Wanted by Her Lost Love(4)

By: Maya Banks

Finally she yanked hard enough that the material ripped. She all but threw it on the hook where the other waitresses hung their aprons.

Why was he here? She hadn’t done a whole lot to cover her tracks. Yes, she’d left New York, and at the time she hadn’t known where she’d end up. She hadn’t cared. But neither had she done anything to hide. That meant he could have found her at anytime. Why now? After six months, what possible reason could he have for looking for her?

She refused to believe in coincidences. This wasn’t a place Ryan Beardsley would ever just happen to be. Not his speed. His precious family would die before sullying their palates in anything less than a five-star restaurant.

Wow, Kelly, bitter much?

She shook her head, furious with herself for reacting this strongly to the man’s presence.

“Hey, Kelly, what’s going on?” Nina asked.

Kelly turned to see the other waitress standing in the doorway to the kitchen, her brow creased with concern.

“Close the door,” Kelly hissed as she motioned Nina inside.

Nina quickly complied and the door swung shut. “Is everything all right? You don’t look good, Kelly. Is it the baby?”

Oh, God, the baby. Ryan would have been blind not to have seen her protruding belly. She had to get out of here.

“No, I’m not well at all,” she said, grasping for an explanation. “Tell Ralph I had to leave.”

Nina frowned. “He’s not going to like it. You know how he is about us missing work. Unless we’re missing a limb or vomiting blood, he’s not going to be forgiving.”

“Then tell him I quit,” Kelly muttered as she hurried toward the alley exit. She paused at the rickety door and turned anxiously back to Nina. “Do me a favor, Nina. This is important, okay? If anyone in the diner asks about me—anyone at all—you don’t know anything.”

Nina’s eyes widened. “Kelly, are in you in some kind of trouble?”

Kelly shook her head impatiently. “I’m not in trouble. I swear it. It’s…it’s my ex. He’s a real bastard. I saw him in the diner a minute ago.”

Nina’s lips tightened and her eyes blazed with indignation. “You go on ahead, hon. I’ll take care of things here.”

“Bless you,” Kelly murmured.

She ducked out the back door of the diner and headed down the alley. Her apartment was only two blocks away. She could go there and figure out what the heck to do next.

She almost stopped halfway there. Why was she running? She had nothing to hide. She’d done nothing wrong. What she should have done was march across that diner and bloodied his nose. Instead she was running.

She took the flimsy stairs to her second-story apartment two at a time. When she was inside, she closed the door and leaned heavily against it.

Tears pricked her eyelids and it only made her more furious that she was actually upset over seeing Ryan Beardsley again. No, she didn’t want to face him. She never wanted to see him again. Never did she want anyone to have the kind of power he had to hurt her. Never again.

Her hands automatically went to her belly, and she rubbed soothingly, not sure who she was trying to comfort more, her baby or herself.

“I was a fool to love him,” she whispered. “I was a fool to think I could ever fit in and that his family would accept me.”

She jumped when the door behind her vibrated with a knock. Her heart leaped into her throat, and she put a shaky hand to her chest. She stared at the door as if she could see through it.

“Kelly, open the damn door. I know you’re in there.”

Ryan. God. The very last person she wanted to open the door to.

She put a hand to the wood and leaned forward, unsure of whether she should ignore him or respond.

The force of his second knock bumped her hand, and she snatched it away.

“Go away,” she finally shouted. “I have nothing to say to you.”

Suddenly the door shuddered and flew open. She took several hasty steps backward, her arms curling protectively over her belly.

He filled the doorway, looking as big and formidable as ever. Nothing had changed except for new lines around his mouth and eyes. His gaze stroked over her, piercing through any protective barriers she thought to construct. He’d always had a way of seeing right to the heart of her. Except when it mattered the most.

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