The Innocent's Secret Baby(63)

By: Carol Marinelli

She would not walk out on him again.

“Oh, but I’m not finished.” His quiet words stopped her in her tracks. “You didn’t think I came here empty-handed did you? Without some bargaining power?”

His wife turned to face him, blue eyes apprehensive. “The Carmichael Company is bleeding money,” he told her. “Has been for quite some time. I’ve given your father two large loans to keep things afloat.”

She blinked. “That’s impossible.”

That had been his reaction when Angie’s father had come to him for help. That the Carmichael Company, an over two-hundred-year-old textile dynasty, an American icon with its name on the main campus of one of New York’s most prestigious design schools, could be in the red, deeply in the red, had been inconceivable to him.

He watched the color drain from his wife’s face. “If you bothered to go home, you would know. So many countries are in the mix now, producing high-tech fabrics. Things haven’t been good in some time.”

She shook her head. “If this is true,” she said faintly, “why would you help my family?”

His lips curled. “Because I am loyal to the relationships I form, unlike you. I don’t run when things get rocky. Who do you think is underwriting your studio?”

She frowned. “I pay the rent on my studio.”

“You pay one quarter of the rent. It’s my building, Angie.”

Her mouth slackened. “I hired that real estate agent. Found the space...”

“You found what I wanted you to.” He waved a hand at her. “It made me sleep better at night knowing you were in a safe part of town.”

Her face crumpled as realization set in. “What are you insinuating? That you will pull the plug on the aid you’re giving to my family, toss me out on the street if I don’t agree to come back to you?”

“I prefer to think of it as incentive. We owe our marriage a fair shot before we relegate it to the history books. You come back to me, we try and make it work, I pull Carmichael out of its financial difficulties before it becomes a footnote in a list of great American dynasties. It’s a win-win.”

A win-win? She stared at him, disbelieving. “You would really hold that over my head?”

“You didn’t play fair when you walked out on me, tesoro. You just cut and ran. So yes, I will use whatever means required to make you see the light. To do the right thing.”

“I asked you to go to counseling. I begged you to. I tried to save our marriage and then I left.”

He ignored the stab of guilt that piece of truth pushed through him. “You expected us to solve things overnight. It doesn’t happen that way.”

Her fingers curled tight around the delicate stem of her champagne flute. “Putting the two of us back in a marriage where we’ll destroy one other is not doing the right thing.”

“We are both older and wiser. I think we can make it work.”

She shook her head. “That’s where you’re mistaken. That’s where you’ve played the wrong card, Lorenzo, because I will never become your wife again.”

She turned on her heel and left. He let her go, because he knew she’d be back. He’d never gambled on a deal he couldn’t win.