Mr. Irresistible(12)

By: Karina Bliss






CHAPTER FOUR




“I WANT YOU TO APOLOGIZE to Jordan King.”

Looking at Peter’s set face across the café’s Formica table, Kate’s heart sank. Although she’d known Peter would be unhappy when he read her second Jordan King column.

She pushed away her croissant and gave him an abridged version of the skirmish at the party, leaving out the kiss. “I can’t let him think he’s intimidated me. Surely you can see that?”

“What I see is a woman whose ego is threatening my career.” Peter ran a hand through his hair, unwittingly teasing it into spikes. Everything about him bristled with disapproval.

“How can you suggest I write that column for personal glory? It allows me to make a positive contribution to society.”

“By attacking the man whose money will pay for our wedding and our house? It took me two years to win Triton over. I won’t give that up for anything…or anyone.”

Kate tried to get her bearings. “Please be on my side, Peter.”

“Of course I’m on your side—” he took her hand and she sagged with relief “—when you behave sensibly. Obviously, you can’t admit your mistake in print, but you can apologize in person.”

Kate withdrew her hand. “Does my integrity mean nothing to you?”

“Does my job mean nothing to you? You know the only reason Brian’s considering letting me buy into his company is because I secured the Triton deal.” Her upset must have shown on her face, because he softened his tone. “What’s going on, Kate? You used to be able to compromise.”

She wanted to tell him everything, but then her fiancé would confront Jordan and that would definitely jeopardize his contract. “I’m still the same person, Pete,” she said, but the words rang hollow.

“I need more coffee.” A few feet away, he hesitated, before adding, “Make the right choice, Kate. Please.”

Life turned on a phrase sometimes, she thought numbly, watching him line up at the counter.

Logic, common sense, even their history reassured her that marrying Peter was the right thing to do. But…

But.

Was it fair to get engaged when her emotions were in such turmoil? These days she felt unsettled and…sullied. Even her decision to conceal the full story was tainted by the awareness that, if she told her fiancé everything, she’d have to confess she’d kissed Jordan back. That she’d felt far more for Jordan than she ever had with Peter.

Kate realized she was tearing her uneaten croissant to shreds, and covered the mess with a napkin.

She crusaded for accountability, yet she’d been shirking it in her personal life. That was why she felt dirty. Because of that kiss alone, she had no right to propose to Peter, or to be using him as a safety net. The knowledge had hit her within an hour of their engagement, but she’d gone through the motions of accepting congratulations, putting the notice in the paper, choosing the ring. Pretending nothing had changed.

She held out her hand, watched the diamond on her finger sparkle. Make the right choice, Kate, please.

There is no choice.

Swallowing hard, Kate slipped the ring off her cold finger and laid it on his place mat. She wanted to run, but sat tight. Peter came back and handed over her cup. Then he saw the ring, and the coffee spilled into the saucer. “Okay, now this is a complete overreaction—”

“I’m sorry,” she said in a rush, “this is all my fault. I’m not ready for a commitment.”

He sat down hard in his chair. “But you proposed to me.”

Kate tried again. “I know, and I don’t want to lose you. But I…I need more time.”

Peter stared at her. “We’ve been dating for years.”

“It’s not a breakup, Pete,” she said desperately. “It’s only a…a postponement of an engagement.” Oh God, she was making a complete and miserable mess of this. “Let’s just go back to the way things were.”

“But we’ve told everyone—family, friends, colleagues, clients.” His bewilderment gave way to anger. “There’s even been a notice in the bloody national paper.”

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