Funny, lovely, sweet Jane who couldn’t be his—-
And he, too, turned away.
“She made you human,” Jared muttered under his breath, “and as your friend, I wanted that for you. It’s the only reason why I’ve never gone after her the way I could have—-”
“If you want her so fucking much,” Christian heard himself say, “then she’s yours—-”
He stopped speaking.
Even without hearing Jared inhale sharply, even without turning around, he already knew—-
She had heard him.
“THANK YOU FOR AGREEING to talk to me in private.”
Christian only nodded, leaving Jane unable to say anything else. She turned away and fumbled for the key in her purse while struggling to keep her composure. It seemed like so long ago, Jane thought numbly, when they were okay.
Was it just the other night she had last glimpsed his smile?
The answer to it made her hands tremble, and she suddenly had a hard time fitting the key into the lock. A full minute passed, and she heard Christian walking towards her.
“Let me do it.”
Christian’s curt voice made her flinch, but what hurt her more was the way he took the key from her. He was meticulously careful not to touch her, painfully so. It made her feel like she had an awful contagious disease, and as soon as he had possession of the key Jane couldn’t help shakily stepping away, lest he be infected.
A moment later, and Christian said, “It’s open.” He opened the door for her, and she walked past him. Even without looking back, Jane could feel his presence changing the very air around them, and she sucked in her breath. It hurt that his mere presence left her feeling so raw, but it hurt even more, knowing that it wasn’t the same for him.
Placing her purse down on the mantel, she asked stiltedly, “Can I get you anything?”
Because he’d rather get this over with sooner rather than later, she translated, and her throat began to itch. “O-okay.” Ah, how it itched. “I’ll be just a minute.” Her voice croaked in the end. Shit. She really needed a glass of water. She was just thirsty, she told herself as she hurried towards the kitchen on legs that threatened to give out any second. That was all this was, rather than having anything to do with the fact that tears had been clogging her throat from the moment-—
If you want her so fucking much, then she’s yours—-
This time, her knees did buckle, and her hand slammed against the wall as Jane fought to keep herself upright.
Behind her, she heard Christian ask sharply, “Is everything fine?”
Oh my God, was he serious?
Jane told herself she would keep her cool. She wouldn’t beg, she wouldn’t shout. She would be an adult—-
But then she found herself whirling around.
Fuck being an adult.
“You know what you’re doing here, don’t you?”
Jane was yelling.
Christian’s face became rigid. “Don’t shout.”
Don’t shout? Jane heard herself laugh. Don’t shout? And she couldn’t help it any longer, shrieking, “Don’t shout? That’s really all you can say?” And she laughed again, unable to help it even as she realized her mood had swung alarmingly from despair to hysterics. Or maybe this mood was just another face of heartbreak. It was hard to tell anything when she was hurting so much.
When he only looked at her with those callously cold eyes of his, she said unevenly, “At least admit it.”
Christian’s lips tightened and he stood up with a shake of his head. “I’m not the one with something to admit—-”
“Don’t!” Jane’s voice shook at the strength of her emotions. She couldn’t believe he was still insisting on hiding behind such a stupid excuse. “I didn’t steal anything from you, and you know it! All this is about is you pushing me away because I’m getting too close—-”
“Will you fucking stop making this all about you,” Christian snarled. “I’m in danger of losing my company. Have you forgotten that? I’m responsible for over a hundred people – my job is to make sure they’ve got food on their tables, and here you fucking are, acting like this is still about us—-”
“Because it is,” Jane cried out, “and you’re destroying me—-”
“Bullshit.” Christian saw Jane pale and knew he was hurting her. “Don’t make this into some kind of fucking soap, where you’re the innocent victim everyone’s out to ruin.” He saw her lips tremble and he knew he should stop, but he couldn’t.
“Stop acting like it’s the end of the world. You’re far from being alone, and we both know it. I’m not the only man who wants you—-”
A stricken look crossed her face.
The heart-wrenching note of pain in her voice stopped the flow of his words.
“You’re the only one I want,” Jane whispered.
Christian sucked in his breath.
She wrapped her arms around herself while staring at him, wondering if he got it now. What other men felt didn’t. Only he mattered, but—-