A Ring for Vincenzo's Heir(8)

By: Jennie Lucas

“I had no choice—”

“There were plenty of choices.” His jaw tightened. “Tell me the truth. If Falkner hadn’t threatened you today, you never would have told me about the baby, would you?”

She stared at him for a long moment, then shook her head.

“Why?” he demanded.

The warmth from the cathedral garden was failing. Scarlett glanced at the fading afternoon light, now turning gray. She didn’t answer.

“You refused to even tell me your last name that night. Why?” he pressed, coming closer. “Was it because you were also encouraging Falkner’s attentions?”

“I never did!” She gaped at him. “I knew he wanted me, but I never thought he’d attack me while giving me a ride from his mother’s funeral!”

“Ah. That explains the black dress.” He looked down at her pale pink toenails. “But why are you barefoot?”

“I kicked off my shoes running on Fifth Avenue. I knew your wedding was here today.” She looked down. “I’m sorry I ruined it.”

“Yes. Well.” His jaw tightened as he said grudgingly, “I suppose I should thank you.”

“You didn’t know your bride was cheating on you?”

“She convinced me she was a virgin and wanted to wait for marriage.”

A laugh rose to her lips. “You thought she was a virgin? In this day and age?”

“Why not?” he said coldly. “You were.”

Their eyes met, and Scarlett’s body flooded with heat. Against her will, memories filled her of that night, of being in his arms, in his bed, his body hard and hot and slick against hers. She tried to smile. “Yeah, but I’m not normal.”

“Agreed.” His dark gaze seared hers. “Am I really the father of your baby, Scarlett? Or were you lying just because you needed my help?”

“Of course the baby’s yours!”

He bared his teeth into a smile. “I will find out if it’s not true.”

“You’re the only man I’ve ever slept with, so I’m pretty sure!”

“The only man? Ever?” For a moment, something stretched between them. Then it snapped. “So what do you want from me now? Money?”

She glared at him. “Just point me in the direction of my suitcase and I’ll be on my way!”

“You’re not going anywhere until this is sorted.”

“Look, I’m deeply grateful for your help with Blaise, and sorry if I ruined your big wedding day, but I don’t appreciate you digging into my life, then assuming that I’m either a con artist or a gold digger. I’m neither. I just want to raise my baby in peace.”

“There will be a DNA test,” he warned. “Lawyers.”

She looked at him in horror. “Lawyers? What for?”

“So we both know where we stand.”

Scarlett felt a whoosh of panic that made her unsteady on her feet. Her voice trembled. “You mean you intend to sue me for custody?”

“That will not be necessary.” She exhaled in relief, before he finished, “Because once I have proof the baby’s mine, Scarlett, you will marry me.”

* * *

With those words, Vin took control over the spinning chaos of the day.

He’d been wrong about Anne Dumaine. He’d convinced himself she was modest and demure when all the while she’d been cheating on him and lying to his face. To say she’d turned out to be a disappointment was an understatement.

“Sorry,” she’d whispered the last time he’d seen her, when she’d pressed the ten-carat engagement ring into his palm. But she hadn’t looked sorry as she’d joyfully turned to her lover—a boy of maybe twenty-three, ridiculously shabby in a sweater, and they’d fled the cathedral hand in hand, Anne’s wedding veil flying behind her like a white flag.

Leaving Vin to face the annoyed glower of her father.

“If you’d bothered to show my daughter the slightest attention, she wouldn’t have fallen for that nobody!”

The merger with Transatlantique was clearly off.

Vin’s mistake. He’d never bothered to look beyond Anne’s cool blonde exterior into her soul. Truthfully, her soul hadn’t interested him. But he should have had his investigators check her more thoroughly. Trust no one had been his motto since he was young. Trust no one; control everything.

Scarlett Ravenwood was different. She didn’t have the education or pedigree of Anne, her manners were lamentable and she had no dress sense. Her only dowry would be the child she carried inside her.

A baby. His baby. After his own awful childhood, he’d decided long ago that any child of his would always know his father, would have a stable home and feel safe and loved. Vin would never abandon his child. He’d die first.

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