Mr. Irresistible(13)By: Karina Bliss
Kate swallowed. “We’ll still be dating.”
“Which makes it appear even weirder that you’re breaking off the engagement.”
“If it helps,” she said miserably. “I’ll tell everyone I’m the bad guy.”
“So I get the pity vote. Oh, this just gets better and better.”
Not knowing what else to say, Kate bowed her head.
For long minutes there was only the sound of Peter drumming his fingers on the table. “Okay,” he said at last, “here’s what we’re going to do.”
She looked up hopefully.
“We’re going to stay engaged for another month, until my shareholding in Brian’s company is confirmed. That also removes the farcical aspect of this whole thing.” He shoved the ring across the table. “At the end of the month, we’re going to announce an amicable parting of the ways. But right here, right now, let’s you and I get something straight. We’re finished.”
“Don’t,” she said. “We can get through this.”
“I’ve given you so much,” he said, “so much, Kate. I stuck with you through your dad’s disgraces, through coming second to your bloody siblings, through the rise of your career—and, incidentally, your ego—even through your attacking my best client. Now you want to publicly humiliate me.”
It wasn’t true. The giving hadn’t been one-sided. Kate thought of the interminable work functions she’d attended; the deals Peter had made as a result of her growing reputation; the huge efforts she’d made with his dysfunctional family. She wanted to protest, but then she thought of her response to Jordan’s kiss and said nothing. Numbly, she picked up the ring and put it back on her finger. He was right; it was over. She’d do what she could to mitigate his embarrassment.
Peter stood up. “For the next month, we’ll be too busy working to see each other…maybe the breakup can be attributed to that. I’ll think about it and let you know.” He threw a bill on the table and picked up his coat.
“Don’t let us end like this, Peter. Please.” They’d known each other for twelve years, been each other’s safe haven.
Without a moment’s hesitation, he left.
Kate was in the car park when the shaking started. She fumbled to unlock her car door, scrambled in and gripped the steering wheel to steady herself, but she couldn’t stop the tears streaming down her cheeks. Everyone she cared about was leaving her.
She dug into her handbag for tissues and dried her eyes, then flipped down the visor and checked her face in the tiny mirror. For once she wished she carried more makeup. No Use Crying Over Spilt Milk had been her mother’s motto. Mop Up as Best You Can and Get On With It.
On her way to work Kate stopped at a gas station and used their restroom to splash cold water over her eyes. She’d give anything to go home right now, but she wouldn’t shirk her responsibilities, unless she was really sick.
Sick at heart didn’t cut it.
THE BOYS WERE NOT AMUSED.
Jordan saw that at a glance when he returned from lunch with Meg, to find his two partners waiting for him at reception, their expressions grim.
“You’re in trouble,” murmured his secretary.
“You tackle the one on the left, I’ll take the one on the right,” he suggested, and startled his fifty-five-year-old assistant into an ill-advised laugh.
The faces of his two friends darkened. “For God’s sake, Meg, don’t encourage him,” snapped Christian.
If Christian couldn’t see a funny side, then something was seriously wrong. Jordan glanced at Luke’s clenched jaw, and without another word, beckoned them toward the boardroom.
Christian barely waited until the door was shut. “I had a call from social services. All this negative publicity around your, quote, ‘home-wrecking affair’ unquote, is giving them second thoughts about the camp.”
Jordan frowned. “Did you explain the situation?”
“Yeah, and they don’t care. What they want is damage control—and fast.”
Shit. “But she only wrote one column…one making the link. The second was tongue-in-cheek.”