I reach for her hand, pulling it into my lap, unable to resist the physical warmth it provides. "No. It’s because I would have felt like I was cheating on you. You deserved more and I knew it."

Her bottom lip trembles and the urge to suck it into my mouth flares up inside me.

Pulling her hand away, Sophie rises to her feet. "You can’t say things like that." There’s anger in her eyes and I’m left speechless. I can’t even begin to imagine all the thoughts and emotions running through her head. So I won’t try. She moves to the window and looks out solemnly.

Rising to my feet, I stand behind her, resisting the urge to pull her close. "I can’t lose you," I whisper. "Not when I feel like my life is finally falling into place. You were the missing piece. You were the cheese to my macaroni." I smile lightly, hoping she remembers.

She turns to face me. Her soft gaze is pinned on mine and I can tell we’re both remembering the time we spent together. It just felt right. "I can’t do this, Colton. I was developing real feelings for you."

Was? I know I’m falling for her, terrifying as it fucking is. I shake the thought away, once again trying to convince myself that my interest in her is only about seeing the arrangement through.

"You’re married," she reminds me.

Tramping down my emotions, I swallow. "Only legally. And if I can just get her to agree to the terms, I’ll sign off on the divorce…"

"Wait. You’re the one holding up the divorce?" Anger flashes in Sophie’s normally calm blue eyes. The change in her is unmistakable. It’s like I’ve inadvertently tripped some wire and a bomb is about to detonate. I take a hesitant step back.


"But…I don’t understand…"

Fuck. How do I explain this without further upsetting her?

"If I divorce her, she wins. She’ll take half of everything, plus I’ll be ordered to pay her spousal support." It’s not about the money – well, I guess it is, because splitting up my millions will put my investment into the Africa project at risk. It means I’ll have fallen for her game, hook, line and sinker. Stella one, Colt zero. But worse than that, the funding for the school, hospital and all the projects I had planned would be stopped dead in their tracks as my money is tied up in a legal battle. I won’t let my personal fuckup be the cause of so much destruction. I’m funneling every bit of money I have into this charity and I won’t sacrifice a single dollar to keep Stella in Manolo Blahniks while children go hungry. Fuck no.

"You…" Her eyes widen and then slam closed. "You didn’t have a pre-nup, and now your male pride is too damn stubborn to take the hit financially." She blinks up at me and something twists deep inside my gut.

She’s right about the pre-nup, I was a fucking fool. Twenty-four years old when we tied the knot and thought I was in love. But she’s wrong about the rest. "This has nothing to do with male pride. My goal all along has been to wait her out, and complete my project in Africa before finalizing the divorce. I won’t have my money tied up in some court battle while I could be doing something actually fucking useful with it."

Sophie’s judging stare and her rigid posture force me to see that maybe this isn’t all going to end well. After surviving Stella, I need a woman who understands my drive and desire to see some good in the world. I thought Sophie would be that woman. But perhaps I was wrong. I take a calming breath and struggle to clear my head.

Sophie moves across the room, her posture stiff as she goes to the far window that looks onto the courtyard below. I cross the room in a few long strides and stand behind her, breathing in the scent of her hair. "Soph…" I murmur.

Her shoulders relax and she sniffs like she’s crying.

Spinning her to face me, I see that her face is red and a single tear tumbles along her porcelain cheek.

"Don’t cry." I brush the dampness away with my thumb. "You’re all I want. The rest, Stella, the paperwork, I’ll figure it out. I just need time. And I need your faith in me." I don’t know why that’s suddenly so important, but it is. Her eyes drift closed and she doesn’t protest. It’s a start.

I’ve never groveled like this before, but I’ve also never felt quite as strongly about a woman as I do about Sophie. Unable to resist the urge to touch her, I run my fingertips along her exposed arms, lightly caressing her smooth skin.

Sophie swallows and blinks up at me. Leaning down to lower my mouth to hers, I whisper against her lips. "You’re mine, sweetness."

My cock was half hard all through lunch, but now that we’re alone, the beast is demanding attention. I’ve traveled thousands of miles to get her to listen, and now the last thing I want to do is talk. I'm craving her like a drug.

Her mouth parts and I take the opportunity to gently kiss her full bottom lip, and then the top, carefully peppering her sweet mouth with tender kisses.

Her hands fist in my shirt and for just a moment I think she’s going to push me away, but she tugs me closer and my kisses go from chaste to hot in two seconds flat. The knowledge that I haven’t lost her sends a thrill racing through me.

My tongue pushes past her parted lips and caresses hers. Goddamn, I’ve missed the things this mouth can do. The raging erection in my pants remembers all too well.

The need to taste her, to consume every part of her flares within me. And knowing that there’s a bed in the next room sends my mind spinning with possibilities. I want more. I want it all, everything she has to offer, but I force myself to slow and meet her eyes, checking for any sign of displeasure. Her look is pure wanton lust.

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