Home > A Husband's Regret (Unwanted #2)(10)

A Husband's Regret (Unwanted #2)(10)
Natasha Anders

Her eyes flooded with tears and she covered her face with her hands. Kayla had been conceived in this room too. One night, three months or so before their final argument, they had returned home from a party, both of them slightly tipsy. He had looked at her like she was the most beautiful woman in the world and had, indeed, told her that over and over again as he had worshipped her body on one of the rugs in front of the window. They had fallen asleep here, right where she was standing, entangled in each other’s arms. They’d been so close it had felt like nothing would ever separate them.

“Bronwyn.”

She jumped and swung around, so wrapped up in her memories that it took a few seconds for her to realize that he was no longer the same Bryce who had held her so tenderly that night. He had a sleeping Kayla draped against his chest and looked at a bit of a loss. She felt a combination of anger and regret at the sight of him holding her daughter and possessively reached out for her, but Bryce sent her a quelling look.

“You can barely stand upright. Do you really think you’re capable of carrying her without dropping her?” Frustrated by the logic of his words and biting back her protestations only out of concern for her daughter’s safety, Bronwyn took a step back.

“It’s past her usual nap time,” she said, making certain that he was looking at her before she spoke, not wanting a repeat of the incident on the helicopter. “Where can we put her?”

“I have a room prepared for her.” He turned away and headed for the stairs, which led down to the second-story bedrooms. Bronwyn tensed when they passed the master bedroom and wondered where she would be expected to sleep. He led her to the room that adjoined the master and, with his hands full, he nodded toward the closed door. She obediently opened the door and then gasped when she saw the room. It was a nursery, beautifully decorated in lemon and cream. Toys of every kind were stacked neatly on shelves, and a crib—gorgeously detailed and obviously for a newborn—was positioned close to the large picture window. He carried Kayla to a bigger cot that Bronwyn hadn’t immediately noticed. She watched as he tenderly laid his daughter down and covered her with a lightweight downy blanket. He stared at her for the longest time, his hand looking clumsy and huge and infinitely gentle as it stroked the little girl’s silky hair.

“Welcome home, Mikayla,” he murmured gently before leaning down to place a sweet kiss on her forehead. He raised his head to meet her eyes, and seeing the question in them he shrugged, his face going a little bit red.

“I had the room done a few months after you left. It was that or go stir-crazy. I didn’t know if she was a boy or girl, so the colors had to be neutral. She has outgrown just about everything in here but I couldn’t imagine . . . couldn’t picture how she would look and didn’t know how big she would be.” His voice broke and he lowered his gaze to the sleeping toddler, his eyes glittering with unshed tears. “God, she’s so beautiful.”

Bronwyn didn’t know what to say, didn’t know how to respond to this obvious desire he’d had to be a part of his child’s life. Why hadn’t he come for her if he’d wanted the baby? Why hadn’t he taken, or returned, any of her calls? At the same time she couldn’t help but feel near hatred toward this clearly conflicted man. He had robbed them of the opportunity to be a real family with his inexplicably cruel actions, and pretty little rooms with expensive toys weren’t going to change that fact.

“Bryce.” She tugged on his sleeve to get his attention. She wouldn’t be swayed by the obvious vulnerability on his face. “I don’t know what kind of cruel games you’re playing with me. You tossed us away like so much garbage. If you wanted us you would never have done that. I’m sorry that you missed out on the first year and a half of your daughter’s life, but you do know that you have only yourself to blame for that, right?” She watched the barb hit home as he flinched at her words. The vulnerability fled from his face to be replaced by fury.

“You should get some rest.” His words were icy. “You look exhausted and ill! You’re also much too thin. Mikayla needs a healthy mother, not some wraith who can barely lift her.”

“Bryce . . . I don’t understand. Why do you hate me so much. What have I done to deserve this ridiculous amount of contempt?” It was getting increasingly hard for her to remain upright, but this was important. She was physically weak at the moment, but she was not going to let him walk all over her.

“How dare you ask me that?” he hissed furiously. “How dare you, after everything that you’ve done?”

“I did what you told me to do,” she reminded him, her trembling voice as icy as his had been before. “You told me to leave, to get out of your sight! You called me a deceitful, lying bitch and told me that you never wanted to see me again.”

“Just stop playing the tragic victim,” he warned. “The only reason I can stomach having you back in my life is because of Mikayla, but push me too far and I’ll make damned sure you never set eyes on her again.”

His threat—her worst fear—sent a shiver down her spine, and her throat closed up, shutting her up as effectively as a punch to the jaw would have. Their eyes clashed for a moment, his stormy and furious, hers bleak with terror. Bryce muttered something vile sounding beneath his breath before taking an unexpected step toward her and folding her into his strong arms. His head swooped and he caught her lips in a fiercely tender kiss. Bronwyn gasped in shock, fear, and relief. This felt more like home than the house had. She burrowed closer, wanting the intimacy and affection that she had been missing for so long. Her head tilted back and her mouth opened like a flower beneath his. He groaned, one large hand flat against the small of her back, the other cupping the back of her head. There was an edge of desperation to his kiss, a hunger that had never been present in his lazy, long kisses of the past. His tongue sought and found hers; she felt weak and dizzy with desire. God she had missed him so much, enough to allow this moment of weakness, even though she knew it wouldn’t solve any of their problems. His hands crept up to cup her face, and his thumbs swept over the silky skin of her cheeks. She had her arms wrapped around his hard, warm body, and her hands splayed against his back. She would have crept into his skin if she could.

He stiffened suddenly before tossing her aside with a vicious curse and glaring down into her dazed face contemptuously. He shook his head grimly before turning on his heel and striding out without another word, leaving her hurt, humiliated, and furious in his wake. Bronwyn wrapped her arms around her shaking body, still utterly devastated by how much he seemed to despise her. There was a time when he had seemed like a dream come true. He had been an enigma but still the most intriguing man she had ever met . . .

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