Wanted by Her Lost Love(6)

By: Maya Banks

“You’ve never understood,” she whispered. “Since you won’t leave, I’m out of here.”

Before he could stop her, she walked past him and slammed the door behind her.

Ryan stared at the check in his hand in stunned disbelief, unable to formulate his thoughts. Why? She acted as though he was a piece of scum. What the hell had he ever done to her but make sure she was taken care of?

He glanced around at the efficiency apartment, noting the disrepair and the cheapness of the furnishings. Two cabinet doors were barely hanging on their hinges and there was nothing inside. No food.

With a frown he stalked to the refrigerator and threw open the door. He cursed when he saw only a carton of milk, half a package of cheese and a jar of peanut butter.

He hastily rummaged through the rest of the kitchen, growing more furious when he found nothing more. How was she surviving? Furthermore, why was she living like this?

He glanced back down at the check and shook his head. There were enough zeros in the amount for her to live a good, modest life for years to come.

The ink had run in several places and it was smudged with fingerprints. But she’d never tried to cash it. Why? There were so many questions running around in his head that he couldn’t process them all.

Did she feel guilty over what she’d done? Had she been ashamed to take money from him after betraying him?

Not the best time to develop a conscience.

One thing was for certain. He wasn’t leaving. There were too many unanswered questions and he wanted answers. Why was she here in this run-down place with a job that obviously didn’t net her enough money to feed herself, much less live a comfortable life? What in the world was she going to do when the baby came? Whether it was his baby or not, he couldn’t allow himself to walk away. Not when she had meant so much to him.

She wasn’t taking care of herself. He had always taken care of her in the past and he would do it again. Whether she liked it or not.

Kelly cut behind her apartment complex using the side street. She didn’t go back to work, although it was what she should do. A day’s lost wages wasn’t the end of the world, but the tips she missed would be a blow to her meager savings.

She needed time to think. To compose herself. And Ryan would only go back to the diner to force another confrontation.

The rain had stopped but the skies were still cast in gloomy shades of gray with more black clouds in the distance, a sure signal that the rain wasn’t over for the day.

Tears threatened, much like those ominous storm clouds, but she sucked in her breath—determined not to allow her unexpected face-to-face with Ryan to break her.

The small playground just three blocks from her apartment was abandoned. No children playing. The swings were empty, swaying in the breeze and the merry-go-round creaked as it rotated slowly.

She slid onto one of the benches, her mind in chaos from the bombardment of anger, grief and shock.

Why had he come?

Her pregnancy was obviously a huge surprise to him. There was no faking the what-the-hell expression on his face in the diner. Nor was their meeting some bizarre coincidence.

She’d given their relationship a lot of thought over the past months, when she wasn’t doing everything possible to make herself forget him. Like that was going to happen.

She knew several things. One, they’d moved way too fast. From their meeting in the café where she’d served him coffee to their rush engagement, she hadn’t taken the time to be sure of him. Oh, she’d been plenty sure of herself. She’d fallen head over heels from the first look. She’d allowed herself to be swept into a relationship with him, never questioning his commitment to her. Or his love.

The obstacles then had seemed insignificant. He was out of her league, but she’d naively assumed that love would conquer all and that it didn’t matter if his family or friends disapproved. She would prove herself worthy. She’d fit in with his lifestyle.

No, she didn’t have his money, his connections, his breeding or heritage. But who even cared about that stuff in this day and age?

She’d been stupid. She’d put off school, at least temporarily, because she’d been consumed with being the perfect girlfriend, fiancée and eventually wife to Ryan Beardsley. She’d allowed him to outfit her in the finest clothing. She’d moved into his apartment with him. She’d agonized over saying the right thing and being the ideal complement to his life.

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