She jumped up and moved into his path. When he casually stepped right past her, she did the only thing she could think of. She ran to the door before he could get there and pinned her back against it with her arms spread out. He stopped directly in front of her; there wasn’t much more than a foot between them.
“Knight, I won’t hesitate to call security,” he warned. “You’re starting to get on my nerves.”
“I’m pregnant,” she blurted, and the look of horror on his face would have been comical if Cleo wasn’t so damned anxious about his response.
“Qué?” He exploded hoarsely. “Qué dijiste?”
“I’m sorry. I don’t . . .”
“What did you say?” he repeated in English, his voice brittle.
“You heard me,” she said, keeping her chin up and defiant. “I’m pregnant.”
“I wish to know what you think you will gain from telling me this news. Is this some kind of joke?”
“It’s no joke; I’m pregnant.”
“Very well. Let us play this game.” He shrugged. “Who is the father of this child you carry?”
“Sé que mientes! Te conozco muy bien.” The frigid outpouring of Spanish told her more than anything else how much she had rattled him and how angry he was. He turned away from her and strode back to his desk, probably in an effort to put as much distance as possible between them.
“You’re lying to me,” he grated after he had the length of the office and a desk between them. “I like being lied to even less than I like being blatantly manipulated.”
“I’m not lying.” She tried to sound calm even though she felt far from it on the inside. This was exactly the reaction she’d been expecting. She warily—and on unsteady legs—made her own way to the desk. She sank back into the chair simply because her legs could no longer support her.
“This is so much bullshit. I suggest you leave this office before I call security, and I want you to vacate the building in under an hour. You’re fired.”
Her knees shook so badly they were practically knocking together, and her teeth were rattling in her head as shock caused her to quiver.
“You can’t fire me,” she whispered. “That’s completely unethical.”
“Not as unethical as what you’re trying to do right now. Don’t bother to work out a month’s notice either. We’ll pay you a month’s salary in lieu of notice. Using our past intimacy in this way is a complete betrayal. I no longer trust you to work for this company, I no longer believe that you are an ethical person, and I cannot have someone like you employed here.”
“I’m pregnant, with your baby,” she said adamantly, and he swore before picking up his phone and punching in a number.
“Send security up to my office, immediately,” he barked at whoever happened to be at the other end of the line.
“You need to hear me out, Dante,” she said earnestly. This wasn’t at all how she had expected this meeting to go. She’d known he would be upset, but this reaction was extreme even for Dante.
“I am Mr. Damaso to you,” he flared arrogantly, and she snorted.
“Fine. Mr. Damaso, one of your condoms failed, and one of your overambitious little soldiers found its mark and left me knocked up.” She spoke fast, aware that time was a limited commodity. He moved away from the desk and turned his back on her, staring out the window and refusing to acknowledge her words. But Cleo kept talking. “I’m keeping my baby. I don’t want you to be a part of his life, and I don’t want you to give me a huge amount of money.” He swiveled back to face her at that pronouncement, his expression insultingly skeptical.
“Not a huge amount, but some, right?” He mocked.
“Well, yes. Of course.”
“Of course.” There was a world of sarcasm in those two words.
“Not a lot, a monthly allowance that will go only to this baby’s health and well-being. I didn’t ask for this, I didn’t intend to get pregnant, but now that the baby is here, I can’t do anything else but keep it and love it. But I can’t afford to take care of a child without some sort of support from you.”
“If you don’t leave my office immediately, it will be rather embar-rassing for you when security drags you out,” he said coldly.
“Dante . . . Mr. Damaso, look—”
He held up a palm, and it shut her up immediately.
“Mierda! Enough! Enough of this now, Miss Knight. It was a good attempt to fleece me but hardly very original. I suggest you go back to the real father of your child—that blond giant, perhaps?—and hit him up for some cash. Unless the two of you hatched this scheme up together?”
He thought Cal was her baby’s father? She would have laughed at that if this whole situation weren’t so damned tragic.
She pulled an envelope from her shoulder bag and dropped it on his desk.
“Please read these documents I’ve had drawn up when you have the time. I understand that this has come as a complete shock to you, but maybe after you’ve calmed down, you’ll be able to approach this situation in a more rational and calm manner.”
“I am more than rational and calm, Miss Knight. I can see quite clearly what’s happening here.”
“Nonetheless, I’ll leave these here.”
Two burly uniformed security guards finally stepped into his office, and he glared at them.
“Your response time is appalling,” he gritted. “I could have been murdered up here while you dawdled over your coffee and doughnuts.”