Cole Cameron's Revenge(10)

By: Sandra Marton

"Yes," Cole had said, interrupting the man. Surely, the lawyer hadn't phoned to give him old news. "I know all of that. Why are you calling me, Mr. Jergen?"

There'd been a long silence over the satellite phone. "Your brother's been in an accident," Jergen had finally said. "I'm afraid it was a bad one. He was driving to Atlanta. It was dark and the rain was heavy..."

It was funny, what adversity could do to a man. Nine years of rage had disappeared in a heartbeat. This was Ted, his brother. And Cole loved him.

"What hospital is he in?" he'd demanded, glancing at his watch. "I can be in the States by-"

"He's not in a hospital," Jergen had said softly. "He's gone."

Ted, gone? That couldn't be. "No," Cole had whispered, "God, no..." And then his heart had almost stopped beating. "Faith? Is she... ?" His hand had tightened around the phone. "Tell me what happened to her. Is she-did she-"

"She's fine," Jergen had replied, and then his voice flattened and he said that Faith hadn't been in the car, "Ted made the trip to Atlanta once a month and he always made it alone."

"Always alone? What's that supposed to mean?"

"We can talk about all of that when you get here," the lawyer had said.

"We'll talk about it now," Cole had said coldly, and, finally Jergen had obliged.

"Your brother was seeing somebody on the side," he'd said bluntly. "Nobody faulted him for it. That wife of his was cold as ice. She never showed him the, uh, the warmth a man's entitled to in a marriage."

Jergen told him about the separate bedrooms, about the lack of outward affection between Faith and his brother. Ted's housekeeper had found the situation appalling and hadn't hesitated to describe it to practically everyone in town.

"That sister-in-law of yours is some piece of work," Sam Jergen had continued. "Hooked your brother by getting him to think he'd put a bun in the oven."

"You mean, she said she was pregnant?"

"Come on, Cole. You don't think your brother would have married her otherwise, do you? Then, after she was elbow deep in Cameron money, she showed him just what she thought of him."

"He had her sign a prenup, didn't he?"

Jergen had laughed. "Woman got him to the altar in the first place by doing away with your brother's ability to think. No, there wasn't a prenuptial agreement. Worse still, he wrote a will leaving her everything. Well, you get the house but all the rest is hers."

"Wills can be broken," Cole had said with grim determination.

He'd come to Liberty to do just that. He knew he shouldn't have hated Ted for marrying Faith. She was the one; she'd played them both for fools and now, she thought it was payoff time.

No way.

Faith had never been fit to be Ted's wife. She wasn't fit to be his widow. And that meant she sure as hell wasn't fit to claim a dime of Ted's estate. He'd fight her for every penny, win and give it to charity. Burn it. Anything, rather than see his brother's widow get her hands on the money-and she probably knew it. No wonder she'd fainted at the sight of him.

She was still lying on the couch where he'd put her, as limp as a rag doll.

Jergen's secretary skidded into the conference room, holding a tall glass of iced water and a wet towel.

"Is there anything else I can do, Mr. Cameron?"

Cole shook his head. "The lady fainted, that's all."

"Shouldn't she have come around by now?"

He squatted down beside the couch. He was wondering the same thing. Faith's face was shockingly white; he could see the swift beat of her pulse in her throat. Sweat beaded on her forehead. He looked at the heavy black silk suit and the cream colored blouse, and muttered an oath under his breath.

"Damned fool woman, to dress like a nun on a day as hot as this."

Somewhere in the outer office, a telephone rang and rang. "The phone," Jergen's secretary blurted.

Faith moaned softly.

"She's coming around now. Go on. Do whatever you have to do. I'll deal with this." Cole wiped Faith's face with the wet cloth as Jergen's secretary shut the door behind her. "Faith." He leaned closer. "Faith, open your eyes."

Color was stealing back into her face. Cole hesitated, then began unbuttoning her jacket. He undid the top buttons of the blouse, too. Then he slipped his arm beneath her shoulders, lifted her toward him and worked the jacket off. She sighed and her head fell against his shoulder.

He felt the whisper of her breath against his throat and suddenly he remembered the last time he'd held her like this. It was the night they'd made love. Afterward, she lay curled in the curve of his arm, her breath warming his skin.

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