Marriage Terms(2)

By: Barbara Dunlop


“Then what are you doing here?”

“I’m looking for you.”

She blinked again, trying to make sense out of his words. Unless she’d missed something, they’d said their goodbyes at Bryan’s wedding and had gone back to their respective lives.

Daniel should be perched behind his mahogany desk at Snap magazine right now, fighting tooth and nail with his siblings over profits and market share. As he was locked in a battle for the CEO position at Elliott Publication Holdings, it should have taken a catastrophe of biblical proportions to get him out of the office during work hours.

“I wanted to talk to you,” he said casually.

“Excuse me?” She shook the water out of her ears.

“Talk. You know, when people use words to exchange information and ideas.”

Clearing her ears hadn’t helped. Daniel had tracked her down to chat?

He smiled, bending at the waist to reach out his hand. “Why don’t we get a drink?”

She pushed away from the pool edge and began treading water. “I don’t think so.”

“Come out of the pool, Amanda.”

“Uh-uh.” She wasn’t chatting, and she sure wasn’t hopping out in front of him in a tight one-piece.

He might look like an advertisement for Muscle Mass Monthly, but the earth’s gravitational pull was winning the war with her body.

“I’ve got forty-five laps to go,” she said.

Fifty laps was a stretch, but she was upping her workout—starting here and now.

Whether Daniel ever saw her in a bathing suit or not, a woman had her pride.

Daniel crossed his arms over his broad chest. “Since when do you stick to a plan?”

He wanted to start in on their weaknesses?

“Since when do you finish work before eight at night?” she asked.

“I’m taking a coffee break.”

“Right,” she drawled, with a skeptical nod.

He frowned, looking imperious despite the swimming trunks. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means you don’t take coffee breaks.”

“We’ve barely seen each other in over fifteen years. How would you know whether or not I take coffee breaks?”

“When was the last time you took one?”

His cobalt eyes darkened. “Today.”

“Before that?”

He was silent for a moment, until one corner of his mouth quirked in a grin.

She splashed at him. “Knew it.”

He ducked. “Do I have to come in there after you?”

“Go away.” She had a workout to finish and a head to get clear. It was all well and good to lean on Daniel when their son was in mortal danger. But the truce was over. It was time to return to their respective trenches.

“I want to talk to you,” he called.

She kicked farther into the lane. “We have nothing to say to each other.”

“Amanda.”

“If Bryan’s not back in the hospital, and if Misty’s not in labor, then you and I are leading separate lives.”

“Amanda,” he repeated a little bit louder.

“It says so on our divorce papers.” She swam away.

He paced along the edge of the pool, his voice muffled by the water covering her ears. “I thought…then you…making progress…”

She gave up and turned into a sidestroke, gazing at his long, lean body while a shriek sounded from the diving pool. It was followed by the thump, thump, thump of the board’s recoil.

“Progress toward what?”

His eyes narrowed. “I hate it when you play dumb.”

“And I hate it when you insult me.”

“How am I insulting you?”

“You called me dumb.”

He spread his hands in frustration. “I said you were playing dumb.”

“Then you called me scheming.”

“Do we have to do this?”

Apparently, they did. Every single time they got within fifty feet of each other.

“I was there for you, Amanda.”

She stilled, and the water lapped lightly against her neck. He was using it against her already?

He raised his palms in a gesture of surrender. “And you were there for me. I know. I know.”

“And it’s over,” she said. “Bryan’s alive…” Her voice cracked over her son’s name, and she drew a bracing breath. “And Cullen is happily married.”