‘I understand that you’re angry but we need to sort this out, Bella, once and for all.’
‘Why?’ She gave a harsh little laugh and his insides twisted when he heard the pain in her voice. ‘What difference will it make to you if Tim was spinning you a line? You’re still going to take his side, aren’t you, still going to blame me for ending our marriage? As far as you’re concerned, Mac, I should have stuck with him come hell or high water, so what’s the point of talking about it?’
‘The point is that I need to know the truth.’ Mac took a deep breath, aware that he was stepping into dangerous territory, yet how could he avoid it? Bella deserved to be given a fair hearing and that was what he intended to do. If she would agree. ‘I know it’s asking a lot but, please, Bella, let me in so we can talk this all through.’
He held his breath, hoping against hope that he had managed to persuade her. When he heard the door lock being released, he almost shouted out loud in relief. He hurried inside and made straight for the lift, half afraid that she would change her mind. Her apartment was on the fifth floor and he tapped his foot in impatience as the lift carried him upwards. He wasn’t sure how he was going to set about this; maybe it would be simpler just to wait and see how it panned out? If he started asking questions, there was always a chance that he would say something to alienate her. He sighed as the lift came to a halt. Normally, he wouldn’t have given it a second thought; he would have simply asked Bella what had gone on and that would have been it. But this wasn’t a normal situation, was it? Someone was lying and he needed to find out who it was.
Bella must have heard the lift stop because she opened the door. She didn’t say a word, however, as she led the way inside the apartment. Mac placed his motorbike helmet on the console table in the foyer then followed her into the living room, stopping abruptly when he was greeted by the most spectacular sight. One whole wall was made of glass and the view of the mountains that surrounded the town was stupendous.
‘What a fabulous view!’ He went over to the window and stood there for a moment, drinking it in. It was only when he became aware of the silence that he remembered why he had come. He turned slowly around, his heart aching when he saw how distant Bella looked. She had always had a tendency to withdraw into herself if something had upset her and it was obvious that was happening now.
‘Thank you for letting me in,’ Mac said quietly, trying to rein in the guilt he felt. It didn’t make him feel good to know that he had upset her, even though it hadn’t been intentional. He sighed, aware that he could make the situation worse if he continued probing, but what choice did he have? He needed to get at the truth.
‘What you told me before about Tim not wanting a child until you asked him for a divorce—was it true?’ he said before his courage deserted him.
‘Yes. Not that I expect you to believe me.’
Mac heard the challenge in her voice but it didn’t disguise the pain it held as well and his heart ached all the more. That she was loath to discuss what had gone on was obvious and in other circumstances he wouldn’t have pushed her. However, making sure that he could trust her was even more important than finding out if Tim had lied to him.
The thought stunned him because it aroused feelings that he’d believed he had conquered many years before. After his mother had left, he had found it impossible to trust anyone. He had been only seven when Laura MacIntyre had walked out of their home but he could still remember how terrified he had been in case his father had left him as well.
Was that why he had avoided commitment? he wondered suddenly. Was it the reason why he always called time on a relationship before it became too serious? He was afraid of letting himself fall in love in case he was let down. His breath caught as one thought led to another: was it also the reason why it was so important that he made sure he could trust Bella?
Mac felt panic assail him when he realised just how complicated the situation actually was. His feelings for Bella weren’t nearly as clear-cut as he had believed. They seemed to be changing on a daily basis, in fact. He had started out feeling disillusioned, angry even about the way she had behaved, yet he couldn’t put his hand on his heart and swear that was how he felt now.
A trickle of sweat ran down his back as he looked at her and remembered how he had felt the night before, how he had ached to touch her, kiss her, feel her body, warm and responsive under his. It certainly hadn’t been anger or disillusionment he had felt then!
* * *
Bella wasn’t sure what Mac was thinking but there was something about the way he was looking at her that made her heart start to race. She bit her lip, determined that she was going to keep a lid on her emotions. If they were to sort this out then she had to remain detached. She had told Mac her version of what had happened, the true version, and now it was up to him to decide if he believed her. The one thing she mustn’t do was get emotionally involved. Something warned her that would be a mistake of gigantic proportions.