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The Unexpected Baby

By:Diana Hamilton

CHAPTER ONE

‘WHAT took you so long?’ Jed’s eyes gleamed with sultry promise beneath heavy half-closed lids, his gorgeous mouth curving sensually as he invited, ‘Come back to bed, Mrs Nolan. And take that thing off. Pretty it may be, but your body’s a darn sight prettier.’

Elena couldn’t meet his eye. She felt sick. She told herself it was shock, or auto-suggestion. She stuffed her hands in the side pockets of the silk wrap she’d dragged on before leaving the bathroom so he wouldn’t see how much they were trembling.

Her mouth went dry just looking at him. He was her love, her life, everything. He made her feel special, secure, treasured.

The sheet tangled around his lean hips was the only thing between him and total nakedness. Six foot three of superbly honed masculinity, with a sizzling, whitehot sexual magnetism that jumped out and hit her. For a thirty-six-year-old business man—a shopkeeper, Sam had once half mockingly described him—he had the body of an athlete and a face that only just missed classical perfection, courtesy of a slight bump at the bridge of his nose—broken on the rugby field—and a tough, pugnacious jaw.

Sam’s name in her mind made her want to scream. How could she have been so reckless? She had thought she’d known what she was doing, when in reality she’d known nothing at all, just gone ahead in her usual pig-headed fashion, wanting it all. Everything.

And how could she bring herself to break the news to Jed? Put something like that into the pure beauty of their marriage? The short answer was she couldn’t. Not yet, anyway. Not while the irrefutable evidence was a scant ten minutes old, burning holes in her brain.

Her heart punched savagely at her breastbone as with a whimper of distress she discarded her wrap, flew impulsively to the bed and flung herself down beside him. Wrapping her body around him, she whispered with soft ferocity, ‘I love you... I love you...’

‘Still? After a whole week of marriage?’

Teasing silver lights danced deep in his lazily hooded eyes as he smoothed the long golden silk of her hair away from her face, and Elena said, her voice tight with anguish, ‘Don’t mock me, Jed. Don’t!’

‘As if!’ His smile was soft, melting her, as he eased her onto her back, propping himself up on one elbow, his beautifully proportioned body half covering hers. Thick dark hair tumbled over his forehead, the curve of his mouth a sinful seduction as he gently rubbed his thumb over her full lips.

Tears misted her eyes. She had never believed she could love someone so much it hurt. Or that she could ever be this afraid. For ten years she had been afraid of no one, and nothing. She’d known what she wanted and sweated blood to get it. And now, because of a moment of reckless, arrogant folly, she had turned herself into a frightened wreck, full of dread.

‘Something’s wrong,’ he said gently, a slight frown pulling dark brows together now. ‘Tell me, my darling.’

She couldn’t! Not yet, not until she could get her own head around it. And even then it would be almost impossible. Hating having to lie to him, even by omission, despising the way her voice shook, she muttered, ‘Not really—its just that what we have frightens me, Jed.’ And that, at least, was the truth.

It hadn’t frightened her before; she had joyfully accepted the gift of their love for each other with both eager hands. But it frightened her now because she was afraid they were going to lose it, that his love for her wouldn’t be strong enough to cope with what she was going to have to tell him.

The unbelievably precious gift of their love had come so quickly, so easily. She’d been too deliriously happy to imagine that it could be taken from her just as suddenly.

She swallowed the knot of aching tears in her throat and said thickly, trying to lighten the sombre darkness she could see in his eyes, ‘You see, I still can’t believe you could have fallen in love with a thirty-year-old divorcee when you could have had just about anyone!’ She tried to smile, and failed, and closed her eyes instead. Her heart threatened to burst as she felt his lips kiss the tears away from her spangled lashes.

‘I didn’t want just anyone,’ he assured her, his voice huskily tender. ‘But I wanted you from the first moment I saw you. The circumstances couldn’t have been more dire, but I already felt I knew you from what Sam had told me, and I took one look at you and knew I wanted to be with you for the rest of my life.’

That had been six short weeks ago, when she’d travelled from her home here in Spain to England for Sam’s funeral. And despite the terrible, numbing sadness of the occasion, with the raw early-April wind that had scoured the small Hertfordshire graveyard adding to the misery, she had taken one look at Sam’s elder brother and known she had found the only man who could make her break her vow never to become emotionally dependent on any man ever again.

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