And the tabloids went nuts trying to find out all they could about one of the sexiest, wealthiest bachelors in Europe. They followed him to all the public events. Analyzed any woman who appeared on his arm. She wondered how he’d ever taken her out in Valencia without such scrutiny.
Andrés was power and magnetism personified. Women wanted him and men just wanted to be him. All she had to do was look at his picture and her pulse raced, her body tingled, and she was recreating all the feelings that had gotten her into trouble in the first place.
On her coffee table she had the latest issue of a gossip magazine, flipped to the page he was on. Andrés looked just as devastatingly handsome as when she’d met him at the resort over the summer. But what made her absolutely sick was the woman draped on his arm in this picture. Estella Martinez, the manager of Diablo’s Paraíso, was curled up against Andrés’ tall frame, her smile smug and her body spilled into a tight red dress.
While Chloe carried his child, Andrés had already moved on to another woman. But then, why would she expect anything else? It’s not as if their time together had meant anything to him. Her heart twisted, even while anger burned low in her gut.
For the briefest moment she considered not telling him. What could it hurt if he never knew? A shiver ran down her spine and she shook her head.
Andrés was a ruthless man. When he’d believed she’d slept with him just to get a story for a magazine, he’d shredded her career as effortlessly as if he’d swatted a fly on the wall. If he found out she kept a baby from him…
He had a right to know. Which meant she’d have to find a way to contact him. Or at least find someone who could.
Above the sounds of clinking glasses and the hired professional orchestra, Andrés vaguely heard the sound of his mobile ringing in his pocket. “Excuse me,” he murmured to the group standing in conversation around him, welcoming the interruption of yet another tedious social event.
He strode briskly from the room and into an empty foyer, pulling his phone free while he walked.
“Pablo,” he greeted mildly.
“Buenos noches, Señor. I’m sorry to interrupt your evening,” Pablo murmured. “However, I have received a message I feel you would want to be made aware of immediately.”
It could have been a situation with one of his hotels, or something equally associated to the industry. And yet intuition pricked within him.
“What is it?”
“I just received word that Chloe Wilkinson is trying quite determinedly to locate you.”
Andrés’s heart stuttered and his fingers tightened around the phone. Chloe. He closed his eyes briefly and drew in a slow breath.
He had wanted to loathe her for her actions, but he hadn’t been able to rid her from his thoughts. Hadn’t been able to erase the memory of her and how she’d made him feel for that short time they’d been together. And now she was trying to find him.
“Do you have her number?” he asked quietly.
“I do, Señor.”
It was hardly the time or place, but none of that mattered. Andrés found a pen and paper and took down the number. A few minutes later he dialed her.
His throat tightened as it rang once. Why was she trying to contact him? Rang twice. After all the time that had gone by. Three times.
Andrés closed his eyes at the sound of her voice, gripping the phone tighter. Her tone was muffled and hesitant, but it was without a doubt Chloe.
The sound of her voice shouldn’t have made his blood pound this quickly. Made the hairs rise on the back of his neck. How many nights had he lain awake thinking of her? Dreaming of her? She was like a damn virus in his blood that he could not shake.
“I hear you were searching for me, cariño.” The soft endearment slipped out as if they hadn’t parted on bitter terms.
There was silence on the other line, so thick and long he began to wonder if she’d hung up. He stopped breathing at the idea, panic gripping him.
She hadn’t ended the call. He closed his eyes and murmured, “Sí. You sound surprised.”
He paced the foyer, feeling like a caged lion as he waited for her response. Did she call to apologize? To explain that though she’d been trying to deceive him, her passion had been real? Did she call to beg forgiveness and ask to see him again?
Which led to the most important question: could he forgive her transgression and take her back? Of course not.
Already he envisioned her in his arms again. Her soft sighs of pleasure, the tantalizing smell of her jasmine perfume, the lushness of her body beneath his. His groin tightened beneath the trousers of his tuxedo and he ground his teeth together.
Yes. Perhaps having Chloe back in his bed would be a very satisfying arrangement. Though it was true she no longer posed a threat as a reporter, this time he would insist she sign the confidentiality contract.
“I am surprised, yes,” she finally admitted in a strained voice. “I didn’t think you would call me back.”
“Well I must admit you have roused my…” He paused deliberately and let a slow smile curl his lips. “Curiosity.”
“Oh,” she said softly. And he could very well visualize her cheeks filling with color while she nibbled on her full bottom lip.
He missed that. How easily she blushed. How responsive she was to his touch or even just a look. “What is it you needed, Chloe?”
“I don’t need anything, Andrés. In fact, perhaps I shouldn’t have even called,” she rambled now. “I have no expectations, no motivations in calling you. I just, well, you have every right to know.”
Right to know? His heart pounded harder and he shook his head. Was she ill?
Tension coiled through his muscles. The sounds from the party swelled, Andrés covered his left ear to block them out. “Know what, Chloe?”
There was another pause and he could’ve sworn he heard her sniffling.
Andrés cursed and cast a glare at the hostess of the party as she crossed the foyer toward him.
“Are you coming back to the party, darling?”
“Give me a moment,” he bit out and strode in the opposite direction.
“I’m sorry,” Chloe said, sounding almost deflated now. “You’re busy. Perhaps I should call—”
“Basta. Tell me now.” He cursed. If she was sick, or facing losing her apartment, or—
There was a roaring in Andrés’ ears and his vision narrowed. The word looped in his ears. Pregnant. He could hear the furious pounding of his heart while he reached out to place his palm against the nearby wall.
Chloe was pregnant.
Sweat broke out on the back of his neck and he struggled to breathe.
“But you don’t have to worry about anything, Andrés. Though I felt you have every right to know, this isn’t your problem,” she said firmly. “I’ll deal with it myself.”
And then the line went dead.
The bell from the kitchen chimed, signaling her order was up. Chloe drew in a harried breath as she grabbed a tip from one table and rushed back to pick up the food for another.
Eleven hours on her feet. Gosh, was that what she was going on now? Thank heavens it was almost nine and the dinner rush was over. Just one more hour and then she could go home.
“How are you holding up, Chloe?” Martha paused on her way back to the kitchen and cast her a sympathetic look. “It’s not right. You working doubles in your condition.”
Chloe loaded up the plates full of food onto her tray and managed a faint smile. “I’m pregnant, not terminally ill. I’m doing all right. Besides, it’s just the mornings where I pretty much wish I were dead. Be back in a second.”
She balanced the tray on one hand and went to deliver it to the family at table five. The diner wasn’t overly busy, but alive with atmosphere. Getting into the spirit of fall, it was decorated with oversized cutouts of leaves, while pumpkin lights were strung around some of the windows.
A few minutes later she’d returned behind the counter to where Martha was scooping butter into little containers for the morning breakfast rush.
“So I called him,” Chloe admitted quietly, setting the tray back down.
Martha’s eyes widened but she didn’t slow her pace scooping. “And?”
The memory of the conversation knotted her stomach. Chloe’s throat burned with despondency. “He was with another woman when I called.”
Sympathy flared in her friend’s gaze. “Oh, Chloe, I’m sorry.”
She forced a light shrug. “I really shouldn’t have expected anything less.” Not with Andrés. Spain’s elusive bachelor billionaire, the tabloid’s had dubbed him. Women were probably as common to him as breathing.