Page 23 of What Lies Beneath

“Well, for a start, she isn’t my fiancée anymore.”

Alex sat down in Will’s guest chair. “Yes, but only I know about the breakup. Last time we talked you seemed pretty certain you were out of there once she was back on her feet. What changed?”

Will sat down at his desk and leaned back, weaving his fingers behind his head. “Nothing. And everything.”

“I knew it. I knew when I saw that grin on your face at dinner that she’d gotten to you.”

Will wasn’t sure he liked the implication of that, but he had a hard time denying that she’d gotten under his skin. “I’ve never been this preoccupied with a woman before.”

“So you’re staying?”

“No. Yes. For the time being. Even if she woke up tomorrow with the temperament of a pit bull, I’m riding this out until she’s recovered. We’ve agreed to start fresh and see what happens, but I still have reservations. This just spells long-term disaster.”

“Then why did you kiss her?”

Will sighed. “Because I wanted to. And I haven’t really wanted to kiss her in a long time. There is suddenly this chemistry between us. This electricity whenever I’m close to her. It’s nothing like we ever had before. It’s as though I’m with a completely different woman. A brand new relationship with someone who’s soft and sweet and gentle. I mean, she giggles, Alex.”

A blond brow shot up, curious. “Cynthia giggled?”

“More than once. At first, she was sort of lost, trying to feel her way around, but now that she’s got her bearings, she’s full of excitement and joy. It’s like she’s got a new lease on life. I like being around her. I’m happy when she’s happy. I bought her a damn sewing machine.”

“What? Why?”

“Because I thought she’d like it, and I was right. She’s cleared out her office of advertising junk and has been merrily plugging away at making clothes.”

“Is that what she’s going to do now?”

“I guess. She can’t exactly go back to the ad agency and fake it. I encouraged her to do what inspired her, and this is the direction she took. It makes her happy.”

Alex nodded. “Which makes you happy. So what’s the big deal, then?”

“It’s all wrong!” Will shouted, slamming his fist into his desk. Hitting something let out some of the aggression he had pent up inside. His gut was a swirling mix of untapped sexual energy, confusion and frustration with no outlet. “She’s sucking me back in when all I wanted was to get out. It almost makes me wonder if she’s doing it on purpose. When I broke it off, she was insistent that we could work things out. Cynthia didn’t want the embarrassment of calling off the engagement. She wouldn’t even take off her ring because she said we’d talk when she got home. What if she’s trying to trick me into staying by faking this whole thing?”

“You mean pretending she has amnesia?”

“I wouldn’t put it past her. I couldn’t trust her then, and I’m still not sure I can trust her now. All she did was lie to me for more than a year.”

“She nearly died in a plane crash. Not even Cynthia could premeditate a plan like that.”

Will frowned at Alex, his argument instantly deflating because he knew his friend was right. He was being paranoid. Letting his past distrust of Cynthia cloud his judgment. Of course she couldn’t have set this up, but somehow it was easier to be suspicious of her than to let himself trust her. “Ah, hell. What a mess I’ve made of things.”

Alex stood and went over to the small bar where Will kept his stash of water, soda and Scotch. “Want a drink?” he asked.

“No, help yourself,” Will said.

Alex poured himself a few fingers of Scotch and walked over to the large picture window that overlooked the vast concrete sea of New York City. “I think you’ve gone about this all wrong.”

“Enlighten me.”

The real-estate developer returned to Will’s desk and sat back down in his chair. “You offered her a clean slate, but you’re still letting all that old junk mess with your head. Let’s take a page from Cynthia’s book, so to speak. Forget about your past with Cynthia. Forget about this collaboration with Dempsey Corp. Even forget you were ever engaged.”

Will looked at his friend with distrust. Those were a lot of factors to just sweep off the table. “O-kay.”

“Now,” Alex continued, “with all that set aside, just ask yourself one simple question: Do you want her?”

Leave it to Alex to boil the situation down to base needs. But it made sense. Did he want her? Given that the blood pumped furiously through his body just from the sound of her laughter? Given that he’d locked himself in his office for hours with a miserable erection to keep himself from doing something stupid? “Yes.”