His Virgin Acquisition: Chapter 9

“YOU’RE in the mood for Spam this morning?” Marco asked incredulously.

Elaine swallowed the bite she’d been working on and shrugged. “It looked good. Very salty,” she said, taking another bite and relishing the flavor. She’d declined the local favorite every other morning during their breakfast in bed sessions, but this morning it had looked mouth wateringly amazing.

They’d been in Hawaii for nearly a month. The sale of the resort had been finalized, and Marco had been working on negotiating a deal for the island of Kapu. Her face, and other parts of her, heated as she thought of the afternoon they’d shared on the forbidden island, making love beneath the waterfall.

The days since then, since the realization that she loved him, had been a sweet kind of torture. On the one hand she felt more alive, more inspired than ever before. She felt things more deeply; her mind was more attuned to the things around her. On the other hand it nearly broke her heart every time she looked at his impossibly gorgeous face and realized that their relationship had a timer ticking on it.

She looked at the plate in front of her and was shocked to see that she’d polished off more than her share of their breakfast. She gave him a sheepish grin. “I guess I was hungry.”

Marco dropped a kiss on her nose and a strange, hot, melting sensation flowed through her body, weakening her limbs. “Sex burns a lot of calories. At least if you do it right. Which we most definitely do.”

In spite of the fact that she’d shared every intimacy with him, she blushed. “I can’t argue with you.” She reached for the remaining piece of meat on their shared plate.

“Plans for the day?” he asked.

Because their “honeymoon” had gone on for so long, she’d been working remotely, doing the accounting for her firm, and she’d continued to actively work on her own business plan.

“No. I finished approving payroll last night while you were at your meeting.”

“Excellent. I have to meet with Mr. Naruto briefly this morning, to discuss a final price for Kapu, but after that we can spend the day together.”

A sweet feeling of absolute contentment stole over her, leaving her fuzzy. If she could pause everything right then, and just live in this stolen piece of time, she thought at that moment that she would. And that desire frightened her a lot less than it should.

“I might head into town for some supplies,” she said.

“You could have the concierge send over whatever you need.”

“I know, but then what else am I going to do? I’m not comfortable lying back and being served—especially not when I’m more than capable of going to a grocery store.”

Marco could only stare at her determined face. Not a single one of his ex-mistresses would have opted to run menial errands when they could have been sunbathing or shopping for a designer wardrobe.

His chest tightened. He didn’t want to admit that Elaine was in any way different from his other mistresses. He didn’t want to admit that she was touching him, thawing some of the hardened, ice-encrusted edges of his heart.

He clenched his fist and turned away from the woman on the bed. She was a hundred times more deadly than the air-headed gold-diggers he’d dated in the past. Because Elaine Chapman’s beauty was mixed with a keen mind and a driving ambition that nearly matched his own. The connections their marriage could afford her were limitless. A merger with his corporation once she was at the helm of Chapman Electronics would be priceless. She had to know those things, and while it was easy for him to drop his guard when they were together, when she was offering to do down-to-earth things like grocery shopping it was of the utmost importance for him to remember that her highest goal was power.

Her brand of potent, innocent sexuality made it easy to forget to remain on his guard. But he had to wonder if she was using her innocence to her advantage as well. She was a smart woman, and she certainly wasn’t ignorant of the way men viewed a woman’s virginity. Perhaps it had seemed advantageous for her to give it to him, for her to use it to make him feel bonded to her? And he’d been allowing her to do that—allowing her to meld herself into his life.

Callous as it sounded, he didn’t typically share a room with his women if a trip were going to last so long. He valued his space, his privacy, far too much, and he certainly didn’t want to give a woman the wrong idea. But he had dropped his guard with Elaine, and it was a mistake he couldn’t continue making.

Marco strode across the room and began to dress. Elaine had seen the shutters come down over his dark eyes, but she couldn’t for the life of her figure out what had caused it.

Shrugging off the chill, she rose from the bed and chose her clothing before going into the bathroom to shower. When she surfaced, Marco was gone. His not saying goodbye hurt far worse than she should allow it to.

PMS. That was her excuse for being such an emotional wreck. She’d taken her first blank pill last night, and she was due to start her period any moment. Her body ran like clockwork, thanks to the miracle of her birth control pills, and she no longer had to deal with debilitating cramps and a cycle that ran on a timetable all its own.

She went to the bathroom to prepare for the impending event and was brought up short by the fact that she hadn’t started yet. Not even spotting. She placed a hand on her abdomen, expecting at least a slight ache—something to signal the arrival of her period. There was nothing.

With shaking hands she put the necessary items in her purse and made her way out of the villa. She would start soon. Any moment. She had to. Because if she didn’t that meant she’d broken a binding part of their agreement.

She slid behind the wheel of the car and tried to ignore the pounding of her pulse. She wasn’t pregnant. There was no way. She was on the pill.

The refrain repeated in her mind as she drove the car down the winding road and into town, stopping at the nearest department store.

No way. Not pregnant.

She made a pitstop in the restroom, hoping that nature would grant her a definitive sign that she had not conceived Marco’s baby. Still nothing. But it was too early to panic. Yes, her body had run like clockwork, nearly to the hour, for the last five years, but that didn’t mean that there was a baby.

Not pregnant.

Numbly, she moved through the store and into the family planning aisle, pausing at a box of condoms that seemed to mock her with their promise of a ninety-nine percent success rate, and stopped finally in front of a wall of products she’d never looked at in her life. Pregnancy tests.

She placed her hand on her stomach, almost expecting it to be rounded. She began to shake as she examined the boxes. Digital readouts. Early results. Traditional lines. In the end she grabbed three different brands and hurried to checkout, trying to look as nonchalant as possible about buying potentially life-altering items.

With her bag gripped tightly to her chest, she raced out to the parking lot and into the car. She gripped the steering wheel, trying to still the tremors that were racking her body. She couldn’t be pregnant. It was a coincidence that she happened to be late for the first time in her memory. After becoming sexually active. A coincidence.

That was what she told herself during the drive back to the hotel. That was what she told herself when she took all three tests and set them gingerly on the vanity top, too afraid to check the results.

Not pregnant, she begged silently.

Finally she stood and stared down at the tests. Two lines on the first test; the digital test proclaimed “pregnant” in stark black and white; two more bright pink lines stared up at her from the final test. There was no questioning the evidence.

Her knees buckled and she sat down on the toilet, gripping the edge of the countertop to keep herself up and conscious.

For one selfish moment all she could think was that her life was over. She’d lost the company—her driving force, the thing that she’d worked so tirelessly for. She’d signed the prenup, mentally shaking her head as she’d done so over the lunacy of even having to make such a deal when she knew there was no chance Marco would be getting close enough to her to make her pregnant.

A baby. She didn’t know anything about babies. She didn’t want one. She never had. Yet morally she felt she had no option other than to carry the child. Adoption was a possible solution…

Blinding pain, as real and severe as the shock and fear she’d felt upon reading the positive tests, assailed her as she imagined lying in a hospital bed, sweaty and exhausted from labor, handing a tiny squalling baby over to someone else. Never seeing the baby again.

She couldn’t hold back the anguished cry that escaped her lips. She couldn’t do that either.

She stumbled into the bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed, her eyes so dry they stung, the tears that would give her relief nowhere to be found.

That was how Marco found her an hour later.

“Did your shopping go well?” he asked.

She didn’t respond. She only sat on the edge of bed, her knees folded up to her chest, looking smaller, more fragile than he’d ever seen her. She looked as if she was in shock, her lips chalky white, her eyes glassy.

“Are you all right?” He knelt down in front of the bed and gripped her hands. They were freezing. “Has someone hurt you?” Primitive male anger rushed up inside of him, and he felt capable of destroying whoever had dared lay a hand on her, capable of taking them apart piece by piece.

Her eyes snapped up to meet his. “No. I’m okay.” She sounded as though she were trying to convince herself.

“Well, you don’t look okay. You look like death warmed over.”

A broken laugh escaped her lips. “Just what every woman loves to hear.”

“You’re avoiding the question,” he said tersely, the gnawing fear in his gut making his voice harsher than he’d intended.

“I’m pregnant.” Her bald statement fell flat in the heavy tropical air, leaving a thick silence in the room.

“You said you were on the pill.” His voice held an air of deadly calm—much more terrifying than if he’d started shouting.

“I am. I haven’t missed one. I don’t know…I don’t know how it happened.” She looked up into his eyes. They were cold, flat. Somehow that was worse than the force of all of his rage. Yelling she could fight, but this dead silence, this calm, cold wave of anger, she didn’t know what to do with.

“You don’t know how it happened?”

“Marco, I swear I didn’t plan it. Why would I? Legally I’ve lost the company now. I’m as shocked as you are. This isn’t what I wanted!” she exploded.

His dark brows snapped together. “You don’t want the baby?”

“No! I mean, I don’t know. I haven’t had any time to process this. It changes absolutely everything.”

“You put on a very good show, cara. But you and I both know this only benefits you. Access to my power, my money, for far longer than the twelve months agreed. Child support. The prospect of our union becoming permanent. All things that would be very beneficial to you. Although legally, as you said, that means you forfeit the company. I can’t imagine you being a very effective CEO with a baby on your hip.”

“You honestly think I planned this? That I planned to conceive your baby?”

“You would hardly be the first woman to try and snare me by using pregnancy. You’re simply the first one to succeed.”

“How could I have possibly planned for this to happen? I was on the pill.”

He waved a hand to silence her. “Perhaps. At the very least I think you planned to find a way to make our arrangement more beneficial to you. Whether you planned on using a baby to accomplish your goal, I don’t know. But I’ve suspected that you had ulterior motives since the moment you stepped into my office proposing marriage.”

His words cut through her like a knife. He had suspected her from the beginning? Had there ever been a moment when he’d trusted her? When he’d felt something for her? Anger rushed through her, rescuing her from the flood of tears that were threatening.

“If you suspected that I was nothing but a gold-digger, then what does that make you for conducting a relationship with me?”

“It was not a relationship. It was an arrangement,” he spat. He turned away from her, shutting her out, his shoulders rigid, his back straight. “Out of curiosity, what was the going rate for your virginity? A price none of the other men were able to pay but one you thought you would be able to extract from me?” He walked out of the villa, his parting shot hanging in the air.

Violent nausea overwhelmed her and she leaped up from the bed and raced across the room, barely making it to the toilet before being sick. She leaned her head against the cool wood of the vanity and let the first of today’s tears roll down her cheeks.


Marco breathed in the heavily perfumed air and nearly gagged on the floral scent. That woman, that puttana, had made a fool of him. She had made him feel something for her. And all the time, every single moment, she had plotting against him.

And now she was carrying his child. His child.

He had thought he could safeguard himself against anything she was planning, but this… In this she had won, because he would not abandon his child. He would not be an absentee parent. His child would be his focus. He would love him and care for him in a way his own parents had failed to do for him and his younger brother. In that he was absolutely determined.

And he would not let his child’s mother leave him. His child would want for nothing, and that included both parents in the same household. And he knew how to ensure that that happened.

He strode back into the villa, his mind absolutely made up.


She appeared in the doorway of the bathroom a moment later, her face white, a sheen of sweat on her brow. His heart clenched and he hardened it, shunning the tender feelings she still managed to rouse in him.

“There is only one way to solve this.”

She put a hand over her stomach. “I’m not giving up the baby.”

“I am not asking that of you. We will remain married. It is the only option.”

Elation and horror vied for top position inside of Elaine. “What?”

“It is not what I would have chosen, but the simple fact is that I will not be a part-time father. Neither will I deprive a child of his mother. That leaves us with one option.”

“Millions of people share custody of their children—”

He cut her off. “I will not be one of them. It is never in a child’s best interest to be treated as though they are an incidental. My own parents could not be bothered. My father threw us out onto the street—my mother, my brother and myself—when I was just twelve. After a couple of years of scraping by and living in homeless shelters my mother met a wealthy man who did not want children, so she left us to fend for ourselves while she pursued a life of luxury. I will never let a child of mine go through life feeling so insignificant. I will never subject my own flesh and blood to that kind of indifference.”

The charity for homeless children and Marco’s passion for the cause, his reluctance to mention his family, suddenly made horrifying sense. He had been homeless. Not orphaned. Far worse than that. His parents had been alive and too absorbed in their own vacuous existence to worry about the survival of their children.

Her heart ached for the boy he’d been and the man he had become—a man who could not trust and did not believe in love. Yet how could she blame him? How could she even hold his reaction to her pregnancy against him when she knew what he’d had to endure at the hands of those who should have loved him more than they loved anyone or anything else? She felt his pain as though it were her own, and it destroyed the anger that had been growing inside her.

“If you agree to stay in the marriage I will have a new contract drafted, guaranteeing you the ownership of Chapman Electronics plus a generous allowance.”

She hadn’t forgotten about the company, nor had her desire for it dissipated in any way, but she wouldn’t stay in the marriage for that reason alone—not when the nature of their relationship had changed irrevocably; not when she knew what he thought of her. But knowing what she did now, about his childhood, about the way he had been forced to survive on his own, caring for his younger brother, she knew she could not deny him this chance to have a family, this chance to repair the things that had been broken in his life.

“I accept,” she said, the ridiculously formal words sounding wrong for the situation.

He laughed cynically. “I had a feeling you would see it my way.”

Her defense caught in her throat, stuck behind a lump of grief. Her heart felt broken—for him, for herself, for everything they’d shared together. Everything they’d lost.


They flew back to New York the next day. Marco was silent and avoiding her while burying his head in his work, and she was trying to do the same. She spent a good portion of the flight in the bathroom being sick. Her morning sickness, which did not see fit to limit its active hours to the morning, had hit with a vengeance once they’d hit the sky, and it hadn’t let up.

When the plane touched down in the city she walked on wooden legs to the car that was waiting for them and slid inside. The drive back to the penthouse was as quiet as the miserable plane ride. Marco hated her. He had already tried her and found her guilty based on the past actions of those in his life.

Not that she could blame him. She knew what it was like to be so shaped by past experience; to carry deeply etched scars inside yourself that were not visible to the naked eye.

Her own life had been one desperate attempt at separating herself from her father’s perception of her, from the influence of her mother. She had wanted so much to achieve what her father thought her incapable of, using that drive to steer clear of the self-destructive nature she feared she might have inherited from her mother.

Her mother, who had been so weak, so needy for someone to fill the gap in her life, so desperate for the attention of a husband who did not love her that she had sought solace in the arms of countless lovers in addition to drugs and alcohol. Her mother had self-destructed: a combination of narcotics, a Ferrari and a tree ending her life when she was much too young.

Elaine knew all about the sort of bitterness Marco carried inside him, only his was much worse. At least her father loved her—even if he did try to impose his medieval ideals on her. What Marco had endured was unspeakable, and she knew his scars ran much deeper than hers.

The elevator ride from the bottom floor of the apartment building to Marco’s top-floor penthouse left her feeling nauseous. She barely made it into the marble bathroom before losing the measly amount of food she’d managed to choke down during the last leg of the flight.

A warm hand settled on her clammy forehead and she tried to move away, hating that Marco was seeing her huddled up against the toilet, sweating and shaking.

“Is this normal?” he asked, his accent thickened with concern. “It doesn’t seem like this can possibly be normal.”

“I’m afraid it is. At least, that’s what I’ve heard from female co-workers over the years,” she said weakly.

“You must see a doctor. This cannot be good for the baby. You are not getting enough nutrition.”

Of course he was concerned for the baby, not for her. Still, pleasure curled at the edges of her heart. He cared about the baby, as she was beginning to. She had been so frightened at first, so unable to believe that she could actually be pregnant, that it had been easy to detach. But now that the symptoms were so pronounced, now that she truly felt different, it was easier to believe, easier to imagine the reality of a child—her child—growing inside of her. It was easier to truly love the small baby that was nestled in the protective embrace of her womb.

“I know.” She stood on shaky knees, feeling like a newborn giraffe and certain she looked just as ungainly. “My normal gynecologist is also an OB. I’ll give her a call.”

“What is her name?” Marco asked, the request more of a demand, coming from his autocratic mouth.

“Dr. Alyssa Calvin.”

As soon as she’d blurted out the name Marco had retrieved his phone from his pocket and hit the one on his speed dial.

“Cassie, I need you to phone Dr. Alyssa Calvin and make an appointment for one o’ clock today for Mrs. Elaine De Luca.” He snapped the phone shut and placed it back in his jacket pocket.

“Marco! What if she has appointments?”

He shrugged. “Not my concern. I happen to be free today, and I want to be present at the appointment.”

“What if I don’t want you to be there?” she asked, knowing already that the argument was a loss. It would take several fully armed guards to stop Marco when he was on a mission.

“You would have me miss the medical confirmation of our little miracle?” He regarded her closely, his sexy mouth pressed into a grim line. “Is there a reason for that?”

“Are you implying that I’ve lied to you about being pregnant?”

“It is not unheard of.”

“You think I engineered this?” She gestured to the toilet.

“I’ve known a great many women who could empty their stomach contents on demand.”

Rage vibrated through her. “I’m not going to spend the rest of this marriage trying to prove that I’m not plotting against you!”

Anger was replaced by a feeling of crushing defeat, and she swayed on her feet. Marco reached out an arm to steady her, bringing her close to the heat of his body. It was the first time she’d been so close to him since she’d found out about the baby and she melted into him, her body craving the heat from his.

Marco felt wetness from her tears penetrate the fabric of his shirt. Guilt assailed him. He was not a man who allowed uncertainties. He made decisions and he acted on them. He charted a course and he followed it. There was no room for doubt, no room for any sort of confusion. And yet with Elaine he wasn’t certain of anything. She could be strong, yet she could also be achingly vulnerable. He wanted to lash out at her, condemn her for what she had done, and yet he also wanted to fold her into his embrace and promise her that everything would be all right.

“I’m sorry, Elaine.”

She stiffened in his arms. “For?”

“For what I said a moment ago. I know you did not lie about being pregnant.”

She pulled away from him and turned to face the vanity, trying to put her disheveled hair in order. “But you’re not sorry for saying I orchestrated the whole thing in the first place?”

“It does seem rather convenient.”

She laughed. “Oh, yes, so convenient. The vomiting combined with being married to a man who thinks me so mercenary that I would conceive his baby to get my hands on his cash is about the most convenient thing that has ever happened to me.” Tears welled up in her blue eyes and spilled down her waxen cheeks.

His heart twisted, the pain from witnessing her anguish was like a physical blow.

He clenched his teeth and hardened himself against the unconscionable swell of emotion.

He turned away from her. “I cannot be manipulated, Elaine. Do not waste your time trying to appeal to my softer side with your tears.”

It took every ounce of discipline to leave her standing there, looking shocked and injured, but he could not allow her to affect him. He’d never had trouble keeping his emotions separate from his affairs, and yet he had allowed Elaine to get closer, deeper inside of him, than he had ever allowed another woman to get.

It had been his mistake—trusting her, permitting her to mean something to him. He was not a fool. He had clawed his way up from the depths of poverty, he had built up a billion-dollar industry from nothing, and he would not allow himself to be taken down by a woman.

He would not make the mistake of trusting her again.


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