Reunited for the Billionaire's Legacy(9)

By: Jennifer Hayward

No repercussions? She’d spent the past year trying to bury herself in her work because it was too painful to go home to an apartment that didn’t have Coburn in it. He really had no clue.

“You think I’m the only one who’s unknowable?” she offered quietly. “I could do an entire emotional autopsy on you, Coburn, and I would still never get to the bottom of you. You play like you’re so open and there, but none of it is the real you.”

His eyes glittered. “You have to give some to get some, Di.”

Right. Here they were at the same old discussion. A waste of time.

“Why didn’t you file for divorce? You were certainly anxious to move on and avail yourself of other female company.”

He lifted a shoulder. “I don’t plan to marry again so there was so rush. And as for my sexual partners? My prerogative when you ended our marriage. You know I have a high level of need.”

A need that had apparently overwhelmed him within months of their marriage ending...

She lifted her gaze and watched the midnight blue sky streaked with a swath of purple swallow up a lone star. Her insides hurt, like the delicate, shaky aftermath of a horrible flu.

“How long will you be gone?”

Coburn was watching her with that all-seeing gaze of his. “Three months, maybe more. The need for surgeons is critical.”

“What happened to your dream of working with Moritz?”

“I couldn’t handle the politics.” Swiss surgeon Frank Moritz was one of the most revered pediatric surgeons in the world, a specialty she wanted to make her own, but as Diana had found out, he was also one of the biggest egos in the profession. She had impressed him enough to put herself in line for the fellowship he was offering, but she hadn’t been able to force herself to do the schmoozing being Moritz’s choice entailed. It went against every belief she had that talent should prevail.

He lifted a brow. “You knew that was going to be part of it.”

“I didn’t know it was going to color every aspect of it. The man is a megalomaniac.”

“So you’re just giving up your career?”

“No. I’m going to Africa to practice.”

He waved his glass at her. “You know what I mean. You will be out of the loop. You’ll have to start all over again.”

“So be it.” A wry smile curved her lips. “It’s done, Coburn. I’ve sold my apartment and my car. I need to find my way.”

He studied her as if she was a creature from a different species he’d come into contact with. And maybe she was. She wasn’t the same Diana who’d walked away from him, that was for sure. She’d done far too much soul-searching to be that.

“Don’t you think it’s a bit drastic to put yourself in the middle of a war-torn country to find yourself? If it’s me you’re trying to avoid, then move to another state. Move to another country, for God’s sake. Not a war zone.”

She straightened her shoulders, her lips flattening into a stubborn line. “This isn’t about you, Coburn. Things aren’t always about you, although you like to think they are. This is about me and my need to help other people with the skills I have.”

His gaze narrowed on her. “You forget you admitted to me earlier part of this is you thumbing your nose at me.”

Damn her loose mouth. She sunk her teeth into her lower lip. “That was a knee-jerk reaction to an old wound. Nothing you say or do affects me anymore.”

“Then, why do you avoid me? You’ve been systematically ensuring our paths don’t cross for the past year.” He lifted a brow. “How do I know this? Because every time I’m unable to make something, I hear afterward you were miraculously able to attend. That’s a lot of trouble to go to to avoid someone whose presence doesn’t affect you.”

She swallowed hard, studying the play of light over his achingly familiar face. She had been avoiding him, of course, but it wasn’t something she was ever going to admit.

“So I ask again,” he demanded roughly, “why show up tonight? What purpose did this serve?”

Standing this close to him, inhaling his spicy aftershave mixed with a fresh citrus lime that had always made her weak in the knees, she suffered the horrifying realization that maybe it was closure she had wanted. One more chance to see him before she signed those papers. One more chance to put this demon to rest before she put her life behind her for a future that was a complete unknown. To convince herself she was doing the right thing by walking away from him. Instead, all she could think about was his horrible, hurtful comment to Rory.

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