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‘YOU may be pregnant, Caroline,’ her husband accepted coldly, ‘but we certainly aren’t. The child you’re carrying is not mine!’
She stared at Justin as if he had gone insane. She had just told him the most wonderful news any wife could tell a husband, had been in a state of euphoria ever since she had gone to the doctor this afternoon and he had confirmed her suspicion that she was six weeks pregnant. She had wanted to tell Justin straight away, wanted to rush over to his office and tell him, but had known it wasn’t the right place to break the news to him that he was about to become a father for the first time, deciding a candlelit dinner for the two of them at home would be a much more romantic background.
The candles still burnt on the table, the roses that adorned its centre still smelt as sweet, and she still wore the black gown she had chosen to reassure Justin that pregnant women could still look sexy.
And she couldn’t believe Justin had said what she thought he had! He couldn’t really have said that—could he?
But as she looked up at the coldness of his gaze, the arrogant tilt to his head, the grim set to his sculptured lips, she knew that he had.
Oh, she knew that they never discussed the possibility of having children, but even so—–
‘You see, Caroline,’ he continued dismissively, his voice deadly calm. ‘I’m incapable of fathering a child, by you or any other woman.’ He sipped his wine with slow deliberation, looking at her with questioningly raised brows.
She should faint, scream, anything but just sit here staring at him as if she had turned to stone. But she still couldn’t believe Justin was denying their child. It had to be a joke, a sick joke—what else could it be? It certainly couldn’t be the truth!
‘Did you hear me, Caroline?’ he bit out. ‘I said—–’
‘Will you stop this.’ Her voice was shrill. ‘Just stop it, Justin. It isn’t funny!’
‘I didn’t think so either,’ he drawled, taking another sip of his wine. ‘And I don’t believe you saw me laughing.’
She gave a pained frown at his too-calm behaviour. ‘Justin, is there a possibility you were drinking before you came home this evening?’ His being uncharacteristically drunk was the only other explanation she could think of for his outrageous behaviour.
His expression became even colder, his chair pushed back forcefully as he stood up to switch on the main light with a single movement of one long, gracefully male hand. He towered over her ominously as she blinked dazedly in the sudden bright light. ‘I wasn’t aware that I had ever given you reason to believe I’ve become a secret drinker!’ he rasped.
There had to be some explanation for the nightmare this evening had suddenly become—although from Justin’s cold displeasure at the suggestion, she knew alcohol wasn’t it.
‘Justin, I’m having a child.’ Her hands were tightly clasped together in her lap, her back very straight as she sat rigidly in the chair, and she knew she must have the look of a naughty schoolgirl facing chastisement. Her throat arched defensively as she looked up at Justin. ‘Your child,’ she added pointedly.
He was so tall and dark, as savagely handsome as any young girl dreamt her husband would be. Dark hair was brushed smoothly back from his face, a black eye-patch rakishly covering the blindness of his left eye, but his sighted eye was more than capable of glittering silver with anger or contempt—as it was doing now! The elegant black evening suit should have had the effect of taming him somewhat, but instead it did the opposite, emphasising his leashed power, giving him the appearance of a barely restrained savage being, restricted by civilisation.
Caroline had been as overwhelmed by him at their first meeting as most people seemed to be, had never ceased to be enthralled by the complex man he was. But this, this she just didn’t—couldn’t—understand!
He shook his head now, deadly calm, although the coldness of his gaze spoke of a fiercer emotion. ‘Not my child,’ he repeated softly.
‘Justin, of course the baby is yours. Who else’s would it be?’ she said exasperatedly.
His brows rose again. ‘Tony’s, perhaps?’ he suggested mildly.
Her face paled. Dear God, he couldn’t possibly believe what he was saying!
Justin moved to pour himself a glass of brandy from the decanter in the drinks cabinet. ‘I think you should have asked him to share all this with you.’ He drank down the brandy as he swept an arm in the direction of the romantic dinner she had planned so eagerly, and her own appearance with her red hair swept loosely on top of her head, her throat and shoulders left temptingly bare by the style of her black gown. ‘Although maybe his wife might have objected to that,’ he bit out hardly before leaving the room in measured strides, the slamming of another door in the house seconds later telling her he had gone to his study.
Caroline had half risen to her feet as he turned to leave, but dropped back down into the chair as she realised from his flinty expression that nothing she said just now would stop him.
She leant forward to absently blow out the candles, staring unseeingly at the spiral of black smoke that trailed upwards as the acrid smell filled the air.
They should have been celebrating now, with the champagne she had asked Mrs Avery to put on ice until after she had spoken to Justin. Instead Justin had stormed out on her, and she was sitting here hardly daring to think of the fact that he had disclaimed paternity of their child.
Loving Justin hadn’t been easy from the first, and even now they were married it hadn’t got any easier. But she had