Claimed for Makarov's Baby(10)

By: Sharon Kendrick

‘The means are irrelevant,’ he snapped. ‘Just accept that I did. Now, where were we?’

Her heart sinking, she stared at him, knowing that she was trapped. ‘Leo goes to a local school and he’s doing very well, but...’

He bit out the words like bullets. ‘But what?’

She tried to keep the fear from her voice. The fear that she wasn’t doing the best for the golden child who had inherited so many of his father’s qualities.

‘He’s good at sport and there just aren’t the facilities where we live. The nearest park is a good bus ride away and Tara and I are often too busy working in the café to take him. You remember Tara? She’s my sister.’

‘I remember,’ he said tightly.

She drew in a deep breath, hoping to see some softening or understanding on the granite features, but there was none. And suddenly she wanted him to understand that there were reasons why she’d agreed to the marriage today. Good reasons. ‘Chico comes from a rich family in Brazil and wants to stay in England. He offered me a large sum of money to marry him, so that he could get a work permit. I was planning on using the money to resettle. To...to take Leo to the countryside and live somewhere with a garden. Somewhere he could kick a ball around and get plenty of fresh air and exercise. I...I want him to have that kind of life.’

Still his face showed no sign of reaction as he walked over to the large fireplace and pressed a bell recessed into the wall beside it. Moments later, a young woman appeared—a beautiful, cool blonde. Of course she was blonde. Every woman in the Russian’s life, bar Erin, was fair—sporting every shade in the spectrum from spun gold to moonbeam pale, because Dimitri needed blondes in the same way other men needed to breathe. Her flaxen hair was cut into a soft bob and her high cheekbones marked her out as Slavic, so it came as no surprise when Dimitri spoke to her in Russian. She glanced briefly over at Erin and nodded, before turning on her high-heeled shoes and leaving the room again.

Still Dimitri said nothing and in a way his silence was far more intimidating than if he’d continued to subject her to a barrage of angry questions. Would she ever be able to convince him that she’d tried to act in everyone’s best interests?

Erin was surprised when the blonde returned a few minutes later, carrying a pair of jeans and a cashmere sweater over her arm. She walked across the room and, placing them on the table in front of her, she smiled.

‘I think they will fit you,’ she said, her cut-glass English accent seeming to contradict the fluent Russian she’d used moments before. ‘But I have a belt you can use if the jeans are too big.’

‘Spasiba, Sofia,’ growled Dimitri, watching as the blonde left the room with that same confident wiggle.

Erin stared at the clothes. ‘What are these for?’

‘What do they look like they’re for? Sofia is lending you some of her own clothes,’ he said. ‘Put them on. I’m taking you home and I want as few people as possible seeing you. A woman leaving my apartment wearing a wedding dress would be bound to get the press excited, and I make a point of steering clear of the newspapers these days.’

Erin narrowed her eyes. Was that why he hadn’t featured in any of his famous post-nightclub shots with a half-clothed woman in tow recently? Was he getting better at hiding his seedy lifestyle?

She felt like refusing his autocratic demand to wear someone else’s clothes but she was cold now and she was starting to shiver. Maybe it was reaction. ‘Okay, I’ll put the jeans on,’ she said, from between chattering teeth. ‘But I don’t need you to take me home afterwards. I’m perfectly capable of catching the bus.’

‘I don’t think you quite understand the situation, Erin,’ he said coldly. ‘Unless you are trying to be coy, thinking I might take pity on you and let you go. Because that’s not going to happen. So let me spell it out for you, so that you get the message loud and clear.’ His eyes glittered like early-morning sun on ice. ‘I am taking you home so that I can meet my son.’





CHAPTER THREE


‘YOU CAN’T,’ SAID Erin fervently as the limousine gathered speed, and she turned to look at Dimitri, who was sitting like some granite-faced sentry in the back seat beside her. Sofia’s designer jeans were indeed too big but the baby-blue sweater hugged her nicely and now she was warmer she felt more in control. She made one last attempt to appeal to the Russian’s better nature, even if deep in her heart she knew he didn’t have one. ‘You can’t just turn up out of the blue and introduce yourself to a six-year-old boy and tell him you’re his long-lost father.’

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