They’ve meant everything to me. You mean everything to me. “This is my decision. It’s done.”

“Like hell it’s done.” When she dared a glance at him, a muscle worked furiously in his jaw.

“This is something I need to do for my career, for my future.” Why did those words coil like barbed wire in her soul?

“I guess I’m not in that picture.” His jaw hardened to the point she thought he might crack a molar. “You know what I have to say to that? Bullshit. A damn job didn’t make you run from the pool like you were scared to death. At least respect me enough to give me an honest answer.”

Pain and hostility jolted her like a live current. “Fine. You want the truth? I can’t have kids. We will never be Allison and Logan ‘someday.’ I’ll never be pregnant or have your babies.”

Instantly, he downshifted, and they came to a stop at a red light. “What?”

The sincere struggle toward comprehension played out on his features, making her heart twist again. “You have an amazing family, Trey. Something I’ve never had and always envied. You have people who are there for you no matter what. I can’t give that to you.”

His Adam’s apple bobbed. “I don’t know what to say.”

“It’s okay,” she said with a snarky undertone. “I get that a lot.”


Her lungs shuddered as she fought to breathe without bursting into tears. “You shouldn’t have to choose between me and your desire for children. So I’m leaving.”

The silence between them rivaled the hollow expanse of her favorite sci-fi novelists’ descriptions of the post-apocalypse. Putrid. Aching. Empty. Devastated. Haunted.

“I had no idea.” He extended his hand, palm up, waiting for her response.

Instead of taking it, she folded her arms over her heart. “Please drop me off at the hotel.”

As he pulled into the parking lot, his knuckles turned white on the steering wheel. “We need to talk about this.”

“There’s nothing to say. It’s over. All we can do is move on.”

“I don’t want to move on.” He choked and cleared his throat. “I can’t.”

“Let it sink in. You’ll see I’m right.”

“Don’t do this Devon. Don’t shut me out.”

Silent, she steeled herself until he shifted the gearstick into park in front of the entrance. Then she climbed out, shut the door and didn’t look back. She couldn’t, or she might turn around and rush back into his arms, into his life. But that wasn’t fair to either of them.

God, so much had changed since her first night here, she thought, as she locked herself in her room, dropped her purse and dove onto the bed where Trey had made love to her. She grabbed a pillow and let her tears run free.

She’d just given up her best chance at belonging she’d ever had.

Sobbing into her pillow, she mourned for the babies she might’ve had. For the dreams of a family she wanted but would never know.

She mourned for her future…without Trey.

Chapter 10

Trey avoided Devon’s floor Monday morning. Whenever he took the elevator and the fourth floor button lit up, his gut churned and the tingle at the base of his scalp stung like a slap. His whole body ached as if he’d come out on the losing end of a bar brawl. He hadn’t even felt this shitty after he called off his wedding and his relationship with Jenna, and she’d hooked up with that guy in rehab.

Apparently, he sucked at reading the female psyche. Devon had seemed so into their relationship, into him. He’d believed she would be a permanent part of his life, for better or worse, forever. And when the hell had she planned to drop the ticking bomb that she intended to leave? When he got down on one knee with a ring?

The profound loneliness echoed in his soul. He wasn’t a religious guy, but the past twenty four hours had proven purgatory existed. His world had shattered, his future a collection of broken pieces that no longer fit together.

The dreams inspired by Devon now mocked him. Anger and resentment followed tides of longing that scorched his veins. Because all he wanted was to hold her tight and tell her they’d find a way to work this out.

Then he laughed bitterly. She didn’t want to work things out, she was leaving for a life that didn’t include him—had never included him, apparently. And there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it.

That helpless sensation tore through his chest throughout the morning. By noon, it hurt to breathe.

Hollow inside, he went through the motions of his workday, sitting in meetings, listening to people whose lives were going on as usual, even while his was falling apart. He wanted to stand up and shout his frustration and punch the wall. He wanted to demand an explanation why the love of his life couldn’t be his wife, and the children he desperately wanted with her would never exist.

The failure hounded him like a cruel nightmare that refused to end, and sharp knives of regret shredded his insides, tearing him apart. Useless and wrecked, he canceled his three o’clock meeting and paced his office. All he could think about was looking into her eyes, touching her, making love to her.

Damn, he needed to see her. He needed a sign, some indication that his suffering wasn’t one sided.

The people he passed on the way to her office moved in a continuous blur until he stood outside her door. Sucking in a painful breath, he turned the handle and walked in.

Devon stiffened and sprang to her feet. When her eyes met his, they lacked their usual gleam. Dark, puffy circles ringed her gaze. She looked pale, sad and lost. He hated seeing her like this, but at least her suffering gave him an edge of hope. That this possibly hurt her as much as him.

“We need to talk,” he said, closing the door. He approached her desk.

She took a step back, her shoulders tightening as she folded her arms across her waist. “I know.”

“You didn’t answer my calls yesterday.”

“I didn’t know what else to say.”

He clenched his jaw. “I also noticed all the hotel charges were put back on my credit card. You can’t afford that expense.”

She shrugged. “It didn’t seem right to take your money.”

The money didn’t matter to him, she did. And no amount of money could change whether she left or stayed. “I don’t regret the past two weeks,” he said, striving to keep his tone level. “Even if I’d known how this would end up, I would’ve done everything the same. I want you safe. That will never change.”

Tags: Vanessa Waltz Billionaire Bodyguard Suspense