Sweet Temptation

Page 40

He asked for forgiveness. He asked for peace for Hannah and David. He asked for peace for himself and Angelina. And he asked for one more chance to make things right.


Angelina woke to a darkened room once more. Connor was gone and Micah was slumped in a chair beside her bed. He was asleep and he looked uncomfortable as hell.

The remnants of the medication still lurked in her system, and she enjoyed the sweet respite from the pain. She needed strength for the things she needed to say.

“Micah,” she said in a soft voice.

He roused immediately and sat forward.

“Are you all right? Need more pain medication? I wish you hadn’t waited so long to ask for it this last time. If you need it, you should take it.”

“I’m okay. I need to talk to you. Turn the light on please.”

He got up and went to flip the switch on the wall. They both winced at the sudden burst of light. He looked haggard, his face raw and his eyes haunted.

When he started to sit down on the bed next to her, she shook her head and warned him off with her hand.

“Please. I have a lot to say, and I can’t do it if you’re touching me.”

His brows furrowed in confusion, but he took his seat again in the chair next to the bed.

“I need you to listen to everything I have to say and not interrupt. This is hard enough and I need to just get it out.”

“All right,” he said quietly.

“After I get out of the hospital I’m going to move back to Miami. When I’m able. Connor said I could stay in my apartment as long as I needed to.”

Micah surged forward, his face stormy.

Before he could respond, she shook her head. “You promised.”

“Goddamn it, Angel.”

He was furious, but she was determined to have her say.

“I’ve done a lot of thinking, Micah. A whole lot of soul searching, and what I’ve found makes me ashamed.”

Micah dragged a hand through his hair and pulled it tight at the base of his skull. He looked like he was going to explode, but he remained silent. It was probably killing him.

“I was so determined to show you how perfect we could be together. I loved you. I thought that was enough. I guess being naïve, I thought I could make you love me. Chad was convinced he and I belonged together. He was obsessed, but in his mind he was only doing what he thought was right. He thought if he could just make me see how much he loved me that somehow I could love him back.”

Micah made a strangled sound. His eyes glittered with rage, and she realized he knew where she was going with this. She held up her hand, determined to ward off the meltdown.

“I was as wrong as Chad was,” she said quietly. “I had no right to intervene in your life. I had no right to intrude in your private grief when you went to Mama Rose’s. I certainly had no right to barge into your life here and insert myself into your group of friends and remind you of everything you’d tried to forget. I judged you, I was angry at you for wanting to forget, when it was your right to do so.”

She took a deep breath and plunged ahead.

“When it was just me I had to think about, I was okay with the possibility of rejection. I was okay with putting my life on hold and taking risks. Young and in love and all that. Whole life ahead of me. Nothing to lose. That’s all changed now. I have a baby to think of. I can no longer make decisions based on what affects me. I have to make them with my child in mind. She deserves that much.

“So I’m going back to Miami. I have a house there. I can use my degree and teach. I have to do this for our child, Micah. You can’t give me or her what we need the most, and I’m not willing to settle for less. Not anymore.”

“Are you finished yet?” Micah demanded.

His entire body vibrated with anger. She wasn’t up to a lengthy diatribe. He’d bitch, yell, make ludicrous demands. Especially now that she was pregnant. Probably only because she was pregnant. He’d certainly never made it a secret that it was over with once her stalker had been captured.

“It’s over, Micah,” she said evenly. “You told me to expect sex and nothing more. This was a temporary situation. I told you I’d take whatever you could give, but I’ve changed my mind. That’s my prerogative just like it was yours to make conditions. I’ll never try to keep you from your child, but you need to understand that I’m no longer willing to be the one making concessions.”

As she said the last, her finger found the nurse call button. It was a cowardly thing to do, but she was hanging on by the thinnest thread. Pain, physical and mental, coursed through her chest and knotted in her throat.

“If you have any affection for me at all, Micah, please don’t make this difficult. I’m tired. I hurt. I’d like you to leave.”

Micah stared at her, his lips pressed together so tightly they were thin, white lines. The door opened, and the nurse bustled in, an inquiring look on her face.

“Are you ready for more pain medication? I’m glad you changed your mind. Pain isn’t good for you or the baby.”

Without a word, Micah got up, and as he’d done before, he left the room without looking back.

Tears brimmed in Angelina’s eyes as she watched the door swing closed.

Mistaking her upset for discomfort, the nurse placed her cool hand on Angelina’s forehead. She wiped her hand into Angelina’s hair in a gesture of comfort as she readied the syringe to inject medication into the IV.

“You’ll feel better in just a few minutes,” the nurse soothed.

She wouldn’t feel better, but she’d made the right decision.

Micah stood outside Angelina’s hospital room waiting for the nurse to wheel her out into the hall. He’d respected Angelina’s wishes. He hadn’t been back to her room, and he’d damn well given her plenty of time to think.

Well, he was done with all that now. Oh, he understood why she’d said all she did. It was nothing less than he deserved, and in an absurd way, he was proud of her for making a stand for their child. She’d make one hell of a mother. But hell would freeze over before he’d leave her to be a single mother and care for their child alone. And duty had nothing to do with it.

He paced back and forth until finally the door opened and the nurse pushed Angelina out into the hall. She visibly flinched when she saw him, but she didn’t say anything. She just waited, her dark eyes looking so soulful that his chest tightened.

“Thank you,” Micah said as he took the handles of the wheelchair. “I’ll take it from here.”

The nurse handed him Angelina’s discharge papers and then smiled cheerfully at Angelina as Micah rolled her away.

He took her down in the elevator and out to the front, where his truck waited. She didn’t say anything, but then neither did he.

He helped her into the passenger seat, and after making sure she was settled and buckled in, he walked around to the driver’s side and slid in.

She kept glancing sideways at him. He hadn’t told her he was coming to get her from the hospital. If he had, she probably wouldn’t have been there when he arrived.

“Where are we going?” she asked in a nervous voice.

“Your apartment,” he said in an effort to dispel her trepidation.

She relaxed against the seat and turned to stare out the window. Did she honestly think he was going to deposit her at her apartment and walk away while she prepared to walk out of his life?

Of course he hadn’t given her any reason to think differently. That would change quickly enough.

He pulled into the apartment parking lot in front of her building and turned off the truck.

“Stay there. You need to take it easy,” he said as he opened his door.

It was a gorgeous fall day. Bright blue skies and no hazy smog hanging over the city. Beautiful day, and his entire life was falling apart. It seemed apropos.

He walked around and opened the door for Angelina. Hugging her arm to her injured shoulder, she wiggled across the seat. He reached up and carefully eased her into his arms so he wouldn’t jar her ribs.

“I can walk,” she said in a stuttering breath.

Her body trembled against his, and as much as he wanted to keep her in his arms, he didn’t want to push too soon. Not yet.

He set her down and waited for her to get her feet underneath her. He kept his hand at her elbow to steady her, and they walked toward her door.

“Let me have the keys,” he said.

She handed them to him, and for a moment, his hand curled around hers. She looked tired. Fragile. Lost. He wanted to pull her into his arms and go to bed for a week. Just him and her. No outside world. No worry. No pain. No past.

He pulled away and unlocked her door, shoving it open. She walked in ahead of him and when they stepped into the living room, it erupted in chaos.


The voices echoed across the room as people jumped up. Okay, the girls jumped up. The guys sort of stood there looking faintly amused as Julie, Serena and Faith ran over to greet Angelina.

Angelina took a step back, her expression horrified. Tears welled in her eyes and her face crumpled. With a choked sound, she turned and ran into the bedroom, shutting the door behind her.

The girls stood looking mystified at Angelina’s abrupt departure.

“I told you this wasn’t a good idea,” Connor muttered as he walked up beside Faith. “She’s just getting out of the hospital after a hellish experience. The last thing she’s up for is a damn welcome home party.”

Micah sighed as he scanned the room. “Look, guys. I really appreciate this. More than you know. I love all of you. I know I can be a dick, and I know I’ve kept some pretty heavy-duty shit from you. I don’t deserve your friendship, but I’m damn grateful for it. But I’d really, really appreciate it if y’all could give me some time here. I’m fighting for my life. For a woman who means everything to me.”

“I’m sorry, Micah,” Faith said in a stricken voice. “I thought ... I don’t know what I thought.”

She looked so distressed that Micah immediately pulled her into a hug and kissed her forehead.

“Don’t be sorry, doll. You have a heart of gold, and the thing is, Angelina needs your kind of friendship. She’s not upset at you. She’s upset with me and rightfully so. She thinks she’s moving back to Miami.”

“And you’re going to let her?” Julie challenged, her lips turned down into a ferocious frown.

“No, I’m not,” he said quietly.

“Good,” Serena said. “She loves you, you know.”

“I know. I love her too. I just have to convince her of that fact.”

“Okay, so let’s get out of here and leave them to it,” Connor said impatiently.

Nathan pushed off the wall and walked up beside Julie. “Connor has an excellent idea. Why don’t you take me home and convince me you can’t live without me.”

Julie snorted. “Like I want you to have the big head?”

They all filed past Micah, each of the girls stopping to give him a fierce hug. He didn’t deserve their loyalty, but it felt damn good to have it. It made him feel good that part of it extended to Angelina and had nothing to do with him. She’d won them over, no thanks to any effort on his part to include her in his life.

After seeing them out, he shut the door and turned in the direction of the bedroom Angelina had disappeared into.

If there was ever a time he needed wisdom, needed just the right words to say, it was now. This was ... this was everything. His future, his happiness, his chance to have it all again. He couldn’t af ford to fuck it up.

He paused outside her door, closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Then he slowly pushed it open and stepped inside.

She was sitting on the bed, her head down, and she was crying.

Ah hell. It took everything he had not to go over and scoop her up in his arms, but he was determined to have this conversation with her without resorting to physical manipulation. Their chemistry was off the charts, and that wasn’t what he wanted deciding their future. He wanted her heart, not just her body.

“Angel baby,” he said softly.

She looked up and quickly rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand.

“I’m sorry. I was so rude.”

He shook his head as he crossed the room to sit on the end of the bed. There was a respectable distance between them, and he didn’t want to be any farther away from her than was necessary.

“No, you weren’t rude. You just came home from the hospital. You’re entitled to be freaked out by a half dozen people waiting for you in your apartment.”

“It’s not that,” she said quietly. “I’m going to miss them. I really like them.”

“And me, Angel? Will you miss me if you go back to Miami?”

She looked away.

“Look at me please,” he said. “It’s time I got a chance to talk. I listened to what you had to say. I gave you space. Now it’s time for you to listen to me.”

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