Enticed by His Forgotten Lover(10)

By: Maya Banks

How did anyone stand it?

And yet she’d been ready to embrace it. She’d known that if she were to have a life with Rafael, she’d have to grow used to city life. It was where he lived and worked. Where he thrived.

Now she stood in front of his office building feeling hesitant and insecure. There was a seed of doubt and it grew with each breath. She couldn’t help but wonder if she wasn’t being an even bigger fool this time.

“Fool me once, blah blah,” she muttered. “I must be insane to trust him.”

But if he were telling the truth. If his utterly bizarre and improbable story were true, then he hadn’t betrayed her. He hadn’t dumped her. He hadn’t done any of the things she’d accused him of.

Part of her was relieved and the other part had no idea what to think or believe.

“Bryony, is it?”

She yanked her gaze downward, embarrassed that she was still standing in front of the building looking straight up like a moron, and saw two of the men she’d seen with Rafael at the party.

She took a wary step back. “I’m Bryony, yes.”

They were both tall. One had medium brown hair, short and neat. He smiled at her. The other one had blond hair with varying shades of brown. It was longish and unruly. He frowned at her, and his blue eyes narrowed as though she were a nasty bug.

The smiling one stuck out his hand. “I’m Devon Carter, a friend of Rafael’s. This is Cameron Hollingsworth.”

Cameron continued to scrutinize her so she ignored him and focused on Devon, although she had no idea what to say.

“Nice to meet you,” she murmured.

“Are you here to see Rafe?” Devon asked.

She nodded.

“We’ll be happy to take you up.”

She shook her head. “No, that’s okay. I can make it. I mean I don’t want to be a bother.”

Cameron shot her a cool, assessing look that made her feel vastly inferior. Her chin automatically went up and her fingers balled into a fist at her side. She really wasn’t a violent person. Truly. But in the past few days, she’d had her share of violent fantasies. Right now she visualized Cameron Hollingsworth picking himself up off the pavement.

“It’s no bother,” Devon said smoothly. “The least I can do is see you to the elevator.”

She frowned. “You think I’m incapable of finding the elevator? Or are you just one of those really nosy friends?”

Devon’s smile was lazy and unbothered. He looked at her as if he knew exactly how wound up she was and that her stomach was in knots. Maybe she had that beautiful look of a woman about to puke.

“Then I’ll bid you a good day,” Devon finally said.

She swallowed, wishing she hadn’t been quite so rude. It was a fault of hers that she went on the offensive the minute she felt at a disadvantage. She wasn’t going to win any friends acting like a bitch.

“Thank you. It was nice to meet you.”

She injected enough sincerity into her tone that even she believed herself. Devon nodded but Cameron didn’t look impressed. She forced herself not to scowl at him as the two men walked to the street and got into a waiting BMW.

Taking a deep breath, she headed to the revolving door and entered the building. The lobby was beautiful. A study in marble and exposed beams. The contrast between old and modern should have looked odd, but instead it looked opulent and rich.

There was a large fountain in the middle of the lobby and she paused to allow the sound of the water to soothe her. She missed the ocean. She didn’t venture off the island often, and it made her anxious now, in the midst of so much hustle and bustle, to return to the peace and quiet of the small coastal island she’d grown up on.

Her throat tightened and pain squeezed at her chest. Because of her, her family’s land was now in the hands of a man determined to build a resort, golf course and God knew what else. Not that those were bad things. She had nothing against progress. And she certainly wasn’t opposed to free enterprise and capitalism. A buck was a buck. Everyone wanted to make a few. Not that Rafael seemed to have any problem in that area.

But Moon Island was special. It was still untouched by the heavy hand of development. The families that lived there had been there for generations. Everyone knew everyone else. Half the island fished or shrimped and the other half had retired to the island after working thirty years in cities like Houston or Dallas.

There was an unspoken agreement among the residents that they wanted the island to remain as it was. A quiet place of splendor. A haven for people wanting to get away from life in the fast lane. Things just moved slower there.

Now because of her, that would all change. Bulldozers and construction crews would move in, and slowly the outside world would creep in and change the way of life.

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