Lina Brennan hadn’t changed at all. Carver rubbed a hand over his goatee as he stepped back and looked away. He couldn’t continue staring at her. Not after what she’d just said to him. She’d finally put words to all those pitying looks she’d given him when they were in school.
In senior year, when the guidance counselors and teachers began talking about college and career goals, Lina’s intentions had been crystal clear. She wanted to live a glamorous life with bright lights and loads of money. Temptation didn’t have any of that, and yet Carver loved his hometown anyway. He adored the rolling hills of green grass, the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the people he’d known since he was a child. His family was there; the storefront where he wanted to begin realizing some of his dreams was there. The only thing missing was Lina.
He knew that now with more clarity than he’d had before coming to New York. What had also come like a blast of arctic air was the fact that Lina didn’t care. She’d already made her choice.
“I understand,” he said, knowing those two words were only a partial truth. “You’ve always been sure about what you wanted and how you’d go about getting it. I admire that about you.”
She fidgeted, one hand going to the purse straps on her shoulder, the other smoothing down the front of her skirt.
“But let me be clear, Lina. The only thing that’s ever been missing from my adult life is you. Just because I don’t want tall buildings, fancy museums and car services doesn’t mean I’m not happy. And just because you have all those things doesn’t mean you are happy.”
His tone was clipped, as he was unable to completely hide the ire he was feeling. If she didn’t want to give it a try with him, fine, but he wasn’t going to be insulted just because he wanted something different from her.
“I just meant that you have so much potential,” Lina said. Tilting her head, she gave an imploring look, as if she needed to convince him of this.
“And I’m using my potential,” he replied. “I picked out a storefront on Liberty Street, and I plan to open a studio there. My dad’s restaurant will always be my first client, so I’ll continue doing all the photography for his brochures, but I’ve acquired a good online clientele over the years.”
“I didn’t know.”
He nodded, trying like hell not to react to how much those words stung. With a final sigh, Carver shook his head. “Why don’t we just have a nice dinner before I head back to Temptation?” If being with her in New York City one last time was all he could have with her, he was willing to take it.
Log in or create an account to read the next chapter of "Picture Perfect Temptation"
Every month we select a new title from one of our authors so that you can discover new stories, locations and genres for free.