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.