Duarte’s Child

August 3, 2001

September 1, 2001

August 3, 2001

September 1, 2001

Preview

Only days before she was about to give birth, Emily left her husband, Duarte de Monteiro.

She’d heard from a friend that he wanted to keep their baby – but not his wife. Now Duarte has traced Emily and his baby son and brought them back to Portugal. He’s proud; he wants to keep his wife – especially as he can still possess her with the slightest touch. Emily still loves Duarte, but has he brought her back because he loves her – or because he loves his son?

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Excerpt

‘WHAT action do you want me to take?’ the private investigator enquired.

Duarte Avila de Monteiro let the silence linger and continued to gaze out at his stunning view of the City of London. She’d been found. Sudden success after so many fruitless months of searching felt intoxicating. He would retrieve his son. Her too, of course. She was still his wife. He refused to think of her by name. He refused to personalise her in any way.

‘Do nothing,’ Duarte responded without expression.

His wealthy client was a total emotion-free zone, the investigator decided in fascination. He’d just given the guy the news that he had finally traced his runaway wife and the infant son he had still to meet—and yet nothing was to be done?

‘Leave the file on my desk,’ Duarte continued in a tone of dismissal. ‘There will be a substantial bonus when you present the bill for your services.’

On his way past what he assumed to be the secretary’s desk in the ante-room outside, the investigator paused: the secretary was the most stunning Nordic blonde he had ever laid eyes on. ‘Your boss is kind of chilling,’ he murmured confidentially.

‘My boss is a brilliant financial genius and also my lover,’ the blonde whispered in a voice as cutting as slashing glass meeting tender skin. ‘You just lost your bonus.’

Rearing back in startled disbelief at that poisonous response, the young investigator stared at the beautiful blonde, aghast.

‘Shall I call Security to have you removed?’ she added sweetly.

Within his imposing office, Duarte was pouring himself a brandy and contemplating the immediate future. He had an overwhelming desire to muster his entire security team and spring a middle-of-the-night assault on his estranged wife and child’s accommodation. He had to move fast before she disappeared again with his son. His mobile phone gripped between lean brown fingers, he tensed and then frowned. For an instant, he could not believe that he had even contemplated such an act of madness. He could wait until morning… Well, he could wait until dawn at least.

He stabbed out the number for the head of his protection team. ‘Mateus? You will proceed to the address I am about to give you. There you will find a caravan—’

‘A caravan…?’

‘Which contains my wife and my child,’ Duarte admitted with a grimace at the sheer incredulity he could hear in Mateus’s voice. ‘You will ensure that if that caravan moves so much as an inch it will be followed. You will also be discreet while treating this as a matter of the utmost urgency and importance.’

‘We’ll leave immediately, sir,’ Mateus confirmed, sounding shaken. ‘Your faith in us won’t be misplaced.’

‘Discretion, Mateus.’

Duarte made a second call to put his private jet on standby for the next day. Was he planning to kidnap them both? She was his wife. Kidnapping was a crime. She had kidnapped his son. Inferno! A bloody caravan! Duarte gritted his even white teeth, a flash of white-hot rage threatening his hard self-discipline. She was bringing his son up in a caravan while she mucked around with horses. Who was looking after their child while she devoted her attention to four-legged animals?

Emily—safe, quiet, humble and as easily read as an open book—a young woman unlikely to rock any boats. How had he ever thought that? With a raw-edged laugh, Duarte drained the brandy. He had picked her quite deliberately for those unassuming qualities. He’d given her everything that would have kept most women purring with delighted contentment. Fabulous wealth, a selection of luxurious homes and glittering social occasions at which she could show off her equally fabulous jewellery. His reward for his unquestioning generosity? She’d betrayed her marriage vows and his trust: she’d got into bed with another man. Obviously quiet women needed to be watched.

One of his medieval ancestors had murdered his unfaithful wife and got off scot-free because it had been regarded as an act of cleansing the family honour, rather than a crime. Duarte could not contemplate ever laying rough hands on any woman, even his estranged wife, no matter how enraged he was by her shameless behaviour. Then, Duarte never lost control in any field. He would deal with the situation as he saw fit. Walling her up alive would not have given him the slightest satisfaction and he could only assume his ancestor had been a seriously sick pervert.

There were other infinitely more subtle ways of controlling women. And Duarte knew all the ways. Duarte had never practised those arts on his seemingly innocent and shy little wife. So she was in for a surprise or two in the near future…

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