Time seems to stand still as I watch the colour drain from his face.
"Oh, by the way. The Marriot rang. Apparently Mrs. Lincoln left her emerald and diamond bracelet behind." I say as breezily as I can, despite my whole body trembling. "They very kindly returned it to me this morning."
I don't know where this inner strength is coming from but I'm happy to roll with it.
Linc swallows and finally turns to face me. At least he has the good grace to look remorseful.
"Honey...Please...I can explain..." He begins, falteringly - guilt etched into his handsome face.
Before my legs totally give way, I pull out a chair from the breakfast bar and sit down. I fold my arms across my chest in what I hope is a defiant manner. "Believe me, I'm all ears." I snap.
WOW! It has to be the Chianti...
He rubs his hand across his face in agitation. "It...It was just business, honey. It meant nothing, I swear. Luca was playing hardball over the contract...I thought he was going to pull the plug on the deal, so I called his assistant, Amanda and asked her out to dinner..."
I raise a brow. "And do you buy all your Client PA's three thousand dollar bracelets?"
He screws his eyes closed. "I was using it as leverage to seal the deal. I thought if I could get to Amanda, it would cement the deal quicker."
"And by cementing the deal you mean taking her to the Marriot and pretending you were husband and wife? You weren't even meant to be staying there!" I'm desperately trying not to sound shrill, but it's not working.
"It was just a cover. I didn't want it getting back to Bartolo before I had managed to get Amanda on-side." He reasons.
"Oh and I'm sure you just hated every minute of getting Amanda 'on side' ". I emphasise my words with finger quotes. "So what was her best side, Linc? Left, right, front...back..."
Linc hangs his head for a moment and then slowly lifts it and his deep blue eyes look imploringly at me. "Elena, you are the only woman for me. My heart was stolen a long time ago and I have no inclination to give it back any time soon. You HAVE to believe me. It meant NOTHING. It was just business."
I take a long slug of dark Chianti.
Just business. It meant nothing...
"Will you be seeng her again?" I whisper into the goblet.
Linc comes and stands in front of me and takes my hand. "No." He says hurriedly. "I'm assigning the Bartolo account to Jeffery. I'll just be overseeing it. I never go back to a client once I've..." He stops abruptly as the colour drains from his face again.
WHAT THE FUCK!
I snatch my hand out of his. "There were others?" I gasp, appalled.
Linc takes a step back. "Elena..." He takes a deep breath. "Sometimes...Sometimes...an impressive business plan just isn't enough. How many times have we had to entertain clients just to get a deal done? You know yourself, you've flirted with some of..."
I jump off the seat. "THERE'S A HUGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FLIRTING AND HAVING SEX, LINC!" I shriek at him.
How dare he!
He lowers his head and shakes it slowly from side to side. "Look around you, Elena." He begins in a soft menacing voice. He raises his scornful eyes towards mine. "Do you honestly think you have all this because of a little flirting?"
I feel myself stagger backwards like someone just slapped me.
Was everything I thought I had in life, based on lies and deceit? I feel the walls begin to close in.
"I...I need some air," I gasp.
Linc puts his broad hands on my shoulders. "Elena." He implores. "Everything I did. It was for you. For us. For our future..."
OUR FUTURE? Right now, I don't know if we even have one!
"Linc...Please...Let me go. I...I need to get out of here."
"I'll come with you. We can have dinner somewhere..."
I remove his hands and shake my head. "I need to be alone, Linc. Please."
He sighs heavily and finally steps aside.
I somehow get my feet to cooperate and hurry out of the kitchen, collect my jacket, purse and keys and head outside. I close the oak door behind me and take a deep lungful of warm Seattle air.
Shit. Now what do I do?
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