‘About that, I don’t know if I should try and speak with her brother before or after we marry...’ James started, and then he hesitated. Forcing Leila into marriage had seemed so straightforward at the time; it had been about protecting his baby, yet even that made less sense now.
‘I’m going to discuss things with Leila,’ James said. ‘I’m going to sort out what it is that she wants. But if we do marry...’
‘Then you would need to meet face to face with her father, though I doubt that he would receive you.’
‘What about her brother?’
‘You would need a mediator, someone to approach him on your behalf.’
‘Someone like you?’ James said, but his smile was met with cold eyes.
‘Do you know why I’m so expensive, James? It is because I have a very good reputation in the business world. I don’t know if I want my name attached to you if you offend the king again in a year or so.’
‘I’m not going to cause any offence,’ James said.
‘Oh, so this marriage is going to last?’ Manu checked. ‘You’re going to be faithful...’
‘Why is everyone so sure that I’m going to cheat?’
‘You’re a Chatsfield,’ Manu said. ‘Oh, and you’re James Chatsfield.’
As his rather depraved past caught up with him, James simply sat there. He had always been able to charm his way out of anything, buy his way out of anything...just not so easily in this, the one thing that mattered the most to him.
‘It’s going to take a lot of work, James,’ Manu warned. ‘A serious lot of work. I will think about acting as a medium for you with Leila’s brother but I want to see you put in some effort before I do. If you want to help Leila to rebuild her relationship with her family, then you need to sit up and listen.’
He listened and he tried to take it all in.
He did it for Leila, not that she knew it.
Instead, at five minutes past two, she stood on the street outside the OB’s and tried to tell herself not to overreact because he was late.
‘I had an appointment,’ James said as he got out of his car. ‘It dragged on.’
He didn’t kiss her; he didn’t take her hand as they walked into the waiting room. He just sat there as they waited for her name to be called.
He glanced to Leila and to where her gaze fell—to the coffee table with today’s newspaper on it and there they were, kissing with his hand on her breast.
‘Leila...’ James said. ‘I apologise for that. I know that things went too far and if I in any way...’
‘Apologise?’ Leila demanded. ‘How could you ever say sorry for that night? Anyway, it is not so bad. Muriel tells me that she has seen far worse from people in your very building.’
‘Ah, so you’ve met Muriel.’
Leila certainly had. Muriel had blue hair and spoke nonstop. She had come in to where Leila lay curled up in bed and had told Leila if she wanted the bed made up, then she’d better get out of it!
Leila had sat in a chair as the maid cleaned around her. Then Muriel had proceeded to tell Leila about some of the goings-on in the very building where she was living. ‘At least it was your breasts he was playing with,’ Muriel had said as Leila got back in the fresh bed. ‘Don’t get me started on my ex!’
Now, sitting in the waiting room, Leila got that Muriel must have assumed that Leila had seen the newspapers.
‘She’s wonderful,’ Leila said. ‘But does she ever stop talking?’
‘Never.’ James smiled.
James took in a tense breath, not just at the interruption, but at the use of her title. He had mocked Zayn that night in the alley and told him that here in New York he was royalty.
James better understood the tightening of Zayn’s hand around his throat now.
‘Do you want me to come in with you?’ he offered, trying to remember some of what Manu had told him.
‘Isn’t that why you’re here?’ Leila said, and stalked off.
Everything had changed and Leila simply didn’t know why. For, instead of coming over and sitting beside her, James stood back.