Wanting What She Can't Have - Page 1


Alexis watched him from the doorway to the winery. Late afternoon sun slanted through the windows at the end of the room, illuminating tiny dust motes that floated on air redolent with the scent of fermented grapes. But she was oblivious to the artistic beauty of the setting—her focus solely on the man who worked on, unaware of her presence.

He’d changed. God, how he’d changed. He was thinner, gaunt even, and his signature well-groomed appearance had given way to a self-executed haircut, a stretched and faded T-shirt and torn jeans. His face obviously hadn’t seen a razor in several days. But then grief was bound to do that to a man—to diminish the importance of the everyday tasks he’d done automatically and replace them with indifference.

How could she help a man who was clearly long past any interest in helping himself?

The weight of what she’d agreed to do felt heavy and uncomfortable on her shoulders. She, the one who always willingly stepped up to the plate when everything went pear-shaped, was now thinking that perhaps this time she’d bitten off more than she could chew.

Straightening her shoulders, she shook off her doubts. Bree had turned to her in her time of need—had written a letter that begged Alexis to take care of her husband and the child she’d been on the verge of delivering should something happen to her, as if she’d known what lay ahead. While her best friend had died before Alexis could give her that promise, in her heart she knew she couldn’t refuse—couldn’t walk away. Even if keeping that promise meant putting her heart back in firing range from the man she’d been magnetically drawn to from the moment she’d first met him.

Raoul stilled in his actions. His attention shifted from the table of wine samples before him, his pen dropping from his hand to the clipboard covered in hand-scrawled notes that lay on the stark white tablecloth. He lifted his head and turned toward her, his face registering a brief flash of surprise together with something else she couldn’t quite put her finger on. It was gone in an instant, replaced by a tight mask of aloofness.

“Alexis,” he said, accompanied by a tight nod.

“I came as soon as I heard. I’m sorry it took so long. I...” Her voice trailed away. How did you tell a man that it had taken almost a year to hear about the birth of his daughter and the death of the love of his life because you’d severed ties with his wife, your best friend since kindergarten, when it became too painful to see her happiness with him? That you’d “forgotten” to give her your new email address or the number to the cell phone you bought when your work started requiring more international travel because you couldn’t bear to hear any more about how perfect they were together? Because you had coveted him for yourself?

Because you still did.

She took a deep breath and swallowed against the lump of raw grief that swelled in her throat.

“I’ve been traveling for a while, ever since my business...” The words died at the expression on his face. Clearly Raoul could not care less about the success she’d been enjoying ever since her clothing line finally started taking off. “Bree’s letter caught up with me at my father’s house. It must have been following me around the world for the past year.”

“Bree’s letter?”

“To tell me about her pregnancy.”

Should she tell him also that Bree had begged her to watch out for her husband and her, at that time, as yet unborn child? That she’d somehow known that the aortic aneurysm she’d kept secret from her family would take her life in childbirth? One look at his face confirmed he hadn’t known of his wife’s correspondence to her.

“So, you’re back.”

Finally. The unspoken word hung on the air between them, both an accusation and an acknowledgment at the same time.

“My mother was ill. I made it back a few weeks before she died at Christmas.”

“I’m sorry.”

The platitude fell automatically from his lips but she sensed his shields go up even stronger. He didn’t want to know, not really. Not when he was still locked tight in his own sorrow, his own grief.

“I only got Bree’s letter last week and rang her mom straightaway. I’m here to help with Ruby.”

“The child already has a carer, her grandmother.”

“Yes, but Catherine needs surgery, Raoul. She can’t keep putting her knee replacement off, especially now that Ruby is getting more active.”

“I told her to find a nanny if she needed to.”

Tags: Yvonne Lindsay Billionaire Romance
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