“Believe you? Are you insane? You have done nothing but lie to me!”
I turn away from her as the boiling anger gives way to hurt and the sense of betrayal washes over me. The pain is almost more than I can bear.
“I trusted you,” I say bitterly. “I opened up to you in a way I never have to anyone, least of all a woman that I’ve only just met. I told you about my sister…and it was all fake. Were you lying about being a virgin too?”
“No!” I hear her jump to her feet behind me and her voice cracks on a sob. “Sebastian, I know this looks terrible, but please just listen to me for five minutes, please? I promise you this isn’t what you think.”
Cursing myself for the weakness she seems to bring out in me, I turn around slowly, doing my best to keep my face impassive and my tone cool. “Go on. You’ve got five minutes.”
“Okay.” She takes a deep breath and wipes her eyes roughly. The tears look genuine, but then she’s clearly a very good actress. “You’re right…I am a journalist. I went undercover as a cleaner because my editor commissioned me to get a story on you. Because you’re so private, he figured there had to be something. But then I got to know you…none of this has been fake, please, please you have to believe that.”
“Then why continue?” I ask bitterly.
“I’m not. I made my mind up when you took me for dinner. I’ve been stalling with Adrian because he’s already told me he will fire me if I don’t get him a story, and I need my pay this week so I can at least pay my rent for the month…but I promise you, with every breath in my body, I wasn’t going to write the story.”
I want to believe her, I do. But how can I? If she had only told me herself…
“I was going to tell you tomorrow,” she says as though reading my thoughts. “I know I should have told you before all this…but I just wanted one night with you. I know it was selfish, but I was so scared of losing you when I’ve only just found you.” She’s crying again and her words are coming out in a rush. “I shouldn’t have let it carry on…but I’ve never felt like this about a man before, I’ve never met anyone like you. I was expecting some sleazy, cold-hearted CEO and instead you’re the most amazing man I’ve ever met. I’ve completely fallen in love with you…so I decided it was worth losing my job, even if all I ever got with you was the one night.” Rose sits back down on the bed looking dejected. “My God, this is such a mess.”
I stare at her for a few moments, processing everything she’s just told me. She already had her story the night I took her to dinner, I realize. If she was going to use it she would have filed it straight away. The passion that I felt from her last night was real, and now that the initial shock of this discovery has worn off, I know it.
“Say that again,” I demand. She frowns at me.
“The part where you tell me that you have completely fallen in love with the most amazing men you’ve ever met.”
“You’re laughing at me,” she sniffs, wiping her eyes again. I walk over to her and sit down on the bed next to her.
“Aren’t you angry?” she asks.
“Yes,” I admit. “But I also feel the same way…that you’re the most amazing woman I’ve ever met and I’ve completely fallen in love with you too.”
She stares at me for a few moments and I see the hope flare in her eyes.
“Then…I haven’t lost you?”
“Not a chance. But I need you to tell me the truth about everything, right now. And if you ever lie to me again, it’s over.”
She nods and takes a deep breath, then she tells me all about herself, from her small town upbringing to dreaming of being a big city writer to the terrible treatment she’s had from Adrian, and the way he’s been hanging her hopes for a career over her head. I believe her when she tells me that she had already decided to sacrifice her job and dreams rather than betray me, and it makes me fall for her even more. She finishes and there’s a pregnant pause, before I put my arm around her and pull her to me, overcome by a wave of protectiveness.
“I’m going to kill Adrian,” I growl. She looks at me and winces.
“There’s something else, isn’t there?”
She nods. And then she tells me about Mike.
We arrive back in the city Monday morning, and the minute we start to near the offices of the Witness I feel Sebastian stiffen next to me and I start to feel nervous. The fact that he’s determined to fight in my corner is a huge turn on, but I really wouldn’t want to be Adrian or Mike right now.