Vanquished (The Encounter #3)(6)

Written By: Pamela Ann

The idea of him being intimate with another woman wasn’t a surprise. I knew it was normal for him. However, when he didn’t respond, my face fell.

“But it’s only been a few days …” I whispered, my voice broken, cracking.

His throat bobbed before he fixed his stance, poised properly in his black tuxedo attire. “My personal life is my own. You know how it is.”

Trying to avoid the heavy weight of my tears welling in the corner of my eyes, I took hold of the sheets and somewhat covered myself with a shaky hand. I was beyond wrecked. His admission, his less than clear answer, was sufficient enough. It was the closest Hugo would come to an admission. He was “The Boss” no one dared question.

Biting my lip, my drunken haze slowly ebbed away as I tried to stand without wavering, matching his formidable, dark gaze. I stood a foot away from him, almost smelling his familiar scent. Almost … quite … I supposed that was how ’it would always be. The almost. The quite. The wonder. When would I get that into my stubborn heart?

“I came here … I came here with such bravado, with thoughts of love and fighting whatever’s between us just so I could be with you. YOU. You … ’You’re breaking me, Hugo.”

“Do you want me to apologize for my lifestyle, Isobel? You bloody well signed a contract, so don’t give me this teary-eyed, damsel in distress response. There’s no need for it. I gave you everything possible so you could lead a decent, comfortable life. What else do you want from me? I gave you careful instructions to call my secretary if you needed more funds transferred to your account.”

Ah. Money! He was speaking about money. How could he be so dense? Here I was, pouring my soul out to him, and he was talking about money? This was f*cking surreal.

Julien was right. Maybe I should have listened to him. After all, he knew his friend better than I did. What made me believe I was some special woman?

Tears … Hot streams poured out of my eyes, and they were unstoppable. In my disappointment, my heartbreak, I couldn’t even find the right words to coherently describe how destroyed I was. He would never settle for me, let alone settle for one woman. My desperation had made me envisage such fairytales. Well, this was a true reality check.

“Please go,” I commanded in a curt, precise whisper.

“Je vous demande pardon?” (I beg your pardon?)

My request evidently offended him. Whatever it was I had come here for, he had just showed me there was nothing left to fight for. As much as it pained me to admit it, I needed to go … somewhere … anywhere … away from here.

“You can go now, Hugo. I apologize for bothering you. I know you have quite a hectic schedule, so I’m going to change, leave, and figure out what to do with my life.”

“Like hell ’I’ll let you gallivant around Monaco past midnight … and smashed drunk at that!” He raked his hands through his hair, his nostrils flaring.

Without dropping the sheet that haphazardly covered my body, I began to move. “All right. Fine,” I whispered as I hunted for my purse. A little relief washed over me as I dug for my phone. With the device clasped in my hand, I went to my contact list, searching for one particular number.

“Who are you calling?” he thundered behind me.

“Julien,” I retorted, past caring what he thought of my associating with his dear friend. Julien was the only person who could help me, the only sane man who could save me from more idiocy.

“And why do you need him, Isobel?” he asked in an eerie tone, as if he was holding in his anger, as if he was afraid to ask.

His tone used to put some sense into me, but since we were parting ways anyway, what should it matter? Hugo had discarded me. I was old news. Hell, the man didn’t even bat an eyelash when looking at my naked body. What man would do such thing? If it were Damen, he would waste no time before seducing me. That was the difference between having a man who was in love with you and having one who lusted after you and only you.

Releasing a wretched sigh, I didn’t look back before responding, “I need a place to sober up before I fly back to London.” And maybe for someone to tell me that I had been warned this would happen. My stubborn self had believed I was some special twit. This—his near-admission—proved how wrong I was.

Placing the phone against my ear, I heard the first ring before it was snatched away from me and Hugo ended the call. He towered over me before he spat into my face, furious beyond comprehension.

“You have the penthouse to yourself; there’s no need for Julien or anyone!”

His livid demeanor made me want to curl up and cry somewhere, but I didn’t move from my post.

“I need to see him. Give me back my mobile.” I tried to argue, but Hugo wasn’t ready to give any compassion.

Before I knew it, his hand cupped my chin, tilting it to meet his furious gaze. “For someone who claimed to only want me and no other man, you’re quite close to my best friend,” he snarled, unleashing his wrath. “You weren’t lying when you said you had never slept with him … or were you, Isobel?”

My twisted heart wanted to hurt him, too. For someone who had just f*cked his other women, he shouldn’t care less what I did, anyhow.

“I had answered this before, and I’m standing by it. No, there was no sleeping involved,” I steadfastly breathed out. “Satisfied?”