Maybe we have more present issues to discuss, but right now, I’ve had enough of being called by my last name. “Ms. Watson? Really? After everything we’ve done, you won’t call me by my first name?”
That pompous brow of his goes on the rise. “My apologies. Liz.”
Liz? What happened to Elizabeth? The word he invoked with such heat and fervor it melted me every single time he breathed my name.
“What’s wrong? Would you prefer I call you something else?”
Yes, I do, but I’m not going to clue you in. Figure it out on your own. “Liz is fine. Go on.” I snap off another piece of the croissant, jam it into my mouth.
He rises, grabs the entire plate of croissants from the dining table, brings it to the coffee table, and places it in front of me.
“No, really, I shouldn’t.” Those things have to be a gazillion calories each.
I shiver at the command. Why do I love the way he orders me around when I won’t stand the same from another man?
“Thank you.” I lay another flaky roll on the empty plate and bring it to my lap. “Even if you were the father, and I’m not saying you are—”
He grunts with disapproval.
“—I’m not looking for help from you. I’m doing fine on my own.”
Without taking his gaze from me, he rests back against his seat. “Are you familiar with peer hereditary laws?”
Where did that come from? “Yes, of course.” We’d discussed it, among many other things, that weekend at the castle.
“You know my father’s an earl.”
“As his oldest legitimate son, I will inherit the title.”
Is this going where I think it’s going? I curl a protective hand around my belly.
“Our baby, if it’s a boy, can inherit the title as well but first we’d need to—”
“No.” I jerk to my feet, spilling the plate and the croissant on the rug. But before I can bolt, he takes my hand. It’s the first time he’s touched me since forever, and a sizzle runs up my arm straight to my heart. I’m so enthralled by him, by his touch, I remain placidly in his hold. Not that it would do any good to struggle. The look in his eyes tells me he’s not letting go.
“Sit, Elizabeth. Please.”
Elizabeth! There he’s said it. The sound of my name on his lips does what it always does. Can he tell I’m trembling? Because I am. I’m shaking like a leaf on a windy day. Unsure if my legs will hold me, I collapse on the couch. It’s only then he releases his grasp on me.
I struggle to regain control of my breathing, still my quivering. And as I do, reason sets in. “Wait. I don’t understand how you can ask me to marry you. Aren’t you betrothed to Lady Melissande?” The beautiful daughter of the Duke of Marchstone whom he proposed to the same night I ran out on him.
“We were never engaged.” His eyes drop to half mast, and I can’t tell if he’s lying or telling the truth.
“That’s not what the British tabloids reported.”
“They were wrong. And never mind her. It’s you I want to discuss.”
There’s more to the story, but he’s not going to tell me. That much I can tell by the firm set of his sensual lips. “Fine. Let’s talk about me. I don’t want to marry. You or anyone else. I told you that in London. Remember?”
“I proposed to you?” His eyes widen with surprise.