By: Brenda Jackson

Now was the time to come clean and say losing contact with Bailey had been a deliberate move. The periodic calls from his cousin had become depressing since they’d agreed Crystal wouldn’t ask about Bane. Just as he wouldn’t ask Bailey any questions about Crystal.

That had been Bane’s idea. He’d figured the less they knew about the other’s lives, the less chance they had of reneging on their promise not to seek the other out before he could meet his goals.

During one of those conversations Bailey had informed her Bane had set up a bank account for her, in case she ever needed anything. She never had and to this day she’d never withdrawn any funds.

“Even if Bailey and I had kept in touch, she would not have told me what you were doing, just how you were doing. That was the agreement, remember, Bane?”

“You could have called Dil,” he said as he raked his gaze over her.

He was probably taking note of how she’d changed as she’d done with him. He could clearly see she was no longer the eighteen-year-old he’d married, but was now a twenty-three-year-old woman. Her birthday had been two weeks ago. She wondered if he’d remembered.

“No, I couldn’t call your brother, or any other member of your family for that matter, and you know why. They blamed me for you getting into trouble.”

Crystal glanced at her watch again. He’d said he was here to fulfill his promise. If he was doing it because he felt obligated then she would release him from it. Although asking for a divorce might not have been his original intent, she was certain it was crossing his mind now. Why wouldn’t it? They were acting like strangers instead of two people who’d once been so obsessed with each other they’d eloped. Why weren’t they all over each other? Why was he over there and she still standing over here? The answer to both questions was so brutally clear she had to force tears from her eyes.

Like he said, he had changed. He was a SEAL. Something other than her was number one in his life now. More than likely it had been his missions that had kept him away all this time. He’d chosen what he really wanted.

“Crystal, I have a question for you.”

His words interrupted her thoughts. “What?”

“Why did you come to the door with a gun?”

* * *

It had taken every ounce of Bane’s control not to cross the room and pull his wife into his arms. How often had he dreamed of this moment, wished for it, yearned for it? But things weren’t playing out like he’d hoped.

Although he’d taken heed to Zane’s warning and not swept her off her feet and headed for the nearest bedroom, he hadn’t counted on not getting at least a kiss, a hug...something. But she stood there as if she wasn’t sure what to make of his appearance here tonight. And he still couldn’t grasp why she assumed he wanted a divorce just because he’d told her he’d changed. He’d changed for the better, not only for himself but also for her. Now he had something to offer her. He could give her the life she deserved.

Crystal nibbled her bottom lip, which had always been an indication she was nervous about something. Damn, she looked good. Time had only enhanced her beauty, and where in the hell had all those curves come from?

She had changed into a pair of skinny jeans, a pullover sweater and boots. She looked all soft and feminine. So gorgeous. Her hair was not as long as it used to be. Instead of flowing past her shoulders it barely touched them. The new style suited her. How had she managed to keep the guys away? He was certain that with her beauty there had been a number of men who’d come around over the years.

Even now Bane’s hands itched to touch her all over like he used to. He would give anything to run his fingers across the curve of her hips and buttocks and cup her breasts.

“The gun?”

Her question pulled his concentration back to their conversation. Probably for the best, since the thought of what he wanted to do with his hands was turning him on big-time. “Yes. I watched you get out of your car to come into the house and you seemed nervous. Is something going on? Is some man harassing you or stalking you?”

She lifted a brow. “A man stalking me? What makes you think that?”