“He’s getting married. They will have children. This is a good place to bring them. The resort will only make it better. Cass likes to travel, but prefers private residence to hotels.”

“That makes sense, considering.”


“Yes.” He tugged her to relax further against his chest. “And you, can you imagine staying here on the occasional holiday?”

She sighed, her head coming to rest against his shoulder. “Too easily. If I owned a property like this, I wouldn’t relegate it to vacation home, though. I couldn’t resist living here.” The buried longing in her voice surprised him. “I don’t know how the previous owners did.”

“How would you run your business from here?”

“I thought daydreams didn’t have to be practical.”

“Indulge me.” He wrapped his arms around her waist, enjoying this moment of relaxed closeness.

She was good for him, which was just the dangerous kind of thinking he needed to avoid before he started spilling secrets again. This was about learning what was going on in her complicated brain, not revealing more of his own thoughts. And he would remember that.

“Living here would be the ultimate indulgence, but in answer to your all too prosaic question, with high-speed Internet, a reliable telephone service and a color fax machine, I could run my business from anywhere.”

“It would require a lot of travel.” Especially if she continued to work full-time.

“I travel a lot now.”

Didn’t he know it? He understood her desire to live here, though. “I forget how much I enjoy the sunshine sometimes, but a few days in Greece and I’m spoiled to blue skies again.”

“We can’t claim our fair share of those in Seattle.” She gave a rueful sigh.

He chuckled. “This is true. The first year Neo and I lived there, we thought the rain would never end.”

“Seattle gets all four seasons.”

“And all of them have rain.”

“True,” she said grudgingly. “But it’s better than New York blizzards, trust me.”

“Here, though, the weather is perfect.” He and Neo had not left Greece because they wanted to get away from the sunshine.

“If you are partial to a warm climate.”

“Which I am.”

“Me, too.” She sighed. “Maybe I should have relocated to Southern California, when I left New York.”

“No, we would not have met.”

“You might have been better off.”

What? He did not think so. He maneuvered her so their gazes met, and saw that her azure eyes were troubled. He shook his head. “Are you trying to imply that our friendship has been a detriment to me in some way?”

“Well, it’s not as if I’m the woman you envisioned as the mother of your future children.” Her voice echoed with pain he would not have expected.

“I had not given any thought to who that might be.” No serious contemplation anyway. He had thought of her in that role, before they started having sex. He admired her character and thought she would make an ideal mother and wife, except for that romantic streak even her rotten marriage had not cured her of.

“But you would not have considered me.”

“You are right.” At least that had been his final determination.

She turned her head away completely, but not before he saw sadness making her blue eyes shimmer dangerously.

Oh, no. Tears were not going to happen. He gently, but inexorably, tugged her face back around. “Not because I do not think you would be eminently suitable, but because I knew you would never consider a…what did you call my nebulous marriage plans? A business merger.”

“Why would it have to be a business transaction between the two of us?” she asked plaintively.

“How could it be anything else?”

“Love.”

“Love?” Hadn’t they already discussed this? “Whatever propensity to love I may have had once is gone. Even if it were not, love does not always last. Blood ties do not count for much, either.”

“So, there is nothing left but business?”

“True friendship can endure,” he admitted.

“Like your friendship with Neo.”

“Yes.”

“He’s the only person in your life who has never let you down, isn’t he?”

“On a personal level? Yes.” He brushed her lips with his thumb. “Well, not actually. You have never let me down, either.”

“Until this morning.” Her lower lip trembled and she bit it.

“You did not let me down.” “How can you say that?” she asked.

“It is the truth. We are done assigning blame, remember?”

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