Home > A Husband's Regret (Unwanted #2)(3)

A Husband's Regret (Unwanted #2)(3)
Natasha Anders

“Rick, do you think this is a good idea?” The other woman asked worriedly, and he raised his eyes to her anxious face before smiling gently, his expression now reminiscent of the Rick that Bronwyn knew and loved.

“It’ll be fine,” he murmured reassuringly, but the woman made an irritated sound and shook her head angrily.

“I’ve had enough, Rick,” she seethed, revealing claws beneath the sweet exterior. “You’d better tell me what’s going on and fast. I’ve been sitting here for hours without getting a single straight answer from you, and I’m fed up with it. Tell me what’s going on, or I’ll pack up and head off to Knysna on my own!” Bronwyn watched in fascination as his eyes flared in panic and he lost all semblance of his previous icy coolness.

“Lisa,” he choked. “You wouldn’t go off on your own when we just . . .”

“Don’t test me,” she warned. “Now I think that it’s past time you did some proper introductions and try to be civil, please.” He frowned sullenly, looking about as menacing as a little boy with his hand caught in the biscuit tin.

“Lisa, meet Bronwyn Palmer. Bron, my wife, Lisa.” Bronwyn’s eyes lit up with genuine pleasure as her eyes flew from one face to the other. His wife? Well, then, that would explain the baby. She glanced around the room, looking for the child. She smiled when she saw the pram parked close to the window on the other side of the room and marveled at how much his life had changed in the last two years.

“Your wife? Ricky, you got married?” He winced in response to her words.

“Bron, don’t call me that,” he muttered uncomfortably, sounding so much like his old self that Bronwyn’s heart swelled with love for him. She smiled and turned her attention to the slender woman who stood beside him.

“I’m so glad that he married someone like you,” she managed weakly, wishing she could be more eloquent but suddenly feeling quite drained. She leaned back against the pillows and smiled up at them both. “Ricky deserves someone lovely . . .” Her eyes drifted shut. “I’m so tired. Take me home. Please. I need to go home . . .”

“She’s my brother’s errant wife,” she heard Rick telling his wife, but he sounded so far away that she frowned. Where was he going? “And, as I said before, she’s the heartless bitch who abandoned him when he needed her most!” Her eyes flew open in horror, and she was shocked to find that he was closer than his distant voice had suggested. Confused, she tried to gather her thoughts.

“I didn’t,” she protested vehemently. “I wouldn’t. Why would you say something like that, Rick? Why would you lie?” She heard the bewildered hurt in her voice and was ashamed to reveal how much his lies had wounded her. “I thought we were friends.”

“Our friendship ended when you did what you did to my brother,” he snarled. She jumped when his voice caught up with him and the volume increased dramatically on the last word.

“I didn’t do anything to Bryce,” she whimpered, her own voice still far away. “He didn’t want me anymore . . . so I left. I left him.”

“You left him for dead!”

The woman, Lisa, laid a restraining hand on Rick’s arm as he made a frustrated move toward Bronwyn. Bron blinked at the fury on his face; she had no idea where all of this anger was coming from.

“Take me home . . .” she entreated again, keeping her eyes on the other woman’s face. “Please. I have to go home . . .” Just then an intimidatingly large figure suddenly loomed in the doorway, and when Bronwyn’s eyes lifted, she was filled with a sense of impending doom.

He stood there. Quiet, graceful, and fierce, and Bronwyn cowered at the sight of him.

“You called him?” she said, exhaling, the hurt and betrayal she felt evident in her voice and face. Despite everything, she had still steadfastly clung to the belief that Rick was her friend. She lifted her wounded doe eyes to his furious face. “You called him? Oh, Ricky, how could you?”

“He called me because I’m his brother and his loyalties lie with me.” The beautiful dark voice was calmer than she would have expected and drifted over her like a gentle caress. She closed her eyes at the sound of that voice. It was the first time she had heard it in over two years, and God how she had missed it. She had hungered for the sound of his voice and had often thought of calling him just to hear it but had dismissed that impulse as a dangerous and forbidden luxury.

When she opened her eyes, she was shocked to find that he had moved. He was standing right beside her bed and much too close for comfort. She shifted somewhat, lowering her eyes to the bed covers, afraid to meet his glacial gaze. She was terrified of what she would see in those eyes and sneaked a peek at him from beneath her half-mast lids.

He was so big. She had forgotten that about him, forgotten the sheer bulk of this man who had once been her love and her life. He stood six feet four and had the brawn to match the height, huge shoulders, trim waist, and slim hips. He resembled a Norse god of old with the darkly golden hair and the grim features that looked carved from granite. The only hints of softness in that roughly hewn face were his long, long lashes and his beautifully shaped mouth. She had always wondered what a gorgeous, successful man like him had seen in a plain nobody like her. She was an awkward and gangly woman who had long legs, a skinny body, and the gracelessness of a giraffe. There was nothing remarkable about her, save that a man like Bryce Palmer had chosen her to be his wife, had seemed to love her and want her.

He looked older than his thirty-three years. He had obviously aged since she had last seen him, but it wasn’t unflattering and it added even more character to an already strong face. Now he hovered over her like an avenging angel, beautiful and intimidating. He had all the power in the world to hurt her and—according to him—all the reason on Earth to hate her.

“Look at me!” he hissed furiously. She lifted her head to meet his cold eyes head-on and quaked before the sheer, unadulterated hatred she saw there. “You took everything from me when you left. You stripped me of all dignity, left me bleeding by the roadside, and you never once looked back. I will never forgive you for that, Bronwyn.”

“You told me to go,” she defended herself weakly, looking down as she spoke, and was shocked when his huge hand reached out and grasped her fragile jaw. His grip was so unexpectedly fierce that she cringed a bit. She sensed Rick moving to intervene, but Bryce let her go abruptly.

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