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"I think of her as a child molester, Christian." I hold my breath waiting for his reaction.
"That's very judgmental. It wasn't like that," he whispers, shocked. He releases my hand. Judgmental?
"Oh, how was it then?" I ask. The Cosmos are making me brave.
He frowns at me, bewildered. I continue.
"She took advantage of a vulnerable fifteen-year-old boy. If you had been a fifteen-year-old girl and Mrs. Robinson was a Mr. Robinson, tempting you into a BDSM lifestyle, that would have been okayIf it was Mia, say?"
He gasps and scowls at me.
"Ana, it wasn't like that."
I glare at him.
"Okay, it didn't feel like that to me," he continues quietly. "She was a force for good.
What I needed."
"I don't understand." It's my turn to look bewildered.
"Anastasia, your mother will be back shortly. I'm not comfortable talking about this now. Later maybe. If you don't want me here, I have a plane on stand-by at Hilton Head.
I can go."
He's angry with me... no.
"No - don't go. Please. I'm thrilled you're here. I'm just trying to make you understand. I'm angry that as soon as I left, you had dinner with her. Think about how you are when I get anywhere near Jose. Jose is a good friend. I have never had a sexual relationship with him. Whereas you and her," I trail off, unwilling to take that thought further.
"You're jealous?" He stares at me, dumbfounded, and his eyes soften slightly, warming."Yes, and angry about what she did to you."
"Anastasia, she helped me, that's all I'll say about that. And as for your jealousy, put yourself in my shoes. I haven't had to justify my actions to anyone in the last seven years.
Not one person. I do as I wish, Anastasia. I like my autonomy. I didn't go and see Mrs.
Robinson to upset you. I went because every now and then we have dinner. She's a friend and a business partner."
Business partnerHoly crap. This is news.
He gazes at me, assessing my expression.
"Yes, we're business partners. The sex is over between us. It has been for years."
"Why did your relationship finish?"
His mouth narrows, and his eyes gleam.
"Her husband found out."
"Can we talk about this some other time - somewhere more private?" he growls.
"I don't think you'll ever convince me that she's not some kind of paedophile."
"I don't think of her that way. I never have. Now that's enough!" he snaps.
"Did you love her?"
"How are you two getting on?" My mother has returned, unseen by either of us.
I plaster a fake smile on my face as both Christian and I lean back hastily... guiltily.
She gazes at me.
Christian sips his drink, watching me closely, his expression guarded. What is he thinkingDid he love herI think if he did, I will lose it, big time.
"Well ladies, I shall leave you to your evening."
No... no... he can't leave me hanging like this.
"Please put these drinks on my tab, room number 612. I'll call on you in the morning, Anastasia. Until tomorrow, Carla."
"Oh, it's so nice to hear someone use your full name."
"Beautiful name for a beautiful girl," Christian murmurs, shaking her outstretched hands, and she actually simpers .
Oh Mom, - et tu Brute I stand, gazing up at him, imploring him to answer my question, and he kisses my cheek, chastely.
"Laters, baby," he whispers in my ear. Then he's gone.
Damned control-freak-bastard. My anger returns in full force. I slump into my chair and turn to face my mother.
"Well strike me down with a feather, Ana. He's a catch. I don't know what's going on between you two though. I think you need to talk to each other. Phew - the UST in here, it's unbearable." She fans herself theatrically.
"Go talk to him."
"I can't. I came here to see you."
"Ana, you came here because you're confused about that boy. It's obvious you two are crazy about each other. You need to talk to him. He's just flown three thousand odd miles to see you, for heaven's sake. And you know how awful it is to fly."
I flush. I haven't told her about his private plane.
"What?" she snaps at me.
"He has his own plane," I mumble, embarrassed, and it's only two and a half thousand miles, Mom.
Why am I embarrassed Her eyebrows shoot up.
"Wow," she mutters. "Ana, there's something going on between you two. I've been trying to fathom it since you arrived here. But the only way you are going to sort the problem, whatever it is, is to talk it through with him. You can do all the thinking you like - but until you actually talk, you're not going to get anywhere."
I frown at my mother.
"Ana, honey, you've always had a tendency to over-analyze everything. Go with your gut. What does that tell you, sweetheart?"
I stare at my fingers.
"I think I'm in love with him," I mutter.
"I know darling. And he with you."
"Yes, Ana. Hell - what do you needA neon sign flashing on his forehead?"
I gape at her and tears prick the corner of my eyes.
"Ana, darling. Don't cry."
"I don't think he loves me."
"I don't care how rich you are, you don't drop everything and get in your private plane to cross a whole continent just for afternoon tea. Go to him! This is a beautiful location, very romantic. It's also neutral territory."
I squirm under her gaze. I want to go and I don't.
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