A Christmas Night to Remember(6)

‘You’re being extremely childish, Melody,’ Zeke said, in a tone which one would use with a recalcitrant toddler having a tantrum. ‘At least let me drive you to where you want to go. What do you think I’m going to do, for crying out loud? Kidnap you and spirit you away against your will?’

It was exactly the kind of thing he would do, and her face was answer enough. Her green eyes were a perfect mirror of her thoughts.

Zeke clicked his tongue in exasperation. ‘I give you my word—how’s that? But you must see we need to talk? You owe me that at least. The last time we talked you were all but hysterical and I had half the medical team at the hospital breathing down my neck and accusing me of delaying your recovery. I didn’t understand what I’d done wrong then and I still don’t. And I intend to get to the bottom of this.’

‘I wrote to you last week,’ she said flatly, knowing he had a point. But how could she explain to Zeke what she didn’t fully understand herself? She just knew it was impossible for them to be together. ‘There’s nothing more to be said.’

‘Ah, yes, a lovely little missive,’ Zeke said with heavy sarcasm. ‘A few lines stating you wanted a divorce, that you required nothing at all in the way of settlement and that in view of this kindness you expected the divorce to go through without contest. Well, I’ve got news for you. There’s no way—no way—I’m going to let you walk away from me. You’re my wife. When I made those vows they were for life. It wasn’t some kind of nice little event that could be put to one side when it suited.’

Her chin came up. ‘I’m not a possession, Zeke, like your Ferrari or your villa in Madeira. This acquisition can think and feel.’

‘Don’t twist my words,’ he said with remarkable calm. ‘Now, are you going to let me take you where you’re going without a scene or shall I put you over my shoulder and carry you to the car? The choice is yours. I’m easy either way.’

She didn’t make the mistake of saying You wouldn’t dare. Zeke would dare. Drawing on what was left of her limited supply of dignity, she eyed him icily before allowing him to lead her in the direction of the car. It wasn’t hard to pick it out. There weren’t too many sleek black Ferraris crouching in the hospital grounds. The car was like its master—distinctive.

The few desultory flakes of a minute ago were thickening into a real snowstorm as Zeke helped her into the car. She watched him as he walked round the bonnet, her heart aching and her stomach churning. This was just the sort of confrontation she’d been hoping to avoid, but then she might have known Zeke wouldn’t give up so easily. She had known it. Hoped, even? a little voice asked. Which was ridiculous and self-indulgent. Zeke was constantly surrounded by the cream of the entertainment industry, and it wasn’t just the wannabes who offered themselves to him on a plate. Women were drawn to him like pins to a magnet. She had seen it so often at parties and functions. He had that undefinable something which would be worth a fortune if it could be bottled and which had nothing to do with his wealth. She’d often teased him and said he’d have made an irresistible gigolo if he’d decided on a different career. It didn’t seem so funny now. Then she had been confident in her youth and perfectly honed body. Now…

He didn’t start the car immediately, turning to her in the luxurious leather-clad interior as he slid an arm along the back of her seat. ‘I’ve missed you,’ he said huskily, the ebony eyes as soft as black velvet. ‘Every minute, every hour.’

No, don’t do this. His anger and irritation she could cope with; then he was the Zeke the world knew—hard, determined, ruthless. But with her he had always been the opposite to those things. And when a man as big and masculine as Zeke revealed his soft centre it was terribly seductive. From the first evening, when he had waited for her outside the theatre, he had been open and vulnerable with her in a way that had cut through her initial dislike and antagonism like a knife through butter. The more so when she had learnt his history.

Zeke had grown up in the care system from the age of eight, when his single mother had finally abandoned him after years of neglect and disappeared who knew where. He freely admitted to having been a troublesome child and an even more troublesome youth, and remembered one teacher predicting he’d either be a villain or a millionaire—or maybe both—by the time he was thirty after yet another of his misdeeds had come to light.

‘That teacher did me a favour, although he didn’t know it at the time,’ Zeke had told her one evening over dinner at a fancy restaurant, when she’d been seeing him for a couple of weeks. ‘It was one of those crossroads in life—a decision time, you know? It would have been easy to go down the dark route—I was already more than halfway there—but to make a fortune legitimately was harder. More of a challenge. And I’ve always liked a challenge. So I decided to prove something to him and to myself.’

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