Lone Star Seduction(7)

By: Day Leclaire

Shortly after nine, Louise appeared in the doorway of the library where Rebecca was curled up reading. “There’s a visitor to see Mr. Huntington. When I informed him that your father was out for the evening, he insisted on speaking to you.”

Alex stepped around Louise and entered the library. “Thank you, I’ll take it from here.”

Rebecca shot to her feet, her book bouncing onto the floor. Louise stared wide-eyed from one to the other. Clearly, she’d heard the whispers regarding their romantic history and didn’t know how to respond. “I’ll deal with Mr. Montoya,” Rebecca informed the housekeeper.

Alex waited until the door closed behind the woman before bending over and picking up Rebecca’s book. He gave the cover a cursory glance before handing it over. “You always did enjoy science fiction.”

She didn’t bother with the niceties. Instead, she cut straight to business. “Why are you here? Louise said you wanted to speak to Dad.”

“Texas Cattleman’s Club business. Rather urgent business. Is he really gone, or am I simply persona non grata?”

“Both, actually.”

He absorbed that with a smile. “When do you expect him?”

Dread gripped her. This must be about the meeting at TCC and the account discrepancy Kate mentioned. Rebecca had called her friend after dinner hoping to get an update, but had been forced to leave a voice mail. Now she wondered if there was a reason Kate elected not to take the call.

She faced Alex with what she hoped was a serene expression. Realizing that he was still waiting for a response, she shrugged. “Dad didn’t say when he’d return. Perhaps if you phone him in the morning?”

He laughed. “Get real, Becca. He’d never take the call. I’ll wait until he returns. I’m sure you don’t mind.”

Making himself at home, he removed his suit jacket and dropped it over the back of the nearest chair. His snowy-white shirt stretched across a physique every bit as impressive now as when he’d played soccer. In fact, she found it more impressive with the added heft and refined muscle the years had built into his frame. A silk tie in a deep, rich ruby was knotted at his throat while a gold tie tack and matching cuff links gleamed in the subdued lighting. He was a gorgeous man, fully in his prime. Intelligent. Confident. Wealthy.

And he knew it.

Unless she chose to throw him out—a laughable exercise in futility—she had no option but to surrender gracefully. “What’s this about, Alex?” She waved aside the response she knew he’d make. “I know it’s TCC business. What, specifically?”

He considered for a moment before inclining his head. “Since I’m sure Kate’s already told you, I don’t suppose it matters.” She didn’t bother to correct him, and he continued. “It’s regarding an account discrepancy.”

She fought to swallow against a throat gone desert dry. “What sort of discrepancy?”

“Some money has gone missing.”

Oh, God. “How much?” she asked tightly.

“Three hundred thousand.”

The blood drained from her head and she felt her knees buckle. He reached her side before she even sensed him moving. Strong, powerful hands closed around her arms and he ushered her backward the few steps it took to reach the sofa.

“Sit down.” When she balked, his voice took on an impatient edge. “Don’t be ridiculous, Becca. You’re going down whether you sit or fall. Better to sit, yes?”

“You think he stole it, don’t you? You think my father’s responsible.”

He eased her onto the couch cushions and took a seat beside her, his hands still on her. Touching her. Grasping her. Warming her. “I don’t think.” He instantly dashed her hopes by adding, “I know he stole the money. The proof is undeniable.”

“There must be some mistake, some reasonable explanation—” she began, searching his expression with raw distress. “Please, Alex.”

“You always do that.” His gaze blistered her, pinning her in place with eyes the color of bitter dark chocolate. “You always defend him. It doesn’t matter what he does, how despicable his actions, you always take his side.”

“I don’t want to discuss our past.” She couldn’t bear it. Even after seven long years, the hurt was as fresh as yesterday. “He may have fired Carmen, even though I begged him not to, but his actions weren’t anywhere near as despicable as your own.”

His expression hardened, assuming a ruthlessness she’d never seen in the Alex she’d known all those years ago. “You’re talking about the bet.”

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