All or Nothing(9)

By: Catherine Mann

Jayne sipped her water, her eyes unblinking as if she might be holding back tears. “So this is really it for us.”

“Nice to know this isn’t any easier for you than it is for me.”

Her hand shook as she set aside her glass. “Of course this isn’t easy for me. But I want it to be done. I want to move past this and be happy again.”

Damn, it really got under his skin that he still hurt her even after all this time apart.

“I’m sorry you’re unhappy.” Back when, he would have moved heaven and earth to give her what she wanted. Now it appeared all he could give her was a divorce.

“Do you really mean that?” She swung her feet to the side, sitting on the edge of the lounger. “Or is that why you held off signing the papers for so long? So you could see me squirm?”

“Honest to God, Jayne, I just want both of us to be happy, and if that means moving on, then okay.” Although she looked so damn right beside him, back in his life again. He would be haunted by the vision of her there for a long time to come. “But right now, neither of us seems to be having much luck with the concept of a clean break.”

“What are you saying?”

Persuading her would take a lot more savvy than sending a few dozen roses to her friends. “I think we need to take a couple of days to find that middle ground, peace or closure or whatever the hell therapists are calling it lately.”

“We’ve been married for seven years.” She fished into the pocket of her robe and pulled out her engagement ring and wedding band set. “How do you expect to find closure in two days when we’ve been trying for the last three years?”

He did not want to see those damn rings again. Not unless they were sitting where he’d put them—on her finger.

“Has ignoring each other worked for you? Because even living an ocean apart hasn’t gone so well for me.”

“You’ll get no argument from me.” Her fingers closed around the rings. “What exactly do you have in mind?”

He sensed victory within his sights. She was coming around to his way of thinking. But he had to be sure because if he miscalculated and moved too soon he could risk sending her running.

“I suggest we spend a simple night out together, no pressure. My old high school buddy Malcolm Douglas is performing nearby—in the Côte d’Azur—tomorrow night. I have tickets. Go with me.”

“What if I say no?”

Not an option. He played his trump card. “Do you want my signature on those divorce papers?”

She dropped her rings on top of the computer that just happened to be resting over the divorce papers. “Are you blackmailing me?”

“Call it a trade.” He rested his hand over the five-carat diamond he’d chosen for her, only her. “You give me two days and I’ll give you the divorce papers. Signed.”

“Just two days?” She studied him through narrowed, suspicious eyes.

He gathered up the rings and pressed them to her palm, closing her fingers over them again. “Forty-eight hours.”

Forty-eight hours to romance her back into his bed one last time.


Gasping, Jayne sat upright in bed, jolted out of a deep sleep by...sunlight?

Bold morning rays streamed through the part in the curtains. Late morning, not a sunrise. She looked at the bedside clock: 10:32 a.m.? Shoving her tangled hair aside, she blinked and the time stayed the same.

Then changed to 10:33.

She never overslept and she never had trouble with jet lag, thanks to her early years in nursing working odd shifts in the emergency room. Except last night she’d had trouble falling asleep even after a long bubble bath. Restless, she’d been foolish enough to dance with temptation by talking to Conrad on a moonlit Mediterranean night.

He’d talked her into staying.

God, was she even ready to face him today with the memory of everything she’d said right there between them? The thought of him out there, a simple door away, had her so damn confused. She’d all but propositioned him, and he’d turned her down. She’d been so sure she would have to keep him at arm’s length she’d checked into the room on another floor. That seemed petty, and even egotistical, now.

He’d simply wanted the common courtesy of a face-to-face goodbye and he’d been willing to wait three years to get it. The least she could do was behave maturely now. She just had to get through the next forty-eight hours without making a fool of herself over this man again.

Throwing aside the covers, she stood and came face-to-face with her reflection in the mirror. A fright show stared back at her, showcased by the gold-leaf frame. With her tousled hair and dark circles under her eyes, she looked worse than after pulling back-to-back shifts in the E.R.