Propositioned Into A Foreign Affair(52)

By: Catherine Mann

“I’m sorry, Dev. Sorry to be leaving before Christmas. Before the premiere. But it’s better this way and eventually you’ll see that.”

“Right. I’m sure. While I’m answering reporters’ questions about the breakup of my marriage instead of talking about the movie we’ve all sweated blood over for months, I’ll remember you saying this is best.”

Valerie blew out a breath and picked up her pale pink sweater from the end of the bed. Shrugging into it, she then lifted her hair free and let it fall around her shoulders. “You’re angry.”

“That’s a fair read of the situation.”

“I understand.”

“Great, thanks. Wouldn’t want to be misunderstood.”

His voice was sharp, sarcastic and the glitter in his eyes told her fury was crouched inside him, tightly leashed. Well, why wouldn’t it be? He never allowed himself to completely relax with her. His passions—be they anger or desire—were always carefully banked. As if he couldn’t be bothered to show her the real Devlin Hudson. As if she weren’t important enough to engage him fully.

Sighing again, she said, “This is really as much my fault as yours. I never should have married you knowing you didn’t love me.”

He stiffened. “Love? That’s what you want? Not a very trustworthy emotion to bet a life on. Look at my father. He loved my mom. She betrayed him.”

That wound was still fresh and deep, Valerie saw. “There are two sides to a marriage, Devlin. Maybe you ought to talk to your father before you condemn your mom so easily.”

“She broke her vows,” he said, his tone stating emphatically that there was no excuse for that. “I didn’t. I’ve been faithful to you, Valerie.”

“I know that,” she said. “This isn’t about our sex life—this is about our lives. And I want more for mine.”

“More than what?” He stalked around the edge of the wide bed where they’d spent so many awkward hours together. Just the memories of those encounters filled Valerie with grief for what might have been.

Every time he came to her, he was so stiff, so controlled, so damn careful, that Valerie knew he was remembering that first time. That night would always be between them. She hadn’t been able to break through the walls Devlin had built around himself and she’d finally gotten tired of trying.

Gripping her shoulders he yanked her close, and she tipped her head back to stare into the eyes that had fascinated her right from the beginning.

“I’ve given you everything anyone could want, Valerie. You live in a damn mansion. You’ve got servants, money and the time to spend it anyway you choose. What the hell else is there?”

Valerie’s heart broke a little as his demand seemed to echo around her. Keeping her gaze locked with his, she gave him a sad smile. “Oh, Devlin, don’t you see? The fact that you can even ask that question is enough to prove that we have nothing.”

“You’re not making any sense.” He let her go so suddenly, she staggered back a step or two.

“Yes I am. I only wish you could see it.”

“Fine.” He pushed one hand through his thick, black hair, then waved that hand at the bedroom door. “You want to go? Then go.”

Shaken, sad and holding her broken dreams close to her shattered heart, Valerie pulled up the handle on the suitcase and rolled it behind her to the door. But before she left, she turned for one last look at the man she still loved so very much.

“Devlin, I never wanted your money. Or your mansion. All I wanted was your love. Since I can’t have that, there’s really nothing to stay for, is there?”

Then she left and Devlin was alone.