“My mother and sister needed me. My father had just died!”
“Your mother and sister need to stand on their own feet and learn to solve their own problems, rather than always running to you first. You had a new family to care for.”
She squared her shoulders. She wasn’t going to get into that old argument with him again. “And now you have a new secretary to care for you. How’s she doing at solving all your problems? Has she even learned how to type?”
His jaw clenched, but he said only, “You seem very worried about her capabilities.”
Oh, yeah, she could just imagine what Lindsey’s capabilities were. Still shivering from Nikos’s brief touch, bereft of her baby, Anna could feel her self-control slipping away. She was tired, so tired. She hadn’t slept on the plane. She hadn’t slept in months.
The truth was, she hadn’t really slept since the day Nikos had rejected her in the last trimester of her pregnancy, leaving her to sleep alone every night since.
She rubbed her eyes.
“All right. I think she’s vicious and shallow. She’s the last person I’d entrust with Misha. Just because she’s in your bed it doesn’t make her a good caretaker for our son.”
He raised a dark eyebrow. “Doesn’t it? And yet that’s the whole reason that you are the caretaker of my son now…because you were once in my bed.”
Their eyes met, held. And that was all it took. Memories suddenly pounded through her blood and caused her body to heat five degrees. A hot flush spread across her skin as a single drop of sweat trickled between her breasts. It was as if he’d leaned across the four feet between them and touched her. As if he’d taken possession of her mouth, stroked her bare skin, and pressed his body hot and tight on hers against the wall.
One look from him and she could barely breathe.
He looked away, and she found herself able to breathe again. “And, as usual, you are jumping to the wrong conclusions,” he said. “Lindsey is my secretary, nothing more.”
Anna had been his secretary once, too. “Yeah, right.”
“And whatever her failings,” he said, looking at her with hard eyes, “at least she’s loyal. Unlike you.”
“Never what? Never tricked a bodyguard into taking you to the doctor’s office so you could sneak out the back? Never promised to name my son Andreas, then called him something else out of spite? I did everything I could to keep you safe, Anna. You never had to work or worry ever again. All I asked was your loyalty. To me. To our coming child. Was that too much to ask?”
His dark eyes burned through her like acid. She could feel the power of him, see it in the tension of hard muscles beneath his finely cut white shirt.
A flush burned her cheeks. The day of her delivery, surrounded by strangers in a gray Minneapolis hospital, she’d thought of her own great-grandfather, Mikhail Ivanovich Rostov, who’d been born a prince but had fled Russia as a child, starting a difficult new life in a new land. It had seemed appropriate.
But, whatever her motives, Nikos was right. She’d broken her promise. She pressed her lips together. “I’m…sorry.”
She could feel his restraint, the way he held himself in check. “You’re sorry?”
“A-about the name.”
He was moving toward her now, like a lion stalking a doomed gazelle. “Just the name?”
She backed away, stammering, “But some might say y-you lost all rights to name him when you—” Her heels hit a wall. Nowhere to run. “When you—”