A second later, he was striding again. This time it was worse. This time it was a thousand times worse.
Jenny had been all humiliation—her betrayal had been so public, so blithe. And he’d been so blind.
This was pure hurt. Nothing but hurt. He found he didn’t care about other people knowing. All that mattered was that she had gone.
He ran both hands through his hair, clenched his hands and pulled—wanting the slight physical pain to distract him from the agony within. It shouldn’t be as painful as this. It shouldn’t feel as if she’d stuck white-hot swords through him on every side.
As he paced the room, breathing hard, the vitriol ran through his veins. She was a bitch, a vain-hearted bitch with an insatiable need to be adored by many. With no understanding of love or loyalty—no capacity to truly, deeply care. Why had he been fool enough to want to believe in her? How could he have let hormones interfere with his heart? How could he honestly have started to believe, to hope that she was different?
The door opened. He whirled around from where he was mid-flight back across the floor. She was still wearing last night’s outfit. The outfit she’d been snapped in several times at several clubs—making an exhibition of herself.
‘Did you have a good time?’ he snapped, moving towards her.
Wariness sprang into her eyes.
He didn’t need to ask any more. He couldn’t stop himself. ‘You look pale. Got a headache?’
‘Of course you do. Must be a mighty hangover if you got so drunk you were falling over outside that club.’
‘Take a look at the picture, princess.’ He pointed to the laptop. ‘Little ugly, isn’t it? For someone so vain I’
m surprised you let yourself be caught like that.’
He glared at her, incensed by the surprise on her face as she saw the pictures plastered over the Internet. ‘
What, you thought you’d get away with it? That I wouldn’t find out?’ He laughed; it felt rough and tasted acrid. ‘I can’t believe I thought you were taking this seriously. That you were looking tired from actually doing some work for once in your life. But you haven’t, have you? Instead you’ve been sneaking out to go clubbing like some sixteen-year-old brat.’
‘You’ve been out other nights too, haven’t you?’
Silently she nodded.
‘Can’t you bear to miss even a week out of the scene?’ he bitterly jibed. ‘The party is tonight, Liss. Or had you forgotten that?’
‘I hadn’t forgotten.’
‘When that’s over, this whole thing is over.’ And he couldn’t wait to forget all of it. Every last damn minute, every soft sigh, every silken touch—he’d expunge the lot. But right now rage burned. ‘I thought there was more to you, Elissa. I wanted there to be more. But you really are just that shallow, spoilt kid.’
Liss had a headache all right, and it was thumping. She was tired, she’d been traipsing round club to club last night trying to find someone half decent to spin some tunes at the party. At some hellish new club she’d found some scary-looking guy who she’d made swear not to play anything too tuneless, too loud or too boring. She’d had no sleep because when she’d finally got back to the hotel she’d spent the last few hours in the office downstairs typing up the rest of the brochure for the media kit. What did he think she’d been up to? The accusation in his eyes had her hackles on end.
‘Where have you been?’ He couldn’t seem to leave it alone.
She finally got the chance to get a whole answer in. ‘Are you able to believe me if I tell you?’
His face tightened and her heart sank.
‘I’m not going to tell you when there is no point. You’ve already condemned me.’ Based on nothing, he was so obviously thinking the worst. ‘I thought you were just, James. I thought you were the kind of guy who could give someone a chance. A second chance even.’ She looked for some kind of response, but he didn’t give an inch, still stood with anger carved into him. ‘And in the workplace, it seems you can. But not personally. You’ve given me no chance, no chance at all.’
She didn’t try to defend herself further. Why bother? So much for thinking he’d seen more in her. So much for worrying that that meant he’d guessed how she really felt about him. Why had she thought he’d see past her act? And why had she been so stupid as to secretly wish he had?
‘Why should I? It’s obvious. You’re as flighty and self-centred as they come.’