His to Command #6:The Surrender

By: Opal Carew

Kate’s heart thundered in her chest. They couldn’t be together because of something Matt did?

“Wait, I don’t understand. What about the other woman?”

“You mean Ileana? I told you, we only dated for a few months.”

She didn’t mean Ileana, but a growing dread prevented her from changing the line of conversation.

Matt’s gaze fell on her face and he paused. “Kate, I know Ileana caused you a great deal of pain, and it must be hard to know that she and I were together, but you’ve got to remember that I had no idea what happened. What she did to you.”

Kate hugged her knees and nodded. “I know. But it’s hard knowing you were with her.” She glanced around the room. “Knowing she was here with you. That you shared this bed.”

The woman had caused them so much grief.

Matt put his arms around her and drew her close to his solid body. She rested her head against his chest, taking solace in the fact she was here with him now, and that Ileana was out of the picture.

“How long exactly did you date her?”

“It started a few weeks after the party. It became clear that you weren’t going to answer my calls or e-mails. That you had decided to end it with me totally.”

At the pain in his voice, Kate took his hand and squeezed it. His warm fingers wrapped around hers.

“I was devastated and Ileana was there for me, listening, helping. I know now that must have been her plan all along. To drive you away, then insinuate herself into my life.”

“Why would she do that?” Kate gazed into his midnight blue eyes and was surprised to see his lips turn up in a smile.

“Well, I am considered quite a catch, you know.”

She returned his smile and stroked his cheek, loving the feel of stubble against her fingertips.

“I know you are.” She pressed her lips to his neck and kissed the whisker-roughened skin. “So why did you stop seeing her?”

He shrugged. “I was grief-stricken but I wasn’t blind. It didn’t take long to realize she was manipulative and ruthlessly ambitious. Within the space of a few months, she’d advanced from being a lawyer helping me out with a charity project, to being the prime contact between her law firm and my corporation—which was their biggest client—to being my girlfriend. It quickly became apparent to me that I was a means to an end.”

“So you broke it off with her?”

He nodded. “She didn’t love me. And I didn’t love her. I woke up one morning and realized there was nothing between us. That she was just a rebound relationship. Of course, I’d known it all along, but wouldn’t listen to the voice shouting inside me.” His lips brushed her forehead in a light kiss. “We fool ourselves at times like that. When we’re hurting. I wanted to be needed. To be loved.”

Kate’s heart ached at his totally sincere words, knowing she’d been the cause of his pain. While at the same time, she’d been in pain herself.

Damn Ileana.

“But I finally figured it out, and I broke it off with her.”

“What did she do?” Kate couldn’t imagine that Ileana would have taken it well.

“Surprisingly, she took it in stride. I think what she really cared about was securing a senior position in her firm. If she could have married me and been a wealthy man’s wife, that would have been a bonus, but I suspect she wouldn’t have liked the limitations that situation would impose on her. She didn’t love me and I think she already had her eye on another man. A partner at her firm.”

“But when you broke up with her, she stayed as the contact person for your company?”

“Sure. Just because she and I didn’t work out didn’t mean I would jeopardize her job. I could work with her in a professional capacity and I didn’t have to deal with her very often anyway. Mostly she dealt with my senior staff.” He tucked his finger under her chin and lifted it, their gazes aligning. “Remember, I had no idea how vicious she’d been with regards to you. After you told me what really happened, and Ileana’s part in it, I went back and had her removed as our contact immediately. I told the senior partner of her firm that I didn’t want her having anything to do with my business.”

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