Margaret Mayo, Romance Author


A Secret Too Far

Book Description

A Secret Too Far

ISBN: B00A29NZDS
An eBook Exclusive
November 2012

After being abandoned by her boyfriend, Javier Márquez, six years earlier Rianne had built a new life for herself. When she bumped into him while holidaying in Spain with her girlfriend and he pretended not to know her she was hurt beyond measure. So when he asked her out on a date she decided that two could play at that game. She felt sure he would not be able to keep up the pretence for very long. But he did and at the end of her holiday when she returned home to England she felt both angry and sad. She was resolute, though, in her decision to push him out of her mind once again. Which she thought she had succeeded in doing – until he turned up in her home town…

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Rianne thought she must be seeing things. There was no way on this earth that the man deep in conversation on the other side of the room could be who she thought he was. It had to be someone who looked like him. Someone who had the same lean figure, the same high brow and enigmatic dark eyes.

She forced herself to look away and carry on talking to her friend. They had just spent an energetic hour in the gym and were now relaxing in the cafeteria with a long, cooling drink. Although they were on holiday in Barcelona the nearby health club had been too tempting to resist.

Rianne’s heartbeats, which had returned to normal after their exercise, now began hammering an uneven rhythm and, unable to help herself, as though an invisible force had taken over, she glanced once again at the man in the corner and tried to ignore her racing heart. It must be Javier. It could be no other. She had known him too well. Too intimately!

“What’s wrong?”

Rianne looked at her friend, unaware that Julie was watching her.

“You’ve gone suddenly pale. You look as though you’ve seen a ghost.”

As well she might have done. A ghost from her past, a ghost come to haunt her. But she didn’t want to talk about him to Julie. Julie was a practical, no-nonsense person who would scoff at the very thought. Besides she had never told her friend about Javier. She had seen no point. He was someone she had tried her hardest to forget.

“I think we should go,” she said instead, feeling as though the air had been drained from her lungs, each breath a struggle. It had nothing to do with her earlier workout, and everything to do with the man whose presence, even from this distance, felt as though it was suffocating her.

He had matured over the years, his shoulders were broader, his body perfectly toned, his stance that of a man who had made it in the world and was happy with himself. His suit was elegant and expensive and no doubt his whole wardrobe was the same. The only thing that hadn’t changed about him was his hair style – his strong dark hair was still brushed casually back revealing a high, intelligent forehead. But there was a depth of knowledge in his face, a confidence that had been lacking when he was younger.

Julie seemed reluctant to move, continuing to sip her drink while casting her eye on one of the trainers walking by. She had fancied him from the start when he’d helped them with their programme and Rianne had laughed at her crush. They were on holiday, nothing would come of it.

Unexpectedly the man stopped and said something quietly to Julie. Not wanting to intrude on their moment Rianne turned and looked across at Javier again. As if sensing her interest he lifted his head and looked at her.

Their eyes met and a whole new whirl of dark sensation spun inside Rianne’s breast. The same fierce pain that had once threatened her very sanity. There was no denying now that this was the man who had deserted her, the man who had left her high and dry without a single thought for what it might do to her. She knew every inch of his face, of his body too, and yet he looked at her as though she was a complete stranger, with no sign of recognition in his eyes.

Eyes that, although she could not tell their colour from this distance, she knew were a dark honey gold. How many times had she felt herself drowning in those thickly lashed eyes? How many times had they turned her limbs to jelly? Sent a quiver through her entire body?

Not at this moment, though. Not now. Not ever again. He had killed dead any feelings she had felt for him. She hated him. And that was putting it mildly. Six years ago he had walked out on her. He had supposedly been going to his father’s funeral. He had promised to be back as soon as he possibly could. He had talked about marriage. What a fool she had been to believe him. He had never intended to return. Instead he had broken her heart without a moment’s regret, without a moment’s thought what it would do to her.

Her breath hissed softly between her teeth. Every bone in her body hurt. Her fingers curled into fists and it was all she could do to stop herself marching over to him and demanding an explanation. She knew deep down inside that it wouldn’t be wise. What would be the point in creating a scene here in this very public place? She had put him out of her mind once, she would do so again.

Unless – her heart did not even want to admit this – he was not Javier. He was his double. His doppelganger. It made sense because why else would he totally ignore her? Any sane and considerate man would at least make his excuses, he would not pretend ignorance, or even worse, indifference.

When Julie spoke Rianne looked at her friend with blank eyes.

“Would you mind if I go for a drink with Filipo. He’s just finished work for the day and – ”

But Rianne heard no more of her sentence. She was looking at the young good-looking man at her friend’s side. “Who is that guy over there? The taller of the two.”

Filipo looked across to where the men were standing and smiled. “You mean Javier? Javier Márquez? He is the owner of this club. Would you like an introduction? He is very approachable.”

Rianne felt every drop of blood drain from her face. She was afraid that it would drain out of her whole body, pool on the floor beneath her feet and be visible for everyone to see. Even her heart stopped beating and when it restarted it raced so fast that she could barely breathe.

She was right. And this was the reason he had let her father pay him off! When her parent had gloated about it, emphasising the fact that Javier had not taken much persuading, she had not altogether believed him. But now she knew that he had been speaking the truth.

Javier had taken her father’s money so that he could build the empire he had always dreamed and talked about.

Her father had never approved of him and had taken great pleasure in telling her so. But she had never dreamt that Javier would put financial gain before her. Ambition before love. It made her wonder if he ever had truly loved her!

She had to get out of here and quickly. She needed fresh air, lots of it. She needed to draw in strength and saneness. She had so wanted to believe that the man was Javier’s double and to have the thought stripped from her was like being robbed of a precious gift.

Her mind went numb. Her thought process jammed. All she knew was that she must escape. As quickly as possible. Blue skies and hot sunshine beckoned. But would they be enough? This was the man she had given her heart to. Simply leaving the building would not alter that fact. He would still be in her mind’s eye, in her heart.

Once outside she took several deep breaths before she felt Julie’s hand on her arm.

‘Rianne, whatever’s the matter? You’ve gone very pale. Do you feel ill? Do you want to go back to the hotel?”

Yes, oh yes! Anywhere where she wouldn’t need to face the man who had not had the guts to tell her that he wanted to end their relationship. Who had skipped the country instead, using the excuse of his father’s death to do so. No wonder he had not wanted her to attend the funeral with him.

A wave of nausea washed over her. She ought to be over him, she had thought that she was. Six years was more than enough for any person to forget the heartbreak of losing their first love. So why had seeing him hit her with the force of a hurricane?

“Yes,” she answered faintly. “I need to lie down.”

“You shouldn’t have skipped breakfast,” grumbled her friend. “I told you it wasn’t a good idea.”

From somewhere a car appeared and Rianne sank into it gratefully. It was not until they arrived at their holiday hotel that she even noticed their driver was Filipo.

“Thank you,” she said, climbing out. She was already beginning to feel stronger and felt stupid now for making a fool of herself. “I’m all right now.”

But both Julie and her new friend took it upon themselves to walk her up to their room.

“You gave me a shock,” said Julie, pouring her yet another glass of water. “Filipo and I were talking about going for a drive but – “

“Then you must still go,” insisted Rianne. “I’m okay. I don’t know what came over me. I”ll stay here and rest.” Although deep down inside she knew that would be impossible. How could she rest when her mind was filled with tumbling thoughts? When the one man she had thought to never see again had appeared like an apparition in front of her?

“You could join us,” offered the young Spaniard gallantly.

But Rianne could see that they wanted time to themselves and she shook her head. “I wouldn’t dream of it. Really I’m fine now. I have a book I want to read, it will be the perfect opportunity.”

Left alone Rianne did not even pick up her book. She doubted the words would have made sense had she done so. Instead all she could see in front of her was Javier.

Not Javier as he had been when they were both deeply in love. When he had promised to marry her. When they had talked at length about their future. When he had been the one man she would trust with her life. That Javier had gone for ever. In his place was a man who refused to even acknowledge her.

The thought made her wonder whether she had changed. Whether that was the reason he had looked blankly at her. He had glanced across only because he had sensed her looking at him – but surely she had not altered that much? A different hairstyle maybe but that was about all.

He on the other hand had been instantly recognisable. The only thing different about him was that he exuded authority, power even. He had made a name for himself. She had heard that this wasn’t his only health club and she supposed that she ought to be pleased that he had done well.

Thanks to her father!

But even if he had forgotten her she had never forgotten him. How could she forget a man who had taught her the art of love? Who had made love to her with incredible tenderness? Who had whispered words of love in his native language? She had never known what he was saying but it had sounded wonderfully erotic. Every bone in her body used to melt when he touched her.

She had envisaged a lifetime spent together, a lifetime of spectacular lovemaking. She had imagined a house filled with their children, filled with love and laughter. And yet she was still single. She had never met another man who came close to stepping into Javier’s shoes.

There had been many sad times since he left, heart-breaking times, things she never wanted to talk about. But it was the fact that he chose to totally ignore her that hurt the most.

Finally tears came, rolling uncontrollably down her cheeks. For how long she cried Rianne did not know but afterwards she felt better, calmer. It was as if the very act of crying had cleared her head. She felt stronger. She had lived all this time without Javier. A chance sighting should make no difference. He had chosen a different path in life, one that did not include her. She had accepted that. It had taken a long time but she had accepted it. There was no reason for her to change her mind now simply because their paths had crossed.

Not surprisingly Julie suggested going to the gym again the next day. She had waxed lyrical about the time she’d spent with Filipo and wanted to see him again. Rianne felt a moment’s unease, but she did enjoy the gym, she liked exercise, she liked to keep fit. It would be a shame to give it up.

Their session was even more energetic than the previous day and after showering and dressing Rianne welcomed a soft drink in the café. There had been no sign of Javier and she was fully relaxed – until a half hour later when she suddenly spotted him walking into the room.

And again, as though he sensed her eyes on him, he turned and looked at her. And this time it was a more thorough glance. A speculative glance. When their eyes met she saw a frown drag his dark brows together. The next minute he was walking towards her.
Rianne’s heart catapulted into action and she braced herself. Julie had disappeared, gone outside somewhere with Filipo, but if Javier thought he was going to say sorry, or some other lame excuse then he needed to think again. What he had done was inexcusable. Unforgivable. And she was not going to let him get away with it.

The old Rianne would have gone out of her way to keep the peace, she had always hated confrontation, but not the new Rianne. She had after all been the innocent party, and this morning she had no intention of hiding her feelings.

As he drew closer her heart beat faster, faster than it ever had in her life. He looked utterly gorgeous, but she refused to let it affect her judgement. She felt fire in her eyes and wondered if he could see it. There was a raging inferno inside her as well.

He surprised her by holding out his hand, still amazingly no sign of recognition on his face.

“I understand you’re a new member here,” he said, speaking in perfect English. ‘may I personally welcome you. Let me introduce myself, I am Javier Márquez, the owner of this establishment. I am not often here but my manager, Nico, will always be available should you have any problems or questions.”

Unable to believe his audacity in keeping up the pretence of not knowing her, fiercely angry that he should even attempt to do so, Rianne decided that rather than create a scene by challenging him, she would see how far he was actually prepared to go.

It should prove interesting.

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Content copyright © 2006-2014 Margaret Mayo

Text © Copyright 2006-2014 by Margaret Mayo. Cover Art © Copyright 2006-2014 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
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