Page 51 of Unravel Me

Not a one—except for the fact some part of her soul that she refused to acknowledge wanted to please him and thrilled in the way he fine-tuned her to his desires.

Begrudgingly, she scooted off the mattress, determined to ignore the tightness in her skin. Her breasts felt heavy, her legs akin to jelly. Somehow, he expected her to work like this.

Damn it—she wanted to scream.

As she turned for the attached bathroom, Brad poked his head inside the bedroom door. “By the way, I’m taking you to breakfast. You’ve had a long night. Just relax and enjoy this morning.” He ducked back out, and his voice rang low. “And I need to run by my hotel for some clothes.”

She would have snorted at the closing door, if she weren’t certain doing so would find her back in the bed, at his mercy all over again. While back in the bed didn’t bother her at all, she wanted nothing to do with a repeat of last night.

A shower was absolutely out of the question given her raw nerve-endings. Instead, she turned on the sink and gingerly rinsed off with a washcloth. Then she ran a brush through her tangled hair. When she felt like she’d pulled herself together at least somewhat, she braced her hands on the marble sink top and stared into the mirror. She hardly recognized herself, though nothing outward had changed. Her eyes held wisdom. At the same time, the weariness she’d seen so often the last few years no longer stared back. She looked…at peace, if it were possible to recognize such in an expression.

Had these last two days brought her to that unreachable place of tranquility she’d yearned for? It seemed impossible. She’d known Brad three full days. But in that short span of time he’d unlocked her from a prison her marriage had constructed. He’d set her free, even if at times he stripped that same freedom right out of her hands.

A smile worked its way past her sullenness. To hell with trying to fight getting attached—she already was, and she loved that intimate closeness. Problem was, it would all come to an end. They were fated to part from the beginning.

Exiting the bathroom, she threw on casual jeans and a dark blue sweater, and hurried to meet him downstairs. At the top of the landing, however, her feet refused to take another step forward. He stood near the door, the same way he had two mornings past, that same devilish grin on his face reminding her of all the wicked secrets they shared. It wasn’t his adorable dimple that brought her to a halt, however. It was the document he held in his hands and extended to her.

She blinked at him. “What’s this?”

He shrugged one shoulder nonchalantly. “I did some research last night. If Miles isn’t serious about the claims he made and backs off, I thought we might as well have a starting place to come to some reasonable agreements.” He tapped her folder that lay on the entry table. “You left the folder open and I accidentally saw the top sheet of notes. I immediately closed the folder, but what’s done is done and I apologize. Maybe we can use this mistake to help our clients?”

Cassie’s gaze pulled to the entry table, to her folder, then rested on the blooming rose in its crystal vase. She ought to be furious. But the genuine remorse in his voice tempered the instinctive reaction to tell him he had no right to go through her notes. The essential olive branch he offered wasn’t lost on her either. Mr. Hotshot New York was trying to be amenable. “Thank you,” she murmured.

The list in her hands, however, concerned her. Reasonable or not, her duty was to represent Jennifer’s interests. Jennifer’s interests involved keeping their daughter in the only home Anna had ever known. Compromise wasn’t on the table.

She shrugged off the worry over his reaction—business was business; she still had a case to negotiate. If it spoiled the morning, then so be it. “I can’t negotiate this. Jennifer is adamant about sole custody until Anna is ten.” Cassie steeled herself for a fight and held his gaze, unblinking.

“If Miles is telling the truth, I can’t negotiate letting Anna stay where she is.” Brad paused for several seconds, staring at his briefcase on the floor, continually nudging one corner with the toe of his shoe. What she could glimpse of his expression was intensely thoughtful. “This is going to have to involve Anna. We can’t shelter her.”