Wed By Deception(5)

By: Emilie Rose



Wait a minute.

She punched his upper arm. The pain radiating from her knuckles definitely wasn’t a figment of her imagination. “If you’re not dead, that means you dumped me, you jerk.”

“You wanted me gone,” he countered calmly, evenly.

She gaped. “Are you crazy? I risked disinheritance to marry you. Why would I want you gone?”

“Your father said you regretted your ‘little rebellion. ’You’d decided slumming wasn’t for you, and you were embarrassed by your working-class husband. You demanded a divorce.”

Was that true? Had her father lied to Lucas and deliberately separated them? “I did no such thing.”

“He also claimed you couldn’t stand the sight of me because—” A muscle ticked in Lucas’s angular jaw. His eyes filled with sadness, but his gaze didn’t waver. “Because I killed our child and with it any feelings you’d ever had for me.”

Her eyelids fluttered closed as an arrow of sorrow punctured her heart. Her breath hitched and her throat tightened. She pressed her hand to her stomach—her empty, flat stomach—gathered her courage and looked into the face she’d once adored.

“Lucas, you didn’t end our child’s life. I did.” Saying the words she’d never dared admit to anyone else hurt worse than she’d anticipated.

His face blanched then turned granite hard. “What are you saying? What did you do, Nadia?”

The coldness in his eyes and voice surprised her. Comprehension dawned and the hairs on her arms and the back of her neck rose. “You think I deliberately ended my pregnancy? I would never…” She shook her head at the appalling idea. “I meant I caused our wreck.”

The rigidness eased from his shoulders. “I was driving.”

He blamed himself? She wouldn’t wish that agony on anyone, especially when she knew where the real fault lay. How many times had she cursed herself for trying to seduce her new husband on the way to their honeymoon hotel? How many times had she wished she’d waited ten more minutes to get amorous? Her selfish lack of concern for anyone around them had changed everything. Everything.

In seconds she’d gone from holding the world in her hands to realizing what mattered most was something no amount of money could buy and her daddy couldn’t fix.

“I had my hand in your pants.”

Grief deepened the lines bracketing his mouth. “I missed the stop sign.”

“Because I was distracting you.” She curled her fingers around his forearm, needing to reassure herself that this wasn’t a dream. The muscles flexed taut and hard beneath his sleeve. “Lucas, I was in a coma for a week. If I didn’t ask to see you it’s because I couldn’t.”

He searched her face as if seeking the truth, then rage flooded his eyes with shocking swiftness. “The lying, conniving bastard.”

“Who?”

“Your father.” Lucas expelled the words on a breath filled with pure hatred and his lips flattened into a thin seam.

Everett Kincaid had done a lot of rotten things in his time, and he’d been clear in his intentions to disinherit Nadia if she went through with the wedding. He’d even refused to attend the small ceremony. But after the accident he’d acted as if that threat had never been voiced. She’d believed it was because in almost losing her he’d realized he loved her.

She should have known better. Her father never backed down or admitted he was wrong. He’d seen Lucas as a mistake and, like all her other mistakes, he’d “fixed” it in his own way. The wrong way. She shouldn’t be hurt or surprised her father had lied to Lucas and sabotaged her marriage. But she was.

What surprised her even more was that Lucas had let him. She’d thought Lucas was the one man strong enough to stand up to her father. “If you’d loved me, you would have come to see me anyway.”

The jaw muscle twitched faster. “I couldn’t.”

“Please. You were the most determined person I’d ever met. I don’t believe you couldn’t find your way to my hospital room. I was in intensive care hooked up to a billion machines. It’s not like I could run and hide.”

He broke eye contact for the first time and presented her with his back. His shoulders looked as rigid as a ship’s girder and definitely wider than when they’d last been together.

He clenched his fists by his side. “I was paralyzed from the waist down. The doctors told me the odds of me walking again were slim to none.”

Her mouth opened, but she couldn’t get her vocal cords to work. Her gaze traveled down his broad back. Lucas had been so virile and active. In fact, it had been his incredible body that had initially attracted her attention the summer he’d worked with the Kincaid Manor landscaping crew.

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