Can Caroline bounce back after her career takes a nose dive due to the negligence of an uncaring, disengaged man who ran her down without so much as an apology? Elliott Maxwell is busy saving his grandmother’s company from his scheming stepmother. He decides he needs a mole and thinks Caroline is perfect for the job. Previously… Elliott takes Caroline to a house he has purchased for the two of them to live in after they’re married.
“What did you just say?” Caroline squeaked.
“I said, the house is ours.”
“Yes, if you’ll marry me.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“I can assure you I am not kidding you.”
“Well, I –“
“Caroline,” Elliott took her hands to pull her close. “I have known almost from the beginning that you and I belong together.” He could see Caroline’s eyes start to pool and knew he needed to finish before she broke down in tears. “You’re quirky and kind,” he smiled at her, “beautiful and talented to name just a few of the traits I saw right away in you.”
“Elliott, I don’t know what to say.”
“Say you’ll marry me and move into this beautiful house?”
Caroline was stumped. She was looking at Elliott and could see the happiness in his eyes, and the way he was looking at her made her insides quiver. But he didn’t mention loving her. Certainly love would be part of the deal too, right?
“So, how do you see this playing out Elliott? We get married and live happily ever after?”
Stunned by her tone of voice, Elliott took a step back. “I’d like to think that would happen, yes. When I get married, I’d like it to be forever.”
Shaking her head, Caroline moved to the car. “I’d like you to take me home please,” she told him keeping her head bowed so he couldn’t see the devastation in her eyes.
Before she’d taken three steps, Elliott grabbed her arm and turned her towards him. “Oh hell, no. Caroline, you do not get to walk away from me without an explanation.”
She figured she could do one of two things at this point. Tell him the truth or lie. If she told him the truth, she was sure he would tell her he loved her just to save face. She couldn’t have that.
Shaking off his hand, she pulled herself together. Taking a deep breath, she began. “Okay, you want an explanation? Well, I don’t want to marry you.” She hated seeing the hurt in his eyes, but she knew her words had done the trick. She watched his face close up as he dropped his hand from her arm and took a step back.
“Caroline, did I misread the situation between us? I thought we were on the same page here.”
“No, Elliott, we aren’t on the same page. We aren’t even in the same book.” There. That had done it. She had nailed the final nail in the coffin. She watched his entire face go from hurt to anger then to blank in a second. She hated herself for putting him through that, but he didn’t love her, and she couldn’t live without love. She was letting him down easy, and he would thank her one day.
They rode in silence back to her house. She fled the moment he pulled into her driveway, and he didn’t try to stop her. Once she was safely in her room with the door closed, she let the tidal wave of tears begin the flow.
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