Stand-In Bride's Seduction(58)

By: Yvonne Lindsay


They’d just wheeled their cases out to the taxi when a cloud of dust came down the road. A cloud of dust accompanied by an all too familiar growl of high-performance motoring.

“He’s probably just come to make sure we’re leaving,” Sara said. She stood in front of Rina as Rey alighted from his car. “You needn’t have bothered coming to check on us. We’re leaving Isla Sagrado for good.”

Rey slid his expensive sunglasses off his face and took another step closer. “You might be leaving, but Sarina is most definitely not.”

“I have no reason for staying here. In fact, you couldn’t pay me to stay a minute longer,” Rina said, and opened the back door on the taxi. “Come on, Sara. We don’t want to miss our flight.”

The two women got into the backseat, but before the driver could close the trunk of the car, they heard Rey bark an order in Spanish.

“Did he just tell him to take my case out of there?” Rina asked her sister.

Not waiting for a reply, she jumped out of the taxi. “What do you think you’re doing? Put my case back in there.”

“The señor, he asked me to take it out,” the taxi driver said, looking uncomfortably between both Rey and Rina.

“Well, you can put it straight back in.”

She stepped forward to do it herself, but at the same time, so did Rey. Her fingers tangled with his on the handle of the case.

“Please. Listen to me,” he said with a quiet intensity that thrummed along her veins.

Even after everything he’d said and done to her, her body still leaped to life at his touch. She snatched her hand away, closed her eyes for a moment and swallowed against the tangle of words that lodged in her throat. She couldn’t trust herself to speak.

“Rina?” Sara called as she exited the car.

“It’s okay. Let him say what he has to say, then we’ll go,” Rina answered.

“Thank you,” Rey said. “Can we go inside, for some privacy?”

“No.” Rina shook her head emphatically. “Whatever you have to say to me you can say in front of my sister, as well.”

“So be it.” Rey nodded, but gave the ogling taxi driver a fierce look that sent the man back behind the wheel of the cab so he would not be able to hear. “I’ve treated you abominably.”

“Yes, you have.”

“I’ve come to beg your forgiveness.”

“I don’t know if I can do that. You played with me, with my feelings for you. You hurt me.” Rina’s voice wobbled and she saw a shaft of pain streak across Rey’s face at her words.

“I know. I was proud and angry but that is no excuse—I should never have treated you so. I recognized you were different, right from the start but I refused to listen to my heart. I’d been attracted to Sara when I met her, but it was nothing compared to how I felt when I met you. The instant we were together, you completed me. Offered me calm when I most needed it. Lit a fire in me when before, the most I’d ever felt with any woman was a mild fascination. Yet despite that, I pursued my agenda without considering what it would do to you—or what it would do to me.

“It doesn’t excuse me but I had reason to be suspicious. Our family had a near miss with a money-hunting opportunist only six months ago. A woman I’d allowed in my employ, thereby making my family as vulnerable to her schemes as she’d planned on making me. It very nearly cost us a small fortune, and I vowed it would never happen again. So when I realized you and Sara had exchanged places, my immediate thought was that you were taking up where the last one had failed.”

“I tried to tell you, it wasn’t like that,” Rina said quietly.

“I know, but in my arrogance I thought I knew better. What I did was reprehensible. I chose to blur the truth with Sara when it suited me and I reacted unreasonably when faced with the very same thing in reverse. You asked me once if I lived by my family creed. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t. Not for a very long time. But I aim to change that, if you’ll let me.”

He wiped a hand across his eyes, then looked directly at her again. She could see the sheen of tears turning his hazel eyes to green, saw the raw hope etched on his face. She didn’t understand.

“Let you?” she asked. “Surely that’s up to you.”

He nodded. “It is up to me, but I need to be reminded from time to time of what a conceited, unfeeling ass I can be. I need someone to keep me on track, to remind me of what’s most important in my life—to prevent me from falling back into the trap I’ve allowed myself to live in these past years. You said you loved me. Were you telling the truth?”

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