The Tycoon's Make-Believe Fiancée
Elizabeth Lennox - The Tycoon's Make-Believe Fiancée
The Tycoon's Make-Believe Fiancée
Royston Carmichael stared at the woman who had just entered his office, not believing his eyes. “Wyndi?” he whispered hoarsely, completely poleaxed by the presence of the blond woman. And then his fury exploded. “Is this some kind of a joke?” he demanded, his hands fisting at his side. “I don’t know who you are, but my sister is dead! So whatever game you’re playing…”
Wyndi couldn’t believe what she was hearing. And the pain in her brother’s eyes was very real, desperately raw. She stepped forward carefully, her eyes gentling as she tried to reach her brother. “Royston, it isn’t a game. It’s me. Wyndi.”
He glared down at the tiny woman who looked startlingly, hauntingly similar to the little sister he’d tried to protect so many years ago. But it was impossible. “My sister died of pneumonia,” he growled, furious that anyone would try such a horrible trick. “The case worker told me my sister died. You’re going to have to leave. Now!” he almost shouted.
Wyndi shook her head. “They lied, Royston. I didn’t die.” She hesitated for a moment. “Think about it. Was there even a funeral?” She waited a moment, letting that question sink in. Wyndi’s smile brightened. “I’ve been looking for you for years, Royston. I promise you, I didn’t die and I am here and healthy.” She could tell that he was listening, but the tension in his shoulders was too strong. She could see that he was holding himself back, just like he’d done when they were kids.
“You’re not going to win this one, Royston,” she laughed, immediately understanding his tactics. “Mom and Dad used to laugh whenever you pulled this on them. Remember when you wanted to join the junior football team and they said no? It was too dangerous for you?” she prompted. “You stood in the kitchen while mom pulled the cookies out of the oven, your shoulders all tense, like you were about to go into battle. But Dad stepped in front of you, put a hand on your shoulder and told you that you could do soccer instead of football.” She watched waiting for some reaction. “And at their funeral…” She paused as the emotions choked off her words, but suppressed the sadness that sprang up. She had to finish, had to prove that she really was his sister. “At their funeral, you did the same thing, trying to hold back the tears and be strong for me…” She couldn’t finish the sentence because she was swept up into a hug, her brother’s arms lifting her up into his strong arms while he buried his face in her hair.
“They told me you’d died! If I’d known you were still alive, I would have found you! I would have protected you!” She felt the shudder as his emotions rocked his body, and she held him close, trying to ease the pain he was feeling.
She wrapped her arms around his shoulders, almost giddy with relief and happiness that she’d finally found him. And that there was a perfectly good explanation for why he hadn’t searched for her. “Royston, it’s okay. You don’t have to feel bad – it was so long ago. And I’m doing great now! I’m just so happy to be with you now. I’ve been searching for you for so long!” Royston might be holding back the tears, but she let them fall freely, overjoyed to have finally found her brother.
Royston held the slender woman in his arms, feeling her tears against his cheek, and he pulled back. Setting her down on her feet, he looked down at her, taking in how gloriously beautiful she looked. And happy! Damn, she looked happy! “What happened to you? I didn’t believe them at first,” he told her, thinking back on those painful years after their parents had died. He’d been so furious that anyone would try and separate the two of them, and disgusted with himself for not being strong enough or smart enough to put food on the table for her. He’d failed as her big brother, but never again! “I kept running away from the foster homes they put me in, determined to get back to you. They probably told me you’d died just so I’d stop trying to find you.”
Which was no excuse, he thought silently. “Are you okay? You’re going to have to tell me everything. I lost track of you after we were separated, but I