In Pursuit of His Wife

By: Kristi Gold
One

Seated in a wicker glider on the mansion’s stately porch, Nasira Edwards admired the beauty of the Wild Aces, the ranch her brother, Rafiq, had bought his beloved bride-to-be, Violet. Nasira appreciated the way landscaped lawns gave way to green pastureland. She relished the warm May breeze, the climate so different from London this time of year. When she had originally traveled to Royal, Texas—home to the legendary Texas Cattleman’s Club—she had done so to prevent Rafe from exacting revenge on his friend, Mac, for a mistake she had made over a decade ago. She had come to clear the air, right past wrongs, and fortunately she had succeeded. Yet that had not been the only reason behind the journey. She yearned for the peace this place could provide, yet peace had not come. The lingering pain of loss was simply too overwhelming.

In response to the memories, she withdrew the bracelet from the pocket of her dress and studied the tiny silver rattle charm she had received upon confirming her pregnancy. A surprising gift from a husband who had not embraced fatherhood. Still, she had viewed the welcome gesture as a symbol of hope for a bright future, until the day all hope had been splintered like shards of fragile glass.

Her palm automatically came to rest on her abdomen, now as barren as her life had been for a while. The baby she had so desperately wanted, and tragically miscarried, had changed her completely. Odd how she could miss someone she had known for such a brief time. And strange how badly she missed Sebastian, though he had been emotionally absent for the past six months. She had had no choice but to continue to put physical distance between them in an effort to reassess their future.

When the door opened to her left, Nasira expected to find her brother, Rafiq, checking on her welfare. Instead, Rafe’s friend, Mac McCallum, stepped outside and gave her a pleasant smile. “Are you doing okay?”

She did not deserve his good humor or respect after what she had done to him in the distant past. “I’ve been enjoying the Texas sunset.”

“Looks to me like that old sun has been gone a while,” he said. “My sister sent me out here to tell you dinner will be ready in a few.”

Food held little appeal in recent days. “I appreciate Violet’s hospitality, but I am not very hungry.”

“Suit yourself, but if you keep going this way, you’ll be blown to New Mexico if the wind picks up steam.”

She smiled reluctantly and stood. “I suppose if that is a possibility, I should attempt to eat something. Are you staying for dinner?”

“Not tonight. I’m meeting up with Andrea.”

Nasira suspected Mac had feelings for his personal assistant that went beyond the boardroom, even if he could not admit it to himself, according to her future sister-in-law, Violet. “Is this business or pleasure?”

He frowned. “Business, of course.”

“It’s rather late in the day for that, is it not?”

“Unfortunately it comes with the territory of McCallum Enterprises.”

When the discussion lulled, Nasira saw her chance to verbally make amends for past mistakes. She studied the wooden planks beneath her feet for a moment before regarding him again. “I wanted to extend another apology for what I did to you all those years ago. The guilt has been unbearable.”

Mac lifted his shoulders in a shrug. “Hey, you were young. We were both young. You were just trying to get out of an arranged marriage to a man twice your age.”

That ill-fated visit to the university to stay with her brother had set a horrible course that had led to Rafe’s need for revenge. “Yet I was wrong to use you to achieve that goal, especially when I climbed into your bed for the sole purpose of having my father discover us. And because our father blamed Rafe for not looking after me, that led to his determination to seek revenge on you. I shudder to think what might have happened had I not come here to intervene.”

“It all turned out okay,” Mac said. “He’s no longer trying to buy up the town to get back at me, he’s going to marry my sister, and we’re going to be one big happy family.”

Nasira was happy for them all, but still... “Even after Rafe’s torture and confinement for years due to my errors in judgment, he has forgiven me. I suppose I need to know if you will forgive me as well, though I would understand if you would not.”

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