Claimed for Makarov's Baby(9)

By: Sharon Kendrick

She remembered that first urgent thrust—as if he’d wanted to lose something of himself deep inside her. And hadn’t she felt exactly the same? As if her whole life had been spent in preparation for that moment. She remembered the way she’d shuddered with pleasure, orgasming not once, but twice, in rapid succession. And he had laughed—softly and triumphantly—running his fingertip over her trembling lips and telling her that she handled better than any of his cars.

‘Yes, we spent the night together,’ he said impatiently, completing her sentence, and Erin blinked as Dimitri’s voice shattered her erotic memories. She came back to the present with a start—to the cheap wedding dress and the unforgiving coldness of his face as he paced around his vast apartment.

‘We had a night of sex which should never have happened,’ he continued harshly. ‘I thought we both decided that. That it had been a mistake.’

Erin nodded. That was what he had said the morning after, and she’d felt there had been no choice but to agree. What else could she have done—clung to his naked body and begged him to stay with her and do it to her all over again? Told him that she wanted to care for him and save him, and keep him safe from the awful world he inhabited? She remembered the bedcovers falling away from her breasts and the sombre look which had come over his face. The way he’d suddenly got out of bed, as if he hadn’t been able to wait to get away from her. His final words had killed off any hopes she might have had for a repeat. ‘I’m not the kind of man you need, Erin,’ he’d said abruptly. ‘Go and find yourself someone nice and kind. Someone who will treat you the way you should be treated.’

After that, dignity had seemed the only way forward, especially when he’d left the country the next day and kept communication brief and unemotional during the weeks which had followed.

‘And we used a condom,’ he said, his brow furrowing and his lips flattening into a scowl. ‘I always do.’

His words seemed intended to remind her that she was just one of many and Erin looked at him, her clasped hands feeling sticky as she buried them within the folds of her wedding dress. ‘I know we did,’ she said.

‘I never wanted a child,’ he added bitterly.

She knew that, too. He’d made no secret of his thoughts about marriage and childhood. That marriage was an expensive waste of time and some people were never cut out for parenthood. Was that one of the reasons why she’d balked at telling him about her pregnancy—terrified he would try to prevent her from having his baby? She remembered going round to his apartment, sick with dread at the thought of blurting out her momentous news—and what she had found there had made her turn around and never go back...

But his condemnatory words were bringing something to life inside her and that something was a mother’s protective instinct. She thought of Leo’s innocent face—all flushed and warm after his evening bath—and a feeling of strength washed over her. ‘Then pretend you don’t have a child,’ she said fiercely. ‘Pretend that nothing has changed, because I have no intention of forcing something on you which you don’t want. You can walk away and forget you ever found out. Leave me with our son and don’t let it trouble your conscience. Leo and I can manage perfectly well on our own.’

Erin saw something which almost looked like pleasure flickering in his icy eyes and she remembered that dissent was something he was used to dealing with. Something he seemed almost to enjoy. Because dissent implied battle and Dimitri Makarov always won the battles he fought.

‘You can manage perfectly well?’ he questioned softly.

‘Yes,’ she said, aware on some level that she was walking into a trap, but not knowing exactly where that trap lay.

‘So how come I found you standing in a cheap wedding dress, about to break the law?’

She licked her lips but didn’t answer.

‘Why, Erin?’

‘I had my reasons.’

‘And I want to hear them.’

She hesitated, knowing she could procrastinate no longer. ‘Leo and I live with my sister. She owns a café in Bow.’

‘I know that.’

Had her face registered her shock and surprise? ‘How could you possibly know that?’

‘I had some of my people investigate you.’

‘You had what? Why?’ She could hear her voice beginning to tremble. ‘Why would you do something like that?’

‘Because of the child, of course.’ His pale eyes narrowed into icy shards. ‘Why else?’

‘How did you find out about Leo?’

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