Betrayed by the Billionaire (Pt 13)

Chapter Thirteen

His hands reached forward and grasped hers catching Sierra by surprise, the shudder at just this small touch pulling a moan from her lips as she stared at him, her look begging for release as he smiled, his head nodding gently.  “Yes…the past.  No more avoiding it Sierra.  We are going to talk about the past”

Sierra felt her stomach drop, fear flooding through her as inexplicable panic and her own insecurities filled her. “No”, the word fell from her lips, her hands bracing on the table to flee from him, “There are some things best forgotten and our past is one of those”  His arm moved forward, fingers curling around her wrist stopping her from rising from the table, his eyes determined and solemn.  “Yes.  How the hell are we supposed to make a future Sierra if we don’t deal with the past?”

She felt her legs buckle, her body shaking as she stared back at him, confusion and pain deep within her eyes.  “Future? What future?  You don’t do relationships Max.  We both know that.  You will get bored, just as you always have and then it is bye bye Sierra”

Max’s eyes narrowed as he shook his head, his tone clipped, “Don’t assume that you know everything about me Sierra…you don’t” With a snort she pulled her arm back from his grasp, not wanting him to see how hard she was shaking.  Her eyes shimmered with tears that she was frantically trying to hold back from falling as she glared back at him.

“Stop it Max! I am so fed up of you playing with me.  You forget that I lived through your betrayal once before”  As he made to talk she held her hand up to finish, her features fierce, “No! I am done.  I was a fool to get involved with you again…I should have learnt from the past”  As her voice faltered he groaned, his features softening with hurt radiating from him.

“Oh Sierra.  You never understood what happened…how could you? You were just a kid”  She gasped with anger, eyes blazing with fury.  “You always treated me like a child Max.  My mother had just died.  All I wanted to do was stay in the one place I had always known as home, and instead I was packed off to boarding school, discarded like some unwanted piece of furniture”

She felt her hand being grasped once more, pain in his dark eyes, a heavy groan forced from his mouth.  “No…It was not like that Sierra…There was no other choice” Looking back in confusion she shook her head, yanking her hands back from him, feeling the stinging heat of the tears behind her eyes as she willed them not to fall, not to let this man see how much he hurt her, both now and in the past, her voice husky.

“I know that I was a nuisance, but I could have…” He shook his head again, more determined, his mouth set grimly.  “No…I mean there really was no choice”  Giving a long groan he sat back in his seat, his dark eyes locked on and holding hers, before exhaling deeply his voice so soft, “We wanted you to stay.  My mother and I even approached child services… but they said no”

With wide eyes, her mouth dropped in stunned shock, “Y…You did?”, her words stuttered, look haunted, “Then why?…”

He shook his head sadly, “At the time my mother was going through some health problems and I was not even twenty.  They refused point blank for us to be foster carers, we were both considered unsuitable and because you were only fifteen they demanded that you be placed in a care home on the mainland”, a grimace filled his handsome features as he looked away, his features full of the memories of the past.

“I couldn’t stand the thought of you in some cold sterile building with people who could never appreciate you or care for you the way we did”, his eyes filled with his aversion to even the thought.  “It was one hell of a fight but I was determined for you not to end up there, so eventually they agreed that if you were to go to a boarding school, then that could be looked on as a suitable environment for a child”  Sierra’s eyes widened in stunned shock before she fixed him with a thoughtful look, her voice slow as she carefully considered her words.

“Where did the money really come from for school?”  Her eyes drilled into his, narrowing.  “The truth Max…I never saw any insurance policies in my mother’s personal paperwork”  He paused before sitting forward, his fingers entwining as his chin rested on them, frowning before giving another deep sigh, his look once more meeting hers.  “There was no insurance policy Sierra.  I put the money in trust for you”

Sierra slumped silently back against the seat for several seconds before dropping her head into her hands, a long groan of pain leaving her, “Oh God…I thought so badly of you”, she whispered, her voice full of pain.  All these years I have thought so ill of you and all you ever did was look out for me”

Pushing the seat back she turned from him, moving to the window, staring unseeing down at the bustling city below, tears streaming down her face, “You must hate me”, the words almost inaudible as her hands rose to cover her mouth to smother the sob.  She heard the sound of his chair scraping against the rich hardwood floor before his hands grasped her shoulders turning her to him, her head falling against his chest as deep heart-rending sobs broke from her.

Sierra cried for the past.  Cried for all the years she had hated. And finally cried for losing her mother that fateful night, something she had never allowed herself to do.  The realisation that he had not seen her as a nuisance to be gotten rid of freeing her from so many hurts as she clung to him.  When her body finally stopped spasming with the intensity of her sobs, he pulled her from him, looking deeply into her red swollen eyes, those beautiful eyes swimming in tears, his thumbs gently wiping them from her cheek.  She looked so young, so vulnerable, and Max wanted to hold her to him, to make sure that she was protected.  With quivering lips, her features filled with pain, “Y…You must hate me…All those things I said…thought”, her eyes dropping from his, the pain clear as he groaned his forehead dropping to hers.

“No…How could you think I could ever hate you Sierra?  Don’t you understand?  I love you…I always have…since we were children…it has always been you”  Her eyes flew back to his, flicking over his face searching for some sign that he did not mean what he said, her voice full of disbelief.  “Y…You love me?…Even…But you hated me…I was a brat”  His head nodded against her as he pulled her in harder against himself.  “I have loved you with everything in me forever…Probably from the time a snotty little kid told me she could fight, could deal with the two bullies trying to steal her apples” Max gave a small chuckle before continuing, his tone softening, “When I saw you at the marina…I knew what was missing in my life…what I had missed all those years…YOU.  You were always the one who made me laugh…Who made me so mad I wanted to…”, another chuckle fell from his mouth, curving into a smile, “the one who made me feel alive”

Her laugh stopped him, as he too began to laugh, pulling back to smile down at her, “Why do you think I went down that lane after you that night?  You were right…I was jealous as hell.  Seeing that boy with his hands on you…God Sierra I nearly tore him apart with my bare hands”  Her hands rose to gently caress his cheek, a more mischievous look in her still blurry eyes,  “And I thought you just came after me to tell me what a fool I was…To prove that I was just a stupid kid”

With a small groan his head dropped to kiss her lips, his touch almost imagined, the kiss so light before he once more pulled back from her, this time his eyes more serious as he remembered that night.  “Then when we got to your house…and you collapsed…”  His words trailed away as pain once more filled her eyes.  “Sierra…I just wanted to hold you, gather you up and make all the bad things disappear.  I wanted to protect you…I wanted you to know how much I cared for you…that I would never let anything bad ever happen to you”

A small sad smile touched her mouth, sadness in her large eyes.  “And I thought that you wanted rid of me…That you found me a pain…I am so sorry Max”  Her voice broke as he dropped his head once more, this time his kiss full of heat and passion, her hands flying around his neck, fingers sliding up the nape of his neck to spread within the glossy black hair, a small shudder passing through him as his mouth kissed along her jaw. “I can’t lose you Sierra…Not again…Please tell me you feel the same”

Dragging herself from his hold she pulled in a shuddering breath, eyes flashing with the intensity of her feelings.  “I love you Max.  I have loved you since I was no more than a little girl”, her mouth curled into a large grin, happiness exuding from every pore.  Max was breathless with how beautiful she looked as his eyes danced with hers, neither needing to say more.

The knock on the door only just registered, the two turning to watch as it opened, Sean moving into the area.  His took took in the way the two stood so close together, Max’s hands draped loosely around her waist, hers resting on his shoulders.  Both looked flushed, Max even slightly dazed.  Sean felt the tightening in his stomach as he stepped forward, pulling a smile to his lips

“I guess you worked things out”, his soft words directed at Sierra before his gaze shifted to Max, a coldness coming to them, “If you hurt her Max…I will make you pay…You have been warned…And do not think this is an idle threat…I know people”

Sierra’s laugh broke the way the three stood, as Max began laughing too, his arms wrapped around her shoulder as he pulled her in tighter to him, joy radiating from both as Max nodded, respect deep in his eyes as he regarded Sean.  “You have my word Sean.  I will never hurt this woman”, his eyes looking down at her with such devotion, leaning down and dropping a gentle kiss on her lips as she looked up at him. “In fact, I have to apologise to you Sean…Looks like you will be needing a new assistant”, his smile full of intensity as he met Sierra’s questioning look.  “It is about time that my future wife and I both went home”

Sierra’s mouth dropped open, Sean’s features filling with disbelief his cry louder than he inteded  “Wife! Did you say wife?”  Sierra turned to look at the singer, gurgling laughter escaping her, “I believe he did”, before turning to Max, “Was that your idea of a proposal Mr Alessandro? Because it needs work”

With a loud laugh he turned her around before dropping onto one knee, love shining from him.  “Sierra Summers.  Will you do me the honour of being my wife, the woman I spend the rest of my life with?” Her large smile shone with happiness as he kissed her hand, his eyes holding hers as she suddenly felt her throat thicken, tears again blurring her vision, her head nodding as he rose, she launching herself into his arms.  “Yes.  Oh yes”  His mouth descended once more to claim hers, the kiss full of love, full of promises for the future…Their future together.



Betrayed by the Billionaire (Pt 12)

Chapter Twelve

Landing in New York, Max was whisked away by the chauffeur-driven limousine he had ordered to meet him from the plane.   Earlier it required pulling a few strings to find out where Sean and his entourage would be that day.  He quickly found that they were in New York but only received the information that he Sean was due to speak on a talk show that evening  along with the name of the hotel they would be staying on his arrival, allowing Max to book himself into a suite close by.

As soon as he dropped off his bag, he moved to the floor in which the singer was staying, stopped as he expecting by a large bodyguard, the man’s demeanor brooking no argument as he informed Max that he would not be allowed to proceed unless his name was on the approved visitors list.  Max however, was in no mood to be denied, demanding that the bodyguard inform Sierra Summers that he was there to speak to her.

Frowning, he could see the way the man’s look sharpened, almost as though he was expecting him, as he moved a little away, talking quietly into a radio before returning demanding Max remain where he was.  Pacing before the elevator he growled with frustration, only holding back as there did seem to be the hope based on the other man reaction that somebody was coming.  He could feel the nerves tautening his stomach.  What if she did not listen to him?…Did not believe what he had to say?  The sensation of panic was unexpected, Max steeling himself as he raised himself to his full height, pulling in every ounce of resolve.  She would have to…He would make her.

The ping of the elevator snapped his attention back to the corridor, his body stiffening as the doors slid open.  As Sean stepped into the hallway, his features dropped, eyes scanning the small area to see if she was moving out behind him, disappointment filling him before he fixed the singer with eyes set and determined.  “Where is she Sean?”, his voice clipped as the man he had known for years shook his head, coldness in his usually warm eyes.  “She doesn’t want to see you Max.  I think that you should leave her alone”

Shaking his head Max took a step closer to the other man, aware as the bodyguard stiffened. “Who the hell are you to make that decision…Let me speak to Sierra…NOW”

He could see the contempt fill his old friend’s eyes as he shook his head, his arm raised, finger pointing.  “She is my friend as well as my employee Max…and you…You couldn’t stop yourself could you?  Sierra isn’t one of those socialite cold fishes you normally date.  She has feelings…Feelings you stomped over…and I am damned if I am going to let you anywhere near her to hurt her again”

Max stopped in his tracks, his eyes narrowing.  In all the years he had known Sean, he had never heard him defend another person with such passion, seeing the way he stood before him, his fists clenched, his body stiff with anger.  In a disbelieving tone he stared at the singer stepping back slightly, his eyes showing his incredulity.  “You’re in love with her.  You are in love with Sierra”

Sean blinked, the anger melting from him as he fixed Max with still cold eyes.  “Is that so surprising?  Sierra is different.  She is loyal, generous and…”, his voice faltering as he scowled back, “And she sure as hell did not deserve to be used by a womanising bastard like you”

Max ran his fingers through his hair, his look fixed on Sean, his mouth straightening into a severe line. “Pot…Kettle Sean.  You cannot keep me from her…And do you really think that she is going to love you?”

He could see the discomfort stir in the other man’s eyes as he swooped, his need to see the woman they talked about strong.  “If you love her Sean, then do what is right for her.  Do you really think that I would have flown all the way out here to see her if she was just some passing fancy? You know me better than that.  Ask yourself what is best for her…Not what you want…What Sierra needs”, his voice breaking slightly, “even if it is just closure”

Sean stood for several seconds, Max holding his breath as the man before him seemed to be warring with indecision.  Finally however, he stepped back, nodding softly to the bodyguard as he once more moved back to the elevator, his tone still cold “Fine.  For Sierra’s sake I will let you speak to her”  His look flicked down the tall man before him, his voice a snarling warning.  “But don’t expect her to be forgiving Max…Sierra is not the kind of woman to be treated that way”

Max held down the retort on the tip of his tongue, taking a deep breath.  He was getting to see Sierra…That was all that really mattered; also he knew that it had taken a lot for Sean to let him anywhere near her, respect filling him for his old friend.

Sean led him into an opulent sunny living room, decorated in golds and creams, the furnishing grand and expensive.  With a final glower Sean demanded he wait there before moving from the room.  Taking a deep calming breath he moved to look out of the window.

Outside, the bustling city seemed to flow in an almost rhythmic motion, cars and people moving determinedly to their destination all having a place to go, the suite high enough to drown out the sounds.  The small click of the door once more closing pulled him around, his eyes meeting Sierra’s, heat filling him at the mere sight of her.

Sierra sidled into the room, her nerves at breaking point.  When Sean informed her that Max was there, that he was waiting to see her, she had felt sick, pain slamming deep into her.  Why was he doing this?  Why had he come all of this way just to taunt her?  Her first instinct had been to run, to refuse to see him.  However, Sean had taken her into his arms, a sadness about him.  “Speak to him Sierra.  I would never have let him up if I didn’t think that you both needed to speak.  Hear him out…In the time I have known Max…I have never known him to chase after a woman”

Sierra had felt the tears once more rise to her eyes as her head shook, a low moan of pain leaving her. “I can’t…I just can’t Sean”, her voice merely a whisper as he pulled back to look into her beatiful vulnerable face, his thumbs gently wiping away the tears which flowed down her cheeks.  Raising his eyes he swallowed, fighting the desire to kiss her, to make everything OK.

“You have to Sierra”  Her brow furrowed at the solemnness of his tone and words.  “I won’t pretend that I don’t care…I do.  But you need to deal with this.  If you don’t then no man will ever be able to push past the ghost of Max Allessandro…you will never be able to care for anybody again”  With a sad curl of his lips he pulled her back against him.  “And I really want you to be happy…with or without Max…or maybe even one day with me”

Sierra sniffled, her head shaking, “It is over with us Sean…Max used me…He is incapable…”  The rest of the sentence was lost as Sean stepped back, a sad, almost resigned look on his face.  “Perhaps Sierra…But maybe there is more going on than you know.  One thing I have learnt is that you cannot always believe what you see in the papers…”

Sighing deeply he took her hand, leading her gently to the room he had left Max.  “Do what makes you happy.  I will be waiting to hear from you”

His words made it impossible to run, Sierra knowing that she had to face Max, to confront him about what he had done, her stomach flipping knowing that it was not just the immediate past but his betrayal of her ten years ago, this bringing out the nervous insecure internal child.

Looking at the man standing silhouetted against the midday sun, her resolve almost left her as she felt the all too familiar need for him.  She hated that everything in her wanted to run to him, to feel his arms envelop her and to let him fool her once more, to tell her that things were going to be all right.

The door closing saw him turn, his dark eyes clashing with her brown ones, electricity sizzling between them both.  Gripping her hands she swallowed nervously, “Hello Max…I wish you hadn’t come”  She saw the small muscle on the side of his jaw tighten as he stepped towards her before seeming to pull himself together and stop, his look searching hers.  “We need to talk”

Sierra could feel her hands tremble as she waved him towards a table and chairs, needing some distance between them.  Moving with him she took the seat opposite, her voice cold, not aware of the bleakness deep within her expressive eyes.  “Then talk.  Although I think you are wasting your time.  We had a good run…Let’s just leave it at that”

Max scowled, fighting the desire to rise and pull her into his arms, demanding that she retract the comment, surprising and frightening himself with the strength of his caveman response to her.  Only the shadow of pain deep within her eyes kept him seated as his hands delved into his shirt pocket.

She watched as he unfolded the piece of newspaper, her mouth firming as she recognised the story of the previous night, her eyes flying to his in accusation, no longer able to maintain the calm exterior.  “You came to gloat!”, simmering fury in her voice, her body stiffening as he shook his head.

“No…To explain”  Sitting back, her arms folded protectively around herself Sierra glared at him, the tears she was fighting so hard to hold back balanced precariously on the edge of her lids, her voice tight. “Save it Max.  I want you to go”, an almost defeated sound in her voice as she looked away, her words almost inaudible, “Just go”

Shaking his head he sat forward, his finger stabbing the picture.  “This is not true Sierra…It is not what it seems”  Her snort of derision resulted in a growl from him as he pushed the story before her.  “I had no idea she was coming.  She and I have dated on and off sure…but that was in the past.  Do you really think I would have invited her when you were supposed to be with me?”

Sierra flicked her look to the picture, bitterness deep in her voice.  “I have no idea what goes on in your head Max.  But you certainly do not look like you were fighting her off”  Giving an exasperated sigh he shook his head.  “Actually…that is exactly what I was doing.  She blind-sided me Sierra.  She came at me and pushed herself forward for a kiss.  The photographer saw an opportunity and took it….but I neither instigated it nor allowed it to continue.  Believe me, that kiss lasted as long as it took for me to pull her off me”  His voice changed, became gentler.  “I am with you…Do you really think I would ruin what we have for…”, his hand waved towards the picture, “this?”

Looking once more at the picture, Sierra could see the way his hands were braced on the other woman’s hips, not in a caress, but flattened, ready to push away.  Savaging her lips, for the first time she felt doubt, her head turning to look out of the window, confusion filling her before once more turning to meet his eyes.  Could she have been so wrong about him?

Max held his breath watching the myriad of emotions fleeting across her lovely face.  However, he felt the chill of fear as her eyes finally settled on him, her look resolute.  “OK…I believe you” His brows puckered, sensing that all was not right as she continued. “But…perhaps it is for the best that we just go our separate ways”  Hurt surged into him as he shook his head, “No”  Sierra ran the tip of her tongue over the softness of her lush lips, nodding her head, “There is so much more between us Max…the past…It is just best”

His hands reached forward and grasped hers catching Sierra by surprise, the shudder at just this small touch pulling a moan from her lips as she stared at him, her look begging for release as he smiled, his head nodding gently.  “Yes…the past.  No more avoiding it Sierra.  We are going to talk about the past”

 {concluding installment 28th Jan}

Betrayed by the Billionaire (pt 11)

Chapter Eleven

The knock on her door snapped her attention back to the present, her hand rising to dash away the silent tears which spilled down her pale cheeks.  “C…Come in”, her voice sounded stronger than she felt, her lips curving into a forced smile as Sean appeared.  “OK-  just came to say goodbye and thanks for dropping everything to come to my rescue…but got a hot invite from Letterman to talk about my …” The singer’s large grin dropped from his face as his eyes took in the woman sitting silently before him, a woman who was trying so hard to look professional and in charge while her eyes shone with unshed tears, despair in her look.

“Sierra?”  His tone was now full of concern, a frown on his handsome forehead as he moved quickly towards her, squatting down and taking her frozen fingers in his.  “What is it?” He could see the battle raging within her as she raised her eyes heavenward, her hands gripping his tightly before she seemed to gather herself, once more finding the control she so badly needed, her eyes still full of grief, but now also anger.  Clearing her throat slightly she pulled a wavering smile to her mouth “I think I made a mistake Sean….I think that my holiday is over….I want to come with you”

Sean’s frown deepened as his voice become firmer.  “What happened?  Yesterday you seemed so happy…What changed?”

With a small sob she pulled a hand free, lifting the paper and letting him read the story, his look taking in the picture as his features became stony.  “That b…”, stopping himself as he once more took in the devastation on her features.  Leaning forward he pulled Sierra into his arms, her unresisting body falling against him as more sobs racked her, Sean holding her tightly to himself, soothing his hand down her back and hair as he whispered encouraging words of comfort, Sierras heart breaking.

For several minutes he held her, allowing her to release the hurt and pain, before she pulled back, her hand reaching for a handkerchief as she dabbed at her eyes, grief etched so clearly on her lovely features, her lips quivering so vulnerably before her eyes met his.  “I can’t believe I let him do this to me again”

Scowling, Sean lifted more of the small perfumed handkerchiefs from the box and pushed them gently into her hand.  “Again?  I knew that the two of you knew each other…but you dated before?”  She shook her head telling him the story of the night her mother died, he not interrupting, listening attentively as her voice grew so bitter.  “He took me into his home, became the one person I could rely on…my rock.  Then when he grew tired of having me around he forced me off the island…out of his home”  Her lips curled with contempt.  “I was fifteen, still struggling to deal with what had happened with my mother and all he could think about was himself”, an unhumerous half-laugh was torn from her lips.  “I suppose I was cramping his style…being the hero suited him for a bit…but he got bored quickly…and now…seems he has been playing with me again.  I suppose that he thought I was a challenge”, her head dropped as more tears squeezed out of her eyes “He likes to win…and didn’t I just make it so easy for him?”, self-disgust filled her voice.

Sean rocked back on his feet, his eyes confused.  “I know that Max has his issues…but I would never have thought…”, his mouth closed as she flashed him a warning look, anger now once more heating the depths of her brown eyes.  “Max Alessandro is a selfish, thoughtless man who plays with people’s emotions.  He does not care about anybody else but himself…does not care who he hurts…is incapable of love”

Her eyes dropped as she realised she had said too much, her hand pushing the tendrils of hair which fell over her face nervously back behind her ear watching as Sean regarded her seriously, a touch of sympathy deep in his eyes, his voice soft.  “You fell in love with him”, not a question – a statement.  Opening her mouth to refute his words their eyes met, Sierra once more feeling the tears blur her vision as her mouth snapped closed, her head nodding minutely.  “What a fool huh?”, her hand once more wiping away tears as they fell, her voice almost a whisper. “Truth is I think I fell in love with him when I was fifteen…but I hid it behind the anger of what he did…the way he betrayed me”  Her voice broke softly, pain tingeing the words. “But he couldn’t even leave me with that anger could he?…No…He had to strip it away and make me love him…and then betray me again”

Her eyes rose to Sean’s.  “He used me again…I need to get away from him Sean…I can’t let him see what he has done…please”  Sean took both her hands in his, his look serious.  “We are leaving in ten minutes Sierra…and nobody not even Max Alessandro will get near you if you do not want them to”

Sierra could feel the way her heart swelled at her employer’s words, at the caring in his eyes. “Thank you Sean” His hand lifted as he ran the back of his fingers down her cheek, his knuckles so gentle against her skin. “Max is an idiot.  Any man who could have your heart would be blessed…he is the loser here Sierra”, an almost sad smile drifted onto his lips.  “You know there was a time I hoped…”  Sierra looked back at the singer in surprise, realisation hitting her at his words, a small groan ripped from her.  “Oh Sean…I didn’t know”  His smile widened, still holding sadness, but also acceptance. “I know you didn’t…all you ever saw was the spoiled singer…the ego…the little boy who didn’t know which country he was in without you…but I have always cared about you Sierra”

As her head dropped, guilt filled her, his finger hooked under her chin, lifting her head to once more look back at him. “And now it is my turn to show you that I am not that spoiled brat…and to take care of you.  I know you do not love me Sierra”, continuing surely as her mouth opened, her eyes full of guilt “and that is OK…but I am going to look after you and help you get through this”  His eyes drilled into hers, “OK?”  Nodding her head, a warmer smile filled her features .“OK”, she repeated as Sean dropped a gentle kiss on the end of her nose before rising in one fluid movement, his voice more authorative than she had ever heard.  “Good…then get dressed because this show leaves in ten minutes”

Within seven minutes Sierra was dressed, moving towards the door having not brought much with her.  With a grimace she had already known that she was going to have to go on a shopping spree, not prepared to return and retrieve her clothes from the island or his mainland apartment, once more chastising herself for being so trusting.  The ringing of her mobile pulled her to a stop, pain slamming into her as she saw Max’s name flash on the screen.

Savaging her bottom lip she stared at the flashing screen – was he phoning to gloat, or to let her down gently, to explain that things were over because she was surplus to requirements?  Her finger hovered over the answer button, unsure whether she was able to hear his voice without breaking down, only her own pride finally making her press the button.  Standing taller, she determined not to let him see how much he had destroyed her, not give him the satisfaction of once more seeing that he had broken her.

Answering the call she held back the gasp as his sensual voice washed over her.  “Good morning babe…I am at the airport and missing you…I will be there in four hours…are you meeting me or should I expect you in to be waiting naked in our room?”

Sierra could only stare in disbelief at the call, her mouth dry as she gripped the phone.  He was unbelievable.  Had the model had to leave already?…Was he still playing her?  She felt the coldness seep deep within, her voice as businesslike as she could make it.

“Hello Max”  She could feel his hesitation, his tone becoming more wary, “Everything OK Sierra?”  With the phone clenched tightly in her hand she forced an answer, “I’m fine.  However, I think that perhaps you should cancel your plans” His gasp from the other side brought more tears to her eyes as she fought to keep control.  “Sierra…what the hell are you talking about?”  She could hear both the confusion and panic on his voice. “I mean that the holiday is over Max.  It is time I went back to work”

His tone became quieter, “But yesterday…”  She managed a small laugh, “We both got caught up in the moment Max…Said things that we didn’t really think through…It is just better this way…So good bye…Thanks for the holiday”, as she pulled the phone from her ear she could hear his voice calling her name, she ending the call as tears once more flowed down her cheeks.  The ringing of her phone showed him trying to call back, Sierra blocking the call and refusing any more contact from him.  Pulling herself to her full height she stuffed the phone back into her pocket stepping proudly out of the room, unaware of the way her lips quivered and tears slid down her distraught features.

At the airport Max could feel as his whole body froze, the overnight bag he carried slipping from his shocked numb fingers.  He had risen from the coffee table ready to move to his departure gate when he phoned Sierra and now his legs buckled under him as he dropped back into the chair, his eyes staring at the small device clutched in his hand.  Quickly dialing her number again, he felt the hurt slam into him as she refused his call.  What happened?  The previous day she had seemed so happy, things between them seemed so right.

He felt the coldness creep into his chest as realisation hit him.  She planned everything.  He believed that she had moved on from ten years ago, from his having to force her from his home.  With his stomach clenched he groaned.  She played him.  She wanted revenge for the past and she used him, making him know how she must have felt when she was abandoned.  Running his hand over his face he moaned.  She had no idea what happened…none, but the cold-bloodedness of her actions twisted his insides.  How could he have been so wrong about Sierra Summers?

He believed her to be warm, smart, kind…but he was wrong.  Beneath that beautiful facade beat the heart of a cold calculating manipulator.  Grabbing his bag he once more rose, pushing down the feelings which tried to swamp him.  He should think himself lucky that she had shown herself for what she really was before… His lips set grimly as he stalked purposefully towards the exit.

Passing a table, an open paper strewn across the surface, his eyes focussed on the image as he halted abruptly.  Moving to grab the sheets he scanned the words, his eyes growing wider and wider with each one as the image of himself kissing Adele mocked him.  Dropping the paper he sat, his mind in turmoil.  Sierra had seen the report, deep down he knew it.  She thought he had once more abandoned her.  Pulling out his mobile he once more rose, making phone calls as he quickly changed his travel arrangements based on information which he was finally able to acquire.

Seated in business class, he sat back, his eyes looking sightlessly out of the small window as he reflected over his actions.  Not going over the past had been a mistake.  It had been his hope that the facts of the past would come out when she was able to understand what happened, but he now knew that by not dealing with their past he had not allowed their future to grow on a more solid foundation.  He should have told her what happened, knowing that it was his own guilt that kept him from talking to her.  When she needed him most, he had not been able to help, he had sent her away.  He groaned, knowing that she had suffered for that decision.  Taking a deep breath he knew that the two had to face the past and he vowed that she would hear what he had to say.

{next installment 21st Jan}