(3 Book Box Set)
Love in Vegas
Taken By The Rancher
Jet Set With the Billionaire
Table of Contents
Love in Vegas
Taken By The Rancher
Jet Set With the Billionaire
Love in Vegas
We need to talk. Just four small words, but they’re powerful. So powerful that they were about to change my entire life. But, of course, I didn’t know that in the second they were spoken. Even though I caught the gravity in his tone and the slight furrow in his brow, I still could not begin to conceive how much my world was about to be shaken.
With his suit jacket dangling in the crook of his elbow, he swept a hand through dark hair that I’d been trying to persuade him to have cut for over a week. Neck tie hanging loose around his collar and the top button of his shirt undone, he stared at me with an expression that was difficult to read. Though, one thing was for sure, it wasn't a happy one.
"Can it wait until after dinner?" I asked, gesturing to the vegetables I was in the middle of chopping.
"No," he quietly uttered, eyes drifting to the floor as he shook his head. "No, I...um...I don't think it's a good idea to drag this out any longer."
Stilling my hand, I felt the concern crease my own forehead and tension creep into my shoulders. "What's wrong?" I asked.
"Let's go in the bedroom," he urged, gaze deliberately moving to our two young children, who had been sitting at the counter, reading a book to each other. Now, however, their small dark heads, so much like their dad's, had lifted and were looking worriedly from me to him and back again.
Spinning, I placed the knife back in the rack, before hustling the children out of the kitchen. "Watch TV for a little while, okay," I offered, guiding them to the rug.
Mitchell had already left me and I could hear his footsteps on the stairs. A feeling of dread entering the pit of my stomach, I hurriedly followed him. As I walked through the open door of our large bedroom, he was sitting at the foot of the four-poster bed, legs spread wide and elbows resting on his thighs.
"What on Earth's wrong?" I whispered, closing the door behind me in case young ears were listening intently. "Has something happened at work? Is the company-?"
"It's nothing like that," he quickly uttered, sitting up straight and running a hand over the slight belly he'd developed over the previous five years. It was subtle, and it didn't bother me in the slightest, but he was conscious of it.
Blinking, I stared blankly back at him. "Then, what is it?" I sighed, wringing my hands anxiously in front of me. "Are you sick?"
"No, Hollie," he sighed. "I've met someone," he blurted, unable to look me in the eyes as he spoke those words.
They didn't need any further explanation; they were succinct and crystal clear. Yet, my brain refused to process the simple phrase and reason it out to its only possible conclusion. "What do you mean?" I mumbled, shaking my confused head. "Wh...what do you mean, you've met someone."
"Exactly what I say," he wearily snapped. "I've met someone, okay?" he stated, still not managing to lift his eyes far from the carpeted floor. "Things between us haven't been right for a while now, and...I'm just not in love with you any more. I want a divorce, Hollie."
Numb, I stood motionless. I must have misheard him. That was the only rational explanation. Mitchell and I had been together since we were sixteen; we'd been married for eight years, and in all that time, I'd believed we were both happy. Of course, it wasn't always wine and roses, we argued on occasion, but nothing to warrant such a sudden and adamant request for divorce.
"Hollie, for God's sakes, say something," he muttered.
"You've been having an affair?" I breathed, my voice catching in my throat as I leaned back against the closed door for support.
"No," he snapped. "No, I have not."
"Right," I whispered. "So, you're ready to leave me for a woman you haven't slept with yet?"
"Look, I didn't plan it, Hollie," he blurted. "I fell in love, all right?"
"No, it's not all right," I choked, laughing humorlessly. "How long?"
"How long?" I repeated. "How long have it been going on?"
Shaking his head, he pushed himself off the bed and snatched his loose tie from around his neck. Tossing the silk onto the mattress, he began pacing the width of the room. "Nothing has been going on," he huffed. "We kissed, but it never went any further than that."
"Bullshit," I mumbled. "You expect me to believe that crap?"
Running a hand over his brow, he shook his head vehemently. "It doesn't matter now anyway, does it?"
"Not to you," I bitterly replied. "Because our marriage doesn't matter to you."
"Look-" he yelled, whirling around to face me.
Forestalling him, I reached back for the door handle and turned it. "It's fine, Mitch," I quickly blabbed, plastering a smile on my face. "We don't need to discuss it any more. You've made your decision, right? You want out?"
"I was hoping we could talk about it like adults," he spat angrily.
Unshed tears stinging the backs of my eyes, I swallowed a thick lump in my throat. "What is there to talk about?" I asked quietly.
His narrow lips parted and he sucked in a breath. However, no words emerged from his mouth.
"The kids are waiting for dinner," I told him calmly. "If you want to leave, I suggest you start packing your stuff. You can go and screw this woman with a clear conscience now, right?"
"Don't be crude, Hollie," he disgustedly muttered. "It doesn't suit you."
"Well, I don't need to worry about what you think suits me any more, do I?" I told him tartly as I stepped out into the hallway and closed the door firmly behind me. Knowing that I could not hold the tears back, I walked quickly into the family bathroom and locked the door. Sitting on the edge of the tub, salty droplets weaved their way down my cheeks and dripped from my chin.
I remained that way for several minutes, soundlessly sobbing, and wondering how the man I loved could have so cruelly ripped the ground out from under me. Had we really drifted so far apart? How could I not have noticed what had been going on right in front of my face? Had I been making him miserable and not even known it?
Feeling thoroughly drained and semi-paralyzed, I trekked down the stairs and somehow continued to prepare dinner.
Six-year-old Michael was curious and perceptive and sensed that something was wrong.
I tried to brush his concern aside. "Daddy's just going to spend some time away from home," I told him.
With a brand of simplicity that only exists in a child's mind, he asked, "Why?"
"I don't really know, sweetheart," I replied honestly.
My daughter, Alena, was more withdrawn than her older brother. But there was an unmissable crease in her four-year-old forehead, and she watched me worriedly as if she expected me to burst into tears at any second. I don't know whether the two of them knew I'd been crying despite my best efforts to hide it. My brave face may not have been as convincing as I had believed it to be at the time.
At some point during dinner, I heard the front door close followed by the roar of Mitch’s BMW as he peeled out of the driveway.
"When's he coming back?" Michael asked innocently.
"I'm sorry, honey," I replied sympathetically. "I don't know that, either."
Later that evening, with the kids both in bed, I opened a bottle of wine and shut myself away in the bedroom. Not bothering to put on the light, I sat on the edge of the bed, exactly where Mitchell had been sitting a few short hours before. Gradually getting drunker, I stared miserably at my reflection.
Twenty-nine. During an entire decade when my friends had been partying and having fun, I had been a wife and mother. I didn't begrudge my kids that; I'd wanted them as much as Mitch had. But, what was I left with now? On the cusp of thirty, I was single again. For the first time in my adult life, I was single – that seemed too surreal to be true.
Finding my own blue eyes in the mirror, I noted I was looking right through myself; no wonder the children had known something was up. My light brown hair was pushed back in a ponytail, but a few strands curtained my cheeks. I looked like a mother, all right. But I didn't have to. Just last month I'd gotten dressed up for one of Mitch's work events, and I'd looked pretty good. I still had a decent figure, and with the help of a light dab of make-up, my skin glowed almost like it had when I was eighteen.
My 'loving' husband hadn't mentioned the way I looked that night. I guess he'd already met the women he was leaving me for. Perhaps, compared to her, I looked like crap. Realizing that the alcohol was making my self-immolation worse, I placed the bottle on the floor and flopped back on the mattress. Staring at the dark ceiling, I didn't get any sleep that night.