Chiara tensed. She was giving too much away. ‘Yes, I did understand that. But I changed my mind.’
Now he was accusing. ‘You married me just so you would be in a better position to negotiate terms?’
She sat down, defeated by Nico’s presence. ‘Can you blame me? You weren’t giving me any options.’
Nico regarded his wife across the small table and felt the pull of desire in his groin. He cursed silently. He couldn’t remain unaware of how lush she looked. Her breasts were bigger, straining against her top. And suddenly he thought of other men looking at her fertile body. Desiring her earthy beauty.
Because he could see it now. She was beautiful—in spite of her lack of adornment. She had stunning bone structure and a wide lush mouth. He had to fight off the memory of how swollen it had looked after his kisses. And those unusual light green eyes that seemed to change colour every second. They were like rare jewels.
He forced his attention away from her body and the desire she was sparking with an effort he resented.
He drawled, ‘There are plenty of women who wouldn’t consider marriage to me such a chore.’
Chiara sat back and folded her arms. ‘Well, by all means divorce me and marry a more willing woman. I won’t stand in your way.’
Nico let his eyes drop expressively to the swell of her belly. ‘I think it’s a bit late for that.’
She blanched, as if she’d forgotten for a moment. ‘How do you know it’s yours?’
Nico looked up again at her tart tone and assessed her show of bravado. It was all too flimsy. He felt the truth in his bones. This baby was his. A sense of satisfaction he couldn’t ignore rippled through him.
‘You were a virgin. I can’t really see you hopping into the next available bed.’
She bit her lip and said, ‘Maybe I didn’t—but don’t underestimate me.’
A cold fury swept through Nico at the thought of her in another man’s bed. He said, with quiet but lethal economy, ‘You will never be unfaithful to me, Chiara.’
Chiara felt the intensity of Nicolo’s steely tone. A little shakily, she said, ‘I presume that works both ways? Or am I to be subjected to a series of mistresses kept in luxury apartments in every major city of the world?’ Though, she had to admit that the few times she’d looked him up on the internet since she’d left, he hadn’t appeared with another woman. She didn’t like to admit how relieved she’d felt.
‘We are married. I see no reason not to remain faithful if my...appetites are satisfied.’
A sizzle of something hot arced between them and shock slammed into Chiara to think that Nico might—She shook her head mentally. She had to be imagining it—he couldn’t possibly fancy her like this. She’d lost whatever small waist definition she’d ever had!
She’d never really believed him when he’d said they had chemistry. Not on his side, anyway. She believed that he’d wanted her enough to sleep with her, but no more than that. He hadn’t felt the all-consuming desire she had.
The morning after their wedding night had shown her in no uncertain terms that he’d been as strategic about seducing her as he had been about everything else. Cutting off any chance she might have to escape their vows by claiming non-consummation. By not using protection.
Chiara opened her mouth to remind him of that, but then a shadow loomed over their table and she looked up to see her boss, a barrel-chested man called Silvano, who was also from Sicily. He was looking from her to Nico and then back to her.
‘Your break isn’t for another hour, Chiara.’
Nico stood up, rising to his full height of six foot three. He topped her boss by some inches, and the man immediately looked ineffectual. It almost made Chiara giggle, and she realised she was close to hysteria.
‘Not that it’s any of your business, but this woman is my wife and she no longer works for you. I have come to take her home.’
Her boss looked at her. He was a nice man, and he’d been quite protective of Chiara since he’d realised that she was pregnant.
‘Is this true?’ he asked.
She stood up, more conscious of her ungainly belly now than ever, and feeling very flustered after what Nico had just revealed. He wanted her. She hadn’t been prepared for that.
She nodded reluctantly, knowing there was no way out of this. ‘Yes, it’s true. I’m sorry.’
The man shrugged. ‘Mondays are always dead. If you need to leave I won’t stop you... Unless you want me to?’
He shot a look at Nico, but Chiara didn’t feel like giggling any more.
She avoided her husband’s eye. ‘It’s okay, Silvano.’ Her boss was a traditional Italian man, after all, and he no doubt welcomed someone turning up to claim her.