Timothy's pale, thin face was ghostly white—but he looked like he was breathing fire. He slammed the door closed behind him and grabbed her wrist.
“How is that possible,” he ground out, “when we have never slept together?”
His eyes were so hard through his wire-rimmed glasses, his face so wild and different from his usual placid expression, that she backed up a step.
“I'm sorry,” she whispered. “It was a mistake. I never meant to hurt you…”
“Who's the man?” he demanded, his slender hand tightening around her wrist.
She shook her head desperately. “It doesn't matter. I'll never see him again.”
“Who is he?”
“You're hurting me!”
He tossed her arm aside. “So that's why you suddenly agreed to marry me? Because you were pregnant and your lover had deserted you?”
“But you made a mistake if you planned to pass this baby off as mine,” he sneered. “Even I'm not stupid enough to believe you're pregnant with my child, when you never let me touch you!”
“It was a mistake!” she cried. “The worst mistake of my life! I just found out I was pregnant this morning. I never intended to deceive you!”
“Right,” he said sarcastically. He ran his hand through his blond, thinning hair. “Sure.”
She watched him miserably. “I understand why you want to call off the wedding. It's probably for the best…”
He looked at her sharply. “What do you mean? I'm not calling anything off.”
“You're not backing out. Pregnant or not,” he said in a hard voice, “you're going to marry me. Today.”
She swallowed. “And the baby—”
His lip curled. “I'll take care of it.”
He threw the door back with a bang and stalked out.
Take care of it?
Timothy was willing to be her baby's father?
He was truly willing to help her raise her child?
Dazed, she stumbled out of the room. She'd thought, really thought, he would call off the wedding. But he hadn't—so that meant…
She was getting married. Right now. In just moments, she would be Timothy's wife—for the rest of her life. She heard the string quartet finish Pachelbel's “Canon in D major.” He'd spent a fortune on this wedding, inviting the whole town to see them wed like some kind of royal coronation. As if to force everyone who'd ever treated them badly to see them crowned king and queen of the town.
Lilibeth came toward Ellie, reaching up to kiss her cheek before pulling the gauzy veil over her face. “I couldn't help but overhear!” she said joyfully, her lips pressing an air kiss of her signature orange lipstick. “Pregnant! Oh, Ellie, I'm so happy for you, my dear!”
Happy that Ellie was marrying a man she didn't love?
Happy that the man she had loved was a selfish, critical, amoral bastard who didn't deserve to be any baby's father?
“But, Gran…” Ellie said softly. “I don't love Timothy.”
Her grandmother's eyes widened, then narrowed. “You will,” she said briskly. “You're going to have his baby.”
The doors to the nave opened, and the wedding march rolled over her like a wave. People turned around in the pews, craning their heads to see her.