief. ‘He made you come alone? In this condition?’

She almost managed to find a smile, certain he wasn’t referring to her pregnancy, but then she remembered the look in his eyes—as if she were the lowest of the low—and any thoughts of smiling departed. She knew she looked like rubbish lately. Hadn’t Shayne told her plenty of times? So instead she shrugged. ‘It’s hardly terminal. I get a little morning sickness. It passes by lunch time.’

Or it usually did. Today being the exception, of course. ‘And then it was a mad dash from the station.’

The woman reappeared, holding a bottle of spring water. ‘Here,’ she said, holding it out. ‘You look like you could do with this.’

Angie thanked her and unscrewed the cap, genuinely grateful for the gesture even if she hadn’t needed yet another reminder of how bad she looked. The water was cool against her throat, refreshing both heated body and scrambled mind, opening the door to hope again. Maybe now the worst was over and there would be no more shocks. Maybe now they could just deal with the situation and get on with their lives.

‘Have you eaten anything?’

‘I’m not hungry,’ she insisted, just wanting to get on with it and make the arrangements that needed to be made. But her stomach had other ideas, rumbling so loud there was no way she could hide it, and she cursed a fickle stomach that could be threatening to turn one moment and suddenly so desperately hungry that it felt as if it was about to devour itself in the next.

‘Of course you’re not hungry. Simone, go and find us a table at Marcello’s. As private as possible. We’ll be right along.’

‘Are you sure? I thought you wanted somewhere public.’

‘We can’t talk here. Besides, this woman needs to eat.’

‘Of course,’ she said with a tight smile, though the look she flashed at Angie made it clear that she wasn’t impressed. Then she flicked her head around and marched briskly off, her shiny bob swinging from side to side.

‘I don’t want to cause any fuss,’ she said, her eyes on the departing woman, momentarily mesmerised by the movement in the sleek curtain of hair, knowing that the cut must have cost a fortune. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been to the hairdresser instead of cutting her hair herself in front of the bathroom mirror.

‘Can you walk? Do you need help?’

She looked up at him and caught that look in his eyes again, as if he was weighing her up and assessing her suitability to bear his child and finding her wanting. Tough. He was stuck with her and she was stuck with him and they’d just have to make the best of it. She pushed herself to her feet, determined to show him that she didn’t spend her entire day being blown around by gusts of wind. Or men who looked like mountains, for that matter. ‘Thank you, but that won’t be necessary. Neither will lunch. I’d rather just work out what we’re going to do about this situation we happen to be in.’

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