She cut him off. “Christian?”
“We’re hoping you’d be amenable—-”
And this time, her voice broke a little.
Christian’s lips compressed.
The bubble had burst, Jane thought numbly.
She didn’t understand how it happened, much less why, but she only knew that it had. It was a slap in the face, a stab in the heart, a slice to the jugular. It was all that and more.
But even so—-
She couldn’t help trying one more time. “Christian?” And this time, his name came out in a whisper devoid of disguises, a whisper so raw that it had Jared swearing and everyone else in the room looking away, their discomfort on her behalf written all over their faces.
But Christian still didn’t speak, and she stammered painfully, “C-Christian?”
A thousand questions echoed in those two syllables.
Why won’t you even say hi?
Why won’t you even let me touch you?
Why won’t you even look at me?
Just one last time, Jane told herself doggedly.
His head finally snapped towards her, and her voice caught, Jane realizing she had misjudged her capacity for pain.
“Enough of this.” His voice was hard, his accent pronounced, and his azure gaze was filled with so much contempt it had her stumbling back a step.
He started speaking again, and soon the agent and the lawyer joined him, the three of them forming what felt like a circle of damnation around her. This time, they were all talking, but this time she no longer cared. This time, she just wanted to cover her ears and scream at them to shut up.
Shut up. Shut up! SHUT UP!
Couldn’t they at least give her one damn moment while her heart shattered into pieces?
A one-way mirror into the interrogation room allowed Christian and Jared to watch the ongoing interview between the FBI agent and Jane. Inside with them were her attorney and Christian’s legal representative, both of them wearing stoic expressions on their faces.
Both lawyers had told him on separate occasions that they strongly believed Jane Cooper had nothing to do with the breach, which was now a matter of national security due to recently discovered circumstances.
But even so, Christian had still OK’d Agent Thornton’s request for an interview.
Because it was protocol, he told himself. That was all there was to it, and it had nothing to do with the fact that he had this inexplicable need to give Jane every reason to distance herself from him.
Beside him, Jared said flatly, “You can’t possibly think she’s the culprit.”
“I’m only being thorough.” Christian’s tone was devoid of emotion. “You’ve seen the results of the preliminary investigation. Practically every possible angle pins the blame on her.”
Fact #1: The security breach stemmed from the backup servers he had purchased, which consequentially yielded private information about H’s players to a still-unidentified third party.
Fact #2: A subsequent investigation revealed that a pre-loaded script in the backup servers had been the source of the breach.
Fact #3: Since Christian had made sure that the company he bought the servers from wouldn’t have any time to tinker with its programming, the script could only have been loaded if someone had insider’s knowledge prior to his acquisition.
Insider’s knowledge that could have come from Jane, Christian thought harshly. She was the only other person that had been with Jared and him during their business dinner at Keine Rückkehr Casino’s restaurant. That was the only time they had spoken about his backup plans for H, and not even the other party, Norman Caruthers, had known Christian was thinking about purchasing servers from him.
Jared cursed under his breath when it was obvious that was everything his friend had to say on the subject. “We both know it’s not her—-”
“The facts state otherwise—-”
“Bullshit. That’s fucking bullshit, and you know it.” Jared turned to face Christian, grating out, “How many times have you told me that your instincts are never wrong?”
“Aren’t you the same person,” Christian exploded, “who told me that I was insane to listen to my instincts about marrying Jane because I barely knew her?”
“And you proved me wrong! I wish you fucking hadn’t, but you did. You showed me your instincts were fucking right again – so why the hell are you choosing this one time not to listen to them?” Jared shook his head in frustration when Christian’s jaw only clenched. “Why don’t you just fucking admit it to yourself? All this is because of one thing, and it’s the fact that you can’t accept you love her.”
Christian’s powerful form jerked, and his gaze swerved to where Jane sat so still inside the interrogation room.
Jared laughed humorlessly at the way Christian’s fists clenched. “There’s no point denying it.”
Christian swung away from the window.
“You love Jane,” Jared repeated ruthlessly. “You’ve probably fallen for her from the start, and I wish to hell I didn’t know that, but I do.” His own gaze went to Jane—-