She tried to keep up appearances.
Yet it was obvious, there was something wrong.
Vico quickly squashed a zag of concern. It didn’t matter to him if she suffered because her fiancé finally figured her out and dumped her. In the long run, what man wanted a woman who couldn’t be trusted? He hadn’t thought about her stupid engagement when he’d been pounding into her, but he’d thought about it since.
A dozen times. A million times.
Lise Helton, for all her high-and-mighty ways, was a cheat. The type of woman he scorned. He held not an iota of concern for the woman. She deserved everything she got.
The meeting came to a close. The staff stood, gathering their papers, talking in low tones about their daily tasks. Vico rose from his chair, snapped his laptop closed and glanced to the end of the room.
She stood. And wobbled. Her hand landed on the table in front of her, propping her up.
Tensing, he forced himself to stay still instead of bounding down the room to her side.
A gleam of sweat on her brow glistened. He’d swear to it.
A sudden realization came to him.
This couldn’t be only emotional distress. This had to be something more.
“Ms. Helton,” he said. “A moment of your time, per favore.”
Her head jerked up, her blonde hair bobbing in soft curls on her shoulders. The hair wasn’t the same, though. Not like his memory of silky, healthy strands wrapping around his hands as he plunged into her. Now the strands appeared lackluster and lifeless.
Something was wrong. He was sure of it. Something physical.
The beat of his heart sped, then stilled.
“I’m quite busy today.” Her words were rushed.
“A mere moment.”
Her gaze darted to the door as the last person left the room.
Left them alone. For the first time in seven long weeks. For the first time since they’d lain beside each other naked.
The door thudded shut.
She folded her arms in front of her and straightened into her usual erect, royal stance. “What is it, Mr. Mattare? Another one of your schemes?”
A grudging respect pulsed deep in him. A reluctant appreciation for her stubborn determination to keep fighting him at every turn. Except strangely, he didn’t want to fight back. At least not right now. He wanted to know what was going on. What was the matter with her. He wanted to be sure the odd thought that had popped into his head moments ago was a complete impossibility.
Sticking his hand in his pocket, he jiggled the spare pence. “Are you sick?”
Her eyes widened, her skin turned pale as marble, even paler than before, and her body went rigid. On the whole, it looked like a breath of wind could knock her over. His words did more, however.
They scared her.
He stared across the table at her and knew.
Something was seriously wrong.