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Harlequin Presents January 2015 Box Set 3 of 4(251)

By:Lynne Graham

‘Dio!’ Rafael turned from her, stamping a couple of paces away before swinging round again. ‘I don’t believe I am hearing this. I can only assume you have concocted this ridiculous story to try and make yourself feel better. To ease your guilt you have somehow convinced yourself that it was all my fault—that I was the one to blame when you walked out on our marriage.’

‘It’s not a question of blame. I never said it was your fault. I’m trying to explain why I said what I did.’

‘So by telling me that you had never loved me, by sneaking away in the night without even having the guts to tell me what you were doing, you were actually doing me a favour? You were freeing me from the chains of marital responsibility?’ He shook his head with vitriolic disbelief.


‘Nothing to do with the fact that you wanted out of our relationship? That you had had enough of me?’

‘No, nothing to do with that.’

‘And you expect me to believe that?’

‘Yes, because it’s the truth. And I was right. You have led a better life without me. You have moved on...formed new relationships. If it hadn’t been for your accident you would never have had to see me again.’

‘Don’t you dare tell me how I have led my life.’ Rafael looked as if he was about to explode. ‘You know nothing, Charlotte—nothing.’

‘I know that you didn’t come after me. Try to get me back.’

Incredulity raged in his eyes. ‘After what you’d said to me?’ He couldn’t bear to look at her. ‘There is such a thing as pride, you know. I was hardly going to beg. I can control most things in my life, but even I can’t make someone love me.’

Suddenly the tears were streaming uncontrollably down Lottie’s face. ‘You didn’t need to make me love you, Rafe. I have always loved you.’ She covered her face with her hands, and her voice was muffled through her wet fingers. ‘And I always will.’


RAFAEL STARED AT the forlorn figure shivering on the other side of Seraphina’s grave. She looked so vulnerable, so fragile, standing there, her cold hands trembling in front of her face. Every fibre of his being wanted to go to her, to wrap his arms around her and hold her tight. To tell her that he could make everything better. But he couldn’t.

Lottie’s revelation that she had lied to him that night had knocked him sideways. It couldn’t be true. The cruel way she had said those words, the look on her face when she’d delivered them, had left no room for doubt. She had meant them, all right. Now she had let time take her words and shape them into something more palatable, mould them into a convenient lie that would assuage her conscience.

Well, he wasn’t falling for that—he wasn’t going to let her hurt him again.

He could still feel the searing pain of her cruel statement, even after all this time, and that gave him strength. The strength he so badly needed to stop himself from reaching out to her, from holding her tearstained face in his hands, from raising her lips to meet his and kissing away the heartache of this whole wretched business.

‘Aren’t you going to say anything?’

Lottie’s anguished voice cut through the silence and she gazed, petrified, across at him.

‘What is there to say?’

Rafael turned his head away. He couldn’t bear to look at her—knew that if he did he would weaken, that all the resolve he had built up over the last two years would be swept away in the tidal wave of emotion that the very sight of her beautiful tortured face threatened to unleash.

‘You obviously think you know it all already. You have brutally choreographed my life without ever actually asking me if that was what I wanted.’

His livid gaze swept across the overgrown graves.

‘Had you done so you would have known that you couldn’t have been more wrong. I never viewed our marriage purely in terms of having children. However...’ He allowed himself a quick glance in her direction, saw the tears that were silently rolling down her cheeks, dripping off her chin. He had to keep strong. ‘If it makes you feel better to think that, if it eases some of the guilt you presumably felt, then go ahead—be my guest. It’s not as if any of it matters any more. Just don’t expect me to believe you.’

‘Rafe!’ Lottie uttered his name with a strangled cry. ‘I am just trying to explain how I felt, that’s all—explain why I left you.’

‘Well, don’t bother.’ As he raised his hand to silence her his eyes were jet-black. ‘It’s way too late for that. I was taken in by you once, Charlotte. It’s not going to happen again.’