The Executive's Vengeful Seduction - Maxine Sullivan Page 0,1

few things, too,” she said, remaining firm.

He was instantly alert. “Such as?”

A wary look suddenly entered her eyes. “It doesn’t matter.”

“Obviously it does or you wouldn’t have mentioned it.”

She looked across the desk at him. “Nothing can change the past now. Let’s just say that when I left home five years ago I never looked back.”

He arched a brow. “Never? I find that hard to believe.”

She shrugged her slim shoulders and leaned back in her chair. “That’s your problem, Damien. Not mine.”

Her comment irritated him. “You walked out on me, too,” he reminded her silkily.

Her chin rose in the air. “And did you find that hard to forgive?”

His jaw clenched. “Your note was sufficient.”

“I’m glad you think so,” she said with a touch of sarcasm.

He scowled as her comment slammed into him. “You said you wanted to end our affair,” he reminded her. “You also said not to try and change your mind.”

“And it suited you to believe me, didn’t it?”

“Are you saying you lied?” he demanded, his stomach knotting.

Her eyelids flickered, as if she knew she was in dangerous waters. She sighed. “No. It was the truth. It was over between us.”

He stared hard for a moment as something centered inside his chest. Things were far from over between them. He’d subconsciously realized that when she’d stepped out of the elevator and walked toward him like a vision from heaven.

“No, I don’t think it was over at all,” he said quietly.

She stiffened. “Really? You obviously didn’t think that at the time.”

“True. But we had other priorities back then.”

She inclined her head but couldn’t hide a hint of relief in her eyes. “Yes, we both had a lot of things going on in our lives.”

“And I let that get in the way of what was important.” He paused. “Things have changed.”

She looked startled. “Changed?”

Now that he’d seen her again, he would have to work her out of his system. In the most pleasurable way, of course.

“It’s time to come home, Gabrielle. Your father needs you.” Hell, he suddenly needed her, too.

Her gaze dropped, and she began to smooth her palms over the front of her silky jacket. Then she looked up as if making a decision. “I’m sorry. Please tell my father I wish him well, but I won’t be coming back.”

That wasn’t acceptable. “And if he dies?”

She winced, then whispered, “Don’t.”

He couldn’t let himself soften toward her. Not right now. He had a job to do. “You have to face facts. Your father is seriously ill. He needs to see you.”

“Damien, I can’t…I…”

“Not even for your mother’s sake?”

Her mouth dropped open, her eyes widened. “Wh-what? My mother? When did you talk to my mother?”

“Caroline came home a couple of days ago when she heard about your father’s stroke.”

Gabrielle clenched her hands together. “No, she would never forgive him.” Her mother would never have gone back to her father. When Caroline left, she’d sworn the marriage was over forever.

“She did. And I think you should, too.”

“You’re lying. This is a trick.”

“No tricks, I swear. Gabrielle, your mother asked that I come and get you. She needs you right now.”

She flinched. “That’s not fair.”

“I didn’t say it was,” he said as he was jabbed by an old heartache. Despite everything that had gone on, at least Gabrielle had parents who cared about her. She wasn’t totally nonexistent to them, unlike his own parents. She had a second chance with her family. He doubted his parents would have even wanted a second chance. They’d been too involved with themselves…too selfish to consider that their son might just need some of their attention.

Just the thought of it made the muscles at the back of his neck tense. “Look, if you can’t come back for your father, then do it for your mother’s sake.”

She glared at him. “I just can’t walk out of here and leave everything to the others. This is a thriving business. We’ve got some major events coming up.”

“I’m sure they can cope without you.”

“That’s not the point.”

“Then what is?” he challenged. She was only making excuses and they both knew it.

She held his gaze for a long moment, then her eyes clouded over and she sighed with surrender. “Okay, I’ll come home. But I’m only staying until my father’s out of danger.”

“Deal.” By then he would have her in his bed again and out of his system once and for all.

The thought was completely satisfying.

Long after they were airborne and heading toward Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia, Gabrielle