“You can’t marry her!” The words burst from Alexandra without thought. “She doesn’t care about you. She couldn’t and still accept your lifestyle for the past year.”
Again that mocking black brow rose.
She answered the unspoken question. “You’ve been living with me.” Surely no woman could tolerate such a circumstance and care even the least little bit for the man involved.
“I assure you, I have not publicized the fact.”
She clenched her hand against her stomach, feeling as if she’d sustained a blow there.
He was right. He had been very careful to keep their relationship out of the media, no small feat when she was a fairly well known model in Europe and he was a billionaire. But those same billions along with her circumspect behavior had made it possible. She had her own reason for wanting to stay out of the international scandal rags.
Just as she’d had her reasons for keeping her identity as Alexandra Dupree a secret. Just as she had commitments that had forced her to put her job before her time with Dimitri. But those commitments no longer held top place in her priorities, not now that she was pregnant and he was talking about marrying another woman.
“Do you love her?” He’d implied he didn’t, but she wanted facts. She needed assurances.
“Love is not something I think about.”
That was telling her. She bit her lip, tasting blood before she realized what she was doing.
He swore and dipped his napkin in her glass of water before pressing it against the small wound, his expression furious. “Do not do this to yourself, Xandra. Our affair was bound to end. Perhaps that end is coming sooner than either of us expected or wanted, but it cannot be a complete shock to you.”
She shook her head, unable to believe he thought she had spent the last year looking ahead to an end in their relationship. She had never allowed herself to imagine a future with him, either. In fact, she’d spent the last year pretty much refusing to think of the future at all.
“I love you.” The words just slipped out.
“Damn it. Don’t do this.”
“Don’t do what? Tell you the truth?”
“Try to manipulate me with such claims.”
“I’m not trying to manipulate you.”
Cynicism colored his features. “Then why have you said nothing of this great love for the past year?”
“I was afraid…”
His sarcastic laugh cut into her. “You were more sincere.”
On one level, she understood his disbelief. She’d never spoken of love and he didn’t know about Mama or Madeleine and the financial needs that had forced Alexandra to put him second to her modeling career. She might never have told him of her love either, but her pregnancy had forced her to reevaluate her life, a big chunk of which was her relationship with him.
Even understanding it, his scathing denial of her love still hurt. “You care about me. Don’t try to deny it. Not after the way we have been the past twelve months, not after making love to me two days ago.”
“I appreciate that having sex with you in the circumstances was wrong, but as I said I could not help myself.”
Okay, so he hadn’t agreed he cared about her, but such an admission from a guy like Dimitri Petronides wasn’t something to dismiss lightly. He found her irresistible. Surely that must mean he had some feelings for her. “If it were only sex, you could have gotten that anywhere, including from your fiancée.”
“A proper Greek girl does not give her innocence to a man before she marries.”
Did he realize what he was saying? It was archaic. Prehistoric. “What does that make me? A tart?”
His broad shoulders tensed. “No. You are an independent, career-minded woman. I wanted you. You wanted me. We made no promises to one another. I never intended marriage and if you are honest with yourself you will admit you knew that.”
“Why should I?” Maybe she hadn’t thought ahead to marriage, but she sure as heck hadn’t assumed they’d break up like this either. Not with him planning to marry someone else. “We had something incredibly special.”
“We had great sex.”
Her hands trembled and she put down the glass of juice she had just lifted to her lips. “I can’t believe you just said that.”
“It is the truth.”
He shrugged. “My truth.”
“Well, I have a truth I have to share with you as well.”
“What is this truth?” he asked coolly.
It was hard, harder than she could ever have imagined to pluck up the courage to tell a man who had just informed her what she had mistaken for love had been nothing more than great sex that she carried his child. In the end only blunt honesty would do. “I’m pregnant.”
For several seconds his expression did not change and then his eyes filled with pity. “Xandra, do not humiliate yourself this way. I will not leave you unprovided for.”
He thought she was worried about the payoff gift? She glared at the pile of papers and jeweler’s box near his right hand, wishing she could incinerate them with her eyes. “I’m carrying your child, Dimitri.”
He groaned and rubbed between his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. “You’ve always been very forthright, very honest. Do not stoop to telling tales now. Surely you cannot believe it will change the outcome.”
He thought she was lying? She felt hysterical laughter well up inside her. He thought she was lying now and had always been so forthright in the past. He believed she was Xandra Fortune, the French fashion model and orphan the world saw. And he didn’t believe she was pregnant.
The irony almost choked her. “I am not lying.”
His cynical smile galvanized her into action. She dug in her purse and grabbed the white stick that proved her pregnancy. She waved it in front of him. “One blue line means yes to a pregnancy.”
She did not know exactly what reaction she had expected, but it was not the volatile, fury filled one she got.
He grabbed her wrist, lifting the hand with the pregnancy test, his body vibrating with palpable anger. “You dare to show this to me?”
What was wrong with him? “Yes, I dare. I won’t let you ignore the reality of your baby just because you’ve decided it’s time to marry another woman.”
A nerve ticked in his jaw. “Do you think I am stupid? You cannot possibly be pregnant with my child.”
“The condom broke, remember?” He should. He’d made enough of it at the time.
“That was before your period and we did not have sex again until two days ago.” The grip on her wrist tightened painfully. “Tell me you are not pregnant. Tell me this—” he shook her hand “—is some kind of joke.”
“You’re hurting me,” she whispered as tears clogged her throat and burned her eyes.
A flash went off and he let her go, throwing her arm from him with disgust. She watched out of the periphery of her vision as one of Dimitri’s security men took off after the photographer. “It’s not a lie. I am pregnant.”
If anything, he seemed to swell with more anger. “It is not my child.”
For a moment his words paralyzed her. How could he doubt it was his child? She’d never had another lover. He knew it. “It is.”
His face contorted with revulsion. “All this time you have been haranguing me for planning to marry Phoebe, you have known you took another man to your bed. Who is it?”
His shouted question made her jump in fright. Dimitri never lost his cool. He hated scenes and putting on a public display was anathema to him.
“There is no other man.”
“The evidence is not in your favor.” His voice had dropped to freezing levels.
“I don’t know how it can be, but it is.”
“I had planned to be generous, give you the apartment. I thought you deserved it, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for your lover’s lifestyle and support his bastard child. I am not that stupid.” He grabbed the papers off the table, but tossed the box at her. “This should be a sufficiently memorable token for services rendered.”
She shoved the box aside. “There is no other man!”
His face closed up and terror coursed through her. He did not believe her. “You can have the tests done.”
He stood up. “Be assured I will demand them if you attempt to sue for any kind of support.”
Alexandra gulped, trying to get enough air. Trying not to vomit, but the pain was so intense that she wasn’t sure she could win the battle. Her arms were wrapped tightly around her middle and she still felt like she was going to fly apart into a thousand broken little pieces.
To have the gift of their child so brutally rejected hurt almost beyond bearing.
Whipping her hand to her mouth, she blocked the sound with her fist. She did not want to let him see her weakness.