THREE MONTHS HAVE GONE BY without the taste of Gabriel Storm in my mouth, the scent of his skin in my nostrils, the rush of his powerful body pounding into mine. In a few minutes, he’ll arrive for the closing of the SouthWind deal. Given an option, I would have scheduled a vacation, preferably one on the dark side of the moon. But I’m responsible for the closing documents and my presence is required. So here I stand, breathless with anxiety, heart pounding with anticipation.
This is not good for the child I carry. His child. Gabriel Storm’s, the powerful COO of Storm Industries. He doesn’t know I’m pregnant. I never told him. There never seemed to be the right time to do so. And then at the end, I couldn’t let him know, because it would have meant the destruction of everything he cherished, everyone he cared for.
He’s made no attempt to communicate with me since the stormy summer night I walked out on him. No phone calls, no emails, not even a text. I don’t blame him, not really. What else could he do after I admitted to betraying him. It isn’t true, of course. I would never do such a thing. But I was forced to make a clean break, so he’d never want anything to do with me. Still, after everything we did, after everything we meant to each other, his silence hurts more than I care to admit. I shrug. Just as well. It will make him easier to ignore when I see him again. Yeah, I know, denial at its best.
“You look like you’re about to pass out. Are you okay?” CeCe. My rock. I don’t know what I would have done without her in the last three months. She covered for me while I puked in the bathroom, answered innumerable questions about pregnancy and childbirth, and most of all listened when I poured out my misery.
“Yes.” I’m not. But fake it ‘til you make it, right?
“Here.” She hands me a water bottle. “Drink. It’ll make you feel better.”
“Thanks.” I unscrew the top, guzzle half the container. The cold liquid feels good going down, and it gives my hands something to do besides shake.
A rustle of excitement outside the glass-enclosed conference room draws my attention. Many of the women from the law firm, and some of the men, have found an excuse to hang outside. They laugh, giggle. Oh, please. Don’t they have anything better to do? When Mr. Carrey frowns at them, some disperse but most remain right where they are.
And then Mr. Carrey’s new secretary is walking down the hallway toward the conference room, ahead of two people. One is Miranda Stone, Vice President of Acquisitions at Storm Industries, and the other . . .
I stop breathing.
He’s allowed his hair to grow. That fabulous kissed-by-the-sun golden mane reaches his shoulders now. He walks into the conference room, his glance bouncing around the room, landing on no one in particular. As ever, his gaze mesmerizes me. Was there a time when I wasn’t fascinated by those ocean-blue eyes of his? He’s wearing one of his killer two-piece suits, a dark blue one which caresses his broad shoulders and showcases his powerful legs to perfection. He’s the same.
And yet, he’s not.
He no longer walks with that smooth, sexy gait of his, but with a stutter step as he leans on a walking stick. Pain lines groove his face. His suffering guts me as much as it did when I heard he’d been injured. He never revealed the cause. And the tabloids never found out, even though they looked under every rock and hounded him for weeks. But clearly it caused major damage, to his right leg at the very least.
When somebody makes a comment about the cane, he jokes about his limp. Apparently, a tree ran into him during a skiing trip. But I spot something in the depths of his eyes that tells me he’s lying. Something else caused that injury.