A Ring for Vincenzo's Heir(6)

By: Jennie Lucas

She’d turned. The man came out of the shadows slowly. Black eyes. Dark hair. Powerful broad shoulders. A black suit. Hard edges everywhere. Five-o’clock shadow. He was like a hero—or a handsome villain—from a movie, so masculine and powerful and handsome that he’d affected her even more than the vodka shot.

“I had a...bad day.” Her voice trembled.

An ironic smile lifted the corners of his cruel, sensual mouth. “Why else would you be drinking in the afternoon?”

She wiped her eyes with a laugh. “For fun?”

“Fun. That’s an idea.” The man had come close enough to see her red-rimmed eyes and tear-streaked cheeks in the shadowy dive bar. She’d braced herself for questions, but he just slid onto the bar stool beside her and raised his hand to the bartender. “Let’s see if the second shot goes down easier.”

In spite of what she knew about him now, Vin Borgia still affected her like that. When Scarlett had seen him standing at the altar with his beautiful bride, all the memories had come back of their night together in February, when he’d taken her back to his elegant, Spartan, wildly expensive penthouse. He’d seduced her easily, claiming her virginity as if he owned it. He’d made her life explode with color and joy.

She’d known Vin’s name, since his doorman had greeted him with the utmost respect as “Mr. Borgia.” But she’d never told Vin her last name. Some habits were hard to break.

A phone call from Mrs. Falkner’s nurse had woken Scarlett when Vin still slept. Only her sense of duty had forced her to wrench herself from the warmth of his bed. She’d returned to the Falkner mansion and handed over the prescription, then dreamily looked up her one and only lover online.

That had woken her up fast. She’d been horrified by what she found.

Vincenzo Borgia was a ruthless airline billionaire who’d risen from nothing and didn’t give a damn who got hurt in his pursuit of world domination. She couldn’t imagine why a man like that had seduced her, when he usually had liaisons with socialites and supermodels. But she was grateful she hadn’t given him her last name. She wouldn’t give him the chance to hurt her.

Later, when she’d discovered she was pregnant, she’d wondered whether she’d made the right decision. But seeing Vin’s engagement announcement in the paper had clinched it.

Scarlett had never expected to see Vin again. She’d planned to raise her baby alone.

She wasn’t scared to be alone. She’d grown up on the run, and her fugitive father had secretly taught her skills after her mother got too sick to notice. How to pick pockets. How to pick locks. And most of all, how to be invisible and survive on almost nothing.

Compared to what she’d already lived through, raising a child as a single parent would be easy. She wasn’t a fugitive. She’d never committed any crimes. She had a marketable skill as a nurse’s aide. She’d even saved some money. She no longer had to hide.

Or did she?

Scarlett stopped pacing the thick rug of the cathedral rectory, staring blankly at the faded floral furniture. Did she really want to take the chance that Vin Borgia, the man she’d read such horrible things about, could be a good father? Did she dare take that risk, just because she’d loved her own father so much?

She could see the soft shimmer of dust motes through a beam of fading golden sunlight from the window. She put her hands gently on her belly.

Vin had saved her from Blaise, but rich, powerful men all had one thing in common: they wanted to be in control. And Vin Borgia was richer and more powerful than most.

She should just leave before he returned.

Right now.

Scarlett took a step, then stopped when she remembered her suitcase and handbag were still in Blaise’s limo, with her money, ID, credit card, phone. When she’d fled him in terror, those had been the last thing on her mind. But now... How could she run with no money and no passport?

She looked down glumly at her bare toes snuggled into the plush rug. She didn’t even have shoes!

“What’s your name?”

She whirled to face the door. Vin had entered the room, his jaw like granite as he loosened his tie. Just looking at his hard-muscled body caused a physical reaction in her, made her tremble from the inside out, with a mixture of fear and desire. Even the sleekly tailored tuxedo couldn’t give him the look of a man who was entirely civilized. Especially with that hard, almost savage look in his black eyes.

She swallowed. “You know my name. Scarlett.”

He glowered at her. “Your last name.”

“Smith,” she tried.

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