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.Hell, she didn’t even know if they were real at that point.Maybe they too were a figment of her unpredictable imagination.Approaching the front door, she could have sworn she’d locked it on her way to the festival.It now sat slightly ajar.“OMG! I really am losing it! I know I locked the door.That’s one thing I’m anal about.What the hell is going on?”Knowing there were no keys to secure it with, she didn’t want to risk latching it, in case it somehow locked, leaving her without even a home to go to.In the community of Vernazza, it was unthinkable to leave doors unlocked during festival time.With so many strangers passing through, the chances of a robbery were high.Drunken revelers could stumble to the wrong building and discover it unlocked and it would be open season.It was a risk Kate would just have to take, though.Chapter NineWatching Kate run with fear from the festival had cut Jake to the core.He’d visually acknowledged how much she despised him.It was unbearable to see that look in her eyes.Such contempt.All her pain had been caused by his need to keep her safe.In more ways than one he needed to make amends and heal some of her hurt but it would be no easy feat, not when she refused to be in the same vicinity.It was going to be harder than he thought, especially with her new lover at her side.How would he get her alone? Maybe Kate had run home to him and he was consoling her right now.It sickened him.After aborting his decision to pray in church, he’d left the festival in order to curb his erotic thoughts about Kate.He’d hiked the steep incline to the top of town to a place that housed special memories.Now, as he sat on the stone bench with the sun spectacularly setting under the lonely olive tree that still had the initials JA 4 KF 4 EVA inscribed into the bark, he let his emotions roll forth.This was their place.A quiet, tucked away corner of solitude and beauty that held the most intimate secrets, desires, hopes, and dreams of the two lovers who vowed devotion to each other even in death.He kicked the tree to help vent some of his anger.The thought of another man’s hands on her pained him but what really tore his heart to shreds was knowing she’d respond to those hands in the same torrid way that Jake thought would only ever have been reserved for him.“Baby, I’m so sorry.I never meant to hurt you.I thought I was protecting you.I’d rather give you up than see you get hurt.There’s so much I need to tell you if only you’ll give me that chance.That’s all I want.You need to understand why I had to leave.”As much as he needed her help, he needed her understanding more.It didn’t matter about keeping secrets any more.He owed her the truth.If Kate didn’t want to talk he’d just have to think of another way to dig his way out of the crap he was drowning in.He’d been exposed for what he was and paid the ultimate price.Even with just fragments of memory left of the final showdown, it was clear that his cover had been blown and the powers that be had served him some sort of punishment.Pacing back and forth, he tried to simmer down.He’d been sitting for hours, just thinking.Trying to piece together parts of the puzzle that were absent so he could figure out his next move.So many questions were zooming through his mind.How was he going to approach Kate? Would she help him if he asked? Did he deserve her help? After seeing her run from the festival earlier, he knew his mission was going to be difficult.Without a doubt though she had felt his presence.He’d seen the look of recognition in her eyes.He’d felt it in his very soul.The link that would always tie them together.He walked back over to the tree and traced the carved letters with his fingers.It seemed like the only tangible evidence that they’d ever been together.Having left in such a hurry there had been no time to grab a keepsake.No photograph.No item of clothing with her smell attached.He’d certainly wiped the slate clean.Fuck! No time to think.Only time to act.He’d been given his orders.Kate would be in grave danger if he stayed.That was one risk there had been no negotiating on.Better to have hurt her by leaving than get her killed by staying.Kate had been so intense to watch as she’d etched the endearment into the trunk.He’d eyed her quietly.Her tongue had poked out at the corner of her voluptuous mouth in an act of such concentration.That same mouth that had turned upwards at the corners, almost smirking at him.He recalled watching the way her silky hair had tickled her face in the gentle breeze.The mischief in those resplendent orbs.The joy she’d derived at her handiwork.The simplicity of that moment had been priceless.He’d been overcome with deep happiness in that second, which looking back now had been merely a blip in time.He’d caught his breath as he regarded the fierce magnetic pull that had lifted him off the stone seat and over to her in an instant.He’d cradled her face with both hands, as if it was an exquisite, delicate figment of his imagination that might vanish at any moment.“Kate.” It had been a husky, needful rumble from somewhere other than his physical being.His face was barely touching hers as their eyes locked into an unbreakable staring contest, neither one able to look away.The soft, pliable lips he’d brushed his thumb over, never losing eye contact until the urge to kiss surpassed all else.“I’ll give you a little space for now but I can’t wait long.The clock is ticking.Time is running out.I love you so much, Kate.More now because of the strength I know you carry.You’ve turned your life around and moved on, while I’m still stuck in the past.I’ve tried to get over you, I really have, but I can’t.”That first night he’d walked out, never to return, had broken him.A booze-filled binge had failed to drown the self-loathing that had only grown in intensity with the days and weeks that rolled into months.Wanting to lift the phone and call, his fingers tracing each number, apprehension had stopped him.Anxiety for her safety.He’d die to protect her.He ran a hand through his hair and rose to retreat to his temporary home when a flash rocketed through him.It caught him off guard.He cried out.“Kate! Dear God! No!”Chapter TenDowning his fourth martini, Carlos casually leaned on the polished teak bar, enjoying the luxurious surrounds.Philippe eyed him without saying a word, maybe wondering how absolutely sloshed his business associate was going to get before falling into a drunken stupor.Carlos toasted his glass up in the air to the self-righteous lackey.He had no time for ass lickers.It was clear that Philippe was a yes man trying to worm his way so far up The Lord’s backside it wasn’t funny.Carlos didn’t like him and he trusted him even less [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]