Fake Fiance, Real RevengeBy: Roxanne Snopek
Sabrina would see his success.
“We’ll stay at your old place,” Della said. “You can tell your brother I want to learn about his mustang sanctuary.”
She really had done her homework.
Della at Three River Ranch. Carson would shit fence posts.
But then Della would write Carson a check with a lot of zeroes and he would smile and take it.
Mitch could see it all. He would arrive in town, the successful businessman, bringing with him a patron. And not just any patron, but one who could make an enormous difference in Carson’s life. Carson would owe him.
And Carson would hate that. But he’d be able to say nothing.
And if Della decided to purchase property in the area, she’d boost the local economy immeasurably. Mitch would be the hero.
Ten years ago, Mitch had broken free of the place, which was what he’d always wanted. He’d left Lutherton in shame, brokenhearted, alone, penniless. He’d made a brief appearance last winter, after Carson’s wife, Rory, begged him, long enough to know that nothing had changed, that Sabrina was still there, that he hadn’t ruined her life. And that she still had some kind of irrational power over him.
Every second had been torture.
But to return home victorious, like this? Maybe that’s what he needed to finally be free of the demons that plagued him.
Della pulled out her cell phone and punched a few buttons. “There. I’ve texted my assistant to charter a flight, book a limo, and reschedule my calendar. I’m thinking a month, maybe two. Maybe you and Paris— Wait. I forgot. You’re already taken.” She grinned at him. “You can introduce me to your lovely fiancée, too, while we’re at it.” She reached a claw out and grasped his arm. “It’ll be so exciting. What’s her name, anyway? This secret love of your life?”
Maybe it was the crashed mental systems, but he simply couldn’t come up with anything better than the woman who truly had been the love of his life. A lifetime ago.
“Sabrina.” Her name jump-started his brain and suddenly memories of her, of them, flooded over him.
“Who is this?”
Sabrina held the cell phone awkwardly between her chin and shoulder, paused in the act of digging kibble out of the bin for her dog, who quivered at her feet.
“Sabrina,” said the voice, softly and slowly. “It’s me.”
The phone slipped and clattered into the dog dish. She grabbed it, shook it, and wiped the dog slobber off on her shirt, pressing it against her chest for a second before she put it to her ear. She was having a hallucination. She must be more sleep-deprived than she thought.
But wow, had it ever sounded like Mitch. His voice—with her at least—had always been sweet, gentle. Like his touch.
Get. A. Grip. Remember, you want to kill him. Or at least, inflict a good maiming.
“Hello? You still there?” Her words ran together. “Sorry about that. I dropped the phone.”
Good job, Queen of Obvious-land. She took a deep belly-breath. Slow down, Sabrina. Use your brain.
Bono whined, unaccustomed to the wait.
“Sorry, honey,” Sabrina said, setting down his food. “Here you go.”
“Is this a bad time?” Mitch. No question. Well, that burst the hallucination bubble.
“It really is you,” she said. She backed up until her butt hit the laundry room counter.
“I have a favor to ask.”
And damn if he didn’t sound just a little desperate. Mitch vulnerable was her Achilles’ heel. And he knew it.
Resist, resist. She steeled herself against him. “I’m great, Mitch, fantastic. How are you? Wait. I don’t care.” And she hung up.
But she held on to the phone with shaking fingers, both hoping and dreading that he’d call back. When it rang again, she almost dropped it. Again.
“Don’t hang up,” he said immediately. “You hate me, I know. You’ve made that clear.”
“You have no idea.” If only it were that simple.
“I have kind of a situation here. I’m really sorry to do this to you, Sabrina. I wouldn’t ask if I wasn’t desperate. Just hear me out, okay? Please?”
She didn’t speak, but neither did she hit the off button. And when he finished, she was too gobsmacked to respond.
Mitch was coming out here to visit. For a month. A whole month…and…wait. What had he said he needed from her? Bono scratched at the door and absently, she let him outside.
“Sabrina?” Mitch said. “Did you hear me?”
“No. What I heard was crazy talk. Hang on, I’m feeding my dog.”
She set down her cell and opened the screen door to make sure the shepherd-Labrador cross hadn’t jumped the fence to finish destroying the neighbor’s azaleas.
Plus, she needed the time to catch her breath.
She’d seen Mitch for all of a half hour last winter, at Rory and Carson’s party. It was the first time in ten years, the only time in ten years, and it had dredged up a world of feelings, some ugly stuff she’d thought she was over. And also some…less ugly stuff that left her restless and confused.