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“My baby’s father didn’t want to marry me,” she said quietly.

“So you gave yourself away to some playboy? Someone who couldn’t even give what I offered?” Jealousy raced through him. Once again, the woman he’d wanted, the one he’d chosen—had thrown herself away on another man. His hands curled into fists and he took a deep breath, regaining control. “I thought better of you.” He lifted his chin. “So who is the father? Let me guess. Your new boss?”

“No,” she said in a low voice. Slowly she lifted her eyes to his. “My old one.”

He snorted. “Your old—”

Cesare gave an intake of breath as he looked down at the chubby black-haired baby.

I don’t need a wedding proposal. He heard the echo of her trembling voice from long ago. Or for you to say you’re ready to be a father. I just need to know you might want those things someday. That you might be open to the possibility...if something ever...

And he’d told her no. Flat-out. Either this is a fun diversion, a friendship with benefits, or it’s nothing.

I’m going to have a baby, she’d said then. He’d thought she was trying to pin down his future. He hadn’t realized she’d been talking about the present.

Cesare stared down at the baby’s familiar black eyes—the same eyes he looked at every day in the mirror—and his knees nearly gave way beneath him.

“It’s me,” he breathed. “I’m the father.”


EMMA’S HEART POUNDED as she waited for Cesare’s reaction.

She couldn’t believe this was happening. For the past ten months, she’d dreamed of this. She’d thought of him constantly as their baby grew inside her. The day Sam was born. And every day since.

But now, she was afraid.

Alain Bouchard had been a wonderful boss to Emma, looking out for her almost like a brother through the months of her pregnancy and the sleepless nights beyond. But Alain hated Cesare, his former brother-in-law, blaming him for his sister Angélique’s death. For ten months, Emma had waited for this day to come, for Cesare to find out about the baby—and the identity of her employer.

Over the past year, as she walked through the streets of Paris doing Alain’s errands, shopping for fresh fruit and meats in the outdoor market on the Rue Cler, whenever she’d seen a tall, broad-shouldered, dark-haired man, she held her breath. But it was never Cesare. He hated Paris. It was partly why she’d chosen this job.

So today, when she’d seen a tall, dark-haired man pacing across the park, looking around with a strange desperation, she’d forced herself to ignore her instincts, because they were always wrong. She’d simply sat on the bench as her baby dozed in his stroller, and felt the warmth of the September sun on her skin. It had been almost a year since she’d last seen Cesare’s face, since she’d last felt his touch. So much had happened. Their baby was no longer a tiny newborn. Sam had grown into a roly-poly four-month-old who could sleep seven hours at a stretch and loved to smile and laugh. Already, she could see his Italian heritage in his black eyes, the Falconeri blood.

But still, as Emma sat in the park, she hadn’t been able to look away from the dark-haired man in a tailored suit, who seemed out of place as he stomped down the path, gulping down a coffee. She’d told herself her imagination was working overtime. It absolutely was not Cesare.

Then he’d walked past her, barking into his cell phone. She saw his face, heard his voice. And time stood still.

Then, without thought, she’d reacted, leaping to her feet, calling his name.

Now, as she looked up at him, the world seemed to spin, the tourists and trees and dark outline of the Eiffel Tower a blur against the sky. There was Cesare. Only Cesare.

For so long, she’d craved him, heart and soul. Cried for him at night, for the awful choice she’d had to make. He’d told her outright he didn’t want a child, but she’d still struggled with whether she’d made an unforgivable mistake, not telling him. Twice she’d even picked up the phone.

Now he was just inches away from her, close enough to touch. All throughout their conversation, she’d glanced at their baby out of the corner of her eye. How could he not instantly see the resemblance? How could he not see little Sam in the stroller, and know?

Well, Cesare knew now.

“I’m the father,” he breathed, looking from Sam to her.

“Yes.” Emma felt a thrill in her heart even as a chill of fear went down her spine. “He’s yours.”

Cesare’s dark eyes were shocked, his voice hoarse. “Why didn’t you tell me?”


“How could you not tell me?” Pacing back two steps, he clawed back his dark hair. Whirling back to face her, he accused, “You knew you were pregnant when you left London.”

She nodded. His dark eyes were filled with fury.

“You lied to me.”

“I didn’t exactly lie. I said I was going to have a baby....”

He sucked in his breath, then glared at her. “I thought you meant someday. And you let me believe that. So you lied.”

She licked her lips. “I wanted to tell you...”

“You were never on the Pill.”

“I never said I was!”

His eyes narrowed. “You said—”

“I said I couldn’t get pregnant,” she cut him off. “I didn’t think I could. When I was a teenager, I was—very sick—and my doctor said future pregnancy might be difficult, if not impossible. I never thought I could...” She lifted her gaze to his and whispered, “It’s a miracle. Can’t you see that? Our baby is a miracle.”

“A miracle.” Cesare glowered at her. “And you never thought you should share the miracle with me?”

“I wanted to. More than you can imagine.” Emma set her jaw. “But you made it absolutely clear you didn’t want a family.”

“Did you get pregnant on purpose?” he demanded. “To force me to marry you?”

Emma couldn’t help herself. She laughed in his face.

“Why are you laughing?” he said dangerously.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were making a joke.”

“This isn’t a joke!”

“No. It isn’t. But you are!” she snapped, losing patience.

He blinked as his mouth fell open.

She took a deep calming breath, blowing a tendril of hair off her hot forehead. “I’ve gone out of my way not to trap you. I’m raising this baby completely on my own. I wouldn’t marry you even if you asked me!”


She stiffened, remembering that she had indeed once yearned to marry him—even hinted at it aloud! Her cheeks burned with humiliation. She lifted her chin. “Maybe once I was stupid enough to want that, but I’ve long since realized you’d make a horrible husband. No sane woman would want to marry a man like you.”

“A man like me,” he repeated. He looked irritated. “So you’d rather be a housekeeper, slaving for wages, instead of a billionaire’s wife?” He snorted. “Do you really expect me to believe that?”

She glared back at him. “And do you really believe I’d want to sell myself to some man who doesn’t love me, when I can support myself and my child through honest work?”

“He’s not just your child.”

“You don’t want him. You said so in London. Right to my face.”

“That was different. You made it sound like a choice. You didn’t tell me the decision was already made.” He folded his arms, six feet three inches of broad-shouldered masculine stubbornness. “I want him tested. To have DNA evidence he’s my child.”

She ground her teeth. “You don’t believe me?”

“The woman who swore she couldn’t get pregnant? No.”

Ooh. She stamped her foot. “I’m not having Sam pricked with a needle for some dumb DNA test. If you don’t believe me, if you think I might have been sleeping around and now I’m lying just for kicks, then forget about us. Just leave. We’ll do fine without you.”

He clenched his hands at his sides. “You should have told me!”

“I tried to, but when I started hinting at the idea of a child, you nearly fainted with fear!”

“I absolutely did not faint—” he began furiously.

“You did! From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I wanted to tell you. Of course I wanted to tell you. What do you take me for? My parents were married straight out of high school and loved each other until my mom died. That’s what people do in my hometown. Get married and stay married. Buy a home and raise a family. Do you honestly think—” Emma’s voice grew louder, causing nearby people in the park to look at them “—that I wanted to be a single mother? That this is something I chose?”

Cesare looked astonished, his sensual lips slightly parted, his own tirade forgotten. Then he scowled.

“Don’t even try to—”

“Even now,” she interrupted, feeling the tears well up, “when I’ve just told you you’re a father, what are you doing? You’re yelling at me, when any other man on earth would be interested in—I don’t know—meeting his new son!”

Tags: Jennie Lucas Billionaire Romance