A sick feeing swept through him. He hadn’t really believed he was wrong in his assumption about her feelings for Ian. Still, proof he’d been correct was a blow for which he hadn’t prepared himself.
“No. I guessed it. From something Ian said.” Some of the vibrant color washed out of her cheeks. “He doesn’t know,” he assured her, guilt suddenly swamping him. It was unforgivable, the way he’d been acting. He was lashing out at the woman he’d fallen in love with because of something she couldn’t help. Love was blind, isn’t that what they said? She’d fallen for Ian long before she’d ever known Kam existed. He swept his hand through his damp hair in a frustrated gesture. It seemed ludicrous in the aftermath of his storm of chaotic emotion that he’d convinced himself he was angry at her for not being honest with him. As if he would have ever taken it well, hearing from her lips that she was attracted to him because he resembled his brother, or that while she may enjoy him in bed, her heart belonged to another man.
Yeah, he would have taken that really well, he realized simmering in self-deprecation.
“I figured it all out when Ian told me to buy you purple lotus flowers yesterday. He said they were your favorite,” Kam explained to her hollowly. “I remembered how you had several pressed ones in your bedside drawer . . . the ones Ian had given you over the years, right?”
She didn’t reply. She seemed shell-shocked upon having her secret revealed so unexpectedly. He raised his hand to touch her face—comfort her—but the memory of how he’d treated her earlier made him drop it. He exhaled, suddenly feeling weary.
“That, and a lot of other things I’ve learned since I’ve gotten to know you these past few weeks, led me to it. You’re so contained. So controlled. I figured if there was anyone on the planet who could take the pain of a broken heart day in and day out, and still be so strong and loyal, it was you.” He met her stare. “I just figured it out, Lin.”
Her stunned silence was like a shouted condemnation. He stared sightlessly at the tile surround.
“Are you okay? Did I hurt you?” He waved vaguely toward the direction of the bedroom.
“No,” she whispered.
He swallowed thickly, relief at her answer barely penetrating the dense weariness that had come over him. “I’ll just go and give you some privacy.” He reached for the shower door and then turned back. She stood in the exact spot, unmoving.
“I didn’t sleep with you to influence you to work at Reardon Technologies. I did that because I can’t keep my hands off you. I’ve fallen for you, Lin. Hard,” he added grimly. “I thought it must have been obvious, but what do I know? I don’t have much experience with something like this. Any, to be honest.”
He stepped out of the shower, shutting the door between them.
When Lin had finally recovered sufficiently from her shock and got out of the shower to dress, she discovered Kam and Angus were both gone. Had Kam taken Angus for a walk to offer her the opportunity to make a less awkward exit if she chose?
Lin was so overwhelmed by the events of the night, she took that chance. She fled. She was distraught and confused by the things Kam had revealed. Part of her was thrilled that he’d told her he’d fallen for her. She still couldn’t believe it, though. But she also felt guilty. She should have told him about Ian. Shouldn’t she have?
But there’s nothing left to tell, is there?
Lin had recently realized that her romantic fantasy of Ian was nothing, nothing compared to the vibrant, amazing, uncontrollable feelings she had for Kam.
Perhaps the main reason she slunk away from Kam’s apartment to gather herself that night was that she knew herself to be a fool. She’d spent a good portion of her adult life pining for an insubstantial dream. It’d taken Kam’s raw, uncompromising brand of honesty to prove that.
Was it too late for her to admit her true desires? Had she built such a secure façade around herself that she’d never be able to escape the thick walls?
• • •
A strange feeling slowly began to rise in Lin that night. It was akin to hearing the wail of a distant alarm come ever closer until that blaring sound filled her consciousness. She’d returned to her condominium, but had never slept that night as that alarming, swelling feeling mounted. It was as if now that she’d discovered the trap she’d made for herself, she could no longer find peace in her confinement.
Why had she left last night? What was she doing wasting time in this bed? She had to speak to Kam. She realized this mounting feeling was all of her emotion bursting through her defenses, all of the unspoken words she wanted to say to Kam crowding into her mind.
Just before dawn, she rose from her mussed bed and rapidly showered. Forsaking any makeup and leaving her hair to dry naturally, she hastened into some jeans, a fitted T-shirt, and an overshirt along with a pair of boots. She snatched her purse and keys and rushed out her front door.
Fifteen minutes and a cab ride later, she waited impatiently at the doorman’s station of Kam’s building.
“Is Mr. Reardon there?” the doorman asked into the phone. “He has a visitor. Oh, hello Mrs. Noble,” the man said deferentially after a moment. He glanced up and gave Lin a pointed glance. What was Francesca doing in Kam’s apartment? “Oh, Mr. Reardon isn’t there?”
“Can I speak to her?” Lin asked, holding out her hand for the phone.
“Francesca?” she asked a second later.