‘This is why you help?’ he asked Tara.
‘Of course. Other friends send her info for the blog too. She verifies it as best she can, then goes for it. But she can’t keep doing it. She needs a life of her own.’
‘What does she want to do?’
Tara’s pause was shorter this time. But still pointed. ‘Didn’t you talk to her at all?’
Well, he had talked. He’d spilled his guts. He’d thought she’d opened up to him and he’d opened up to her and there’d been a bond between them—something more than sexual.
But she hadn’t opened up at all.
She hadn’t trusted or cared enough to tell him everything. She’d been afraid to.
And that hurt him bitterly.
‘Look, this is wasting time,’ Tara said. ‘I need to talk to her.’
‘I’ll get her to call you in a minute.’
‘Great. Tell her I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.’
He was the one who was sorry.
And so freaking angry.
SHE HADN’T HEARD from Tara and she couldn’t get hold of Dan because her stupid phone battery had died.
Stephanie glanced up at the building where Jack had gone to meet his father, hoping it was going okay. He’d looked so vulnerable and her heart ached for him too much. She was far too worried about it for her own good, because this was only a two-day fling.
Except it felt like so much more.
The way he’d teased her and then laughed with her… the lengths he’d gone to to ensure her pleasure… Not just in bed but in seeing that echidna, going to that restaurant, playing in the pool… in taking the time to just be with her.
But she was making too much of it, right? She hadn’t been with anyone like this ever. She was making more where there was actually nothing.
Just a good time.
He was going back to America once this meeting was over. She was one holiday fling of who knew how many? All humour—no hearts.
She’d known that. She’d walked into this with her eyes wide open.
But last night… She drew in a deep breath as she remembered the way he’d talked. The way he’d looked at her.
That had felt like something more. He’d opened up. He’d told her so much and she’d ached to do the same. But there was no point in telling him about Dan now. Not when he was so stressed about meeting his father. Not when there was still the blog deal to discuss later. There was no reason for him to know the truth about her brother. He probably wouldn’t be bothered about something that was only personal to her.
She had to face reality—sooner rather than later.
She wasn’t the kind of woman a man like him would settle with even if he did decide to settle some time. He’d go for some model-type or a celebrity. She’d seen the girlfriends his brother George had had—he was always in the online gossip columns with yet another model or actress or singer. Or maybe Jack would go for an ultra-brainy, Girl Friday travelling type…
Either way, she wasn’t it.
But in her heart there was that whispering temptation, that bewitching fantasy. If he asked she’d drop everything and run off with him. She’d follow him to the four corners of the world in a heartbeat.
And she hated that weakness within herself.
She couldn’t be the kind of woman who dropped everything for a new man. She couldn’t do what her mother had done. She hadn’t cared enough to stick around and help her own children. Not even when Dan had been so unwell. And that hurt. She could never shirk her responsibilities in that way. Or give up her own career for something that wasn’t even love.
And she couldn’t leave Australia anyway because Dan needed her. Until he was happier and more sorted she had to be there for him.
And she had to know he was okay now. If only her stupid phone battery had lasted another couple of hours…
The driver’s door suddenly opened and Jack got into the car.
‘That was quick,’ she said. ‘Are you okay?’
He didn’t look okay. His face was pale and his jaw was tight and he was staring ahead. Too determinedly not looking at her.
He put the key in the ignition and started the car, yanked his seatbelt on and pulled out of the car park.
‘Jack?’ Stephanie scrambled to put on her own seatbelt. Then, curling her suddenly clammy hands into fists on her lap, she sent him a sideways look. ‘You don’t want to talk about it?’
‘As much as you want to talk about your invalid brother.’
She froze. He knew about Dan? Since when? Had he been waiting all this time for her to mention it?
‘How do you know?’ she asked.
Tara had told him about Dan? Why would she have done that when Stephanie had gone to such lengths to ensure he didn’t know?