A Touch of TemptationBy: Tara Pammi
Back in the headlines…again!
Cool, calm and collected CEO Kimberly Stanton is following hot on the heels of her scandalous sister Olivia. Not only has she revealed her (very sudden!) pregnancy, but she has rocked the international business world with the shock announcement of her marriage to outrageous Brazilian bad-boy-tycoon Diego Pereira!
If rumors of huge blowout arguments, bailout money for Kim’s company and dark secrets are already besetting society’s most notorious couple, who can say what lies ahead for these two lovers? One thing’s for sure—it’ll be so much fun watching!
The limo came to a stop in front of the plush New York Plaza hotel where the awards ceremony was being held. Kimberly could hear the hushed roar of the crowd outside.
Before she could blink, he opened a small velvet box.
Drawing a painful breath, she tucked herself farther into her seat, her heart pounding behind her rib cage. He’d done this on purpose, waited until the last minute.
The diamond twinkled in the dark, every cut and glitter of it breathtaking. There was an accompanying band of white gold, exquisitely simple in contrast to the glittering diamond.
Alarm twisted her stomach into a knot. That simple band could very well have been an invisible shackle binding her to him. And it could unlock every impossible hope, every dangerous dream she had ruthlessly squashed to survive. “I don’t want to wear it. I don’t know what you think this achieves….”
“There is very little I have asked of you, or will ever ask of you. But when it comes to our child, I won’t settle. I will never be that boy who was denied his right ever again.” He shrugged, a casual movement, in complete control of himself. “I wanted for my child to be recognized as mine. You had the perfect chance to do that at your press statement. You didn’t. So now we will do it my way.”
KIMBERLY STANTON STARED at the white rectangle of plastic on the gleaming marble counter in the ladies’ bathroom. Terror coated her throat as though it might come to life and take a bite out of her. It looked alien, out of place amidst the lavender potpourri, the crystal lamp settings and the glossy chrome fixtures.
The few minutes stretched like an eternity. The quiet lull of voices outside was exaggerated into distorted echoes.
Her heart beat faster and louder. A painful tug in her lower belly stole her breath. She clutched the cold granite vanity unit and clenched the muscles in her legs, willing herself to hold on.
The scariest word she had ever encountered appeared on the stick.
No confusing colors or symbols that meant you had to peek again at the box discarded in terrified panic.
Simple, plain English.
Her heart leaped into her throat. Her legs shaking beneath her, she leaned against one of the stalls behind her, dipped her head low and forced herself to breathe past the deafening whoosh in her ears.
Her one mistake, which technically she had committed twice, couldn’t haunt her for the rest of her life, could it?
But she couldn’t change the consequences. She had never been naïve or stupid enough to wish it either.
She flicked the gleaming chrome tap open and dangled her fingers under the ice-cold water. The sound of the water hitting the sink drowned out the sound of her heartbeat, helping her focus on her breathing.
In, out. In, out...
She closed the tap. Straightening up, she was about to reach for the hand towel when she looked at the mirror and froze.
She stared at her reflection, noting the dark circles under her eyes, the lack of color in her face, the skin pulled tautly over her bones. Drops of water seeped through the thin silk of her blouse to her skin beneath.
She looked as if she was on the brink of a nervous breakdown. And maybe she was. But she didn’t have time now. The breakdown had to wait. She touched the tips of her fingers to her temple and pressed. The cold from her almost numb fingers seeped into her overheated skin.
She had no time to deal with this now. She had to compartmentalize—set it aside until she was alone, until she was equipped to think logically, until the shock making her jittery all over faded into nothing more than a numbing ache.
And when it did she would assess the situation again with a clear head, take the necessary action to equip herself better to handle it. It wasn’t as if she didn’t have any experience with dealing with shock and pain.