Rhyne has to figure out a way to teach Antonio how to love. The basics, not just the grand gestures and it all begins with the love of oneself. Having loathed herself before, she knew perfectly well how to self destruct. It didn’t take much, just a few bad choices all powered by hate. She has to save the man she loves from his impending doom or give him up. Commitment, that’s what its all about. Staying committed to the right path and to the truth your heart whispers to you.
Her body stiffened as she asked, “What did you say?”
“I love you.” He repeated in one breathe.
Rayne pushed him off and quickly got dressed. She ignored his stunned expression. “Don’t look at me like that.”
“I tell you that I love and you run.” Antonio pulled on his jeans. “I don’t understand.”
“Neither do I.” She almost screamed out. Rayne took in a deep breath and felt it shudder out through her lips, “I don’t get it because you have only known me a week and you already love me. But that little girl, you were the first one to hold her in your arms, the only parent she has left, but you can’t show her an ounce of kindness.”
“I try.” He moaned, his fingers combing through his hair in frustration, “It’s not easy.”
“Neither is loving you.” Rayne swallowed the lump of emotions that formed in her throat, “I love you just as much as I love that little girl. And it breaks my heart that you won’t let go of the guilt.”
“What are you talking about?” Rayne saw his defenses go up.
“I know about the choice you made. You don’t have to punish yourself or her for it. Maria wouldn’t want you to.”
“You never knew Maria.” Rayne retreated as he took three angry steps towards her, “Don’t talk about her. She was my world.”
“I know. I know that all too well.” She gave up trying to wipe her tears away, “I am fighting an eternal battle with a ghost. You love me?” she snickered, “You love her. When you made love to me just then, I knew you were thinking of her.”
“I was thinking of you.”
“The other nights when we were together, I believe you were thinking of me, but not tonight. You seemed to be searching for something I knew I would never be able to give you. You were looking for Maria but I’m not her.” Rayne pushed her hair back, “You need to take a good look at me because I will never be her.”
“What do you want me to do to prove that I love you.” Antonio pleaded clear desperation in his own eyes.
“You need to love your daughter. You need to show me that you are capable of loving the life you created.”
“You don’t understand.” He growled at her.
“And I wish I could because my heart is breaking, for you, for that little girl and for myself.” She gasped, “You know what Alessandria asked me today. Why does daddy not like me? Is it because, I killed mommy.” She saw his heart break through his eyes. “And for the life of me I couldn’t give her an answer. Because my daddy loved me, he did everything he could for me. So I looked into that little girl’s eyes and I lied to her.” She marched to him and poked her finger in his chest. Wishing she could beat the ice off his heart, “I said your daddy loves you with all his heart. He is just grumpy because he works too much. She wanted the waves to carry her to her mommy today because she knew the sight of her hurt you.”
“I just-,” Antonio stammered and fell silent.
THE REBEL’S OWN
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Kennedy lived her life regretting how naïve she was in her teenage years. Thinking that if she had been a little bit more smarter she would have saved herself from ridicule. Good things often happen to good people, and when they least expect it. When she takes the time to look past the haze of regret she sees all the good fortune she has. Having carried the burden of regret fort so long, she doesn’t know how to live without it. Her regret holds her love for Ryan hostage. Now she has to lean how to live free without burdens and flourish in her love.
Kennedy turned towards the voice that had haunted her dreams for years. Ryan Carville was standing in front of her. His beautiful face went into a wide smile, slow and oddly seductive. She forced herself to smile back and she could hear her jaw cracking from the effort that it took. Her eyes took him all in and as much as she hated to admit it, he was still as beautiful as she remembered, if not more so. His shoulders were wide and defined. And from under his suit jacket she could see his biceps struggle to be set free. Ryan carried an indefinable aura of wealth and power and that set off a zing of awareness that zipped through her body. It took everything in her not to succumb to the warmth that welled up inside her.
“Who’s asking?” Kennedy turned her body towards the bar, afraid that it would betray her and curl itself around the hunky man standing in front of her.
“Ryan Carville,” the rough tumble of his voice sounded nervous and unsure. And knowing that made her more confident.
“Bailey, and Riley is just a dear person to me,” she cleared her voice trying to eliminate the emotions buried deep within her. A sensation of regret slammed into her when she knew she had exposed her weakness.
“Is Riley here with you?” Ryan looked around the room and Kennedy could tell he was searching for the said Riley.
“It’s ten o’clock and if I know him as well as I think I do, he’s probably in bed,” she said with a smile.
“So do you like football?” Kennedy hesitated to answer the question. She disliked a lot of things that were related to Ryan a long time ago. “I’m a Rebel.”
Kennedy chuckled and his smoky eyes widened in wonder. Of course he was going to use the ‘I’m a sports star’ card. If he only knew he didn’t need it. “I’m a Bruins kind of girl.”
Ryan couldn’t suppress a smile at her unfounded challenge. He took a step back as if to steady himself, ready for the next blow she would serve him. “Can I buy you a drink?”
“From the quality of your suit, I guess you can afford it,” her honey glazed voice teased.
A short laugh emitted from Ryan’s throat, on the verge of a giggle. “What are you drinking?”
“Martini, shaken not stirred,” her lips had turned up into a sly smile. Her voice low and sultry woke up every nerve in his body.
“James Bond style,” he muttered as his head lowered to hers.
“No, my style. Don’t worry about getting me drunk. I have a room upstairs so I’m not driving anywhere tonight.”
“Are you sharing that room with anyone?” His mind raced as the tone in her voice had his erection fighting for freedom. It wanted to get out of his pants and into her, and he couldn’t blame it.
“No,” she pouted playfully as she leaned into him, toying with his tie. “I’m all alone and so lonely.”
The sound of a glass shattering broke the spell. Ryan lifted his head to see the bartender watching them. His face was flushed as he stared at Bailey in complete sexual desire. He wanted to shout ‘get your own girl’ but he couldn’t blame the man.
A smile passed over her lips as her fingers combed through her wavy hair. Ryan wanted to do that. He wanted to do that and a whole lot more. “Would you like some company?”
“I would love some.”
“Could I be that company?” he asked against her lips, his voice struggling to get through his clouded throat.
“But you’re a Rebel.”
“I hit harder than any clown with a hockey stick,” Ryan’s heart froze. Since when did he mix sports metaphors and sexual suggestions?