“Oh, stuff it, Madison,” Declan barks, then pushes past her while dragging me along with him. I’m so stunned by what’s going on that I don’t try to pull away or run in the opposite direction.

Weakly following him inside, I go absolutely dizzy when I see Declan’s father.

“What is going on, Declan?” I murmur as my gaze goes back and forth between Alexander Blackwood and Declan’s wife.

Declan doesn’t release his hold on me, but turns to give me a chastising look. “Oh, now you call me Declan? Just moments ago, it was Mr. Blackwood.”

The fact he would dare taunt me in the midst of what is now a tense and awkward situation infuriates me. “Moments ago, I was trying to salvage a good recommendation. But now, I just think you’re an asshole, so I don’t mind calling you Declan. Or wait, maybe it’s Dicklan.”

To my chagrin, Declan’s lips actually twitch as if he’s getting ready to laugh. That’s cut short by Madison demanding in a shrill voice, “What is going on, Declan? It is in poor taste to bring your mistress to my suite.”

Declan spins on Madison, gritting out, “She is not my mistress.”

“Oh, really?” Madison taunts. “Because last I heard, you are bound by marital vows. When you sleep with another person, it is called having a mistress.”

At this point, I actually become concerned about Declan’s health and well-being. His face turns a blistering shade of red, and a vein pops out in his forehead. He sucks in a deep breath through his nose, letting it out with a mighty gust from his mouth. His hold on my wrist loosens. He slides his hand down to lace his fingers with mine. Locking his eyes with mine, he gives my hand a squeeze.

With his other hand pointing at Madison, he calmly says, “That is my wife, Madison Blackwood. We’ve been separated for two years, and I have been trying hard to get her to sign fucking divorce papers in that timeframe. I didn’t tell you about it because, frankly, she was not worth the time.”

Madison’s sharp inhale of breath catches my attention, and I spare her a brief glance. This is cut short by Declan squeezing my hand again, which brings my attention back. “Unlike you, Bailey, I was not hurt when she and I separated. The marriage was a mistake to begin with, and I only did it because I was receiving immense pressure from my family. Madison cheated on me, but I didn’t even care. It was almost a relief. I wasn’t devastated the way you were in your marriage, so it didn’t seem necessary to tell you about something in my life that had virtually no meaning other than her being a pain in my ass because she won’t sign the final documents.”

“That is unbelievably rude,” Madison exclaims.

Declan doesn’t even look over at her, and I don’t dare look away from him because there’s something in his tone that has caught my attention.

“My marriage was rotten, Bailey. But it did not make me relationship averse. The only reason I avoided committed relationships was that my job was always the most important. I loved what I did, and I like to keep things casual with women. So my marriage to Madison was never any great trauma I had to get over. I hope you believe me when I say I rarely think about her. Other than to reach out to my attorneys periodically to find out where they stand in getting her to sign these documents, she doesn’t cross my mind. Was it a mistake not to tell you this? I see now it was. However, I never intentionally hid this from you. She just wasn’t important enough to share.”

I’m not going to lie. His words have me rocking back on my heels. Of all the things I thought he might say about being married to someone, it never occurred to me that she would be so inconsequential it just wasn’t important. I mean, it is important, but it isn’t to him. She means that little to him.

But things are still weird, and I need some explanation. So I ask, “Why is your father here?”

Declan shoots a short glare at his dad before giving me his regard. “My father is here to pressure me into giving Madison another shot. It appears when I brought you to dinner, I concerned my family. It seems—and I don’t have proof of this—they may have hatched a plan to work in concert with my hopefully soon-to-be ex-wife in hopes I will turn my attention away from you.”

“Your family doesn’t like me very much,” I lament.

Declan shrugs. “They’re assholes. I can’t help that.”

I want to laugh, but it would be grossly inappropriate. But Declan gives me no chance because he turns to Madison and says, “I want you to hear me when I say I will never give this marriage a second chance. If you do not sign the documents today, I will see you in court. And I am not going to offer you the generous payout I did within those documents. I’m going to drag you through a painful court battle.”


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