Fine lines etched into Tressa’s forehead. “Natalie? You know this woman, Cyrus?”
“Yes, he does. Very well.” Natalie placed her hands on her hips. “We had an intimate work relationship until a few days ago,” she said with a smirk.
Cyrus looked as if he could snatch the woman’s heart out with his hand. Spittle flew from his mouth when he said, “Shut the hell up, Natalie,” through teeth gritted so tightly they should have all been ground to dust.
Whispers and words revealing shock among the small crowd now circling them, swirled around her. Tuning it all out, she zeroed in on Cyrus. “You should probably start talking right now. What’s going on?”
“Yes, Cyrus. We’d both like to know what the hell is going on,” Natalie added.
This time ignoring their party crasher, Cyrus turned to her. “Tressa. I made a mistake. We can—”
When he reached for her, she backed away. This was the mistake he referenced earlier. “How long?”
When he didn’t answer, Natalie did. “Four months.”
“Four—” The air seized in her lungs.
Tears stung her eyes, but they were more angry than sentimental ones. “You lying, cheating, no-good, trifling bastard.” She wrenched the ring from her finger and tossed it at him. Eyeing Natalie, she said, “He’s all yours. The wedding is off.”
Cyrus grabbed her arm. “No, you don’t mean that.”
A second later Tony—her three-hundred-pound ex-lineman cousin—clapped a large hand on Cyrus’s shoulder. The look in his eyes suggested Cyrus release her now.
Obviously, Cyrus got the silent message, because his grip on her arm loosened, then fell away.
Several family members—including her visibly livid mother—swarmed around Cyrus like bees on the attack. They stung him with their not-so-gentle words of disapproval. As the room erupted in utter chaos, Tressa made her escape. She’d asked for a sign and, boy, had she got it.
Amid all of the chaos, Roth eyed Tressa weaving her way through the room and toward the exit. She brushed past the outstretched hands of individuals undoubtedly offering their comfort and support. He tore down the stairs after her, but by the time he made it outside, she was nowhere in sight. Where in the hell had she vanished to so damn suddenly?
He squinted against the dark for any sign of movement. Nothing.
When the door banged open behind him and Cyrus’s snake ass slithered out, dragging his hideous mistress behind him, Roth’s jaw tightened in disgust.
Cyrus slid a razor-sharp glance in Roth’s direction. Roth readied himself for a confrontation, but Cyrus only flashed a scornful expression, then escaped in the opposite direction.
After hanging around another half hour or so—just to see if Tressa resurfaced—he decided to head out, leaving instructions for Alonso to call him the minute he heard anything. Yanking open the door of his SUV, Roth slid behind the wheel and slumped in the seat. A part of him wanted to start the engine and follow through with his plans to leave, while another part of him—a much greater portion—wanted to hang back to make sure Tressa was okay.
He abandoned the idea of staying. Tressa definitely didn’t need him to further complicate her life. Given what she’d just gone through, he was certain he was the last person she wanted to see. Not because he’d been in any way responsible for the debacle that had taken place, but because he was a man. And at this point she more than likely hated the entire male species.
And who could blame her? He’d certainly held a discord for the female population when he’d got his heart broken several years ago. Then he’d met Tressa a few months back and feelings he’d long abandoned rushed him like water released from a dam.
Roth shook his head. That slimy bastard had cheated on Tressa almost their entire relationship. Via Alonso, he’d learned Tressa and that clown Cyrus had only dated a short time before they’d become engaged. Why even propose if he knew he had no intentions of being faithful?
Why would any man in his right mind sacrifice a woman like Tressa?
Roth recalled the expression on Tressa’s face as she darted from the room. A mix of confusion and pain danced in her usually sparkling eyes. At that moment he really wanted to hurt Cyrus, if for nothing more than dimming her glow.