Proud Revenge, Passionate Wedlock

By: Janette Kenny


Their gazes clashed like angry froth on the shoals.

His blazed with the anger and torment that burned in his soul. Hers opened wide and glinted with apprehension.

He allowed a grim smile. “Buenos noches, querida. How good of you to return home at last.”

She blinked and sat up quickly, clearly snapping out of her wary spell. “How good of you to be here to greet me.” Her lips thinned as she raked his near naked form with a cool, appraising look. “For a change.”

It was a clean hit he didn’t deserve. Sí, he’d spent weeks away from her before their daughter’s birth, but he’d needed to put distance between them at a time when her body was lush and tempting him to toss his reservations aside. It was then he had realized the hold she had over his emotions. He knew from past experience that with love came a fear of loss sharp and cold.

So he delved into business. He wasn’t about to enlighten his unfaithful wife about his dealings. No, he’d learned that lesson the hard way years ago.

He was a Gutierrez. Like generations before him, he kept his business apart from his family life. It was the only way and she would learn to live with it.

Except she hadn’t learned. She’d sought affection in the arms of another man.

“What are you doing here?” she asked.

“There is a tropical storm brewing,” he said. “I came to make preparations.”

“And swim?”

“Sí. The waters are calmer before the storm.” Like this reunion   with her promised to be?

She looked around the sala, the framed photo still clutched tight to her chest. Her brow was creased in confusion or irritation—he didn’t care which, for her feelings meant nothing to him.

“You’ve come here often,” she said.

“It is convenient to spend the night here when I’m detained in the city on business.” In truth, he came here to reflect on all he’d had in his grasp, and all he’d lost.

“As I recall, you spent more time away from the casa than you did in residence.”

He gave a lazy shrug when he felt anything but nonchalant, for the peevish tone that crept into her voice was a barb in his skin—it sounded as if she blamed him for what had happened.

“Why did you come back?” he said.

“Closure.”

He waved a negligent hand as if bored. “Meaning?”

She drew in a shaky breath that was at odds with her prim outward show. “I want to visit Cristobel’s grave.” She gave the room a longing glance. “I wish to sell this house.” Her eyes locked with his. “I want a divorce.”

He’d expected this, yet the cool order in which she’d delivered her wants chafed him. “Did you go back to your doctor?”

“Of course not.”

He believed her. She’d moved past that man. Past him as well. “Our daughter is laid to rest amid her ancestors.”

Her throat worked. “I expected she would be, but you can’t stop me from visiting my child’s grave.”

He could if he wished. It would take no more than a simple request, and Allegra Vandohrn would find herself deported to England.

“I will take you there,” he said.

She tensed up at that. “I don’t require your company.”

“You will have it, regardless.”

He waited for her to argue the point. She simply heaved a sigh and gave a shaky nod, but his English rose soon proved she had thorns. “How often have you availed yourself of my house?”

“Whenever I wished to,” he said, intrigued by her ire.

“Your arrogance amazes me,” she said, the soprano pitch in her contralto voice stopping him. “You could have stayed at a hotel. You could have driven back to your hacienda.”

“I chose not to.” He kept his expression blank when his insides rampaged with fury, but he welcomed the anger over the other emotions that threatened to blindside him. “I prefer to avoid the crowds at the hotels. As you know, the drive can be treacherous when one is weary or reckless.”

That remark drained the color from her face. Her eyes clouded with profound grief. He waited for the satisfaction of besting her to wash over him, of hurting her as she’d hurt him, but all he felt was a vast emptiness that pulsed and throbbed and ached in his soul.

“This is my house,” she said simply. “I bought it with my inheritance.”

A fact he remembered well, but brushed away with a shrug now. “You have failed to keep up your obligations.”

“Uncle Loring said he’d taken care of everything.”

Ah, her very proper family to the rescue again. Except this time her uncle had failed her.

“Your housekeeper called me a month after you fled Cancún, wondering what she should do,” he said. “Her funds had run out, so I assumed the responsibility.”

Profound confusion pulled at her delicate features. “That can’t be.”

He arched one arrogantly arched eyebrow. “Should I summon the housekeeper to explain?”

“Of course not.”

She hugged her tiny waist and he resisted the urge to draw her into his protective embrace. She was his weakness. His Achilles’ heel. ¡Dios mio! Would he always be plagued with concern for this woman?