Larenzo's Christmas Baby

By: Kate Hewitt


“This night, Emma. That’s all it can ever be.”

But Larenzo Cavelli lied. One blissful wintery night in his bed changed Emma Leighton’s life forever. By dawn she knew two things: Larenzo would spend the rest of his life behind bars, and he would never see the baby their union   had made.

Two years later, Larenzo’s name is cleared and he will get his life back…starting with Emma. It was deception that imprisoned the self-made Sicilian, so what will he do when he discovers Emma has a Christmas secret he might never be able to forgive?

A passionate read for Christmas nights!





“What are you hiding from me, Emma?”

“Nothing—” But it sounded feeble. Larenzo took another step toward her.

“Tell me the truth. You’re hiding something. I don’t know what it could be, but—”

“What do you think I’m hiding from you?” she cut him off scornfully. She nodded toward the stairs. “A baby?”

The words hung there, seeming to echo through the sudden silence of the room. Larenzo stared at her, saw how bloodless her lips were as they parted soundlessly.

The thought hadn’t fully formed in his mind until she’d said the words. He’d sensed she was hiding something, had felt her panic and fear, had heard the baby cry…

And yet it hadn’t all come together for him. But it did now, crystallizing with shocking clarity, and without a word for her he turned from the room and bounded up the stairs.

“Larenzo—” She hurried after him, one arm flung toward him in desperate supplication. “Larenzo, please, don’t—”

He could hear the child crying, the voice pitiful and plaintive. “Mama. Mama.”

He threw open the door and came to a complete and stunned halt as he saw the baby standing in her cot, chubby fists gripping the rail, cherubic face screwed up and wet with tears.

And Larenzo knew. He would have known just by looking at the child, with her ink-dark hair and large gray eyes, the cleft in her chin. He turned to Emma, who was gazing at him with undisguised panic.

“When,” he asked in a low, deadly voice, “were you going to tell me about my child?”





CHAPTER ONE

THE SOUND OF the car door slamming echoed through the still night. Emma Leighton looked up from the book she’d been reading in surprise; as housekeeper of Larenzo Cavelli’s isolated retreat in the mountains of Sicily, she hadn’t been expecting anyone. Larenzo was in Rome on business, and no one came to the villa perched high above Sicily’s dusty hill towns and villages. Her employer liked his privacy.

She heard brisk footsteps on the stone path that led to the villa’s front door, an enormous thing of solid oak banded with iron. She tensed, waiting for a knock; the villa had an elaborate security system with a numbered code that was only known by her and Larenzo, and the door was locked, as Larenzo always insisted.

She held her breath as she heard the creak of the door opening and then the beep of buttons being pressed, followed by a longer beeping indicating the security system had been deactivated. As her heart did a queasy little flip, Emma tossed her book aside and rose from her chair. Larenzo never came back early or unexpectedly. He always texted her, to make sure she had everything ready for his arrival: his bed made with freshly ironed sheets, the fridge stocked, the pool heated. But if it wasn’t him...who was it?

She heard footsteps coming closer, a heavy, deliberate tread, and then a figure, tall and rangy, appeared in the doorway.

‘Larenzo—’ Emma pressed one hand to her chest as she let out a shaky laugh of relief. ‘You scared me. I wasn’t expecting you.’

‘I wasn’t expecting to come here.’ He stepped into the spacious sitting room of the villa, and as the lamplight washed over his face Emma sucked in a shocked breath. Larenzo’s skin looked grey, and there were deep shadows under his eyes. His hair was rumpled, as if he’d driven his hand through the ink-dark strands.

‘Are you—are you all right?’

His mouth twisted in a grim smile. ‘Why, do I not look all right?’

‘No, not really.’ She tried to lighten her words with a smile, but she really was alarmed. In the nine months she’d been Larenzo’s housekeeper, she’d never seen him look like this, not just tired or haggard, but as if the life force that was so much a part of who he was, that restless, rangy energy and charisma, had drained away.

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