Every Little Thing

Page 11


“Because . . .” He stared at me confused. “I do.”
I stared at him, saddened by his response. “Do you know why I loved you, Tom?” He winced at my use of past tense. “Because you made me feel safe. I don’t feel safe anymore.”
Anguish filled Tom’s expression. “Bailey,” he whispered.
I strode to the door and opened it. “I’ll send you your stuff. I’d appreciate it if you returned the favor.”
For a moment I thought he wasn’t going to move, he stood and stared at me so long. However, to my relief, he walked over to me, pulled my key out of his pocket, and lifted my hand to place the key into my palm. He curled my fingers around it and then lifted my fist to his mouth. I let him place a kiss on my knuckles, tears of disappointment and regret pooling in my eyes.
“You deserved better.” The words were thick with emotion. “I’m sorry.”
It was only when the door had closed behind him and I’d heard his car pull out of my drive that I let myself cry.
The sobs that racked my body surprised me. The grief surprised me. In all the thoughts and fears and hurts that had whirled inside me since last night, it never occurred to me that in ending my relationship with Tom, in wanting to be done with him so I could start over, I would ultimately be losing one of my oldest friends.
Vaughn knew what he was going to look like when he was sixty-one years old because everyone told him he was his father’s spitting image. From his dark hair to his steel-gray eyes to his height and physique.
William Vaughn Tremaine was still a powerful and well-respected man. Age hadn’t changed that—in fact the amount of people who respected him had only increased over the years. And he was still a good-looking son of a bitch to boot. He stood, staring out of the window in Vaughn’s penthouse suite, his hands in the pockets of his dark blue suit.
When the construction on Paradise Sands had completed, William had stood in that exact spot and said, “I can see why you chose this place.”
Now he turned to Vaughn, eyes smiling. “I bet that view doesn’t get old.”
“No, it does not.”
“Is that why you’re living in a penthouse suite rather than in the house you bought down the coast?”
“It’s more convenient to stay at the hotel.” Vaughn shrugged.
His father narrowed his eyes on him. “Or you just don’t like being alone in that big house.”
There was no point answering since his dad was right. Like always.
“You know how I cured my loneliness? I got a lady friend.”
Vaughn grinned at his dad’s choice of words. “How does Diane feel about being referred to as your ‘lady friend’ after twelve years together?”
William shot him a look. “At my age it’s inappropriate to call her my girlfriend.”
Laughing, he nodded. “I suppose so. What about at her age?”
“She’s fifteen years younger than me. That’s nothing.”
“I know, Dad. But it doesn’t explain why you’re referring to her as your lady friend instead of say . . . your wife?” It wasn’t the first time he’d questioned why his dad hadn’t married Diane already. Vaughn liked her. She was widowed at thirty-four, had no children, and while many of her peers spent their days volunteering on boards for charities, Diane was passionate about her charity work. She was kind and she was unpretentious. And Vaughn knew his dad loved her. But anytime he mentioned marriage, William closed up and changed the subject.
To his surprise, his dad turned to face him, looking somewhat sad. “I had a wife. She’s gone.”
Pain hit Vaughn in the chest. “Dad . . .”
“Diane had a husband and he’s gone. We care about each other. We do. But neither of us can replace what we’ve lost and we don’t want to. My wife is dead. I’ll never have that back. So Diane is my companion and we’re both happy to continue on in that way.”
Surprised by his father’s sudden openness, he treaded carefully. “People marry again, Dad. It doesn’t take away what you had with my mother.”
“But it will never be the same. With anyone. I know other people marry again all the time. However, that is not going to work for me. Your mother was the love of my life.”
Emotion choked Vaughn and he looked down at the glass of water in his hand, hiding it from his father.
“I’m not built to love someone else the way I loved her,” his dad continued. “And I suspect my son will take after me in that respect, too. But that Dunaway girl—” The hardness in his voice brought Vaughn’s head up, steel meeting steel as their eyes locked. “You didn’t love her, Vaughn. And I need you to stop acting like your soul mate died and get on with your life.”
A sudden surge of defensiveness burned the lump of emotion in his throat to ashes and he shot up to his feet. Having his father towering over him, admonishing him, made him feel all of ten years old again. “I’m not acting like that.”
“Then why are you going through women like they’re going out of fashion? And why are you staying at your hotel in Delaware of all places? Last time I checked my successful son owns hotels all over the world. Of all the places he owns a hotel he chooses Delaware to set up home?”
He rolled his eyes at the sarcasm in his father’s voice. “One, before that Dunaway girl, as you refer to her, I was never into monogamy. I experimented with commitment, the experiment failed, and now I’ve returned to what works for me. Two, I’m making sure this hotel gets off the ground. I stayed at all my hotels when they first opened.”