The American Heir(The Billionaire Duke Series Book 4)(2)

By: Gina Robinson

The words of the newscast haunted me. The duchess is already experiencing morning sickness and reportedly retched into a priceless antique vase during a friend's very recent visit…

I asked the question I didn't want answered. "Is it true? Are you pregnant?"

I hadn't thought it was possible for her to go any paler, but she lost all color, going so completely white her skin was almost translucent.

I'd been wrong. The look on her face was the worst look of all. It pierced my heart straight on and straight through. She didn't even have to speak. Her expression was more than enough.

We stood staring at each other, frozen in time. Frozen in emotion. Each waiting for the other to make a move.

She tossed back the covers and slid off the bed. For an instant, I thought, I hoped, I prayed, she was coming to me. That she was running to me to throw her arms around me and take me to her. Despite my outward confidence, I was an insecure guy. I wanted unconditional love, desperately.

She brushed past me almost defiantly, threw open the door, and ran into the bathroom. The door shook and rattled, and bounced on the doorstop behind her. The sound of the porcelain toilet lid banging open followed. Next the violence of throwing up, that horrific vomiting noise that brought the bile to my throat. I fought back my gag response.

Anger. Pain. Frustration. A toxic cocktail raged inside me. I dropped the package on the dresser and smashed the bouquet against the wall with all my might. Whipping the wall with it. Lashing out. Lashing anything. Again and again. Until the red petals spilled onto the floor like the blood of our relationship.

"Bloody, bloody hell!" I yelled, resorting to British curses.

I kicked the baseboard, fighting rage and hurt. When my anger was finally spent, I leaned my forehead against the wall, trying to process the shock and betrayal. Calm down, man. Just fucking calm down.

The sound of vomiting continued, more violent than it had been.

I could be a hard man at times. But I never could stand seeing other people in pain. Hearing Haley losing her digestive biscuits with such violence was almost more than I could bear.

I dropped the battered roses and went into the bathroom. Haley kneeled in front of the toilet, pitifully trying to hold her hair out of the way as she leaned over the bowl.

Despite the rage coursing through me, I gently took her hair from her and held it back until, clutching her stomach, she broke into dry heaves, took a shaky breath, and sat up straight on her knees. She was still as white as if she'd seen our patron ghost in the Ghost Tower. Sweat beaded on her forehead and nose. Even her lips were eerily pale blue.

I dropped her hair and ran her a glass of water. My hand shook as I held it out to her. "I take it this isn't the stomach flu." It would have been an innocuous enough statement, if it hadn't been laced with the venom of my hurt and anger.

She took the water and rinsed her mouth. But to my surprise, her eyes were hard and fierce when she turned them back on me. "Congratulations. You're going to be a papa." She emphasized the second syllable of "papa" in the British way, almost making it sound elegant rather than lower class and antiquated.

Her words would have been innocent, too, even celebratory, if her eyes hadn't been snapping with that old throwing-daggers look. I hadn't expected venom from her. Triumph, maybe. Joy, possibly. My heart stopped.

The look on her face killed everything, including the words on my lips and the happiness of knowing I loved her. That look nearly killed me.

"Bloody hell, duke!" The rancor of her words reverberated off the porcelain toilet. "What are you doing here?"

"I wanted to surprise you." There was no love in my voice.

Her voice broke. "How long have you known?"

I frowned. "That you're pregnant?" I hitched my thumb, indicating the great outdoors and the circular drive below our window. "Since about five minutes ago in the car."

"Don't play dumb with me."

I'd never heard her sound so angry. She was a different person. Under other circumstances, I would have offered her a Snickers, hoping it would turn her back into herself and lighten the mood. Even though she'd just tossed her cookies, hunger wasn't why she wasn't herself.

"What are you talking about?" I was supposed to be the one who was upset here. I was the one who'd been trapped into fatherhood. I had the right to be indignant, not her. Did she not want this baby either? Did that make me feel better? Or worse?

"How long have you known that the Dead Duke is my great-grandfather, not my great-something uncle by marriage?" She wiped her mouth with a piece of toilet paper, looking up at me both beautiful and terrible.

My mouth went dry. My head spun.

"The DNA test," she said. "My unusual results? Were you comparing my DNA to the Dead Duke's? Is that what took so long?"

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