“It’s the opposite.” Jared switched the Smart TV to browser mode and typed in a YouTube link. “She saved your ass, Christian.”
Christian turned to the screen, and he recognized the location immediately. It was the conference room below, and…Jane was holding a press conference.
He watched her take the stage like a pro, introducing herself as both his fiancée and P.R. head. He watched her field questions effortlessly, the perfect combination of assurance and humility. He watched her singlehandedly prevent a public relations catastrophe as she acknowledged the company’s responsibility, accepted their share of blame, but at the same time assuaged everyone’s concerns and convinced everyone that Christian Ravenhearst would not fail them.
It was her exact words.
“Christian’s work means everything to him. He’s the most dedicated person I’ve ever known, and his integrity is impregnable. He’ll find a way to make things right, I promise you. Christian Ravenhearst will not fail you.”
And she had been right.
He had not failed them.
He had failed her.
Christian was knocking on her door.
Don’t answer. Pretend you’re out. Or tell him to go away, and you don’t want to see him again.
But of course she ended up doing none of those things.
She loved him after all, and just because he had repeatedly said and done things to convince her that they were wrong for each other – love wasn’t something one could kill overnight.
Jane opened the door, and even though she had done her best to prepare herself—-
It just wasn’t enough. Maybe nothing could ever be enough.
Christian Ravenhearst still took her breath away.
“May I come in?”
She nodded jerkily and turned away without a word, leaving him to follow her inside her apartment. His words reminded her of the time she had practically ambushed him in his apartment.
May I come in?
She had used the exact same words. He had let her in, and after, they had made love for the first time—-
That seemed like an eternity ago.
Christian closed the door behind him, using the time to compose himself.
A part of him had thought she would just leave him knocking forever on her door, and if she had done that, he wouldn’t have blamed her. He deserved it – and more.
Earlier, on his way out of the office, the receptionist had hurried after Christian, saying Ms. Cooper had left something for him.
And because he was a fucking arrogant fool, Christian had thought the words gave him a reason to hope. Instead, they had severed the last connection between them, and the result was Jane’s engagement ring inside his pocket, a burning and taunting reminder of how much he had hurt her—-
And how it might already be too late for both of them.
After inhaling one last time, he followed her into the living room and saw Jane already seated on the couch, her back ramrod straight and her hands clasped together on her lap.
She looked like she was preparing herself to be hurt all over again.
Christian didn’t let himself think.
He walked to her, went down on one knee, and said hoarsely, “I’m sorry.”
But Jane only nodded, her stiff, cold silence almost an exact replica of how he had been with her days ago, and she was the one begging him with her eyes to talk.
To just let her know that things could still be okay.
“You were right. I knew it wasn’t you before the security breach. And I didn’t have to hear about the FBI arresting—-”
“Christian.” Her low, controlled voice cut him off. “I know.”
Ah. He looked at her, and there was nothing in her eyes.
“I read your message, and you sent it well before the news started reporting about the FBI’s undercover op.”
“But it’s not enough,” he said dully.
Jane shook her head slowly. “No.” The word was a painful whisper. “It’s not.”
He reached for her hands, and she shook her head even more profusely.
“No.” She struggled to keep her voice from shaking as she tried to explain, “I’m not trying to be dramatic or anything. I just know you’re right. And that we’re wrong for each other—-”
Christian’s face turned ashen.
A moment later, he started talking – fast.
“No, Jane. I was wrong. You were right. We can still fix things and—-”
The desperation in his voice was familiar, and it hurt.
It hurt because he was too late.
It hurt because she knew it was only temporary.
It hurt because she knew it wasn’t real.
“Jane, I love you.”
And oh God, he was using the exact same words, too, and it hurt.
“You don’t love me,” she said brokenly, “the way I want you to love me.”
He grabbed her hands and squeezed them tightly between his. “I do, pet.” His voice was taut and urgent. “I love you, only you, more than anything—-”
“Christian.” She looked at him helplessly. “You blocked my number.”
And the tears suddenly couldn’t stop falling.
“I know it seems a silly, shallow thing, but God, Christian, I could never do that to you—-” Her throat started to close, but she still couldn’t stop speaking. “And never so soon, and it was just ruthless—-” And her vision began to blur, and she had such a hard time breathing, but she knew she needed to get the words out. “And everyone knew. They knew—-” She choked, and she gasped. “They knew, while I was working my ass off to help you, that you had already erased me from your life.”