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Authors: Shawna Delacorte

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BOOK: In Forbidden Territory
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Ty reached out and grabbed her hand. “It's not that late. Do you really need to leave?” He squeezed her hand as he looked hopefully into her eyes. “I don't want you to go.”

“I have several things to do in the morning. Besides, I should be considerate of Mac's feelings as long as I'm staying at his house. I can't be running in and out at all hours of the night.”

“You don't have to stay at Mac's house.” He paused for a moment, his words hesitant. “You can stay here.”

“I can't casually sleep over here sometimes and then be at Mac's house sometimes.” She looked at him, trying to read the unspoken words in his eyes. “I need somewhere permanent—someplace where I can unpack my clothes and know that's where they belong…where
I
belong. I need to know what the future holds.”

She held her breath, hoping against hope that he would say more, that he would tell her why he didn't want her to leave his house. That he would make some sort of commitment and give her that place where she would belong.

But he didn't say anything else. Her hopes had been dashed, her fears had been valid, her unasked questions had now been answered. By his silence he had made it clear that this was the limit of their relationship. This was all it would ever be. The sorrow welled inside her, the pain she didn't think she would ever experience had wormed its way into her consciousness and it was worse than she feared it might be.

She mustered a weak smile. “I really do need to leave.”

She had to leave—to leave Mac's house and find a place of her own, to leave her original job goal and find a new one, to leave Bainbridge Island and to leave a dead-end relationship with the man she loved more than she thought possible. Yes…she needed to leave for her own well-being. But would she be able to muster the courage to do it?

Ty dressed and drove her to Mac's house. He walked her to the door. “Will I see you tomorrow night?”

“I'm not sure. I've been shamefully neglecting my own business and need to do some catching up.” The words had been difficult for her to say, but she knew she had to start the separation process if she ever hoped to get on with her life. She saw the hint of confusion dart across his features and she felt herself weaken in her determination.

“I'll call you tomorrow afternoon.” He kissed her tenderly on the lips, then returned to his car.

Angie continued to watch until his car was out of sight, all the while her sorrow growing to greater proportions. Not in her wildest imagination had she ever believed it would end this way—not with a fight, not with an explosion, not with an emotional outburst or upheaval. It was a quiet decision—her decision that she couldn't continue a relationship that was one-sided regardless of how much she loved him.

Ty knew her ex-fiancé had made a special trip to Bainbridge Island to see her and take her back to Portland with him. Somehow she had hoped he would at least express some concern that she might be thinking about a return to Caufield, but he hadn't shown any trepidation about the possibility that she might be con
sidering her ex-fiancé's offer. She told Ty she needed to have some place she knew was permanent, to know where she belonged. She told him she needed reassurance about the future. He hadn't offered her what she had asked for.

It was obvious that as far as he was concerned everything was fine just the way it was. But she couldn't live with that. She needed more. She needed that commitment to the future.

She needed to know that he loved her.

Caufield's unexpected visit had forced two major decisions for Angie. The first was wanting Ty to say something that would define their relationship, but he had not provided her with that. And the second was realizing her career and future didn't depend on procuring a job with Mac's company. In retrospect she saw what a bad idea it had been all along. She would never be the independent career woman she wanted to be as long as she continued to tie her future to her brother.

The heavy weight of despair settled on her shoulders. A heartbroken Angie went inside the house, undressed and sank into the bed. Her thoughts and fears continued to swirl around in her head, feeding her distress and giving her a fitful night and very little sleep. Daylight invaded the bedroom before she was ready for it. She reluctantly dragged herself out of bed.

Even though her restless night had not provided her with very much sleep, it had given her an answer to her dilemma and a direction for the future. The only thing for her to do was to make a clean break of everything and step into the unknown on her own two feet. Ty had not shown any signs of being tired of their relationship or wanting to end it in any way, but she
could not continue living in a vacuum—some sort of middle ground where she didn't know.

She knew what had to be done and even though it pained her, she had to do it. She showered, dressed and went to the kitchen where she found Mac making coffee.

He turned around when she entered the room and flashed a warm smile in her direction. “Good morning, Angie. There will be fresh coffee in just a few minutes.” He took the carton from the refrigerator and poured two glasses of orange juice, handing one of them to her.

Angie took the glass, but set it on the counter without taking a drink. “Do you have a little bit of time before you go to work?”

Mac placed his glass on the counter. He shot her a quizzical look. “Is there something wrong?”

She gathered her determination. “I need to leave Bainbridge Island—today.”

Mac's expression changed to one of shock followed by deep concern. “I've got as much time as you want.” He pulled out a chair from the kitchen table for her, then sat down on the other side of the table facing her. “Why this sudden decision to leave?”

“It's not all that sudden, it's been brewing for a while. I have to get on with my life. I'm only kidding myself by thinking that my future is here. I left Portland to start a new life, to have a career. I thought working for you would be my answer. I could show you that I was capable and forge a career with your company.”

“It was a good plan. With our expansion there will be a lot of restructuring within the company and you'll
fit right in. It will definitely be something that is a career rather than just a job.”

“But don't you see, Mac? It's not really a feasible plan at all. I would once again be depending on you to provide for me.”

“Don't be ridiculous. I would expect you to earn your money just like any other employee.”

“That's not the point. I've given this a lot of thought. It would still be you giving me the job rather than hiring someone else who might be more qualified or have more experience even though I would be capable of handling the work.”

Mac wrinkled his brow into a slight frown as he stood up. He reached for the coffeepot and poured two cups, placing one of them in front of Angie. He cocked his head and stared at her for a moment, then sat down. “What's really going on here, Angie? I hear what you're saying, but I don't believe what I'm hearing. There's more to this decision of yours than what you're telling me.”

She nervously played with her coffee cup then took a sip, but was unable to make eye contact with him. “I…uh…I don't know what you mean.”

“Angie? What's really wrong?”

She finally looked up at her brother. She saw the deep concern etched into his handsome features. But after that grand speech she had made where she informed him she was an adult and capable of making her own decisions…well, how could she share her real feelings about her less-than-firm convictions concerning her current situation. It would be like admitting defeat, confessing that she wasn't as mature and capable as she thought.

She tried to rally her determination. It was her mess.
She had made it and it was up to her to fix it. She had done the one thing she swore she wouldn't do—she had become involved with another man and fallen in love. The man she had fallen in love with was very different from her ex-fiancé, but he was as wrong for her as Caufield had been.

Mac had been right. She and Ty lived in two different worlds and Ty's world moved in the fast lane of living for the moment with no commitments to a relationship or to the future. She had tried, had told herself it didn't matter, but in the end it was something she couldn't live with.

Now it was time for her to move on and put her life in order.

“Angie?”

Mac's voice drew her out of her thoughts. “I'll pack my things and take the ferry to Seattle this afternoon. I can get a motel room until I find a place to live. I've already circled several apartment possibilities in the newspaper and have checked the help wanted ads. There were some jobs listed in my area of expertise. I'll also sign up with a placement service. I'm sure I'll be able to find a job without any problem.”

“That's ridiculous. There's absolutely no reason for you to pay for a motel room in Seattle. Even if you have your mind made up about getting a job elsewhere, there's no reason for you to leave my house and spend money on a motel. People commute to their jobs in Seattle every day from Bainbridge Island and the Olympic Peninsula. The ferry runs approximately every thirty minutes during the peak travel times on weekday mornings and evenings.”

“You don't understand, Mac.”

An audible sigh of resignation escaped his throat. “It
certainly isn't the first time that I haven't understood. What am I missing? Why do you feel you need to leave my house? Is it something I've done? Something I haven't done? Something I've said? Something I should have said? What is it?”

“No, you've been terrific just like you always are. It's just that…well…” She nervously shifted her weight in her chair as she desperately searched for the right words, then finally blurted out what had been there all along. “I can't stay here where I'll be running into Ty all the time. I need to distance myself from him so that I can get on with my life.”

Mac's anger rose in his voice. “Did he do something to hurt you? Did he take advantage of you?”

“No! Calm down, Mac. It's nothing like that.” How was she going to explain things to Mac without him jumping to the wrong conclusion? “I can't stay here any longer. It's obvious that Ty doesn't care as much about me as I do about him. I don't even know how or exactly when it happened. I didn't have any intention of becoming involved with someone after breaking off with Caufield, but somehow it just happened. Ty didn't do anything wrong. He's probably not even aware of how I feel. But I think, for my own well-being, that I should leave here. I need to find a job and make a life of my own. I need for it to be my life once again.”

She looked at her brother, her voice almost pleading. “You do understand, don't you?”

He shook his head as he furrowed his brow in confusion. “I had no idea you…I knew you and Ty had been spending a lot of time together, but I guess I was so wrapped up in my design project that I didn't realize just how much time that was. I didn't know things had
gone so far, that you had become…” He reached across the table, took her hand in his and gave it a loving brotherly squeeze. “You really do care a great deal about him, don't you?”

Angie's voice had become a soft whisper. A sob caught in her throat as she spoke. “More than I believed could be possible.”

“What can I do to help you? What do you need from me?”

Angie rose from her chair, came around the table and gave Mac a hug. “You've already done it by just being here. It's my problem and I'll handle it.” Her words may have been brave and self-assured, but inside she was a mass of quivering insecurities enveloped in an almost overwhelming sadness. She knew she would never love anyone as much as she loved Tyler Farrell, but she knew a one-sided love had no future to it.

“How are you fixed for money? It's going to cost you to live in a motel until you find an apartment and then whatever you rent will require deposits in addition to the rent.”

“Money is not a problem. I've saved and have a good cushion to fall back on until I start generating an income. I'll be fine.”

“Are you sure? I'll be happy to give—”

“No more handouts, Mac.”

“Okay…I'll be happy to
lend
you some money until you get a job. You can pay it back whenever it's convenient. Is that better?”

She gave him a warm smile. “It's better, but not necessary. I'll be fine, honest.”

“Are you determined to do this?”

“Yes. I've given this a lot of thought and it's the best thing for me to do.”

“Okay. I'm not happy, but I'll respect your decision. Just one thing—you call me as soon as you get checked into a motel so I'll know where you are.”

“Of course I will. I'm not running away and trying to hide so no one will know where I am. I just have to make this break and get my life back on track again. I appreciate all that you've done for me and am grateful for having this place to stay.”

“I can certainly understand you wanting to find your own place to live, but there's still no reason why you couldn't work for the company. It would be a good career and a job where you could earn your own way.”

He offered a tentative smile. “I promise not to give you any special treatment.”

She returned a teasing smile. “Well, what good would it do to work for my brother if I couldn't take advantage and get special privileges?” The smile quickly faded and her voice fell off to a near whisper as she glanced at the floor. “Besides, it wouldn't work, not with Ty being there all the time.” She saw the muscles tense in Mac's face in response to her statement.

They continued to talk during breakfast. Angie didn't bring up the subject of Ty and to her surprise, neither did Mac. She was grateful that he had apparently decided to accept her explanation without trying to dig out more information. She had already said more than she originally intended to. She told Mac she would call him before leaving his house to catch the ferry.

BOOK: In Forbidden Territory
9.48Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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