Wanting What She Can't Have - Page 4


Ruby. He could barely think about her without being reminded of failure yet again. Drowning in his own grief, he hadn’t been able to bear the weak sound of her cries—or the bone-deep certainty that he would lose her, too. She’d been so ill at birth... It was better this way, he’d decided. To keep his distance and not risk the pain that would come if he got too used to having her in his life.

Raoul turned back to the table, to the wines he’d been sampling and assessing for what was his favorite part of wine production—the blending. He forced himself to settle back down in his chair, to study his notes and then to reach for another glass of wine.

Sour. He grimaced and took a sip of water, rinsing the bitter tang from his mouth before reaching for another glass. Again, sour. He threw himself against the back of his chair in disgust. He knew the flavor of the wine had little to do with his skills as a vintner and far more to do with his current state of mind. Whether he wanted to admit it or not, his working day was over—which left, what exactly? Time to go up to the house to reminisce about old times with Alexis?

His gut twisted at the very thought. Even so, he pushed himself upright and cleared away his work, neatly filing away his notes for tomorrow and rinsing out all the glasses, leaving them to drain on the rack before he started up the lane.

Alexis was in the kitchen when he got into the house. He could hear her moving around, opening and closing cupboard doors, humming in an off-key tone. It sounded so domestic and normal for a second he allowed himself to hope, to dream that it was Bree there in the kitchen.

But the second Alexis’s curvy frame came into the doorway the illusion was shattered.

“I can see why Catherine sent me up here with all this food. You had hardly anything in the pantry at all, and the fridge just about echoes it’s so empty. What on earth have you been living on? Thin air?”

He knew she was trying to be friendly but he armored himself against the attempt.

“I get by. I didn’t ask you to come here and criticize how I live.”

“No, you didn’t,” she said with a rueful twist of lush lips that were made for long, hot, hungry kisses.

Viciously he slammed a lid down on the thought. He wasn’t going there. Ever.

“By the way,” she continued blithely, “while I found Ruby’s room easily enough, I’m not sure which room you wanted me in. I went into one of the spare rooms but it looked like your things were in there.”

He hadn’t been able to bear returning to the master bedroom, not with all its memories of Bree.

“Take the room nearest the nursery.”

“But isn’t that the master suite?”

“I don’t use it, aside from storing a few clothes. I’ll take the last of them out of there for you.”

“Okay, do you need a hand? Maybe I could—”

“Look, I don’t want you here, and I certainly don’t need your help. Catherine’s decided you should take care of Ruby, but that’s all you’re here to do. Let’s just agree to stay out of one another’s way and everything will be just fine.”

He ground out the last word as if his life depended on it.

“Raoul—!”

“Don’t,” he said putting up a hand. “You’re here now and apparently I can’t do anything about that. But let me make one thing very clear. I don’t want your sympathy, Alexis. I’m all sympathied out.”

“I can see that,” she said. Her voice was dry and calm but he could see the shadows in her dark chocolate-brown eyes and he knew he’d hurt her.

He closed his own eyes briefly and dragged in a leveling breath. He hadn’t meant to be so harsh but it was his default setting these days. Living alone didn’t make one the best conversationalist, that was for sure.

The sound of a car outside heralded the arrival of his mother-in-law and, from the shriek and gurgle of laughter that followed the sound of a car door opening, the baby. His blood ran cold. His chest tightened making it hard to breathe.

“I’m going for a shower,” he said tightly, and left before Alexis could move to let Catherine and Ruby into the house.

He strode to his room and slammed the door behind him before moving to his bathroom and locking the door. He disrobed with a minimum of movement and stepped into the shower stall even as he turned on the faucets. The water, when it hit him, was chilling—painful—but that was nothing compared to the pain of the gaping hole inside him. Nothing at all.

He’d fought against this happening, having the baby here under the same roof, and he’d won the battle for so long. The nursery, so lovingly decorated by Bree, had never been used. He’d known, logically, that one day his defenses would be worn down, that he’d have to step up to his responsibilities as a father. He just never imagined those defenses would be stormed by the one woman in the whole world he’d hoped never to see again and yet still craved with a hunger he could never assuage.


Tags: Yvonne Lindsay Billionaire Romance
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