Emily wept bitterly for a long time as she tried to staunch the flow of blood from the head wound. It was bleeding hard but was probably not serious, head wounds were infamous for bleeding profusely. She needed to pull herself together. Finally she found her phone and called Dorian.
"Can you come get me?" she asked him. "I need to go to the hospital and I can't drive."
"Hospital!" Dorian roared in anger. "What did he do, Emily?"
"Just come and get me, please," she said quietly.
Dorian was livid when he arrived not long after the call had terminated.
"Emily, you're bleeding!" he gasped. He ran into the kitchen and came back with a damp cloth which he held against her wound.
"It looks worse than it is," she sighed, her head was beginning to thump painfully.
"I'll kill him," Dorian ground out through clenched teeth, his beautiful contorted with rage.
"No, Dorian," Emily said softly. "He's hurting. I don't think he's even aware that he's hurt me. It wasn't done on purpose. He thinks that I'm like Elizabeth," she whispered, sadly. "That I only pretended to love him so he'd marry me and I'd be able to worm my way into the King's affections."
"He's a bloody fool," Dorian hissed angrily. "How he could even mention you in the same breath as Elizabeth is beyond me. Come on, love. Let's get that wrist looked at."
Dorian stayed with her at the hospital until the doctor had examined her. Thankfully her wrist wasn't broken, just badly sprained. It was taped up firmly. The wound on her head required four stitches. Finally she was released into Dorian's care with a prescription for some really strong painkillers.
"He's not answering his phone," Dorian said angrily as he drove her to his house. "You're staying with me and Alice until this gets sorted out, Emily. One of us will be with you at all times. Cullen will not be allowed to hurt you anymore than he already has."
"I'll stay tonight, Dorian," she said quietly. "Then I'm going back to the apartment. I'll need to take a few days off work, just until I get the stitches out. I don't want you to say anything to Cullen about this."
Dorian glanced at her as he drove, his face set. "You think I'm going to let him get away with this?" he asked incredulously.
"It's between me and Cullen, Dorian," Emily said, tiredly. "Don't get involved. He's your friend. I know you're angry with him but he's hurting so badly inside. He needs you. I'm stronger than I look. I can handle this."
"Emily," Dorian finally sighed softly. "Sometimes I truly believe he doesn't deserve you. He's acting like a bloody fool. He's hurt you and still you protect him."
"You were with him when Elizabeth hurt him," she answered with her eyes closed. "Surely you can understand how much that effected him."
Dorian growled angrily and then sighed. "He was beside himself with grief," he finally admitted. "I thought he'd never get over her betrayal."
"This feels like that all over again for him, Dorian," she said sadly. "It probably feels worse this time because I think he loves me more than he ever did her."
Dorian nodded but didn't speak.
"Let me do this my way, brother of mine," she said with a small smile. "He needs to know that I'm not going to leave him. That I'm not like Elizabeth. I can't have him feeling guilt on top of everything else. You know he'll be distraught if he learns he's hurt me, no matter how angry he is with me right now."
"Fine we'll do things your way," Dorian finally sighed. "I'm not happy about it, Emily, but I understand your reasoning."
"Thank you, Dorian," she whispered.
The following morning Emily went to the pharmacy on her way home and filled her prescription for painkillers then she headed home to the apartment.
Once safely inside, she called Cullen but he didn't answer his cell. Sighing she left a voicemail message.
"I'm staying at the apartment," she said. "I'm taking a few days off work but I'll be back at the start of the week. I guess you're just going to have to deal with that because I'm not running away this time, Cullen. I take my marriage vows very seriously. You know where I am if you want to talk. I love you, Cullen."
She wondered if he would even listen to the message.
It was the following Tuesday before the swelling at her temple had gone down enough for her to be able to return to work without it being noticeable. Cullen hadn't called or come to the apartment. Emily wondered where she was finding the strength from. She was missing him so badly but she was able to keep going. It must be the rightness she was feeling inside. Her instincts were telling her that she had to stay and fight or she would lose him forever. The pain that washed over her when she thought of never being with him again was too much to bear.
When she got to work she could hear Cullen and Dorian talking angrily his Dorian's office. She sighed and headed down to her own office. She asked Alice to ring through to Dorian to let him know she was in and to tell him that she needed to see him when Cullen had gone.
Opening her laptop, she pulled up the proposal she was working on and started working on it. Not long afterward she heard a door bang and Cullen's angry footsteps heading into his own office and then his door banging shut. Her phone rang and Dorian called her up to his office.
"He wants you fired," he said when she sat down.
Emily sighed. "I thought it would be something like that. What did you say?"
"I told him I'd dissolve our partnership and go into business with you instead before I would fire you."
Emily felt a smile tug at her lips. "I take it that went down well," she said ruefully.
"He was overjoyed," Dorian said drolly.
Emily laughed. "He's so stubborn sometimes. He doesn't know what's best for him."
Dorian frowned. "Are you sure about this, love?" he asked. "I've never seen Cullen so angry before, not even when Elizabeth hurt him. It could be a long, uphill struggle to get to him. Maybe even an impossible one."
"I have to try, Dorian," she whispered. "No matter how hard he makes it for me, I have to get him to see that I'm not running away this time."
Dorian smiled softly. "He doesn't know how lucky he is to have you, Emily."
Emily smiled sadly. "I need to pop out this afternoon. The stitches are coming out."
Dorian started in surprise. "I thought you'd already had then taken out. Your hair is hiding them well. And your wrist?"
She held up her arm. The strapping was covered with a long sleeved cardigan. "It's not too bad now. I think they redo the strapping for another week but after that I'll be as good as new."
"Take whatever time you need, Emily." Dorian smiled.
Emily returned to her office. She sat back at her desk and sighed. This was going to be a hard battle to win but she was determined to win in.
Cullen ignored her all day. He studiously pretended that she wasn't even at the office. The times Emily did see him, his beautiful face was set and hard and his eyes looked straight through her.
He was in Dorian's office when she popped her head in to let Dorian know she was heading out.
"That's me off to my appointment, Dorian," Emily said, her eyes fixed on Cullen's rigid back. "I won't be back today."
"Fine, love," Dorian answered with a frown. "I'll see you tomorrow."
Cullen ignored her so she quietly left the office and headed down in the elevator.
"What appointment?" Cullen growled when she was gone. "There's nothing in the diary for today."
"If you want to know, ask her yourself," Dorian snapped. "I'm not a bloody go between the pair of you."
"I've a right to know why my staff are taking off in the middle of the working day and not coming back," Cullen snapped back, his eyes flashing.
"If you stopped being such an ass you'd know what you're wife is up to," Dorian retorted, stressing the word wife.
Cullen swore under his breath and left the room. He went back into his own office and then growled angrily and left the office.
Emily was on foot so it was easy to track her. He had no idea why he was following the woman. He wanted her gone from his life so he could start to move on. But Dorian was championing her and it was making his life intolerable. Where was she going?
Emily walked to the hospital. It was a nice sunny day and it wasn't too far from the office. Her head was low as she walked. Cullen wouldn't even look at her. It was tearing her up inside but she had to keep trying. She had to believe that her constant presence would somehow get through to him.
Cullen gave her a moment to get inside the hospital and then he slipped in. He followed Emily's scent until he found himself outside a door which said treatment room. He frowned. What on Earth was she doing here? He pretended to read a bulletin board and listened hard, zeroing in on Emily's voice.
"That looks good," he heard a female voice saying in the room. "It's healed well. The stitches will only take a moment to come out."
"Will it hurt?" he heard Emily ask.
"Oh, no dear," the other woman said. "You'll just feel a slight pulling sensation."
It went quiet for a moment and then the other woman spoke again.
"There are places you can go, dear," she said kindly.
"I'm sorry, I don't understand," Emily said. He could hear the confusion in her voice.
"It's really nothing to be ashamed of," the other woman said. "I see many cases of domestic violence in here. It's very common, dear. The woman always seems to think it's her fault. She always believes that if she had said something else or done something differently then her husband would not have had cause to hit her."
Cullen froze in shock. Domestic violence?!
"I'm not a victim of domestic violence," he heard Emily said quietly. "I fell and hit my head on the side of a coffee table. It was an accident."
"And your wrist?" the other woman asked.
"I hurt it when I tried to halt my fall," Emily answered. Cullen could hear the lie in her voice.
His mind was whirling. He thought back to that night when he had been so angry. He had hit her hand away from him. Had he hurt her? He had pushed her away. Had she fallen and hit her head? He felt a wave of agony wash over him. Had he hurt Emily and then left her alone, bleeding and in pain?
"I really appreciate your kindness," Emily was saying to the woman. "But really, I'm not a victim here. It just had an unfortunate accident. Seriously, my husband doesn't beat me."
Cullen swallowed hard as he listened to the lies coming from her mouth. He had hurt her. He had hurt her and she was lying to the woman inside to cover it up. Deep despair coursed through him. No matter how angry he was with her he never wanted to hurt her like that. He hadn't meant to, he had just wanted to get away from her because she was slowly killing him inside.
He leaned against the wall and waited. Why was she still around if he had done this to her? Why wasn't she running as far as she could get from him? It didn't make sense.
The door opened and Emily stepped out. She was pulling at the hair on her temple but he saw the small livid red scar before she managed to conceal it. He also so the thick strapping on her wrist as she hadn't fully dressed and was carrying her sweater over her arm. She sensed him and looked up.
Emily stifled down a gasp when she saw Cullen leaning against the wall. His expression was hard and set but his eyes were dark and dangerous as she saw them look her over quickly.
"Another prescription for the pain meds," the nurse said coming out the room. "You probably won't need them for much longer, your wrist is healing nicely."
"Thank you," Emily said quietly, taking the scrip from the woman. She turned and headed back into the waiting room. Cullen didn't follow her. Sighing she sat down and put her sweater on and then headed outside.
She didn't see Cullen until he spoke to her.
"I did that?" he asked from behind her.
She stiffened as he spoke and then nodded, not turning.
"I'm sorry," he said quietly.
"I know," she answered sadly. She walked away, holding her head up high as she did. She fought to keep the tears from falling down her face as she looked for a taxi.
Cullen watched her walk away, her back rigid. He felt numb with shock when she confirmed his suspicions. Dear God, he had hurt Emily physically. Almost broke her wrist. Splitting her head so she required stitches. What kind of monster was he? Even though she had hurt him so badly his love for her was still as strong as it ever had been. His need to protect her was still there.
She needed protecting from him, not anyone else.
He groaned and made his way back to the office. He flew into Dorian's room and slammed the door shut.
"You knew!" he hissed at his friend. "Why didn't you say anything?"
"I knew what?" Dorian said tiredly, running his hands through blond hair.
"That I hurt her!" Cullen hissed again.
"She told you?" Dorian said surprised.
"I followed her," Cullen clarified. "To the hospital. The nurse was giving her a lovely little lecture about how domestic violence isn't the woman's fault!" His voice dripped with self loathing as he said the words domestic violence. It was clear he hated the sound of it.
"She asked me not to say anything," Dorian finally said. "Quite frankly, Cullen, I would rather have beaten the hell out of you but she wouldn't let me. I really enjoyed cleaning up her blood and taking her to the hospital that night. It was three hours before they'd assessed her and then wrapped her wrist and put the stitches in. All the time she was protecting you. Pleading with me to not get involved. I only agreed because I didn't want to cause her anymore pain than she was already in."
"Thank you for taking care of her," Cullen whispered, his voice bleak.
"I didn't do it for you, Cullen," Dorian said his voice harsh. "I did it for her. I love you, Cullen, but that night I think I actually hated you for a moment. You don't deserve, Emily. You should be on your knees begging that girl's forgiveness but instead you treat her like she's a pariah."
Cullen stared at him and then walked out the office, closing the door quietly behind him. Dorian was right to be angry with him for hurting Emily. That was unforgivable. But he was wrong for thinking that Emily was blameless in all this. Her betrayal burned too deep inside Cullen. He couldn't forgive it.
Emily took a deep breath and headed into the Boardroom. Since the day at the hospital Cullen had mellowed slightly though he still avoided her on a personal level. He was able to be reasonably civil at work so it was a start. This morning she was meeting with Cullen and Dorian to go over the proposal she was working on. She'd taken the strap off her wrist, not wanting to wave her injury under Cullen's nose.
Cullen was sitting at the end of the table, Dorian at the other end. Emily stifled a sigh when she entered the room. She hated the distance between the two men. They had been friends for millennia and it broke her heart that she was the cause of their estrangement. She sat down beside Dorian, Cullen's body language practically screaming keep away.
Dorian smiled at her, his eyes warm. "Interesting proposition, Emily," he said. "Do you think Anton will find it favourable?"
She'd sent them her first draft the day before.
"I see no reason why he wouldn't," she answered. "It would be very profitable for the him and a foothold into the US market too. He'd be mad not to consider it."
Her proposal was to merge one of Cullen and Cross's smaller subsidiaries with one of Mackenzie Petrochemicals. The merger would increase the stock price of the company and also offset some of the heavy expenses the company generated. It was a win-win situation for both of the parent companies.
"Do we really need this merger?" Cullen asked quietly. "After all, we're not going to be here much longer, Dorian. I estimate we can stay with Cullen and Cross for what, five more years maximum?"
Emily sighed, knowing that he would balk at anything that joined him any deeper to her.
"It's a viable option, Cullen," she replied without looking at him. "Maybe there isn't that much time before you both have to move on but expanding and making Cullen and Cross an attractive going concern will only benefit you in the end by increasing the company's resale value."
"I agree with Emily," Dorian said, his voice sounding tired.
"Whatever you want, Dorian," Cullen agreed, his tone bored.
Emily felt her hackles rise. She turned to him and smiled sweetly.
"I'm surprised you're not jumping for joy at the prospect, Cullen," she said tartly. "I mean, someone will have to go over to Spain to work on the merger and as I'm the only one of us fluent in Spanish and I know how Mackenzie Petrochemical's works, the obvious choice will be me. Just think, all those weeks or maybe months of not having to put up with me sullying your office."
She bit her lip and shot an apologetic look at Dorian.
"You're right, Emily," Cullen growled softly. "This merger is suddenly appearing to be a much more interesting prospect. By all means, you have my full backing to go ahead as soon as possible."
"For the love of God!" Dorian snapped angrily, raking his hands through his hair in frustration. "Fine, Emily, you're running the shots. Go to Spain, stay as long as it takes. Maybe by the time you come back the pair of you will have remembered that you're grown adults and not two year olds. This constant bickering is getting tedious and I've had enough of it!"
Emily flushed at his rebuke while Cullen glowered at his friend.
She stood up and gathered up her proposal. "I'll start straight away," she said quietly. She laid a hand on Dorian's shoulder and bent to kiss his cheek. "I'm sorry," she whispered.
Dorian patted her hand gently and smiled at her. He felt bad about blowing up but his nerves were just frazzled by the pair of them.
"This has to stop, Cullen," he said when Emily left the room. "If things don't improve by the time she comes back then we need to sit down and discuss where we go from there. I can't do this anymore."
Cullen looked at his friend and saw how tired he was. He felt a pang of guilt knowing he was mostly the cause of his friend's distress. He had even noticed a cooling off between Dorian and Alice as his friend struggled to act as referee between himself and Emily.
"One of us will have to leave," he finally said. "If you want to keep Emily, I'll understand. It's almost time to be moving on anyway. I'll just start a little sooner than planned."
"It doesn't have to be that way," Dorian sighed, his expression pained. "Talk to her, Cullen. I know you still love her and she loves you. Work it out."
"It can't be fixed, Dorian," Cullen said sadly. "I'm sorry but I can't forgive her no matter how much I love her. I can't leave myself open to the kind of pain she can so easily inflict on me."
"You're not hurting now?" Dorian asked. "Seeing her every day, not being with her. That isn't tearing you up inside?"
"You know it is," Cullen whispered hoarsely. "But it's the lesser of two evils. Soon I will be moving on to a new city. A new life away from her. It'll get easier then."
"You're fooling yourself if you believe that, Cullen," Dorian said sadly. "You'll never be free of Emily no matter how far or fast you run. I only hope you wake up to your foolishness before it's too late. Before she decides that there really is no hope and moves on with her life. She has so much love in her heart to give. One day, she may decide to give it to someone else and then you will have lost her forever."
He stood and left the Boardroom. His heart was heavy with pain as he entered his own office and closed the door. Here he was lecturing Cullen about his love life when he was letting his own happiness slip between his fingers. It had been over a week since he had last saw Alice. He called her and asked her to come to his office.
Alice walked slowly up the hallway. She was worried and nervous. Dorian had been so withdrawn lately and never seemed to want to see her. Now he was calling her to his office. Was he going to tell her that they were over? She bit her lip and knocked on the door.
Dorian saw the anxious look on the little dark haired woman's face as she entered. He stifled and groan and held his arms out to her when she closed the door. She ran into his arms and he gathered her close.
"I'm sorry, Alice," he whispered. "I've let things get on top of me and I've neglected you, love."
"It doesn't matter," she said, her tearful voice muffled against his chest.
"It does matter," he growled softly. "I'm so busy lecturing Cullen about losing his love and I'm doing the very same thing with you. I don't want to lose you, Alice."
"You won't," Alice whispered. "I'd be just like Emily. I'd never give up until you noticed me again and realised how much you love me."
Dorian groaned and captured her lips in s gentle kiss. "I'll always love you, Alice," he sighed tenderly. "Even when it doesn't appear so, you'll always be deeply embedded in my heart."
Alice sighed and kissed him, her small hands wrapping around his neck as he lifted her and sat her in his lap.
"When this is all sorted out, you and I are going to have a long talk about the future, my love," Dorian said softly. "For now, will you come back home? I need you with me."
Alice hugged him tightly. She had wondered if he had even noticed that she'd gone back to her apartment a week ago. Usually she stayed with him but as he was so distracted and didn't appear to notice that she was around, she had quietly taken her things and gone home.
"I'll come home," she whispered, her eyes shining with happiness.
Dorian groaned and kissed her again more urgently this time. "Tonight," he said, his voice thick with emotion.
"Tonight," she agreed happily.
Emily flew out to Spain two days later. Anton was overjoyed to see her. He noticed immediately that something was wrong but waited until they got back to the house to interrogate her.
She told him everything, omitting the worst part of the argument they'd had. She didn't want her brother to hate Cullen, which he would surely do if he found out that he had hurt her, even accidentally.
"Dear God, Emily, can your life never run smoothly?" Anton finally said when she had finished.
She smiled wanly, "It's certainly interesting," she said with a little laugh.
"Are you okay?" her brother asked worriedly, searching her face intently.
"I'm not going to pieces like the last time, Anton," she reassured him. "I'm fighting back this time. Cullen will come around eventually. The pain of his first wife's betrayal had centuries to fester inside him. He just needs time to realise that I'm not like her, even if what happened was pretty similar to the first event. He still loves me."
"Is there anything I can do to help?" Anton finally asked.
"Just be my wonderful big brother," she smiled. "That's all I need."
Anton poured her a glass of wine and a scotch for himself.
"Did you have a chance to look at the proposal I sent?" Emily asked as se sipped her wine.
Anton's eyes brightened. "I liked it very much," he smiled. "You do excellent work, Emily. I've scheduled some meetings for next week with the Board so you can present them. I don't see any issues. There may be some small fine tunings required but nothing major. Are you staying until the merger goes through?"
Emily nodded. "I might nip back just to annoy Cullen," she smiled. "I might talk to Fernando and see if he wants to come back with me."
Anton threw back his head and roared with laughter. Fernando was one of his board members. The man was an outrageous flirt, despite being very happily married, and was particularly fond of Emily. "You are so wicked!" he laughed, wagging a finger at his sister.
"Maybe if Cullen sees someone paying some interest in me, it might shake him up a bit," Emily laughed. "I'm sure Fernando would love to play along."
The opportunity arose two weeks later when there was a sticking point over which parent company would have responsibly for leading the new company when it was formed. Emily asked Fernando to accompany her to the States and the handsome Spaniard agreed.
Emily checked with his wife, Miri, if it was okay to have some fun with her husband to annoy Cullen and the Spanish woman roared with laughter and gave her blessing.
Cullen was scowling at the wall of the Boardroom. Dorian had said that Emily was due back today for a three day stop over.
He was angry with himself for feeling excited that she was coming back. He told himself over and over that the last two weeks had been perfect with her gone but he knew he was lying to himself. Her absence wrenched at his heart. Knowing that he had years if not centuries of the painful feeling to endure, angered him. Why couldn't he just forget her? She had betrayed him, used him just as Elizabeth once had. He should just get over her and be done with it.
He heard the elevator arrive and then her scent hit him like a physical blow. He stifled a groan and sat straighter in his chair. She wasn't going to get a reaction out of him.
Emily walked into the Boardroom with Fernando attentively at her elbow. They were chatting away in Spanish and he had just said something quite naughty which caused her to throw back her head and laugh loudly as they entered the room. She glimpsed Cullen's face, saw it set hard as he watched them enter the room.
"Fernando, this is Sebastian Cullen," she said, switching to English. "Cullen, Fernando Montoya. You'll have to forgive Nando's English. He tends to murder the language quite atrociously. I'll most likely need to translate at some point."
"You are most unkind to me, mi querido," Fernando said with a fond smile, his English heavily accented. "It is a pleasure to meet you Cullen." He continued, nodding at the man staring intently at him.
"Emily, you're home," Dorian called, coming into the room and giving her a big hug. "I've missed you," he smiled, his blue eyes warm.
"Missed you too, Dorian," Emily smiled back. She introduced him to Fernando and then they all sat down.
"We'll try to keep this brief," Dorian said. "You both must be a little jetlagged from the flight."
Fernando looked inquiringly at Emily and she quickly translated the word jetlagged for him.
"Ah, yes," the handsome Spaniard said. "I am looking forward to having a lie down before Emily shows me the delights of this fine city."
"Where are you staying, Fernando?" Cullen asked suddenly, his expression guarded.
"The delightful Emily has graciously offered me her spare bedroom for my stay," Fernando smiled.
"We have numerous corporate apartments available," Cullen said a tad frostily. "I'm sure you would find one of them equally as comfortable."
"But then I would be too far from mi querido," Fernando said breezily, his hand lightly stroking against Emily's.
"Perhaps Cullen is right, Nando," Emily said smoothly, drawing her hand away when she saw the murderous expression on her husband's face. Nando was laying it on a bit thick. She didn't want Cullen to half kill her friend.
Fernando sighed dramatically. "Very well, mi querido," he said, "Whatever you think is best. But you are still going to show me the hot spots, no?"
Emily smiled. "I'll do my best," she said lightly. "Now, let's get down to some business."
Cullen was a mass of fury inside. He kept his expression carefully blank as he watched the Spanish man smile and flirt with his wife. The easy friendship between the couple was evident for anyone to see. Emily liked the very handsome man. She seemed to be soaking up his every smile and little flirtatious gesture.
Cullen fought the urge to fly across the table when the Spaniard touched Emily's arm lightly as he looked to her for a translation of something Dorian had said. He wanted to rip the man's arms out of his shoulders for touching his wife. Emily seemed totally oblivious to his presence in the room. It was as if he didn't exist anymore on a personal level to her. Was she moving on as Dorian had warned him?
"Can we call a halt for now," Emily finally said. "I'm starting to flag and it looks like Nando is too." She smiled at the Spaniard as she spoke. She could feel Cullen's tension as if it was a physical thing. It seemed prudent to put some distance between them.
"Sure, Emily," Dorian answered. "We can pick up from where we left off tomorrow."
"Thank you," Fernando said. "I am suddenly feeling most tired." He turned to Emily and spoke to her in Spanish.
She smiled at him and blushed slightly before she answered him back quickly.
Emily stood and smoothed down her skirt. "Ten tomorrow okay?" she asked Dorian.
Dorian looked at Cullen who was sitting so still that he could tell he was forcibly holding himself in place. His friend nodded once but didn't speak.
Emily gathered her things as Fernando did. The Spaniard shook hands with Dorian and nodded to Cullen, who remained seated, his golden brown eyes dark with some undefined emotion.
Fernando began chattering away to Emily in Spanish as they started to leave the room. He placed his hand on the small of her back and Emily felt a whoosh of air and suddenly Cullen was less than a foot away from them, his eyes glinting dangerously.
"Remember to pick up a set of keys for one of the apartments, Emily," he said, his voice low and dangerously soft.
Dorian rose swiftly and inserted himself between Cullen and the Spaniard without making it look as if he was doing so.
"Of course, Cullen," Emily said quietly. She turned and left the room, taking the Spaniard hurriedly with her.
"I think that went too well, Nando," she said quickly in Spanish. "Maybe you should ease off a bit. He's looking very angry and I don't want to push him into doing something silly."
"The man is an ass if he's willing to be apart from you, mi querido," Nando answered in Spanish. "Perhaps he needs to suffer some more for the unhappiness he brings you."
"Nando, let's do this my way. No improvising from you unless I agree it. It will be safer for everyone. Remember, I'm the one who knows him. I want a reaction but not one that is going to cause me anymore pain and misery than I'm already going through. I just need him to see that other men are interested in me even he isn't."
Nando laughed as they got in the elevator. "Oh he is most definitely interested in you, mi querido. Whether he wants to be or not."
Cullen fumed as they left. His careful control snapped and his face became dark and thunderous. Dorian looked at him and shook his head.
"What did you expect, Cullen?" he asked. "Did you think that no other man would find her attractive and want her? I told you this would happen. From the looks of things, Emily may well decide to stay in Spain. I suppose she could run the new company once the merger goes through. I'm sure Anton would be agreeable to her heading it up. And it would solve the issue of one of you having to leave."
"There will be no merger if he lays one more hand on my wife," Cullen spat furiously. "I'll rip his fucking arms off."
"Oh, grow up, Cullen," Dorian snapped angrily. "You don't want her! You've made that very plain. Why can't she find happiness with someone else if that's what she wants? Don't mess this merger up because you're an ass. If you don't want to be with Emily then get the fuck out of her life and let her get on with it. I've grown weary of your bullshit!"
He turned and slammed out the Boardroom. He called Emily as soon as he could.
"You're playing a very dangerous game, Emily," he said shortly, when she answered. "Cullen is beyond fury at your little antics today. He's threatening to rip limbs off Fernando. Watch what you're doing or you may not like the consequences."
"Thanks for the warning," Emily sighed. "I've already told Nando to calm things down. I don't want him to get hurt."
"Be very careful, Emily," Dorian said quietly. " I don't want you hurt again like the last time."
"I will be, Dorian. Thanks for the head's up."
Emily frowned worriedly as she hung up. Maybe she had gone too far. She considered calling Nando and telling him to get back on the first plane he could get to Spain.
She spun round as the apartment door opened and Cullen strode in, his beautiful face dark with fury.
"Ever heard of knocking?" she said waspishly. "I was just going for a lie down."
"Alone?" he asked dangerously.
"Unless you're offering to join me, Cullen?" she retorted. "Of course, alone!"
"I know what you're doing," he said quietly, his body so still that it was frightening to look at. "You think you can wave your little human man in front of my nose to get a reaction."
"Cullen, I'm tired," she said and she suddenly was very tired. Tired of all the pain and anguish, the games they were playing with each other. "If you've got a point will you just get to it and then leave."
"You are still my wife," he ground out between clenched teeth. "You've already made a fool of me once. You will not make a fool of me a second time by cuckolding me in front of everyone."
"I'm not, Cullen," she sighed wearily sinking onto the sofa. She just couldn't do this anymore. "Nando is just a friend. He is very happily married to his lovely wife Miri. He's just an outrageous flirt. I am not sleeping with him and never have. I have no intention of sleeping with the man. There, are you satisfied? Your pride is in tact. Can you please leave now?"
Cullen stared down at her. She looked so weary. Her shoulders were slumped in defeat, her voice full of sadness. She was giving up on them, he realised. He could read it on her face and see it in her body language. His heart twisted painfully in his chest. This was what he wanted wasn't it? He wanted her gone from his life.
"Cullen?" she said softly. "If you're leaving then please go now. If you want to stay then you can. The choice is yours. Just know that if you choose to go I will accept that our marriage is finally over. I'll be out of your life as quickly as I can." She twisted her engagement ring on her finger as she spoke, her head bowed in defeat.
He struggled to speak. He was getting what he wanted. She was finally leaving him. He should feel triumphant but all he felt was numb. She was leaving him. The fight was gone from her. His sweet, beautiful Emily.
"Can you give me more time?" he finally asked quietly, his voice strained. "This is hard for me, Emily. I want you gone so badly yet I ache at the thought of never seeing you again. I can't reconcile the feelings inside me."
"And I can't wait forever, Cullen," she said with tears in her eyes. "You may have eternity to work things through but I don't. I have just one lifetime to live. I have to do what is best for me. I can give you until the merger is completed. After that, if you still can't make a decision, then I'll make it for you."
She stood up and looked at him, her eyes so sad. "Please leave now," she said, her voice sounding so small and fragile.
"Emily," he breathed softly, taking a step towards her. He leaned forward and kissed her softly on the lips. The sweet taste of her mouth was such heaven. He ached to pull her into his arms but held himself still. "Don't give up on me just yet," he whispered and then he turned and walked out the door.
Emily sank down onto the sofa and let the tears fall. She felt a small flicker of hope deep inside. Cullen had kissed her. His words had been a slight breakthrough. Maybe there was a chance for them if he could reconcile his pain with his love for her.
She knew he loved her and always would. He just needed to see that she hadn't betrayed him as Elizabeth had done. He had to see that he was worthy of the happiness they could have if only he would let her back in.
To be continued....