HIDDEN HEART– Excerpt
It didn’t matter. It didn’t matter how she felt toward him or what could become of them. She had baggage. She carried someone else’s baby. It wouldn’t be fair to drag Alessandro into this mess.
Wrong timing had somehow become her mantra.
Tessa stood and straightened her shoulders in an attempt to brush off the panic that constricted her heart. I will be all right.
Someone cleared his throat close by.
“Are you okay?” Alessandro handed her a glass of champagne.
She thought of refusing it, then changed her mind and accepted it. She didn’t drink. Instead she toyed with its long stem.
“Yes, I’m okay.” She sighed. “Look, Alessandro . . . I . . . I’m tired. Thanks for the drink, I better go now.” She left the glass on the banister and walked away.
“Please, don’t.” He grabbed her wrist, then let it go. He looked into his own glass, and pushed a hand through his hair.
The gesture looked so familiar. How she’d love to do that, sink her fingers in his thick hair. “I . . . I have a feeling I scare you. I just want to make sure you aren’t running off on my account.”
She weighed her words. “To be honest, yes you do scare me. I just can’t handle you one minute warm and fuzzy and next colder than ice, I just don’t do well with mood swings like this. I like to know what to expect from people and with you it’s impossible, and quite frankly it’s exhausting.”
“I’m so sorry for all the times I couldn’t be myself around you. I know the past few weeks have been a nightmare for you because of the accusations, but things are about to change.”
“Yes. As you know, I don’t like to mix work with pleasure, but given the circumstances, I’ll make an exception. I’ll no longer be part of the investigation.” He sighed then pushed a hand through his hair. He looked nervous.
Tessa flinched at the heavy feeling settling in her tummy. Someone else would take over and put her through hell. Accuse her of something she didn’t do. She’d be sent to jail, pregnant and all alone.
“Oh my . . . ” Her knees buckled.
Alessandro helped her sit on the nearby bench. They fell silent for a while.
Tessa fought back tears, absorbing the news. She looked up at the sky and forced a smile. “It’s funny how when I first saw you in the office, I feared your presence. Now, I panic, knowing you aren’t going to be there anymore.” She looked at him and asked, “May I ask you why?”
“Well, there were some vital facts that I had to take into consideration and I realized I can’t go any further without jeopardizing something very important to me.” He placed his glass on the banister, then rested his elbows on his knees and looked sideways at her.
Tessa understood. He believed her guilty and their history put him in an awkward situation. His job was very important to him, yet pointing his finger at her made it that much harder to finish off the investigation. She couldn’t blame him for not wanting to have anything to do with her, with her messy situation. She stood.
“Tessa,” Alessandro stood and faced her. “I . . . I don’t know how to say it, I—” He folded his hands in prayer, pressed them against his lips and closed his eyes. He struggled to find his words. He opened his eyes, “I haven’t been in or desired to be in a relationship since my wife died.” His eyes bore into hers, then he looked at her lips. “I have not wanted a relationship, until now, Tessa.”
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