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}

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