Indiscretion:Volume 3

By: Elisabeth Grace

Max

I glanced at the clock in the kitchenette when the pounding at the door started. I scrunched my face in confusion as to who it could be. It was way too early for it to be business related—unless there was a problem.

Shit. I hoped there wasn’t a problem. That was the last thing I needed. I looked through the peephole, surprised to see Chloe standing there. Surprised, but pleased.

I unlocked the door and swung it open, a wide smile on my face, not caring that I wore only a towel around my waist. “This is a pleasant surprise,” I said.

The words were barely out of my mouth before she shoved something forcefully into my chest and pushed her way past me. I put a hand on the object she’d tried to impale me with and turned to face her.

Her eyes were narrow slits, and it didn’t escape my notice that her fingernails were digging into the palm of her hand. “You have some nerve,” she said with barely contained fury.

“What the hell are you talking about?” My defenses rose immediately at her tone. I hadn’t the slightest idea what I could’ve done to piss her off so much.

“That!” She pointed to my chest, at what she’d shoved at me.

Finally, I glanced down. It was a newspaper. When I opened it, my attention went to an article that had been circled. I skimmed it briefly, but it was enough for me to understand Chloe’s ire.

I’d done an interview with a local reporter, months before I’d come to Bar Harbor. I vaguely recalled putting down the Tribute development where she worked, during that interview. I cringed as I remembered being fed some info from our PR department about the sales agent working for Tribute. In the interview, I’d questioned how a local agent could possibly hold the knowledge and expertise required to service a clientele the calibre of who would be purchasing the units.

Fuck.

Shame crashed over me like a wave as I recalled that I also may have mentioned a run-in Chloe had had with the real estate board’s ethics committee years ago, calling her integrity into question. It was a total bullshit case with some dipshit lady trying to take a green agent to the cleaners. I’d known that when I’d made the comment to the reporter, but I’d had no way of knowing at the time that it was Chloe I was referring to. Success at any cost had been so ingrained in me since I was a child that I hadn’t even felt bad for doing it. At the time. Now I felt nothing but shame and regret.

“I can explain.”

“Oh, I’m sure you’ve got some smooth line ready to give me.”

“It’s not a line.” That much was true, though I wasn’t sure the truth would be of much comfort to her.

Her eyes narrowed into slits. “Bullshit. I’m finally starting to figure out that you’re full of them.”

I pressed my teeth together in an effort not to lose my own temper. It wouldn’t help matters, and she had every right to be pissed off. “Calm down and let’s discuss this like two adults,” I said in a placating tone.

“I will not calm down! Do you realize what this damn article could cost me? That ethics case was complete bullshit, but now that you’ve used it to question my ability and put a question mark over the entire development—”

“I know it was bullshit.” I heaved out a heavy sigh.

“What?” she almost whispered. Her eyes were wide in their sockets, the hurt in them as clear as a summer day.

I drew in a deep breath and ran my hands through my hair. “I know the entire case was bullshit.”

She swallowed hard and gave me a slow, disbelieving head shake. “And you still tried to use it against me?”

I took a step toward her, wanting nothing more than to feel her body beneath my hands so I knew she wasn’t going to slip through my fingers. But she backed away, and that cut like a fucking knife dead center into my heart. It was the first time since I’d met her that she’d been repelled by my proximity, instead of drawn to it.

“I did that interview over the phone months ago,” I tried to explain. “Before I even came to town.”

She crossed her arms over her chest. “Is that supposed to make me feel better? You’re probably lying anyway. Obviously, you’re good at it.”

I clenched my teeth. I understood her anger, but her distrust grated on me. “Call the fucking reporter and ask him if you don’t believe me!”

Her eyes widened in shock at the volume of my voice. “That still doesn’t explain why you would say anything about the ethics case if you knew it wasn’t true. Regardless if you realized it was me or not.”

She had a point. I started pacing from the entry way to the living room. How could I explain this in a way that she’d understand? Truthfully, sometimes I didn’t even understand what propelled me to do some of the things I did.

No, that wasn’t true. I knew exactly why. I had acted how my father had always expected of me—doing whatever it took, by whatever means necessary to be successful.

Still, that justification didn’t assuage the guilt. That gnawing feeling in my gut that I wasn’t good enough and never would be. The feeling that I was the one responsible for all the pain and heartbreak my parents had suffered through. But I couldn’t tell her that. I was too much of a fucking coward. It was one thing to know the unimaginable pain you’d caused others, but quite another to share it.

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