“Brooke?” His voice came gently, as he inched closer. “Are you okay?” He wrapped his arms around me and tried to pull me to his chest. I took a step back, putting some distance between us.
“Don’t touch me.” I tried to keep my voice as nonchalant as possible “And it’s over.”
He didn’t say anything. Several moments passed by and I looked up to see his reaction. Our eyes connected, and for one minute I could feel the spark. It was still there. Along with my feelings—my stupid, cursed feelings. But much stronger was the pain that I cared so much about him while he couldn’t give a crap about me.
“You found out,” he whispered, his beautiful eyes slicing into me, begging me to understand a truth that was a lie. “I can explain.”
“You’re not even denying it?” I raised my voice as anger consumed me. The dam was breaking. I couldn’t hold it inside any longer. “You’re an a**hole, a liar. You’re worse than the lowest scumbag. I trusted you, while you were planning to use me. I don’t need your f**king explanations, not now and not forever.”
“Brooke, please calm down. I wasn’t planning to use you. Just listen to me.” He grabbed my arm to pull me to him. I pushed him away and took a step toward the door, as tears gathered in my eyes, clouding my vision.
“Don’t touch me.”
“Brooke, please listen.” He inched closer but didn’t attempt to touch me, probably knowing I’d run out the door the moment he so much as laid a finger on me.
“You’ve destroyed everything I thought we had. You’ve broken my trust. There’s no way I’ll ever listen to any more of your lies. And there I was thinking you cared about me, when it was all about money.”
“I care about you, Brooke. It wasn’t a lie. I didn’t mean to hurt you. You have to believe me.”
“I can’t, I don’t trust you. You lied about everything,” I spat, unable to contain my voice.
He shook his head and for the first time I could see pain reflected in his features. A stubborn glint appeared in his eyes. “Not everything.”
“No, you’re right. You didn’t lie about everything. You just chose to keep the truth to yourself. That’s not better than lying. It’s worse.”
“Okay, I admit I didn’t tell you everything. But I had a very good reason. I didn’t tell you that I’m in love with you, and I didn’t tell you the whole story, but I was afraid, for you, for us. You don’t understand.”
For a moment, the fact he said he was in love with me almost made my heart flutter with renewed hope, until I realized it was a lie. He was trying to wriggle his way out of the situation. I had made myself too available, let him sense my growing feelings for him, and he used that as an advantage. He wasn’t going to manipulate me again.
“How can you say you love me when you lied to me?” I moistened my lips to gather my thoughts. “How can you say you care for me when you only care about yourself and money?”
“Because it’s the truth,” he whispered. I searched his gaze and found no traces of lying, but then again wasn’t he a master of persuasion? We had even joked about it.
“Let me explain, please? Just not here. It’s too dangerous.” His gaze implored me to come with him. He reached out his hand, waiting for me to grab it.
“No. We’re not going anywhere.” I turned my back on him, unable to look at him, unable to take the pain his sight caused me. I couldn’t bear him telling another lie.
“Tell me the truth. Just say yes or no,” I said in a tone that could have frozen over a desert. “Did you plan to meet me because of the estate?”
“It wasn’t like that.”
“No,” I cut him short. “Just say yes or no.”
“Yes.” A defeated sigh escaped his throat.
Swallowing down the choking knot inside my throat, I reached the door in two long strides, but he was faster. His arm pushed past me to block the door.
“Brooke, please…stop. We need to talk. You have to trust me,” he whispered.
“No.” My voice, my whole being, trembled. I drew a shaky breath to steady myself for what I was about to say. “I’m sorry, I can’t do this anymore. There’s nothing more to be said, nothing that would ever make me trust you again. You did what you had to do. But it’s time to let me go because you’ll never get the estate. I’ll make sure of it. And if you ever cared about me, even if only for a bit, then you’ll let me go.”
Tension emanated from him in strong waves. His gaze brushed my cheek and lips, sending my heart into a deep plunge. Before I could move away, he inched so close his hot breath caressed my skin, making me tingle all over.
“I care enough for you to let you go,” Jett whispered. “But I’ll never stop protecting you.”
I pushed him aside, opened the door, and walked out, ignoring the curious glances in the hall. He didn’t follow me. With each step I took putting distance between us, the pain in my chest increased, but I had no choice. This one time, I had to listen to my mind and ignore the feeble attempts of my heart telling me to at least listen to him, to give him a chance to explain because, maybe, just maybe, he meant what he said.
But I didn’t want to know, so I forced myself to keep on walking.
Leaving the building, stepping outside, I took a deep breath of the exhaust fume infused New York air.
Morning’s rays of light warmed my skin, and people hurried past me. New York was abuzz with life. Even though my pain overwhelmed me, I was still alive, and that was what really mattered.
I took another steadying breath and let it out slowly, thinking I’d be okay…in time. My heart would heal. Maybe someday, I’d find someone who’d prove he really loved me. Someone who’d hold me rather than let me fall. Someone who’d never lie to me.
But that someone wasn’t Jett.
Even though moving on was hard, I knew I’d do it eventually, so I could look back one day in the knowledge that I had learned from my mistakes…