A Debt Paid in Passion(5)

By: Dani Collins

Sirena’s fists tightened under her elbows as she hunched herself into a comfortless hug. Her mother had died trying to give birth to the baby who would have been Sirena’s little brother. Sirena’s blood pressure was under constant monitoring. Between that and the lawyer meetings, she was barely working, barely making the bills. The stress was making the test results all the more concerning.

She tried not to think of all the bad things that could happen, but for the first time she let herself consider what her child would need if she couldn’t provide it. Her father and sister were all the way in Australia. It would be days before they could get here—if her stepmother let either of them come at all. Right now Faye was taking the high ground, sniffing with disapproval over Sirena’s unplanned, unwed pregnancy. No one would be as emotionally invested as the baby’s father...

“Sirena, I’m not trying to—”

“Be my conscience?” she interjected. He was still acting as one. “I have a specialist appointment on Monday. I don’t know how long it will take. Tell him I will give his offer my full attention after that and will be in touch by the end of next week.”

John’s demeanor shifted. “So he is the father.”

“That will be determined by the paternity test once the baby is born, won’t it?” Sirena retorted, scrambling to hold onto as many cards as she could because she was running out of them, fast.

* * *

Raoul’s mind had been going around in circles for weeks, driving him mad. If Sirena was pregnant with his child, she would have used that to keep him from trying to incarcerate her. Since she hadn’t, it must not be his. But she could have used her condition for leniency during the proceedings and hadn’t. Which meant she wanted to keep the pregnancy from him. Which led him to believe the baby was his.

Most troubling, if he wasn’t the father, who was?

Raoul sent baleful glances around his various offices as he traveled his circuit of major cities, aware there were a plethora of men in his numerous office towers with whom Sirena, with her voluptuous body and warm smile, could easily have hooked up.

The thought grated with deep repugnance. He’d never heard the merest whisper of promiscuity about his PA, but she’d obviously led a secretive life. It wasn’t as if she’d been a virgin when he’d made love to her.

She’d been the next thing to it, though, with her shy hesitancy that had turned to startled pleasure.

Biting back a groan, he tried not to think of that afternoon in a house he’d toured as a potential real estate investment. Every day he fought the recollection of their passionate encounter and every night she revisited him, her silky hair whispering against his skin, her soft giggle of self-consciousness turning to a gasp of awe as she stroked him. The hum of surrender in her throat as he found the center of her pleasure nearly had him losing it in his sleep.

Every morning he reminded himself he’d used a condom.

One that had been in his wallet so long he couldn’t remember when or for whom he’d placed it there. He’d only been grateful to find it when a downpour had turned Sirena from the open front door into his arms. A stumbling bump of her pivoting into him, a gentlemanly attempt to keep her on her feet, a collision of soft curves against a body already charged with sexual hunger.

When she’d looked up at him with wonder as her abdomen took the impression of his erection, when she’d parted her lips and looked at his mouth as though she’d been waiting her whole life to feel it cover her own...

Swearing, Raoul rose to pace his Paris office. It was as far as he was willing to get from London after trying to settle with Sirena once and for all. The remembered vision of her passion-glazed eyes became overlaid with a more recent one: when her lawyer had mentioned her pregnancy and she had shot that petrified look at Raoul.

The baby was his. He knew it in his gut and if he’d been ruthless with her for stealing money, she had no idea the lengths he’d go for his child.

Doubt niggled, though. If the baby was his, and she was the type to embezzle, then try to sleep her way out of it, why wasn’t she trying to squeeze a settlement out of him?

None of it added up and he was losing his mind trying to make sense of it. If she’d only talk to him. They used to communicate with incredible fluidity, finishing each other’s sentences, filling in gaps with a look...

Lies, he reminded himself. All an act to trick him into trusting her, and it had worked. That’s what grated so badly. He’d failed to see that she was unreliable, despite his history with shameless charlatans.