Courage (Billionaire Secrets Series, #3)(7)

By: Lexy Timms

But the rational part of him knew that ship had sailed. He’d lost Heather because he had been so screwed up by his own issues that he’d piled them onto her. Projected every betrayal he’d ever endured onto the one person who had always been on his side.

The way she was sizing him up now—a mixture of bitterness and disappointment in her eyes—was all the proof he needed to know that they were truly over.

Needing to push through the silence he leaned against the conference room door, straining to hear something. He might not be able to make the decisions, but it paid to be prepared.

“Oh, trust me, I already tried that,” she said softly. “You can’t hear anything.”

He forced out a sigh and turned to face her. “I guess we have no choice but to sit here and wait.”

She didn’t respond. The air of unease around her was palpable. Her vulnerability drew him to her in a way he barely understood.

When she caught him looking at her she lowered her eyes and shifted uncomfortably in her seat. She swallowed hard and then licked her lips, her pink tongue running over her lush lips distracting him. Every rational thought in his mind slipped away and all he had now was need. Raw, primal desire.

He had always noticed her wholesome beauty, but her fragile state was putting his mind in a haze of lust. There was something undeniably sexy about all her contradictions. In the board room, her strength had blazed so brightly he couldn’t take his eyes off her. Now that she was away from the board, the fire in her had gone out and she looked like she might break. He’d do anything to take her in his arms and comfort her. Have his way with her.

No. Damn it.

He had to focus on fixing this. Making it up to her after his terrible mistake. His desire for her had to be buried. Heather had ended things between them and somehow, he was going to have to face going on without her. He tried to ignore the fact that he didn’t know how.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t able to help you more in there,” he blurted out. He kicked himself mentally the moment he said the words. The last thing he wanted to do was bring up the fact that he was still trying to help her despite her refusal to accept his help.

She frowned. “It’s for the best, don’t you think?”

No, he didn’t think it was for the best. Heather was facing so many obstacles at once, and he had been the cause of so much of that. Her ex-husband was trying to take her son away from her, and the legal bills were going to be astronomical for someone like her. Weeks ago Simon had offered to pay for a good lawyer, but she had refused. Partially because she felt guilty about the fact that the last time he’d paid a lawyer to help her, details of their private lives had made headlines. But deep down, he suspected she’d refused his money because she had her pride.

That stubborn pride meant that all she had to rely on now was the income she made at Dover. Without her job, there was no way she’d be able to take care of her son and pay legal fees. As much as she might hate him for it, he was determined to protect her even if she never forgave him for it.

“The best outcome is for you to keep your job,” he said.

“You’ve done enough, Simon,” she said sharply.

Arguing with her wasn’t going to solve anything. Not if she was committed to defying him. He held back a retort and sat down in the chair across from her. There was an empty chair beside her, but he wasn’t going to press his luck.

They waited in silence for more than an hour. Ordinarily, Simon didn’t mind long stretches of silence. In fact, he often welcomed them. But the silence between him and Heather was torture. An agony he’d give anything to end. They were sitting in the same room, but they might as well have been a thousand miles apart. He wished he could tell himself that it wasn’t his fault, but that was a lie.

When the door of the conference room opened Everett walked out, the expression on his face totally blank. “Ms. Hall? We’d like to speak with you further before we come to our decision.”

The air of fragility that had shadowed her melted away and she surged to her feet, making sure she looked Everett in the eye. As she headed back into the conference room with Everett, she didn’t throw Simon so much as a backward glance. The door shut behind them, the sound of it slamming like a judgment that reverberated around the waiting area.