He could handle it. These people would never make him sweat. He surveyed the crowded ballroom with grim tolerance, sipping at the tasteless wine to cover the fact that he was uneasy. His head was pounding a vicious cadence that made it hard to down the swallow of wine without his stomach heaving it back up.
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She yanked open her robe so that the small mound of her belly showed through the thin, satin nightgown underneath. You seduce me. You tell me you love me and that you want us to be together. You get my signature on papers agreeing to sell you land that has been in my family for a century. You feed me complete lies about our relationship and your plans for the land. No, you had to get me pregnant on top of it all!
Anger removed all the confusion from his features. He took a step toward her and for the first time, fear edged out her fury. She took a step back and braced her hand against the TV stand. She stared wordlessly at him, hurt still crowding viciously into her chest. That I imagined the weeks we spent together? Do you deny that you left me without a word and never looked back? He flinched and closed his eyes. He trailed off and something about the bewilderment in his voice made her stop in her tracks.
She crossed her arms protectively over her chest and swallowed. Several months ago. With a curse, he reached to grasp her arms. She was limp in his hands and he felt the slight tremble beneath his fingers.
He led her to the bed and she sat, her hands going to the edge to brace herself. She glanced up at him, her eyes haunted. Is that the best you could come up with? I feel at quite a disadvantage here. She bowed her head and black curls fell forward, hiding her profile. Unable to resist, he ran his finger over her cheek and then pushed the hair back behind her ear.
I have many, many questions as you can well imagine. Put yourself in my shoes for a moment. I have only your word that we were ever anything to each other. Trust her to remember that remark. Start from the beginning. Tell me when and where we met. Maybe something you say will jog my memory. Gathering her robe tighter around her, she went to the door and a few seconds later, a room service attendant wheeled in a cart bearing covered plates. She signed the bill and offered a halfhearted smile of thanks to the man.
When Rafael and Bryony were alone again she pushed the cart the rest of the way to the bed. I only ordered enough food for one. There was enough food to feed a small convention. She was beautiful.
No denying that. Not the kind of woman he usually gravitated toward. She was entirely too outspoken for his liking. He preferred women who were gentle and, according to his close friends, submissive. Quite frankly it made him sound like a jackass. And yeah, he could buy sleeping with her. But falling in love? In a span of a few weeks? But she was also a woman, and women tended to be emotional creatures. It was possible she thought he was in love with her.
And then there was the fact she was pregnant with his child. It would probably make him seem even more of a bastard, but it would be stupid not to insist on paternity testing. He paid people to keep his business running and his affairs in order. Once he scored the deal, there was no reason to look back. Until now. Damn but this was a mess. And yeah, he was definitely calling his lawyer first thing in the morning.
Something remarkably like guilt ate at him, but what di d he have to feel guilty about? None of this was his fault. You were asking about a stretch of beach-front property and who owned it. I, of course, was the owner, and I figured you were some guy from the city with big plans to develop the island and save all the locals from a life of poverty. I remember it being for sale before I ever went down there. I…I needed to sell it.
My grandmother and I could no longer afford the property taxes. For the first time, a smile flirted on the edge of her lips. You stormed back to my cottage and banged on my door.
Everyone had their price. He would have simply upped his offer until he found theirs. The two of you got along famously. She invited you to stay for supper. Afterward we took a walk on the beach. You kissed me. I kissed you back. It took me three days to talk you out of that suit. Her cheeks turned red and she clamped a hand over her mouth. You wore that suit every where on the beach.
You stuck out like a sore thumb. So I took you shopping. We bought you beachwear. He lost his memory because he wanted to forget. It was all he could do not to stare down at his very expensive leather loafers and imagine wearing flip-flops.
We bought swim trunks, too. What could have possessed him to act so out of character? We were together every day.
By the end of the first week, you gave up your hotel room and you stayed with me. In my bed. But try to see things from my perspective for just a few moments. How would you feel? That about covers it.
Her hand crept around the back of her neck and she rubbed absently as she stood just a short distance from where he sat on the edge of the bed. You should probably go now. You said you loved me and that I loved you. How do you get that I walked away from you? That I somehow betrayed you? I was in an accident, Bryony. What was the last day you saw me?
What did we do? Did I dump you? Did I tell you I was leaving you? You said you had to go back to New York. It was some emergency you had to attend to personally. The date, Bryony.
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He could handle it. These people would never make him sweat. He surveyed the crowded ballroom with grim tolerance, sipping at the tasteless wine to cover the fact that he was uneasy. His head was pounding a vicious cadence that made it hard to down the swallow of wine without his stomach heaving it back up. No one suspects a thing.
Enticed by His Forgotten Lover