For a disturbingly real second or two, she thought she’d conjured him up. That he wasn’t actually here, but was a product of the strange, restless mood she was in. That, in this fantasy of hers, he’d heard about her engagement and come here to stop it. That he still cared about her, because once, during the stormy complexity of their marriage, she’d sworn he had.
A panicked pulse echoed through her. What if he had? What would her answer be? She was terrified she’d cave like a ton of bricks.
She pressed her champagne glass to her chest before her shaking hands spilled it. Before she allowed herself to start conjuring up the fairy tales she’d always had about this man. That maybe he’d wanted her when he’d married her. That what they’d had in the beginning had been magic, instead of the reality that had materialized like a harsh slap to the face.
That he had married her for political expediency, to secure his heir, and when she’d lost their baby he’d lost all interest in her. Shattered her.
She took a deep breath, shifted her weight to both feet in an attempt to gain some equilibrium. “What are you doing here, Lorenzo?”
His lethally handsome face twisted in a mocking look. “No ‘Hello, Lorenzo’...? ‘You look well, Lorenzo’...or even a ‘How are you, Lorenzo?’”
Her mouth tightened. “You’ve crashed my engagement party. I hardly think pleasantries are in order. We abandoned those at about month six of our marriage.”
“Did we last that long?” He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back against the railing. She forced herself not to follow the ripple of muscle in that powerful body. To acknowledge how he seemed to have hardened into an even more dangerously attractive version of the man she’d known.
He lifted a shoulder. “My apologies for showing up out of the blue, but I have business we need to discuss.”
“Business?” She frowned. “Couldn’t we have discussed it over the phone?” She flicked a nervous glance toward the door. “Did Byron—”
“No one saw me. I blended in with the paint. I did get a chance to listen to the speeches, though. Touching as they were.”
She stared at him, horrified. “How long have you been here?”
“Long enough to see you clearly have Byron roped and tied, as my rancher friend, Bartlett, would say. Fully enamored with your considerable charms...ready to let you run the show. Is it everything you ever dreamed of, Angie?”
Her blood heated, mixing with the panic fizzling her veins. “I never wanted to run the show. I wanted equal billing in our relationship—something you, in your arrogance and chauvinism, refused to give me.”
“And our good friend Byron does?”
“What about in bed?” His eyes glittered with deliberate intent. “Does he satisfy that insatiable appetite of yours? Does he make you scream when you wrap those long legs of yours around him and beg? Because he doesn’t look man enough to me, cara, to deliver it the way I know you like it. Not even close.”
Lust slammed into her hot and hard. An image of Lorenzo’s beautiful, muscular body imprinted itself on her brain, filling her, pushing her to the limits of her pleasure, his voice a hot whisper at her ear, demanding she tell him if it was good, not satisfied until she’d begged to let him know it was, until she’d screamed, because yes, he had made her scream.
Blood rushed to her cheeks, her stomach contracting in a heated pull. She’d been so desperate for his love, for his affection, she’d taken whatever crumb he’d been willing to throw at her. In the end it had been all they’d had.
She sank her teeth into her bottom lip. Lied. “I have no complaints in that area, either.”
His eyes hardened, a dark glimmer stealing across their ebony depths. “Too bad it just isn’t going to work out.”
A frisson of apprehension swept through her. “What are you talking about?”
“Well, you see, there’s been a...hiccup in the paperwork for our divorce.”
“We are divorced.”
“So I thought. The firm handling the paperwork failed to file the correct papers with the state. The error was brought to my attention yesterday after I asked them to review the document.”
Her knees went weak. “What are you saying?”
“We’re still married, Angie.”
The floor gave way beneath her feet. She grasped the railing, wrapping her fingers around cool metal to steady herself. Blinked as she tried to work through the fog enveloping her brain. Married? She and Lorenzo were still married?
She swallowed past a paper-dry throat. “I’m marrying Byron in three weeks...in St. Bart’s. We’re eloping.”