He stared her down. "This conversation is over, Elizabeth."
Suddenly she was close. "What is she to you? I have a right to know."
"We're … friends."
Further words snagged in his throat as he looked past Liz to Madison standing in the doorway, his secretary behind her.
Liz twisted, smiling thinly and running her hand down his chest before she stepped away.
"Maddy," he said, moving around the desk and coming to her. The look on her face made him stop in his tracks.
Madison fought the hole digging in her heart and searched his gaze, his handsome features. "Friends, Alexander?"
He glanced briefly at Liz. "Not now, Maddy."
It hit her then. Really hit her. They'd been together most of the time since returning from Michigan. He worked out of his home, picked her up after work. Not because they didn't want their marital status to get back to Angus, but because Alex wasn't ready to admit to anyone, even to the one person he should, that they had a relationship. A very loving, honest relationship. Until now.
Liz glanced between the two, hiding her smile. "I'll see you later, Alex."
"No." Madison said, without taking her gaze from Alexander's. "Don't bother. I'll go." She turned on her heels and left.
Alex was stunned motionless.
"I knew it," Liz said. "I knew you didn't want what she had to offer."
Alex's features pulled tight, and he bolted from the office, skidding to a halt before the elevators. She was already inside, and the doors were closing. "Madison."
She didn't speak, her wound so clear in her eyes. A tear fell. Alex swore he heard his heart fracture. The door hushed closed.
He didn't lose her. He didn't. He wouldn't let it happen. She was in for a surprise if she thought she could leave him without a fight.
* * *
The timer binged. Madison jolted up from where she lay curled on the sofa, blinking first at Kat, then the table between them. "A drumroll please," she muttered, and together they leaned over the glass table to stare at the plastic stick. Positive. "Wonderful." Madison flopped into the sofa. A baby. Alex's baby. The thought of holding his child inside her sent unbelievable joy through her. And sadness. She was on her own.
Katherine settled in the Louis XIV chair with all the elegance of his queen. "You don't look that upset."
Madison stared out the window, not seeing the flat, grassy land leading to the best deep-water view in Savannah. "I'm not. I was hoping my suspicions weren't true, is all. Dang. We used tons of protection."
"Apparently one of those icky things broke."
A little smile curved her lips when she thought of the times making love with him was so vigorous it was entirely possible. Especially the night they'd drunk wine on the beach.
"You're not going to tell him, are you?"
Madison looked down at her hands clenched in her lap. She'd been on her way to his office to tell him her suspicions when she'd heard him tell Liz… "No. I won't."
Katherine frowned. "That's not fair to Alex."
"I can't. He'd insist on marrying me because of a baby and resent me and our child for forcing him into a corner." Her voice broke. "I couldn't bear that."
"I think you underestimate his feelings for you."
Madison turned her gaze on Katherine.
"I've seen him a few times since you returned from Michigan. Everyone is talking about the changes in him. Until a couple of days ago, he wore a sappy smile he couldn't wipe off."
That was a comfort, but she had to be realistic. "He'd made it perfectly clear what he wanted, Kat. I understood that going in. That scene only proved it." Her voice wavered again, and she swallowed. "I'm trying to respect his preferences, when I'd rather scream to the heavens how much I love him." She cocked her head. "You know he rarely asked about my family. It's like he didn't want to dig too deep. Or get involved any more than what he could handle on a temporary basis."
"Well then, I guess you aren't going to like this any more than the Mercedes." When Madison wouldn't answer his calls, Alex had done what a millionaire did well, he'd sent her a gift. A new Mercedes delivered to her door. She'd sent it back with an envelope. In it was the diamond ring she'd worn while playing his wife.
Madison felt dread dip through her as Kat twisted to the side table and slipped a paper free from her planner. She leaned forward to hand it to her.
Madison stared at her Wife Incorporated statement and the six-figure deposit he'd made in her account. "Damn him."
* * *
The next morning she hadn't calmed yet as she strode into his corporate office and slapped the paper on his desk. "Explain this."