Author: Stephanie Cage
Lisa never knew why she said what she said next.
“Wouldn’t it be easier if we didn’t have to pretend?”
Redmond stared at Lisa for a long moment and she couldn’t read his expression. She wished she could swallow the words back, but they were spoken and a lump of tension was forming in her throat. Then he began lifting his hand slowly. She watched, mesmerised, almost feeling the heat of his hand before it reached her cheek. Her mind ran ahead of the reality, seeing his strong fingers cupping her face and drawing her into the kiss she’d found herself daydreaming about earlier.
Even as she imagined his hungry lips on hers and the familiar warmth of his body close against her, the cautious, hurt part of her mind was warning her not to believe it.
There was no future. With his job in America and his footloose, fancy-free ways, she was bound to get hurt. Still, she did nothing to stop him as he ran his fingers gently down from her cheekbone to her chin and turned her face towards him. Despite the heat of his touch, it sent a shiver through her.
She looked up at him then, and the seriousness she saw in his eyes threw a cloud across the sunlight of her imagined happiness. How had she ever thought he would even consider her suggestion? This wasn’t a real romance, a fairy-tale ending for her. It was a cynical business ploy, a sham and a lie, and if she took part in it, she deserved every bit of misery it brought her. And yet, she’d known from the first moment that she couldn’t refuse, if it bought her another chance to dance with her perfect, infuriating dream of a partner from long ago.
“Lisa,” he said slowly, and even though there was a distance in his voice as he prepared himself to let her down, her name on his lips sounded sweet and sensuous, shaped slowly like a caress.
“I hate to turn a beautiful woman down, but life is going to be complicated enough as it is. Rushing into things for real wouldn’t make it any easier in the long run.”
As rejections went, it was a kind one, but it still stung.