Beauty in the Billionaire's Bed - Page 54

Her eyes burned as he caught her, his hands gripping her shoulders.

‘I’m sorry,’ he said. ‘I didn’t mean what I said. I don’t know why I said it. It’s not even true, and now I’ve upset you—’

She breathed out shakily. His misery was palpable—as was his remorse. ‘Not everything is about you, Arlo. I’m upset because I lost my family. And, yes, you made me think about them. But I’ve spent the last two years not being able to do that, so that’s a good thing.’

And it was true. She didn’t feel trapped or alone with her loss anymore; in fact, she actually felt more, not less, in control.

‘I don’t mind getting upset, but I do mind you talking to me like that. I don’t deserve that—’

‘No, you don’t.’ He pulled her against him, his thumbs tightening around her wrists. ‘I’m sorry,’ he said again.

The features of his face were so familiar, but his expression wasn’t. He looked troubled, young, unsure of himself.

‘It’s just the idea of a party... I’m not like you. I’m not a people person.’

Wasn’t he? She stared at him in confusion. Arlo seemed to have good relationships with everyone at the Hall, and Johnny adored him.

‘But they’re your family.’

He nodded. ‘Yes, and I love them. It’s just being with all of them all together is hard for me.’ He hesitated. ‘But you’re right. It’s a special occasion. I should be there. I need to be there.’ Looking down at her, he clasped her face, stroking her hair. ‘And I’d like you to be there with me.’

Her heart bumped. ‘Arlo, you don’t need to... That wasn’t why—’

‘I know it wasn’t. And I don’t need you there—I want you there.’

‘Are you being serious?’

He nodded slowly. ‘Of course.’ His hand found hers. ‘Please, Frankie. I really do want you to come with me. Davey’s home, Stanhope Park, is an amazing place. There’s a pool, and horses, and Davey’s organised a clay pigeon shoot for the morning after.’

She bit her lip. ‘It all sounds lovely, but I don’t have anything to wear to a party.’

‘Wear what you wore the other night,’ he said softly. ‘I promise not to strip it off you this time.’

Their eyes met and her fingers twitched as his words sent a current of heat from his hand to hers, so that she was suddenly vibrating inside.

Why not go? It would be fun to dress up and dance. And, despite having recovered his composure, Arlo clearly found this kind of event hard. Her eyes snagged on a puckered scar on his chest. He had helped her so much...maybe it was time for her to help him.

She screwed up her face. ‘You’re sure your cousin won’t mind? Me just turning up?’

‘I’ll call him, but he won’t mind. Davey’s

not like that. He’s a good man. Kind. Loyal. A little bit cautious.’ He smiled one of those almost-smiles that made her world tilt off its axis. ‘But then he’s spent years being the son and heir.’

She pinched her lip, feeling suddenly nervous. ‘So what do I call him?’

‘His full title is Viscount Fairfax, but in person he’s just Davey.’ He rubbed at the worry lines between her eyebrows. ‘Look...straight up, the house is a bit full-on. But they’re very normal people who do very normal things, like have lunch with their family.’

Frankie nodded. It would be all right. In London she met all kinds of people all the time for her work. But then she hadn’t ever cared what they thought. Arlo was different. She didn’t want to let him down.

She didn’t want to let her own family down either.

A knot was forming in her stomach. That she should have survived was the cruellest cut of all. So many times she had wondered why she alone had been spared, and she was still no closer to knowing the answer... All she knew was that she had to make her life count and make them proud.

His dark gaze roamed her face. ‘You don’t believe me?’

Glancing up, she tried to smile, tried to hide the conflicting emotions swirling inside her.

‘I do. I just don’t want to mess up,’ she said slowly.

Tags: Louise Fuller Billionaire Romance
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