And she’d tried it all. There’d been a lot to do as Mrs. Lucas Worthington III. It’d been exciting for about a month and then…completely overwhelming.
Sophie’d had a life before she’d married Lucas. She’d worked at a law firm, heading toward becoming a paralegal, and had loved the demanding work. She’d had her own friends. But being Lucas’s wife had come with a lot of demands. Too many to half-ass it. Needing to make him happy, she’d given up her own ties and the job she’d loved to do the Stepford wife thing. She’d joined the Junior League for Lucas’s business, doing everything she could to make his life easier.
While losing her own. “Very ugly,” she added softly.
Jacob ran the pad of his thumb over their entwined fingers. “We all have ugly truths,” he said.
She knew that. And though she didn’t trust him—she didn’t trust anyone—she somehow knew that if she was honest, he would be too. She had no idea how she knew this about him, a perfect stranger, she just did.
Unable to think clearly with his hand on her, she pulled free and sat down. She pulled her legs up close and wrapped her arms around them. “One.” She sucked in a deep breath, and there in the dark of the night, admitted her mistakes. “I married the first man to give me the slightest bit of attention because I was young and stupid and way too trusting.”
Jacob nodded, noncommittal, not judging, and somehow that gave her the courage to go on. “Two, I compounded my error by giving up my life to help him live his.” She paused, but Jacob still sat there, calmly, quietly, like he had all the time in the world for her.
“Three,” she went on. “Predictably, I couldn’t please him, and it was like with my dad all over again. The harder I tried, the worse it got, until I completely lost myself—my own fault.” God. This was hard. “And four…” She paused. Four was the worst one to admit because it made her an active participant in what had proven to be the lowest point of her life. She closed her eyes and dropped her forehead to her knees, not wanting to see what he thought of her when she made the confession. “In retribution, in the divorce I took the one thing he loved above all else. I wanted to hurt him, and now I’m the stupid one who has nothing but this stupid boat.”
Jacob didn’t speak.
Sophie let out a slow breath and stayed still, telling herself there was no reason to be embarrassed. What did she care what he thought of her? But oh, how she wished he’d speak.
She startled when one of Jacob’s big hands stroked up her back and settled on the nape of her neck. Warm. Sure. “Did he hurt you, Sophie?” he asked.
God, the care in his voice, layered with absolute steel. “Not the way you think,” she managed. “Not…physically.”
His thumb stroked over her skin, rough with calluses but somehow comforting. “There’s a lot of ways to hurt someone,” he finally said. “To make them bleed.”
The utter truth. And since she didn’t trust herself to speak, she didn’t.
“Little Lucas is an idiot,” he said.
A shocked laugh bubbled out of her, and she lifted her head as her heart began a heavy beat. Because she knew what was coming next.
Her gaze fell to his lips, which seemed to curve slightly. “You going to give me a topic?” he asked.
She blinked. “Topic?”
“For my three truths and a lie.”
Oh. Right. He’d just given her a stay from paying up. Even if she wasn’t all that sure she wanted one. “Your topic is…” There were so many things she wanted to know about him. Where he’d been, what he’d been doing, if he was staying…But he’d been good to her, so she started with what she thought might be the easiest for him. “What brought you back to Cedar Ridge?”
He took a long pull on the bottle and offered it to her. She drank, too, incredibly aware that her mouth was right where his had just been.
He appeared to think about his answers for a moment before speaking. “One,” he said quietly. “For the past nine years, the military’s been my family. Two, I just recently lost someone close to me there, someone I thought of as a brother. Three, afterward I realized I had blood family that I’d walked away from and shouldn’t have. Four…” He shrugged. “So I came back. It was natural for me to do so. There’s a lot for me to do here, work-wise and family-wise.”
She was pretty amazed at his work ethic, that he’d take on lake patrol shifts while on leave…and also impressed that he wanted to make things right with his family. That said a lot about him.