And since that made her knees weak, she sat.
He surprised her by not sitting next to her but instead crouching in front of her and taking her hand. “I didn’t know,” he said. “When I met you, I mean. I had no idea that the resort’s attorney was your ex-husband.”
She’d already figured out that much for herself. “The resort’s attorney and someone you went to school with.”
“True,” he said. “But you’re going to have to trust me when I say we didn’t hang in the same circles. We were never friends, and that hasn’t changed.”
“But you knew he was the resort’s attorney, if not when you first got back, certainly later. When did you find out?”
He didn’t move an inch, but she sensed a wince that he couldn’t quite hide from his eyes. “Soph—”
He held her gaze in his for an interminable beat and then let out a breath. “Hangover day.”
She stared at him as that sank in. The day she’d thrown up on him—day two. Rising to her feet, she started to walk past him.
He caught her by the arms. “I didn’t tell you right away because at first I didn’t see how it mattered.”
She made a scoffing sound. “You didn’t tell me at all! And we talked about him, more than once.” Embarrassment heated her cheeks. “You never even blinked!”
“Fine,” he said grimly. “I should have told you. I know I should have. But I didn’t, because as I learned with my family, sometimes standing by your opinion of someone doesn’t matter so much as keeping your mouth shut and minding your own business.”
She stared at him. “That doesn’t even make sense!”
“Why do people keep saying that?” he asked, tossing up his hands. He shook his head. “Put yourself in my shoes, Sophie.”
“But that’s the thing. I’d have told you,” she said. “I’d have told you that your lying, cheating, scum-ball ex was my attorney.”
“Not my attorney,” he said. “The resort’s attorney, a guy who was in place when I got here. A guy I had nothing to do with hiring, a guy whose work no one can fault.”
She imagined the smoke coming out her ears. “And back to that whole keeping your mouth shut and minding your own business crap,” she said. “Seriously? Your family would hate that, and for the record, so do I.”
“Except I was never able to mind my own business when it came to you,” he said. “Not once.”
But she called bullshit on that. “I’ve been with someone I can’t trust,” she said. “You know that. What you don’t know is that I can’t do it again. I won’t. I’m making better choices for myself now, Jacob. I have to.”
There was something in his eyes now, something to go along with the regret. A flash of anger to match hers.
“So tried and hanged without discussion?” he asked quietly. “Is that it?”
The barb hit home, but she just shook her head and walked away.
And this time, he let her go.
When Jacob got back to the event, breakfast had ended and their guests were all packing up and leaving in small groups. He couldn’t reconcile the normalcy of the scene with the wild ripping and shredding going on inside him. His heart seemed to be shattering inside his chest.
He could still feel the way Sophie had quivered with emotion as she’d stepped away from him. Their eyes had met for that one beat, and the hurt in her expression had been a sucker punch to his gut.
And then she’d turned her back on him. He’d stood there and watched as the best thing to ever happen to him walked away.
And it’d been his own fault.
Since they’d given resort staff the day off, his brothers and sister were on cleanup detail.
She was on her knees in the wild grass, rolling up one of the canopies. Her head was bent so he couldn’t see her expression, but he had no problem reading the fuck-off ’tude emanating from her in waves.
He stood there in rare indecision for a beat, then started toward her. When he was two steps in, she lifted her head and leveled him with a don’t-even-think-about-it look that only made him all the more determined. She’d clearly tried and hung him on the assumption that he’d withheld information from her for the sole purpose of hurting her. That she’d lumped him in with her ex really sucked.
But before he could reach her, Chris stepped in front of him. “Got a minute?” his old friend asked. “I’m about to get on the road and wanted to…”