They arrived at his penthouse shortly afterward, and unlike the ride in the elevator the previous evening, they were both quiet and contemplative. When the doors pinged and opened on to his living room, Silas led her toward his buttery-soft, brown leather sofa.
“Is a divorce really what you want?” Silas asked.
“I don’t know, Silas. I’m confused. When you told me you called and wrote, I was floored. It pretty much upended everything I thought to be true about the last six years of my life. I thought I knew it all, Silas. You were the brute of a man who didn’t understand my need and my desire to not only help you start your business but to make more of myself. But I still don’t understand why you didn’t try harder to reach me.”
“I was selfish,” Silas said, interrupting her. “All I could think about at the time was us not being together. You not being there for me when I needed you. And that was wrong. I guess I never considered what accepting the modeling contract might mean to you. But then again, I was bullheaded back in those days. I didn’t think anyone could tell me anything. Guess that’s the product of being raised in the foster care system. You get a real chip on your shoulder.”
“Don’t put yourself down,” she said, reaching for his hand. “You needed that chip, Silas. It’s how you survived. It’s how you helped me to survive.”
He caressed her cheek with his palm. “Thank you.”
“But you weren’t the only one at fault,” Janelle replied. “I played a role in this too. I was so eager for acceptance, to feel wanted and loved that I ate up the attention Brad and the agency gave me. I never questioned their tall tales. I guess because it filled a void I’ve had ever since I lost my mama, not to mention how I never knew my daddy.”
“I know you’ve struggled with that,” Silas said, “but I had no idea just how bad, because I was pretty messed up myself. It’s why I went into therapy a few years ago.”
“I thought that if I fixed myself, I could be the man you needed. A man you could come back to and maybe even love again someday.”
“I want to believe that’s possible, Silas really I do, but I can’t forget the past. You rejected me because I didn’t fit the perfect mold of the wife you expected. How do I know you won’t change your mind? You came prepared with divorce papers the other day.”
“I won’t change my mind. The only reason I brought those damn papers was because my attorney hounded me to get my affairs in order. In case you hadn’t noticed, I wasn’t eager to divorce you the last six years. So, I’ll keep telling you until you believe me that I was wrong. Please give us, give me another chance.”
Janelle rose to her feet and began pacing. “You say that now, but what happens when a photo shoot runs long and keeps me out all hours or the night? Or when I have to jet set to New York, Milan or the Caribbean at a moment’s notice? What then, huh? What prevents you from leaving me? Or telling me to go like you did six years ago?”
“I’m at a point in my career that I have flexibility. I don’t need to be in the States to run my restaurants. I have an excellent team behind me to help ensure I can be there for you, even come with you on photo shoots.” At her raised eyebrow, he reversed course. “Or not.” He chuckled. “What I’m trying to say is that your career is just as important as mine. I want you to spread your wings and fly as high as you can go.”
“I don’t know. You were so overprotective in the past and I may have needed that then. But I’ve grown stronger, Silas. I don’t need you to protect me anymore, I can protect myself.”
“I know you can, sweetheart,” Silas said, jumping to his feet and moving toward her. “I’ve changed and can be the man you need. You’re just going to have to trust me. Do you think you can do that?”
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