She wasn’t sure she wanted to know any more.

She was the one who jumped up and walked towards the window. ‘You came all this way to talk about Dan?’

‘Yes, actually.’ He leaned back, settling into the old sofa. ‘I came back to have the conversation we should have had before I left.’

‘About my brother?’

‘Yep.’

‘What about your father?’ She turned, angered by this intrusion into her life. What about his life?

‘That too.’ He looked sombre.

‘So what happened?’ she asked.

‘He was hideous. Every bit as bad as I’d imagined. Didn’t want to know me. Dissed my mum. Then at the last minute decided I might be a good business contact after all…’

‘Jack…’ She cringed inside at his flat, deadened tone. ‘I’m sorry…’

‘It’s okay.’ He leaned forward again and rubbed his forehead with the back of his hand. ‘I mean, it wasn’t like I hadn’t imagined something like that… It hurts. Of course it does. Sucks. But I’ll be okay. My brothers and my parents have been great. And now I know I can move on.’

That was what he was good at, wasn’t it? Moving on.

She swallowed, trying to ease the horrible tightness in her throat. ‘So you’re travelling soon?’ she asked.

‘I guess.’ He shrugged. ‘But first I wanted to apologise to you.’

‘For what?’

‘For making you go to the Green Veranda with me. Making you stay there when you didn’t really want to.’

She blinked. ‘You think I didn’t really want to go?’ A chill trickled down her spine.

‘You needed me to buy your blog. Because you needed money for your brother.’

‘So you think I didn’t really want to do… what we did?’ She couldn’t believe he’d think that for a second.

And suddenly she was angry.

A cautious look sharpened his features, making them more chiselled than ever. ‘I’m trying to say sorry,’ he said tightly.

‘For giving me the best few hours of my life?’ She marched right up to him, stared down into his upturned face. ‘You regret it?’

‘I regret… how it happened?’

‘How did it happen?’ What was she missing here?

‘I seduced you into staying.’

Oh. Was that what he thought? ‘Do I not have a brain of my own? Could I not have said no?’

He looked confused.

‘If I had said no would you have stopped?’ she asked.

‘Of course.’

‘Then what’s the problem?’ Of all the stupid things…

‘You don’t need to apologise about what happened at the Green Veranda. You need to apologise for—’ She broke off.

‘What? What do I need to be sorry for?’ He reached out and grabbed her hips, stopping her from stepping back. ‘How have I hurt you?’

She didn’t deny that he had. He’d hurt her when he’d ripped her open and then walked away without a glance. And he’d hurt her now.

‘You think I prostituted myself? That I only had sex with you because I thought it might help my case?’ She jabbed the air with her finger. ‘That’s ridiculous—I’d never do that. If anything, I knew that sleeping with you would jeopardise my chances… But I went ahead and did it anyway because I wanted to. I wanted you. I said yes.’

‘Only because I made you… There was no real choice.’

‘You hardly forced me.’ She rolled her eyes in frustration. ‘If I hadn’t wanted to go with you I wouldn’t have. If I hadn’t wanted to sleep with you I wouldn’t have. But I wanted to. I liked it.’

Breathing hard, she let her volume reach epic levels.

‘And how could I not like it? You did everything in your power to please me. You put my pleasure ahead of your own. You were generous—not selfish. At least physically.’

He’d visibly paled. ‘Thank you,’ he muttered. ‘I’m sorry.’

She drew breath and saw that old lonely look in his eyes. ‘Why are you sorry?’ she whispered. ‘Why, really?’

‘When I was younger I asked my parents about my birth father,’ he answered quietly, his hands still holding her hips, keeping her close. ‘They said they didn’t know anything about him. But I saw the look in their eyes. The worry. The sadness. I’ve always known it wasn’t going to be good. But I needed to know. I had to know.’

‘Of course you did.’ She was unable to stop herself reaching out, raising a hand to his cheek, trying to soothe him.

‘But the truth was they didn’t know—they weren’t hiding anything from me. They thought he must have been abusive… but they didn’t know for sure. Turns out he was. He is. He’s a bully. And I got worried that I’d bullied you. That I was like him.’


Tags: Natalie Anderson Billionaire Romance
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