The hunter: Polly became a surrogate mother to pay for her mother’s life-saving operation.
Now she’s discovered her pregnancy was fathered by handsome Venezuelan businessman Raul Zaforteza. The husband? Raul will do anything to keep his baby; he’ll even marry Polly. But will she give in to the desire to posses her and their child?
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FROM the slim document case clasped in one strong brown hand, Raul Zaforteza withdrew a large glossy photograph. ‘This is Polly Johnson. In six weeks’ time she will give birth to my child. I must find her before then.’
Somehow primed to expect a gorgeous blonde with a supermodel face and figure, Digby was disconcerted to find himself looking at a small, slim girl with a mane of hair the colour of mahogany, soulful blue eyes and an incredibly sweet smile. She looked so outrageously young and wholesome he just could not imagine her in the role of surrogate mother.
As a lawyer with a highly respected London firm, Digby Carson had dealt with some very difficult cases. But a surrogacy arrangement gone wrong?
The surrogate mother on the run and probably determined to keep the baby? He surveyed his most wealthy and influential client with a sinking heart.
Raul Zaforteza’s fabled fortune was founded on gold and diamond mines. He was a brilliant business tycoon, a legendary polo player and, according to the gossip columns, a notorious womaniser. He was already prowling like a black panther ready to spring. Six feet two inches tall, with the sleek, supple build of a born athlete and the volatile temperament of his colourful heritage, he was an intimidating sight, even to a man who had known him from childhood.
Digby…I understood that my lawyer in New York had already briefed you on this situation,’ Raul drawled with barely concealed impatience.
He said the matter was far too confidential to discuss on the phone. And I hadn’t the slightest suspicion that you were planning to become a father through surrogacy,’ the older man admitted. ‘Why on earth did you embark on such a risky venture?’
Por Dios … you watched me grow up! How can you ask me that?’ Raul countered.
Digby looked uncomfortable. As a former employee of Raul’s late father, he was well aware that Raul had had a pretty ghastly childhood. He might be rich beyond avarice, but he had not been anything like as lucky in the parent lottery.
His bronzed features taut, Raul expelled his breath in a slow hiss. ‘I decided a long time ago that I would never marry. I wouldn’t give any woman that amount of power over me or, even more crucially, over any child we might have!’ Fierce conviction roughened his rich, accented drawl. ‘But I’ve always been very fond of children—’
‘Yes…’ An unspoken but hovered in the tense silence.
‘Many marriages end in divorce, and usually the wife gets to keep the children,’ Raul reminded the lawyer with biting cynicism. Surrogacy impressed me as the most practical way in which to father a child outside marriage. This wasn’t an impulsive decision, Digby. When I decided to go ahead, I went to a lot of trouble to ensure that I would choose a suitable mother for my child.’
‘Suitable?’ Digby was keen to hear what Raul, with his famed love of fast, glitzy society blondes, had considered ‘suitable’ in the maternal stakes.
‘When my New York legal team advertised for a surrogate mother, they received a flood of applications. I employed a doctor and a psychologist to put a shortlist of the more promising candidates through a battery of tests, but the responsibility for the final choice was naturally mine.’
The older man frowned down at the photograph of Polly Johnson. ‘What age is she?’
Digby’s frown remained. ‘She was the only suitable candidate? ’
Raul tautened. The psychologist did have some reservations but I decided to overlook them.’
Digby looked shaken.
‘Everything that the psychologist saw in Polly I wanted in the mother of my child,’ Raul stressed without a shade of regret. It was a gut feeling and I acted on it. Yes, she was young and idealistic, but she had the right moral values. She wasn’t motivated by greed but by a desperate need to try and finance surgery which she hoped might extend her mother’s life.’
I wonder how that desperation affected her ability to make a rational decision about what she was getting involved in,’ Digby remarked.
‘Wondering is a pointless exercise now that she is pregnant with my child,’ Raul countered very drily. ‘But I will find her soon. Her background was exhaustively investigated. I now know that, just two months ago, she was at her godmother’s home in Surrey. I don’t yet know where she went from there. But before I do find her I need to know what my rights are in this country.’