Reunited for the Billionaire's Legacy(3)

By: Jennifer Hayward

She removed her gaze from the muscles rippling under his shirt, his jacket long ago discarded per usual. Her husband wasn’t even that aware of his physical perfection. He traded on his charm, on his ability to get people to do the things he wanted them to do—to make them beg to do the things he wanted them to do, without even knowing they were doing it.

Her mouth twisted. She’d never really stood a chance. Her time spent with her nose buried in medical school textbooks, then sequestered in the hospital as a young resident working 24/7 had meant zero time for relationships. When Coburn had swept her off her feet on a rare night out at another Chelsea party very much like this one, he’d just taken.

How many people had told her to watch her heart? To use her head. She hadn’t listened to any of them. She’d married him despite her father’s advice to the contrary.

A dull ache throbbed inside her. She shouldn’t have come. She really shouldn’t have. She comforted herself knowing soon none of it would matter. Soon she would be on that plane to another continent. She would escape her claustrophobic life with her claustrophobic parents and her claustrophobic job, which was more politics than the Hippocratic oath she’d taken to heal the sick. The suffocating feeling she got every time she remembered Coburn was still sharing this city with her...

Her mouth twisted. If she thought she might be slightly crazy giving up her job at one of New York’s most prestigious hospitals to go work in a war-torn territory where the only certainty was complete uncertainty, she wasn’t alone. She’d been getting that sentiment a lot lately, particularly from her father, who’d forbidden her to go.

Her gaze drifted to her husband instead of focusing on the conversation happening in the group she’d joined. It hadn’t always been bad between her and Coburn. One particular night stuck in her head, in the early days of their marriage. She’d been a rising star as a resident, demonstrating surgical skills way beyond her years. But that night, she’d lost her first patient, a sixteen-year-old boy who’d been in a horrific car accident. His parents had sat in the waiting room for almost eight hours as she and the other specialists had attempted to save him, but the hemorrhaging from his internal injuries had eventually defeated them. She’d arrived home at 7:00 a.m. bruised and battered, her face telling the whole story. Coburn had held her in his arms and rocked her until she’d fallen asleep, then put her to bed. He’d been late for his board meeting that morning, but he hadn’t cared. Then, they had been the most important thing in each other’s orbit.

Her eyes burned at the memory. When they had been good, they had been very, very good. And when they had been bad, it had been unbearable.

Coburn raked a scathing gaze over her from where he stood, talking to Rory. She squared her shoulders, turned her back to him and did what the proud, perhaps foolish Taylor women had perfected as a family art. She turned a blind eye to the humiliation blanketing her and moved on.

To be among such happiness when her heart was so bleak was torturous. The only thing that made it bearable was the thought that in three weeks she’d be following her heart for the first time. Just her. Just Diana.

She wondered what she was going to find when she discovered who she really was.

* * *

Coburn’s third Scotch had his blood humming through his veins in a heated pull that tempted him to engage with the long-legged thing of beauty who’d once convinced him he needed no other. It was almost irresistible the force that drew him to her, that had always drawn him to her, despite the bitter recrimination he knew she could dish out with that stiff, superior manner of hers. But he resisted. His speech was happening in minutes and he needed all his composure to do it.

He watched Diana circulate through the crowd, her exquisite manners easing every interaction into the perfect sixty seconds of social repartee no matter what the partygoer’s background. Diana always knew what to say, even when bent on sticking a dagger into his back.

She was tall for a woman, five foot nine, downplaying her height as usual with a lower heel than most of the females in the room. Her slim boyish figure was the same lithe silhouette, her sensual, exotic features still utterly arresting, but the hair she used to wear well past her shoulders was shorter now, skimming her collarbone. He’d never let her cut it. He’d loved the feel of it sliding against his skin when she’d leaned down to kiss him as she’d taken him inside the tight sheath of her body, always in tune with him at that moment when he filled her completely and wiped any barriers from between them.

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