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Authors: Shawna Delacorte

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BOOK: In Forbidden Territory
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Mac returned to the project he had been working on when Caufield arrived, leaving Ty standing there wondering what to say or do in response to Mac's statement. He shook his head in resignation as he admitted there was nothing he could say. Mac had been right in not interfering, but it didn't make Ty feel any better.

Ty returned to his office. Maybe he should drive over to Mac's house as if he was unaware of Caufield being there. He shook his head in disgust. It was a lousy idea. But knowing what the right thing was and being happy with the decision were two entirely different matters. Yep, rushing to Mac's house would definitely be a bad idea. And knowing that her ex-fiancé had arrived on the scene to take her back to Portland so they could be married did not make that decision any easier to accept.

He had a date with Angie that evening, as he had almost every night since her arrival. They had planned to go to the art gallery they had missed the night they first made love. He would pick her up as they had planned. They had something very special between them, something that couldn't be shaken by the arrival of a former lover.

A little scowl wrinkled across Ty's forehead as an unwanted thought invaded his logic. Caufield Wood
row III was more than a former lover. He was her ex-fiancé. He was a man who had not been afraid to make a commitment to their relationship.

A man who had asked her to marry him—a man who willingly sought out marriage—was a difficult thing to battle. It was the type of competition Ty had never been involved with. A little shudder of trepidation made its way through his body. He wasn't at all sure what the hours ahead would bring.

Ty returned to his office and tried to concentrate on work, but it was an impossible task. Angie consumed his thoughts, his energy and his very existence. What would happen when Caufield reached Mac's house? Maybe Angie wouldn't be there. The thought brightened his mood, but only for a second or two. Caufield didn't seem like the type who would be dissuaded that easily, not when he had driven from Portland for the single-minded purpose of taking Angie back with him.

 

“Caufield!” The shock spread through Angie when she opened the door and saw him standing on the porch. She remained frozen to the spot, unable to move. She finally managed to force out a few more words. “What are you doing here?”

“May I come in, Angelina? I'd prefer to discuss our business inside rather than out here on the porch.”

“Uh…yes, of course.” She stepped aside as he entered the house. “You said you were here to discuss business of some sort? What business do we have that would bring you to Seattle?”

He extended a smile. “Is that fresh coffee I smell?”

The initial shock of seeing him had worn off to be quickly replaced by a ripple of irritation. She was well acquainted with Caufield's stalling tactics when he
wanted to control things and force events into his predetermined schedule. His fresh coffee comment was just such a tactic.

“Yes, I just made some.” She didn't offer him anything, not even a chair.

“Do you suppose I could have a cup?” He looked around the room. “And maybe sit down for a bit? I've just had a long drive from Portland and am a little weary.”

Angie gestured toward a chair, then disappeared into the kitchen. Her irritation level increased.
Long drive from Portland.
What an absurd thing for him to say. Did he really think she wasn't aware of the fact that Portland to Seattle was less than a three-hour drive and it was Interstate highway the entire distance?

She returned to the living room a minute later carrying a mug of hot coffee which she handed to him. Caufield had seated himself on the sofa, so she purposely chose a chair on the other side of the coffee table.

“Thank you, Angelina dear.” He took a sip from the cup, then set it on the coffee table.

Angelina dear.
It had such a condescending sound to it, one that grated on her nerves. At first it hadn't bothered her all that much, but as the end of their relationship became apparent she found it more and more annoying.

“I would appreciate it if you would stop calling me that.”

He cocked his head and looked at her for a moment as if trying to figure out what she was talking about. “Calling you what, Angelina dear? If I've done something to offend you, then I'm truly sorry.”

There it was again. He was patronizing her. “My
name is Angelina, not Angelina dear. Actually, I prefer Angie to Angelina.”

“No, no—Angie sounds so…I don't know…so common. I much prefer your given name—Angelina, as in Angel.”

She attempted to suppress the sigh of resignation that forced its way out into the open. There was nothing to be gained by pursuing that line of conversation. “Why are you here, Caufield?”

“I thought that would have been obvious. I'm here to take you back to Portland with me so we can be married, just as we planned. There are lots of preparations that need to be tended to. Mother has already booked the country club for the reception following the ceremony and has set the menu. She wants you to wear her wedding dress. She made an appointment for you next Monday with her dressmaker to make the necessary alterations.”

There it was again. He had made all her decisions about the wedding, even down to the dress she would wear. His family had taken over the planning of everything even though it was supposed to be the bride's decision. He was still attempting to suffocate her with his total control over every facet of her life.

And there was no way she would ever allow that to happen again.

“You seem to be confused, Caufield. Please listen carefully to what I'm about to say. We are no longer engaged. We are not getting married. I won't be going back to Portland with you. I don't know how much clearer I can be.”

“Now, Angelina…I understand about pre-wedding jitters. You're feeling a little scared right now, which is certainly normal. But everything will be perfect. I
can provide you with whatever you want. You won't need to ever work again. I've already purchased our house and have Mother's interior decorator ordering the furnishings. You're going to love it.”

“Caufield—” Her voice rose in anger. “Why can't you get it through your head that I don't love you and will not be marrying you?”

“That's nonsense. However, I can see that we won't be returning to Portland today. I'm going to check into the Four Seasons Hotel in Seattle. We can leave tomorrow if that's more convenient for you.”

He paused to take a drink of his coffee. “Now that we have that settled, tell me what you have been doing since you've been here.”

He had done it to her again. How typical of Caufield. He had dismissed her comments as if they had no relevance to anything. Then he had moved on by adopting the air of someone interested in her activities. Somehow she didn't think he would really want to know exactly what she had been doing since her arrival at her brother's house. And exactly what had that been?

She had fallen in love with the most incredible man she had ever met—lover, charmer, caring companion…someone who listened to her and expressed a genuine interest in her likes and dislikes. She had established a brand-new relationship with her brother. She had never felt so alive and excited about what the future held.

Somehow she had to make Caufield listen to her, to accept that they were through. Maybe if she approached the problem from a different angle. She sat on the couch next to him and spoke softly, trying to make each word sound as sincere as it truly was.

“Caufield…you have a lot to offer to the right
woman, but I'm not that woman.” She made eye contact with him, holding his gaze. “I could never be happy living the type of life you offer, nor could I be the kind of wife that you want. You deserve someone who will love you all-out and want the same things from life that you do. I'm not that person.”

“Of course you are. How could anyone not want everything I have to offer and I'm offering it all to you on a silver platter.”

“No, you're offering me what you think is the ideal relationship. You've never bothered to find out what it is that I want from a relationship or what I want out of life. I'm afraid your silver platter has too many strings attached to it.”
Not the least of which is your overbearing mother.
It was certainly no mystery where he learned to be so controlling or why his father had finally thrown his hands up in the air, said goodbye and walked out the door never to be seen again. “There can't be a marriage without love.”

His voice was very matter-of-fact, without any real emotion attached to it. “I love you, Angelina, and you love me. You said so when we became engaged.”

“I thought I did, but I later realized that you had overwhelmed me with your dazzling courtship. Once my head came down from the clouds I knew I needed to live in reality, not on some ivory pedestal built to your specifications.”

Caufield's gaze shifted around the room, then came to rest on his coffee mug. “I see that I haven't given you quite enough time to get this out of your system.” He rose to his feet, placed his hands on her shoulders and stared at her for a moment. “As I said, I'll be checking into the Four Seasons. We'll talk again to
morrow. You'll ride back to Portland with me. I'll send someone for your car.”

Her exasperation finally won out. She had been truthful. She had been kind. She had been straightforward and honest. Nothing had worked. “I've tried everything I know, but you refuse to listen.”

“I heard every word you've said and I—”

“You may have heard every word, but you're not listening to what I'm saying. There is nothing left to talk about. Please leave.”

“I'll stay in Seattle for two more days. I expect to hear from you tomorrow.” He leaned forward to kiss her, but she pulled back.

“Goodbye, Caufield. I won't be calling you. I wish you luck in finding the type of woman you're looking for.”

Angie escorted him to the front door and watched as he drove away. Hopefully that chapter of her life had finally been closed for good. But what did the next chapter hold? Caufield had professed his love, committed to a relationship and wanted her to marry him. Ty, on the other hand, had not offered any type of a commitment, had not told her he loved her and certainly had not discussed what their future together might be.

A shadow of foreboding settled across her thoughts. Exactly what type of relationship did she and Ty have? And where was it headed? Or more specifically, was it headed anywhere at all? It seemed as if she had asked herself those questions several times a day, but had never been able to settle on a definitive answer. The confusion and the unanswered questions were never very far from the forefront of her mind. Would they
ever be anything more than just lovers? Was it a relationship doomed to failure?

Angie tried to dismiss her concerns by busying herself with a project. She had neglected her original goal while basking in the delicious attentions of Tyler Farrell. It had been a true whirlwind encounter, but her confrontation with Caufield had dramatically yanked her back to reality. She had chosen to be the master of her own destiny and fate. It was up to her to build for the future. She loved Ty, but it took more than a one-sided love to make a future that would last a lifetime. She had to be practical, not live on hopes and dreams of what a future with him could be.

And the first order of business she needed to address was to stop sponging off her brother and find a place of her own to live. She grabbed the morning newspaper and turned to the classified ads. She passed the rest of the afternoon checking the rentals, circling several in Seattle, a couple on Bainbridge Island and one on Mercer Island. Then almost as an afterthought she looked at the help wanted ads. She had been pinning her hopes on a career position with Mac's company, but now she wondered if that was really the most practical route for her to pursue.

It wouldn't do any harm to check the job market, see what type of positions were available. She was both surprised and pleased to see several ads looking for someone with her qualifications. She circled those, too. She chose not to dwell on what might have prompted her to check the job situation. Perhaps her single-minded goal wasn't as set as she thought it was. Another little twinge of foreboding swept through her, trying to tell her something she did not want to know.

Nine

A
ngie glanced at the clock and was surprised to see how late it was. She had been looking over the classified ads longer than she realized. Ty would be picking her up in an hour and she needed to get ready. Another tickle of discomfort poked at her. Caufield's visit had shaken her up more than she first realized, but perhaps some good had resulted from it. She had come back down to earth again and refocused on her goal.

She took a quick shower, put on her makeup and dressed for her date. She pulled the last stroke of her brush through her hair just as the doorbell rang. A surge of excitement hit her. Just knowing that Ty was on the other side of the door filled her with joy. She rushed to open the door, to once again be with him. She wanted to erase her confrontation with Caufield from her mind.

The moment she opened the door Ty pulled her into
his arms. He had been on edge all afternoon, wrestling with the concept of jealousy. The only thing he wanted was to hold her, to feel her warmth and savor her closeness. It all felt so right. The unexpected arrival of her ex-fiancé had thrown him for a loop. It was the type of opposition he didn't know how to deal with—a man who had offered a commitment to a relationship and marriage to the woman he didn't want to lose.

He had not seen any strange cars parked in the driveway or in front of Mac's house. He glanced from the entryway into the living room, but didn't see anyone. Nervous energy welled inside him as he cleared his throat.

“You…uh, you're alone?”

“Yes. Who did you expect to find?”

“Uh…well, I was at the office when…uh, Mac mentioned that your—”

“Oh, you're talking about Caufield.”

“He's…uh…” Ty looked around the living room again. “He's gone back to Portland?”

“No, at least not right away. He's checking into a hotel in Seattle for a day or two.”

“Oh…I see.” He knew the disappointment had crept into his voice, but he had not been able to prevent it. The emotion had been too strong, the stakes too high. At that moment he felt totally out of control, incapable of rational thought. He desperately needed to rein in his anxieties and fears.

“He showed up here this afternoon. It was quite a surprise to me.” A twinge of trepidation pushed at her. She had hoped to escape any conversation about Caufield, but that apparently wasn't going to happen. “I had no idea he was in town.”

“He's here on business? Perhaps a couple of days
vacation and decided to stop by to say hello as long as he was in the area?” Ty knew he was grasping at straws, but couldn't banish the anguish that refused to let go of him. He desperately needed some reassurances that his fears were groundless.

Angie drew in a calming breath. There didn't seem to be any way out of it other than to meet his questions head-on. “No. He came specifically to see me. He wants me to return to Portland with him so we can be married.” There…she had said it. And she didn't want to discuss it any further. As far as she was concerned, Caufield Woodrow III was a closed subject.

She looked up at him. “Could we drop it now?”

“Certainly. I didn't mean to sound like I was prying into your personal business. It's just that…uh…” He glanced at his watch. He didn't like the uneasiness that surrounded him, a discomfort that he knew was directly attributable to the arrival of her ex-fiancé. “We'd better be going. We have to hurry or we'll miss the ferry and have to wait for the next one.”

“I'll get my purse and jacket.” She retreated to the bedroom.

Angie sat on the edge of the bed as she tried to collect her composure. She knew her tone of voice had been a little sharp, but Caufield's visit had unnerved her and then to have Ty question her about it…well, it had set her on edge a little.

The dark cloud of foreboding settled over her again. Everything had been so marvelous since her arrival at Mac's house. Only now she had been hit with the awareness that what she thought was on the way to being her perfect world had started to crumble. She wasn't sure what to make of the unsettled feeling and didn't know what to do to stop it. She tried to dismiss
it by assuring herself that it was just the sudden and unexpected appearance of Caufield that had set her nerves on edge. There was nothing wrong. Caufield would return to Portland and she and Ty would continue. A little furrow wrinkled across her forehead. But continue what? What did they have and where was it going?

She took a calming breath. There it was again…the same questions about the future of her relationship with Ty. She gathered her things and returned to the living room where he was waiting. “I'm ready. Shall we go?” She extended a smile, one she hoped would tell him that everything was all right, nothing between them had changed.

But it was far from the truth. Nothing was all right and she didn't know what to do to fix it. Or if it could even be fixed. She loved Ty, but she didn't have a clue what was going on in his mind. Even the unexpected arrival of Caufield and her comment about him wanting her to return to Portland so they could be married had not moved Ty to say anything or offer anything.

The last thing she wanted to do was force Ty into a commitment he didn't want, but she needed to know where things stood between them. She wanted to know what the future held and where she was headed. She needed some sort of reassurance from him, even if it was only to know that they had reached the limit of what could be. But as much as she wanted to know, she was afraid of where that might be. And the fear continued to eat at her.

 

Ty and Angie drove off the ferry at Bainbridge Island. He steered directly toward his house as if it was the most natural thing to be doing. The anxiety of ear
lier that evening had moved away and the comfort and closeness he had come to associate with Angie had returned. He had been foolish to allow his fears and assumptions to grow to such proportions. Everything was terrific, just as it had been before the arrival of her ex-fiancé.

He gave her hand a little squeeze. “What did you think of the gallery?”

“I'm not sure. They had some nice pieces and paintings, but most of the items they displayed were a little bit too avant-garde for my tastes. What did you think?”

“I thought so, too. It was interesting, but not what I would want displayed in my home.” He wanted to put his arm around her shoulder, but bucket seats didn't allow for that type of intimacy. Instead he had to be content with clasping her hand in his. He had been tense earlier that evening and he knew exactly why—Caufield Woodrow III. He had not been happy with Angie's answer that Caufield had checked into a hotel in Seattle rather than returning to Portland. She had also been very clear about Caufield's intentions in being at Mac's house, that he wanted her to return to Portland with him so they could be married.

Ty had tried to put it out of his mind. The bottom line was that Caufield had left Bainbridge Island and Angie was with him rather than Caufield. She hadn't even brought it up for discussion or asked him anything about the future. Since she had chosen to be with him rather than her ex-fiancé it had to mean she was happy with their relationship just as it was, regardless of Caufield's willingness to make a commitment and even propose to her.

Ty fought to make that assumption a reality. They didn't need any verbal promises to know how they felt
about each other. Things were perfect just as they were. That was what he wanted to believe, what he
needed
to believe. If nothing else, it eased his mind about the problem of verbalizing a commitment to the relationship. The words were not necessary. They both knew what they shared without talking about it.

Angie gazed out the window. “You missed the turnoff for Mac's house.”

“It's still early. I thought we could get something to eat at my house and maybe catch the late news on television.” He squeezed her hand and shot a sideways grin toward her. “Is that okay with you?”

“That sounds great.” He hadn't turned loose of her hand since they drove off the ferry. His reassuring touch provided a sensual warmth that cut through her earlier anxieties. As long as they were together, why was a verbal commitment so important? Did a few words really make a difference to the feeling and emotion that bound them together?

She wanted to believe that it didn't matter, but deep down inside she knew it did. She knew she couldn't live her life as nothing more than someone's lover, even someone as dynamic as Tyler Farrell. She had to have some type of reassurance about his feelings and their future. Was that wanting more than was possible? More than Ty was willing to give? It was a concern that continued to grow larger and more worrisome with each passing day, no matter how much she tried to convince herself that it wasn't important.

Ty pulled into his garage and they entered the house through the kitchen. He kept up a light patter of conversation. “Let's see what's in the refrigerator that will be quick and easy.” He moved a few things around as he surveyed the contents. “I have the makings of a
salad. Let me check the freezer. Maybe there's something we can pop into the microwave.”

He paused a moment, then pulled her into his embrace. The emotion overwhelmed him as he delved into the depths of her eyes. Visions of Caufield Woodrow III continued to circulate through his mind. How close had he come to losing her to this rival from her past? A cold shudder told him how painful the thought was.

“I'm really not very hungry. How about you?” Once again the warmth of her body and the closeness of her very existence filled him with a sense of well-being, contentment and the type of fulfillment and completion that had never been part of his life until he met Angie. It was the type of happiness he had never known, one that nearly overpowered everything else in his life. He lowered his mouth to hers, the kiss tender and sweet. He reveled in the moment. He wanted her to be part of his life forever.

Once again a sense of relief washed through him. Caufield had gone. There was a very nice motel on Bainbridge Island yet Caufield had chosen to leave the island rather than check in there. His rival for her affections was no longer in the picture.

She broke the kiss, leaning her head back slightly. A little smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. “I'm not very hungry, either.”

He caressed her shoulders, then brushed a loving kiss across her lips. “Perhaps we can find something else to do.”

He took her hand as they walked toward his bedroom. No words were spoken. They weren't necessary. A few minutes later they snuggled together in the comfort of his king-size bed, bare skin pressing against bare skin. For several minutes they simply held each other,
content to be wrapped in the warmth that enveloped them.

He caressed her shoulders, lightly brushed his fingertips across her smooth skin, then ran his fingers through her hair as he cradled her head against his shoulder. More than anything he wanted Angie by his side for the rest of his life. He wanted to wake up each morning and find her next to him. A moment of doubt tried to invade his consciousness, but he quickly shoved it away. With Caufield now out of the picture he knew everything would be all right. There was no need to discuss him any further, no need to worry about a rival. All his attentions and energy could be directed to Angie. His mouth found hers, the addictive taste he could not get enough of and the woman he never wanted to lose.

The moment his lips touched hers any and all thoughts, doubts and fears disappeared from Angie's mind. She ran her hands across his muscled chest, broad shoulders and back. She loved him so very much. She never realized what true love was until Tyler Farrell became part of her life.

They made love—slowly, sensually and completely. It was different than the other times. The heated passion of hormones took a back seat to the caring and emotion that passed between them. She had never felt so whole…so complete. It was as if all the missing pieces of her life had at last been found.

They remained wrapped in each other's arms, quietly savoring the afterglow and togetherness. Every few minutes he placed a tender kiss on her forehead or cheek and stroked the creamy smoothness of her skin. It was a time of emotional intimacy, closeness and caring.

But for Angie it was more. It had an almost bittersweet feel to it as if they were saying goodbye. As warm and happy as she was, she couldn't stop her mind from wandering to the concern that had grown from a mere errant thought to a worry that grew larger and more formidable with each passing day. She needed his reassurance that they had a future together. She needed to have her uneasiness settled once and for all.

Ty pulled her tighter into his embrace. She didn't know if he was asleep or not, but being in his arms felt so good, so right. It was a place she wanted to spend the rest of her life. Again the dark cloud of foreboding drifted across her mind, blocking out the warmth. As much as she tried to tell herself that she didn't need any more of a commitment from him than what his actions displayed, she knew it was nothing more than hollow words.

She continued to snuggle in his arms, but the contentment of earlier ebbed away to be replaced by doubts and confusion about how to handle the situation. She had arrived in Seattle with a definite goal in mind and a determination to achieve that goal. Her resolve and her goal had slipped away and she needed to get it back. If Ty would only do something, give her some kind of indication about their future—any type of a sign.

But Ty did nothing to reassure her. He held her, he stroked her hair and skin, he gave her his warmth and tenderness, but he did not give her the words she wanted to hear—the words she
needed
to hear.

The hour grew later. Angie slid out of bed to get dressed. She couldn't stay all night at Ty's house. She may have forged a new adult relationship with her brother, but she knew staying overnight at Ty's house
was not something Mac would accept. Besides, she needed some time alone to think—to work out what to do.

BOOK: In Forbidden Territory
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