All or Nothing(5)

By: Catherine Mann


She stepped into the ultimate man cave, full of massive leather furniture and a monstrous television screen halfway hidden behind an oil painting that slid to the side. Even the drapes had been replaced on the wall-wide window showcasing a moonlit view of the Mediterranean. Thick curtains had been pulled open, revealing yacht lights dotting the water like stars. There was still a sense of high-end style, like the rest of the casino, but without the least hint of feminine frills.

Apparently Conrad had stripped those away when they separated.

She’d spent years putting together the French provincial decor, a blend of old-world elegance with a warmth that every home should have. Had he torn the place apart in anger? Or had he simply not cared? She wasn’t sure she even wanted to know what had happened to their old furnishings.

Right now, she only cared about confronting her soon-to-be ex-husband. She didn’t have to search far.

Conrad sprawled in an oversize chair with a crystal glass in hand. A bottle of his favored Chivas Regal Royal Salute sat open on the mahogany table beside him. A sleek upholstered sofa had once rested there, an elegant but sturdy piece they’d made love on more than once.

On second thought, getting rid of the furniture seemed like a very wise move after all.

She hooked her purse on the antique wine rack lining the wall. Her heels sunk into the plush Moroccan rug with each angry step. “Where is my bag? I need my clothes.”

“Your luggage is here in our penthouse, of course.” He didn’t move, barely blinked...just brooded. “Where else would it be?”

“In my suite. I checked into separate quarters on a different floor as you must know.”

“I was informed the second you picked up your key.” He knocked back the last bit of his drink.

“And you had my things moved anyway.” What did he expect to gain with these games?

“I’m arrogant. Remember? You had to already know what would happen when you checked in. No matter what name you use, the staff would recognize my wife.”

Maybe she had, subconsciously hoping to make a prideful statement. “Silly me for hoping my request would be honored—as your wife.”

“And ‘silly’ me for thinking you wouldn’t embarrass me in front of my own staff.”

Contrition nipped at her heels. Regardless of what had happened between them near the end of their marriage, she’d loved him deeply. She was so tired of hurting him, of the pain inside her, as well.

She sank into the chair beside him, weary to her toes, needing to finish this and move on with her life, to settle down with someone wonderfully boring and uncomplicated. “I’m sorry. You’re right. That was thoughtless of me.”

“Why did you do it?” He set aside his glass and leaned closer. “You know there’s plenty of space in the penthouse.”

Even if he wouldn’t offer total honesty, she could. “Because I’m scared to be alone with you.”

“God, Jayne.” He reached out to her, clasping her wrist with callused fingers. “I’m fifty different kinds of a bastard, but never—never, damn it—would I hurt you.”

His careful touch attested to that, as well as years together where he’d always stayed in control, even during their worst arguments. She wished she had his steely rein over wayward emotions. She would give anything to hold back the flood of feelings washing over her now, threatening to drown her.

Words—honesty—came pouring out of her. “I didn’t mean that. I’m afraid I won’t be able to resist sleeping with you.”





Two

With Jayne’s agonized confession echoing in his ears and resonating deep in his gut, holding himself still was the toughest thing Conrad had ever done—other than letting Jayne go the day she’d walked out on their marriage. But he needed to think this through, and fast. One wrong move and this confrontation could blow up in his face.

Every cell in his body shouted for him to scoop her out of that leather chair, take her to his room and make love to her all night long. Hell, all weekend long. And he would have—if he believed she would actually follow through on that wish to have sex.

But he could read Jayne too clearly. While she desired him, she was still pissed off. She would change her mind about sleeping with him before he finished pulling the pins from her pale blond hair. He needed more time to wipe away her reservations and persuade her that sleeping together one last time was a good thing.

Pulling back his hand, he grabbed the bottle instead and poured another drink. “As I recall, I didn’t ask you to have sex with me.”

If she sat any straighter in that seat, her spine would snap. “You don’t have to say the words. Your eyes seduce me with a look.” Her chin quivered. “My eyes betray me, because when I look at you...I want you. So much.”